Raptors 98, Suns 103 – Box Score :: Live Blog
Raptors lose to Suns in the quarter-finals of the Summer League tourney. They trailed most of the game by 8-12 points before making a furious comeback late to pull within three. Free-throws sealed the deal for the Suns. It would have been a nice comeback, but let the loss not detract us from the real purpose of these games: player evaluation. Let’s hit the key guys:

Dwight Buycks – 28 PTS, 11-20 FG, 4 REB, 4 AST, 3 TO
It looks like Masai Ujiri has pulled a Spurs with this guy. He’s played three games in summer league and showed flashes of being valuable in the first two, and last night put on a show to win over those on the fence. Insert a generic comment about the quality of the opposition here, but once you look past that he was all you could ask for in a backupish point guard.

He changed speeds extremely well, was unstoppable in transition as he kept the back-pedalling defense on its heels, and displayed a cross-over that complemented the hesitation perfectly. It’s hard to judge court-vision and play-making in games like these because of the lack of any real practice time, so one can’t comment too much about his passing play, except that he moved the ball well in close-quarters and looked to setup teammates before hunting for his own. He also showed some ups and left the viewer with a feeling that maybe the PG position is better looked after than most thought three weeks ago.

Defensively, he was above-average in a game where the Raptors interior defense was quite poor and gave up 53% shooting.

Quincy Acy – 28 PTS, 10 REB, 9-15 FG, 4 TO
He was in a game-long battle with the Morris brothers (Big 12 connection) and did most of his offensive damage from the perimeter. His jumper, which has been off the mark this summer, was on point including 2-4 from downtown. The net new of what these games have taught me about Acy is that he has a jumper that can, at some point, be cultivated into being an asset. It’s good to know he’s already well beyond the Reggie Evans benchmark of offensive talent, and that he possesses a first step that could do some damage. Of course, the jury is still out on that since he’s not been deployed in a role like this during an actual NBA game, so I’m assuming there’s some translation from summer league effectiveness to NBA effectiveness.

With Jonas Valanciunas out (non-shooting hand fingers were taped), the interior defense had little size and no shot-blocking threat. Acy was too busy dealing with the Morris brothers in single coverage to provide help, and Chris Wright who started in place of Valanciunas, along with Gregory Echenique are just too small. Defensive against the Morris twins Acy didn’t fare tremendously well as they were able to three-dribble their way into good post-position before shooting over him. He fared better in face-up situations where he could use his hands and feet predictably. For me, this was his best moment.

Terrence Ross – 9 PTS, 4-9 FG, 4 REB, 6 PF, 3 TO, -13
As 18-year old Kentucky product Archie Goodwin was dominating the first half and getting the announcers (including Sam Mitchell) all giddy, I couldn’t help but think how Ross has wasted a chance to impress the legion of NBA coaches, GMs and analysts that are present in Vegas. I don’t know if Ross expects the ball to be fed to him and the offensive deliberately run though him, because he sure isn’t making any effort of actually demanding the ball and asserting himself beyond a Coby Karl-level. In fact, I’d argue Coby Karl’s name was called more often than Terrence Ross’s. This is a league where you have players fighting for touches and shots to impress NBA scouts, and it felt Ross did not want any part of it.

He tried a couple lane floaters which were off (one of them an airball), passed up a wide-open three to pick up a charge, and got frustrated when he was called for legitimate fouls, at one point throwing a towel and sulking all the way to the bench. If Ross has any one-on-one moves that can shed a defense we did not see them, and if he has any shot-making ability under pressure, that was missing too. When faced with adversity he regresses into the fetal position rather than rising to the challenge. The worst thing you can say about him is that he didn’t care enough to show up, and that’s very Chris Jefferies-like.

I can accept bad games where his shot is completely off; what is hard to watch is when our supposed future-star takes a back seat to scrubs, and in the process is overshadowed and at times, embarrassed. Let me put it this way: the Raptors played their best when Ross was on the bench, and that is an indictment. There are games where the plus/minus stat is telling of the players impact, or lack there of, and the game-worst -13 Ross registered appears generous.

The Rest
Chris Wright was strong in the fourth quarter when the Raptors came back from double-digits down to make the Suns nervous, with this play making the primary statement. I’m really hoping this guy gets picked up. He’d be fun to watch as he’s got ups, plays hard, and has substance to his game. Micah Downs went 0-4 from downtown, which is never good when you bill yourself as a three-point shooter, and finally, our man Coby Karl lodged 24 minutes and ended with a team-high +8 but only three points. Look for him in Europe as the summer league did nothing for him to get an invite to training camp. There’s simply too many players better than him on every team. Good luck to him. Say goodbye to Devoe Joseph too as the Canadian failed to be anything more than average.

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