As the NBA Lockout rolls along, I’ve found myself forgetting exactly what I’m missing at times. After all, once the draft passes in June, we’re all used to a long layoff without much ball news outside of free agency (which is something else we’ve lost this summer, of course). It almost completely went by my radar that this summer we had missed out on the Summer League. And, while the action isn’t always must-see basketball, and a lot of the names immediately return to anonymity, it could have been an important two weeks in July for the Toronto Raptors this year.

After all, the Raptors have only 11 players under contract (10 since Sonny Weems’ departure), and the NBA minimum is 13 for the regular season. Obviously, training camp is a key means of evaluating talent inside the concept of the team system, but the Summer League is also one of the best evaluation tools at the disposal of NBA scouts and GMs. Every year a small handful of players impress enough to secure NBA contracts (probably non-guaranteed, but still), or make headlines trying to do so, like Von Wafer’s infamous 26 shots in 26 minutes (by the way, this is the second best stat from Summer League, just behind Greg Oden’s 10 fouls in 10 minutes).

For the Raptors, Summer League could have provided an opportunity to try out a handful of third point guards and/or big bodies and see how they mesh with young pieces like Jerryd Bayless, DeMar DeRozan, James Johnson, Solomon Alabi, and Ed Davis. While players like Jose Calderon and Andrea Bargnani certainly weren’t going to suit up anyway, the team could still get a feel for which players have a style befitting new coach Dwayne Casey’s vision.

And from a financial perspective, it makes a lot more sense for a rebuilding team to fill out the roster taking low-cost chances on players with potential than signing veteran free agents to more lucrative deals.

Whether these players are undrafted free agents, nobodies from around the globe, or D-League All Stars, the NBA should never show so much hubris as to assume there is no worthy talent outside of its player pool. And thankfully, most teams don’t. Shot-happy point guards and foul-prone big men are the norm at this event, of course, but there are always bound to be Gary Neals looking for jobs and ready to contribute to NBA teams.

With a young, rebuilding squad looking to change it’s identity to more of a blue-collar one, finding young hungry grinders fighting for their NBA lives is a sound strategy to fill out the back end of the roster.

Additionally, the Raptors are a very young team, one that could have used development time against near-NBA caliber competition for it’s building blocks. Ed Davis has played just a few months of competitive basketball over what has now been two calendar years, Solomon Alabi told me (in person at the Raptors Draft Party) that it’s difficult to find other big men to practice with, and DeMar DeRozan needs to try his hopefully-improved shooting range against capable defenses. It wouldn’t hurt any of the young players to shake off some rust against significant talent, talent that I’m sorry, but the Drew League probably isn’t providing (I love the idea of the Drew League, but it would obviously need to grow to provide real developmental value for NBA players).

There’s not really a big takeaway from what I’m saying, of course, but the continued lockout had me thinking about what, specifically, we’re missing out on. A chance for our young players to develop, a chance to mine a diamond in the rough (or just fill out the roster with able bodies), and an outlet to give us our basketball-viewing fix, and we missed out.

The FIBA Americas (August 25) and Euros (August 31) can’t come soon enough.


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  • Bo4

    Forget about Alabi … he’s NOT the answer … he’ll be in Denver eventually … and still riding the bench.

  • cesco

    Does anyone know why Thompson didn’t declare for team Canada . It no valid reasons then he is a poor patriot . isn’t he ? .

    • It could potentially be due to insurance reasons – the NBA/FIBA insurance agreement doesn’t hold during the lockout, so the onus is on the players + countries to insure….his contract value as the #4 pick is much larger to insure than Joseph’s, which is probably the main reason. (Unless the NBA/FIBA have struck an insurance agreement I just haven’t heard about yet).

      • Imaginelino

        +1

    • hateslosing

      Tim and Sid had an interview with Leo Rautins and he said that he though Tristan was still exhausted from the draft process. 

      • Nilanka15

        If this is true, it’s gotta be up there as the lamest excuse I’ve ever heard…

        THOMPSON: “I….um….can’t play for team Canada because….ummmm, ugghhhhhh, ummmmm….quick look over there!”  [runs away]

    • tonious35

      For whatever reason, it increases the chances of Leo getting fired…

    • KJ-B

      He’s taking summer school/credits toward his diploma at Texas and taking advantage of their state of the art facilities and scrimmaging with his old team that is talent laden… Rautin shouldn’t bash him like that since he stayed like 5 yrs at Syracuse!

      • KJ-B

        *meaning Andy Rautins…

      • p00ka

        huh??? what does that have to do with it?

  • dr. awkward

    yes insurance reasons it is…either way, whats so bad about not being patriotic. Oscar Schindler was not patriotic yet he was not evil. My cousin left the army after what he witnessed in Afghanistan first hand – he is no longer evil. Nationalism is a poor excuse to not think for yourself.

    • cesco

      Sorry if I used the wrong word . There are millions of youngsters that can only dream of representing their country internationally and perhaps go to the Olympics . If it is a matter of insurance then I understand .

