steph
Vegas, baby, Vegas!

Hey, some actual basketball, on the court, to discuss! Alas, it’s not quite the Olympics yet (July 29, mark your calendars!), and because Jonas Valanciunas spent most of his time in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in foul trouble, we’ve been devoid of meaningful, non-Kleiza Raptors basketball action for some time. Lucky for us, today marks the start of the Las Vegas Summer League.

The Raptors’ roster isn’t extremely interesting, and it really would have been nice if Jonas made the trip over for it. However, with just a few weeks between the Qualifiers and the Olympics, it’s probably best that the Lethaluanian stay home and practice with the national team. As it is, the Raptors have just 10 (maybe 11?) players on their summer league squad, only three of which actually have contracts with the Raptors. The full roster is below, though I’d expect the Raptors have added a few no-names to the list and it just hasn’t been updated on NBA.com.

As you can see, there are some familiar and unfamiliar names, so let me quickly break it down for you, player by player, just to point out what to look for over the next week if you happen to have NBA TV, know how to stream, or want to pay $4.99 for NBA.com Summer League Broadband….I feel like these games should probably be offered for free, but what’s 5 bucks to a baller like yourself?

Point Guards
Ben Uzoh – Uzoh will be an interesting watch because of his status as the Raptors’ incumbent third point guard, though as a veteran he would come at a slightly higher price tag than an undrafted rookie. Uzoh was by no means great in his Raptors’ audition last year, save for The Worst Triple Double in NBA History on the season’s closing night, a performance that, depending on your outlook on things, cost the team Harrison Barnes or saved us from him (a loss would have given the Raptors the #7 pick). Uzoh averaged 7.4-6.4-4.9 in 8 contests as a starter at the end of the year, but he scored at a terribly inefficient clip and has no three-point range to speak of. Still, Uzoh knows the system, is an active, though flawed, defender, and in a lot of cases teams will tend to go with the familiar player to fill out the roster. He’ll have competition though.

Tu Holloway – Holloway was a bubble second rounder in the draft, ranked 68th by Chad Ford, 49th by DraftExpress, and unranked based on Hollinger’s rater. At Xavier, the undersized point-man scored prolifically in his last three seasons, but his declining numbers in his Senior year, plus the fact that he was old for a draftee, limited his stock. He was a high-turnover player, but his efficiency was salvaged by a ridiculous ability to get to the line. He is also a strong defender for someone his size. He’s your classic “tweener” scoring combo-guard, but he may have some upside due to his ability to defend, which is generally a knock on this type of player. He’ll compete with Uzoh for the third PG role, which is really the only “competition” going on for this roster.

Wings
Terrell Stoglin – I mention Stoglin here first because his spot on the team is unconfirmed right now – I’ve read posts saying he’s signed on to play on the Summer League squad, but it hasn’t been confirmed by the Raptors or the NBA.com roster. Stoglin could be an interesting watch because he rated out extremely high on Hollinger’s draft rater, ranking third among non-lottery perimeter players, pegged as 33rd overall. Draft Express, however, ranked him 75th, and Chad Ford had him at 42. It’s not difficult to see why the rankings would have such a wide range – he’s very undersized as a two but doesn’t have a point guard’s game. Still, his strong shooting ability and NBA three-point range make him an intriguing guard to fill out the bench – after all, he averaged 22 points as a sophomore last year, and the Raptors aren’t exactly flush with offensive firepower. He has some upside as a Microwave Man, a scoring combo-guard off the bench, eventually.

Bobby Brown – Brown was on the Summer League squad in 2010, too, and was a favorite of the Young Gunz, according to their man-love tweets at each other at the time. In his brief NBA auditions, he’s shown an ability to score in small doses. He was a decent scorer and distributor in Germany last year, based on his stats only (I don’t have a EuroBasket account, so all I have to go on for European play is statistics, sorry). Still, unless he’s the rare Anthony Parker case, it seems that he has a known ceiling, and it’s lower than some of the other players on this squad. Maybe he sticks as a running-mate for the Young Gunz though.

