Raptors Overcome Kings in Vegas, Jonas Valanciunas Shines Again

As we don’t care about team strategy and only really pay attention to a few players on the summer league roster, let’s switch directly into player analysis.

Raptors 81, Kings 70 – Box
As we don’t care about team strategy and only really pay attention to a few players on the roster, let’s switch directly into player analysis:

Jonas Valanciunas – 18 PTS, 6-12 FG, 8 REB, 7 TO
Minus a stretch by Ben McLemore, there’s no question that Valanciunas was easily the best player on the court. He used his left hand as adeptly as his right, with moves coming from either side of the block, which kept the defense on its toes. The successfully moves he made were quick, swift, and executed with little hesitation – a three-dribble hook-shot going left to right, a left-handed sweeping hook taken earlier than the defense expected, etc. There’s still no back-to-the-basket game where he executes up-and-unders, but off of the dribble he’s been good.

[See Also: Raptors vs Kings – Summer League Highlights]
[See Also: Live Blog – Raptors vs. Kings]

He gets in trouble when he has size defending him as was the case yesterday with 7’0″ Garrett Stutz. Valanciunas doesn’t have the foot-speed to evade a guy when he’s close to the rim, so he ends up muscling up a shot which is contested. If he’s not able to get the better of his man in the first second of his move, he doesn’t really have any additional tricks to throw off the defense, which results in low-percentage shots. For example, there was a play where he tried to go baseline, got sealed off, and then basically threw up a shot instead of executing something or simply passing it out.

There were a couple cases where he read the double-team properly, and on one occasion passed it to Micah Downs for a three, but generally, he gets quite flustered when the double-team comes. Either he’s holding the ball too high and can’t put any weight on the pass, or it’s too low and he doesn’t see the defense coming – hence the 7 turnovers. Handling double teams takes time, and once he sees enough of them, he’ll improve.

Quincy Acy – 14 PTS, 5-11 FG, 5 REB
The highlight of his afternoon was a put-back jam where he got T’d up for hanging on the rim. Acy, I’m guessing, is being told that he might be playing at the small forward next year and is hence practising his jumper at the expense of the TV audience, because he’s nowhere close. He tried a fade, a step-back, and three threes, which were all quite hilarious. I believe he made one of his jumpers, which I suppose is just fine as long as it’s in summer league, but if we’re to be treated to him launching one-legged turnaround fades, then I’d like my season-seat money back, please.

He did play solid defense, and what you notice about Acy is that he’s extremely quick with his feet. He can come over from the weak side to help, and once the ball is swung over, can recover to prevent a drive by his man. He’s quick to help down low from the wing, and looked capable in one-on-one situations as well. Granted, the opposition isn’t great, or even good, but what he’s showing me this summer league is that he’s more than just a rebounder on defense, and can add a little variety to any scheme Dwane Casey has in mind.

Terrence Ross – 14 PTS, 5-12 FG, 6 REB, 4 STL, 4 TO
A better game from Ross in the sense that he handled the ball more and looked to be part of the game rather than hang around on the perimeter. He had his success on running catch-and-shoots where someone set a screen for him and he was able to step into his shot. He was off on spot-up jumpers which says that he needs more rhythm to be effective, and in summer league, it’s up to him to get that rhythm because if he wants to take 10 shots a quarter to get his groove on, nobody’s stopping him.

I’ve always criticized DeMar DeRozan of not using his athleticism and “ups” to his advantage in one-on-one situations, or when he’s at the rim, and I could make the same claim for Ross. There were moments where he made himself small instead of big in the face of pressure. For example, coming off a screen his man managed to stay with him and instead of rising over him, he bent his knees and leaned back for a contested fade. I’d like to see some of that athleticism come to his rescue in those situations, but I suppose it’s more than athleticism, it’s skill. And Ross is working on it.

Ben McLemore dropped 26 points in this game including a stretch where he hit 7 of 9 and looked unstoppable. He got interviewed after the game and is in the papers and blogosphere today. Those are the kind of bursts that summer league is there for, and although Ross was more consistent for a longer portion of the game, he leaves you wanting for more, especially given the open style they’re playing in Las Vegas.

Dwight Buycks – 9 PTS, 3-5 FG, 2 AST, 5 TO
The Raptors on the night only had 8 assists (and 25 TOs) so you can imagine the kind of game it was. Buycks, though, had a couple plays where you understood why Ujiri had made a play for him. He had two drives where the finish was high off the glass, and got by his man with some ease. The handles were loose at times and some of the passing was off, but I thought the 5 TOs were more due to unfamiliarity with the players rather than careless or erroneous plays.

I would worry if he is the backup PG next year simply because of his inexperience in handling NBA defenses combined with high minutes. He was a 38% three-point shooter in France, so I’m hoping that can translate to the league. Can’t really comment on him with seeing more of him.

The Rest
No idea why Coby Karl is getting minutes ahead of Chris Wright, the latter could wind up on an NBA roster and reminds me a little of Antoine Wright in his half-decent days. Coby Karl, though, he’s done. Micah Downs has been consistent in the three games – he’s a hustle-guy with a streaky touch and plays a good team-game by moving without the ball. He’s active around the perimeter and presents himself whenever the ball is dumped down to Valanciunas, and does play defense.

Given the standings, they’ll have to wait till Thursday to figure out where they land in the tournament bracket.

One side note. They interviewed Masai Ujiri at halftime and the only thing of interest he said was that you go with the style that your coach wants, and that they’re still taking stock of what they have by assessing guys.

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