Summer League: We Like Where He Strokes It

In their last game in Las Vegas, the Raptors played basketball against the Clippers. That’s probably the nicest way to put it.

For those of you that thought that losing in the playoffs meant you were done, we bring you the Las Vegas Summer League, where the Raptors lost in the playoffs against Houston, but then, for some reason, played again today.

Summer League games aren’t always the most beautiful thing and this game didn’t try and rock the boat. For those of you who missed this game, let me just run down a few numbers to give you an idea of what you missed.

– This was the second-lowest scoring game of the Las Vegas Summer League, only being saved from being the worst on a three in the last seconds of the game.

– The Raptors and Clippers shot a combined 34.7% from the field.

– The Raptors shot 13% (3-23) from three, only to be eclipsed by the Clippers who shot 10% (1-10). Although, perhaps the Clippers should be applauded for taking fewer threes considering they weren’t hitting. Hard to say, 13% is better than 10%, but 9 misses is better than 20 misses.

– Both teams combined for 6 assists in the first half.  Six in twenty minutes.

– The Raptors “won” by outscoring the Clippers 64 to 60.

The Spurs-Heat this was not.

There was almost no flow on offense and obviously little passing. Too many guys trying to force things. This is the problem with Summer League play. Most players are trying to impress, and so they want to standout, but when you try and standout, you often end up going away from the team concept. It’s a catch-22.

For those that actually care about the game, the Raptors were losing up until midway through the second quarter when they went on a 16-0 run and stayed ahead the rest of the game.

For most fans, the interest in Summer League is focused on individual play. This is a chance for us to see rookies in a professional setting, and evaluate players who may or may not have a chance at making the roster.

This game gave some of the players who hadn’t had seen much action previously some playing time. Scott Machado got a chance to start with Buycks sitting out this game. TJ Bray disappeared in his first start. And Myck Kabongo got a chance to see some extended minutes for once. We also might have seen the last of Hassan Whiteside, who also sat out the game.
[aside]1. Whiteside certainly has the physical tools to play in the NBA, and even showed a few skills, but he’s the prefect example of a player who is simply not mentally on an NBA level. He’s got a low basketball IQ, let’s his emotions get the better of him and, at 25 years old, has shown little improvement since he left college.[/aside]


Without any big name rookies in attendance, there was a lot of discussion about Bruno, and one of the Barry boys and the other commentator had a lot of nice things to say about him when they weren’t talking about Rick Fox’s scarf and, well, they talked a lot about Fox’s scarf for some reason.

The best comment was when Barry said, and I quote, “We like where he strokes it”, when talking about Bruno’s form on his shot (and not his length). He obviously caught the double entendre and backtracked a little, but that might have been the highlight of the game.

While Bruno didn’t shoot well, especially from three, he continues to impress with his potential. He’s still got a LONG way to go, but continues to have a big impact on the defensive end and shows flashes of an offensive game that is probably still three or four years away.

Bruno seemed to start the game with a slightly different mindset and looked to initiate a little more, but mostly failed miserably. He dribbled out the shot clock twice and one play, where he was isolated on the wing, was uncomfortable to watch as he fumbled the ball and then proceeded to dribble out the clock.

He also tends to fall for a pump fake WAY too often, especially considering a guy with his length shouldn’t even need to leave his feet. He also coughs up the ball under pressure, which is probably why I counted only a few times when he dribbled the ball more than twice.

Still, for the youngest player on the court and a guy who no one had heard of just a few weeks ago, Bruno impressed as much or more than anyone on the court. He doesn’t shy away from contact, has good form (despite not hitting in this game), and can be a game changer on the defensive end. On the very next play after the failed isolation attempt, Bruno used his length and anticipation to steal a pass and dribble the length of the court for a layup.

He played a team high 33 minutes and was a big reason why the team won.

The more I watch Bruno, the more I like Ujiri’s selection of him at 20. While no one should expect anything from him next year, I would say he’s definitely got more potential than anyone who was selected later and, at the very least, can become a good defensive player who can hit the three.


Bebe got to play extended minutes and did show some things, but he also showed he’s got a lot of work to do.

He looked about a foot taller than anyone out there, and he’s not a stiff. With his physical tools, he’s got a chance to have an NBA career, but there are a few things that might prevent that.

Bebe might be the longest player in summer league (that’s just a guess, but he’s got 9’6 standing reach, so I think it’s probably a good guess), but he’s only got three blocks in five games. He should have gotten twice as many without even leaving his feet. And therein lies the problem. While Bebe is a willing defender, he’s not a particularly good one. Well, some of the time he is, but for a guy as agile as he is, opposing players seem to go around him almost at will at times. He’s not good at defending pick and rolls and will over-commit far too often.

And while he ended up getting 10 rebounds against the Clippers, there were far too many times when a smaller player came out of the pack with the rebound instead of Bebe. And considering the number of misses in this game, I guarantee there were more than ten rebounds available for Bebe.

Bebe’s got great size, yes, but he simply doesn’t use it enough. He is active, but doesn’t always play very smart. Now, apart from the physical tools, Bebe is a willing, if not always pinpoint passer. He’s actually got a decent drive to the hoop for a player his size, and finishes fairly well around the basket.

He’s a project, but he’s a project worth gambling on.

Funniest incident of the game: While running up the court, Bebe apparently asked the ref if he could stop and tie his shoe. Do they stop games in Brazil for that?


Daniels was the leading scorer (15 points), rebounder (14 rebounds) and shot blocker (2 blocks) for the game, and definitely played fairly well.

He was active on the boards and on defense, but he did take 15 shots to score those 15 points, so it’s safe to say efficiency was not a strong suit. There were a number of times when Daniels seemed to have blinders on and forced the action rather than pass to an open teammate. It’s like he knew this was the last game to impress the Raptors and wanted to show something, but showing he could pass would have been something.


I was anxious to see Kabongo get some burn and was happy to see it happen. Kabongo has always had a reputation as a great ball handler and good passer, but his big weakness is his lack of a jumper, and all of that was on display in this game. Kabongo outplayed starter Machado, even dishing out a game-high 3 assists (?!?!?!). He showed some sneaky moves around the basket and was able to get into the lane almost at will.

But that jumpshot.

He’s been away from Texas University for more than a year and he obviously hasn’t spent enough time on his jumpshot. He was 0 for 3 from three and not one of them was close, even airballing one.

I still was impressed enough with him that I would like to see the Raptors bring him into training camp. He’s actually 22, which is older than I thought, but he’s got talent.


Daniels has no real shot at catching on with the Raptors, but since he was the ONLY Raptors to actually hit a three (he went 3-6) which I thought was worth mentioning.


In just 12 minutes, Holman actually looked like a fairly decent prospect. He’s not tall but showed a good post game and grabbed four boards in his limited time.

That’s it for Las Vegas. Next up, training camp. In three more months.

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