Terrence Ross – The 8th overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft has signed his contract and will take part. Summer League success is NOT an indicator of NBA success, however, Summer League failure is generally thought to be a very bad sign. So we should expect Ross to look pretty good in comparison to the competition, while we may also get a look at how he fits into the team system (Coach Casey is coaching, after all, and they could have Uzoh running the team’s offense, since he knows it). We’ll also get a glimpse of Ross’ work ethic, as some high picks tend to float in these games and rest on their talent and draft status. By all accounts, we shouldn’t expect this with Ross. He’s obviously the key player to watch for Raptor fans.

Blake Schilb – Other than having a great first name, Schilb doesn’t bring much to the table in terms of potential. He’s already 28, has been playing in France for a few years, though his French stats, if reliable, are acceptable – about 17PPG, gets to the line well, but doesn’t have great range, and passes well for a wing (just shy of 5APG). He’ll be worth a look just in case his skills can translate, though I’m not expecting anything surprising.

Rodney Carney – Hey, remember him? He’s the most experienced NBA talent on the team with nearly 300 games played, though he’s been out of the league for a year after heading to China during the lockout. He was picked just outside of the lottery back in 2006 but never delivered on his promise as a two-way wing. If he’s honed his game in China and added some bulk since his last NBA go-round, he could be a roster filler wing, but the fact that his stats show 20PPG and next to nothing else, without three-point range, isn’t promising.

Bigs
Ed Davis – The third-year power forward will hopefully be displaying some new offensive moves in the Summer League, the one part of his game that desperately needed work. I tend to be a Davis apologist (over Amir) and I don’t think he’s reached his upside, but a non-dominant performance this week will likely prove me wrong. He’s a solid rebounder and shot-blocker already, but if he’s to be more than a bench big he has to learn to score. It’s important to keep in mind that this is Ed’s first offseason of professional basketball, in a sense – in his draft year, he missed time with a broken wrist, and last year the lockout prevented him from working within the organization. This will be a great showcase for any developing skills he may have been working on over the summer, a summer which finally included both practice and input from the franchise.

Quincy Acy – The Rich Man’s Reggie Evans will probably stuff the stat sheet with rebounds and fouls this week, and his game will probably be difficult to evaluate in the context of organized scrimmages. He’s the type of “glue guy” Raptor fans love and whose boxscore stats don’t tell the whole story. So for Acy, this is a chance to learn the system, but also possibly to prove my last few sentences wrong and show off a more polished offensive game than I’m anticipating.

Daniel Orton – Orton was a first round pick just two years ago, guilty of leaving college way too early without having developed his game. He didn’t play at all as a rookie but got a 16-game audition last season with Dwight Howard hurt (in fact, he started his first game since high school). He obviously wasn’t impressive since the Magic didn’t bring him back into the fold, but 21-year olds that approach 7-feet tall are hard to come by, so he’s worth a look. Temper your expectations.

Trent Plaisted – He was only a decent player in Ukraine and Turkey last year, so once again I warn you to temper your expectations. He didn’t score or rebound at elite levels in college or overseas, so despite his size he isn’t much of a prospect.

The Raptors have two roster spots open (three if the Knicks match Landry Fields’ offer sheet), so you’d think they’ll come out of the Summer League with at least a third point guard, and perhaps another wing, although the Fields’ offer sheet and any other moves in the next week could also impact the roster composition. And of course, the Raptors could use the entire Summer League as a chance to scout other undrafted rookies and free agents, and our roster filler might not even come from this squad (Scott Machado!).

The schedule is below. I’ll try to watch as much as I can and provide some insight, or at least as much as can be learned from glorified practices.

Schedule
Fri July 13, 6pm EST, vs Houston
Sun July 15, 630pm EST, vs. Miami
Mon July 16, 630pm EST, vs. Dallas
Wed July 18, 10pm EST, vs. Sacramento
Thu July 19, 830pm EST, vs. New York