  • points

    JV is playing now on firstrow

  • points

    watch JV go up against pau ,caldy,rubio and mark

    • Guest

      watching now, did he do anything in the first half ?

  • YeDig

    i really do not understand the hard on everyone has for alabi…

  • cesco

    Italy beat Greece 82-73 to-day . King Borg 28 pts , Gallo 17 pts , Belinelli DNP .

    • Nilanka15

      So you’re saying Bargnani can score.  What an amazing revelation!

      • cesco

        Italy will have a very ,very tough task in the European championship starting at the end of August . They face Serbia , Germany (with Nowitsky) and France (with Battum and Noah) who are the odds on favorites to go to the next round .

        • Nilanka15

          Do you know why Belli isn’t playing?

          • cesco

            A minor injury , I forgot where .

    • Juicey

      Do you know any of his other stats?  Not trying to pick on him or anything like that, but his other stats (ie, rebounds) are a part of the on-going debate.  Especially when discussin development over the summer.  We all know he is capable of dropping 28 pts (at the NBA level as well), but what else did he do?

      • cesco

        The site I looked at does not show individual players stats except for scoring(3/6 2 pointers , 5/7 3 pointers + 7 points on free throws for Andrea) . Unless you watch the game (I didn’t) , you cannot say whether his defensive work has improved or not . 

        • Theswirsky

          am I the only one who finds it ironic that the only stat counted a the site is points?

        • Kingraptors

          You seemed to neglect he grabbed a WHOPPING 3 rebounds

          • Fkndummiez

            who cares he only got 3 boards. dude had 28 points against greece and did it easy. you clowns are retarded in the hate for bargs. slum dwellers and retards are mentally challenged….david suzuki had it right.

            • Kingraptors

              LOL Bargnani fanboy, all I mentioned was a missing stat. How was that “hate for bargs”?

              • p00ka

                If that’s the best little innocent whineboy you can come up with, you should worry more about missing brain cells than stats

                • Kingraptors

                  That was weak “Bargs apologist”, but I love the effort… keep coming at me! 😀

                • Theswirsky

                  “See, this is just another example of you babbling in the same vane as the incessant bargs whiners, just coming from the other side of the coin.  I’m what many here would call a bargs apologist, and have called out the some whiners myself….. I just think your style is puck azz childish.”

                  I read this somewhere just can’t remember where? 

            • points

              thats ok raptors have a new guy that can do both so we can get rid of ANDREA she sucks

          • Juicey

            Well, there was probably some Italian “Reggie Evans”-like teammate stealing all of poor Andrea’s rebounds.

            • Nilanka15

              lol, I’m glad I wasn’t the only one thinking this…

      • Overkill
        • cesco

          Thanks ,
           Marco Cusin – 5 rebounds in 8 minutes of play , he should replace Andrea as a starter , LOL . 

          • Theswirsky

            +1

            glad to see you are coming around

  • FAQ

    Do the current batch of Raptor players constitute a legitimate NBA team … I wonder …????

    • points

      maybe if  we get rid of jose and the pussy cat dolls

  • KJP

    JUST SAW this for all you Alabi lovers, lol. 497th out of 500.

    http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/story/_/id/6862838/nba-player-rankings-401-500

    • Theswirsky

      a rookie, drafted 50th overrall, who played less than an hours worth of basketball for the entire season was ranked 497th out of 500 players.

      impossible!!! 

      • p00ka

        A fool is a fool, even when trying to be a smart ass. Expand your  perspective a little by inserting the following after “season”: because the coaches who have far more expertise than any of us, who study film of every player in the league, and who see him in practice every day, know that he is eons away from a starting centre spot that some fools on here suggest giving him a try at,

        • Nilanka15

          Isn’t it possible that Alabi was (like the current reports suggest) suffering through a leg injury for most of last season, thus explaining his horrible productivity…combined with the fact that he was a rookie? 

          And isn’t it possible that Alabi’s now looking like a solid young piece moving forward (again based on more current reports)?  After all, he was once considered a 1st round pick, until his Hep B was discovered.

          Nobody is pretending that Alabi is ready to start next season.  Instead, what some are suggesting is that since it will be a losing season anyway, what better way to get Alabi up to speed than throwing him at the sharks?  He either sinks or swims, which makes it much easier to make a long-term prognostication on him. 

          Why waste money on a mediocre free agent centre if we have someone who “might” fill the position already?

          • hateslosing

            +1 on the Alabi

            Let us know what you pick for your tablet. I’m thinking of getting one too but Idon’t know anyone who has one.

            • Nilanka15

              If it makes any difference, I’m leaning towards the Motorola Xoom.

    • Juicey

      Wow, you’ve really hit hard at all of the Alabi lovers.  They will both be very sad.

  • Guesttz

    TRADE THAT SOFTASS PASTA EATER! HES A BALL HOG WITH NO CONSISTENCY

  • points

    NEWS FLASH

    to all ANDREA  PUNANI  supporters when her current NBA contract is up she will never play in the NBA again.