The Toronto Raptors have announced their roster for the Las Vegas Summer League, and it’s a pretty good one, with several intriguing names listed.
The Raptors will be guaranteed four games in Las Vegas, only three of which are currently scheduled. A lot of games from the tournament will be broadcast on NBA TV and the rest can be viewed via a $15 online package. The full tournament schedule can be found here, and the Raptors’ schedule is as follows:
Friday, July 11 - 6 p.m. ET vs. Lakers
Saturday, July 12 – 6 p.m. ET vs. Nuggets
Monday, July 14 – 6 p.m. ET vs. Mavericks
Wednesday, July 16 or Thursday July 17 – Elimination round game
Saturday July 19, Sunday July 20, Monday July 21 – Quarters, semis, finals, if qualified.
As mentioned, the Raptors roster is quite intriguing. Obviously, the big draw is always the rookies and the team’s own young players, but the “fillers” are interesting this year. Here’s how it breaks down, courtesy of the Raptors Media Relations account and “second time in four days making a difference in someone’s life” Eric Koreen (assistant coach Jesse Mermuys is coaching, by the way):
Bruno Caboclo – No. 20 overall pick, 2014. Obviously, we’re all incredibly excited to see what he looks like on the court. It will be equally interesting to see how the Raptors use him, and whether they have a very clear set of tasks they have him working on or if they’re letting his length and athleticism dictate what he does in the flow of the game. All eyes on Bruno.
Bebe Nogueira – No. 16 overall pick, 2013, acquired from Atlanta. Nogueira may have the most to gain in this tournament, as he reportedly wants to come to the NBA this year and the Raptors could use a third center. He’s huge, and incredibly long, averaging a block every 10 minutes in the Spanish ACB league this season. He’s still raw, as you’d expect from a 21-year-old international big, but he has reportedly made appreciable strides since the time he was drafted and it would be great to see him show something at both ends and earn a back-end rotation spot.
DeAndre Daniels – No. 37 overall pick, 2014. While it’s been suggested Daniels could be headed to Europe to further work on his game, showing something here could move him into the plans as a contingency for wing depth if the team strikes out on mid-level free agents. Daniels can shoot the three and has shown potential as a defender, though the latter could be tough to prove in this setting without elite competition.
Dwight Buycks – Roster player, non-guaranteed contract until July 22. He’s almost surely a goner on his guarantee date, but he was a standout in the Summer League last year, and maybe lightning will strike twice and he’ll make the team think twice about risking losing him. Realistically, Buycks is auditioning for the rest of the league here, so expect him to look for his.
Conspicuous by his absence
Julyan Stone is not on the roster, which almost surely means he’ll be waived Monday, after which his contract would become guaranteed. It’s no surprise that Jonas Valanciunas isn’t playing, but I thought they may give Terrence Ross some run here to work on his handle.
Myck Kabongo will join the team. The former Texas Longhorn went undrafted last season and did little for the Miami Heat in Summer League or the San Antonio Spurs in the preseason, ultimately playing out the season with the Austin Toros of the D-League (9.2 pts, 3.9 rbs, 4.7 ast, 37.9 3FG%). He’ll probably be given a look as a 15th-man type, and the passport surely helps, but he hasn’t looked an NBA player yet.
Names you may recognize
Scott Machado – A personal favorite, Machado went undrafted in 2012 despite being an assist machine at Iona, eventually signing with Houston and spending most of the year in the D-League. He was later waived and grabbed by Golden State, who even used him in the 2013 playoffs. Last season, he failed to break camp with Utah and instead split the year between the D-League and France. There’s little question he can create for others, but he struggles to score and isn’t a great spot-up shooter.
Hassan Whiteside – The 2010 second-round pick of the Sacramento Kings has 19 NBA games to his credit, but all that really matters for him is that he’s 7-foot. That kind of size is always worth keeping an eye on, but I’m skeptical that his past two years in the Lebanese and Chinese leagues would have helped his development much. He’s still only 25, and he was Finals MVP and Defensive Player of the Year in China in 2013 but, you know, there’s probably a reason he was available, and it starts with him being ineffective in the D-League less than two years ago.
Malcolm Lee – With 35 games of NBA experience, Lee will be one of the more seasoned players on the roster. A 2011 second-round pick of the Bulls, the wing averaged four points, 1.9 rebounds and 1.5 assists with the Timberwolves over 2011-12 and 2012-13. I literally can’t find any info (D-League, EuroBasket, Wikipedia) on what Lee did for the 2013-14 season after being waived by the Wizards, though he attended that huge Nets free agent camp a month back.
Doron Lamb – Lamb was just waived by the Magic after a season in which he played 53 games, averaging 3.6 points and hitting 40 percent of his threes. That last point will be the draw with Lamb, as he shot 48.6 percent from downtown over two seasons at Kentucky and is 50-for-127 (39.4 percent) over 100 NBA games. That’s elite skill is what got him drafted in the second round in 2012, but he’ll need to show he can do literally anything else.
Darington Hobson – 2010 second-round pick by the Bucks who played fives game with them in 2011-12, he averaged 15.4 points, 10.5 rebounds and 3.3 assists in the Israeli league this season, impressive numbers for a wing. He was decent in the D-League the season before, too, but has a but of Dominic McGuire in him in the sense that he can pass and rebound from the wing but can’t score.
Names you probably shouldn’t know
T.J. Bray – Undrafted senior out of Princeton; wing; averaged 18.1 points, 4.8 rebounds and 5.2 assists as a senior while shooting better than 40 percent on threes.
Chris Daniels –
Former TNA X-Division champion Former Texas A&M player who has spent the past few summers in Vegas; 7-foot center; played in the Lebanese league last season.
Sam Dower – Undrafted senior our of Gonzaga; undersized center; averaged 14.2 points and 7.2 rebounds in 271. minutes as a senior.
Eli Holman – 6-foot-9 center currently playing for the Heat in Orlando Summer League; was undrafted as a senior out of Detroit in 2012; averaged 13.5 points and 9.4 rebounds in Turkey this season.
John Shurna – Undrafted out of Northwestern in 2012 despite leading the Big Ten in scoring; forward; averaged 11.7 points and shot 37.9 percent on threes in the ACB this year.
What Does It All Mean?
Well, nothing really. Life doesn’t mean anything.
In reality, though, the Raptors don’t have a lot of room to be auditioning players for roster spots. If we assume Bruno and Bebe crack the roster and Greivis Vasquez is retained – that’s thought to be coming soon – then there are only two roster spots left. One of those would surely be ear-marked for the mid-level exception (and probably/hopefully a wing with size), and while the team could easily have room left beneath the tax to sign a 15th player, doesn’t it seem more likely it would be used on a veteran rather than a third young player to develop along with #BrunoAndBebe?
Looking at the roster, though, the Raptors are clearly evaluating three areas: a third point guard (Buycks, Kabongo and Machado) on the cheap, a third center (Nogueira, Whiteside, The Fallen Angel), and shooting (Daniels, Lamb). I’m not sure there’s a need for another guard if Vasquez is retained or the need for another center if Nogueira cracks the team, but it’s good to have options and evaluate these kind of players (plus, you know, you have to roster a whole team), especially if the team doesn’t think it needs a 13th ready-to-contribute veteran body with that final roster spot.