Last 200 articles shown.

Date Title Author
Aug 17, 16 Olympic Men’s Basketball Recap: Australia d. Lithuania Blake Murphy
Aug 16, 16 Olympic Women’s Basketball Recap: France d. Canada Blake Murphy
Aug 16, 16 Olympic Men’s Basketball Recap: Croatia d. Lithuania Alex Gres
Aug 15, 16 Raptors Weekly Podcast, Aug 15 – Olympic talk, and avoiding the treadmill Blake Murphy
Aug 14, 16 Olympic Women’s Basketball Recap: Spain d. Canada Blake Murphy
Aug 14, 16 Olympic Men’s Basketball: U.S.A. d. France Blake Murphy
Aug 13, 16 Olympic Men’s Basketball Recap: Spain d. Lithuania Spencer Redmond
Aug 12, 16 Olympic Men’s Basketball: U.S.A. d. Serbia Alex Gres
Aug 12, 16 Olympic Women’s Basketball Recap: USA d. Canada Blake Murphy
Aug 12, 16 Olympic Men’s Basketball: Lithuania d. Argentina Gavin MacPherson
Aug 11, 16 Report: Raptors, Masai Ujiri negotiating contract extension Blake Murphy
Aug 11, 16 Everything you need to know about the Toronto Raptors 2016-17 schedule Blake Murphy
Aug 11, 16 Raptors sign Drew Crawford and Yanick Moreira Blake Murphy
Aug 10, 16 Olympic Men’s Basketball Recap: U.S.A d. Australia Spencer Redmond
Aug 10, 16 Olympic Women’s Basketball Recap: Canada d. Senegal Blake Murphy
Aug 9, 16 Olympic Men’s Basketball Recap: Lithuania d. Nigeria Blake Murphy
Aug 9, 16 Morning Coffee – Tue, Aug 9 Sam Holako
Aug 8, 16 Olympic Men’s Basketball Recap: U.S.A. d. Venezuela Spencer Redmond
Aug 8, 16 Olympic Women’s Basketball Recap: Canada d. Serbia Blake Murphy
Aug 8, 16 Raptors Weekly Podcast, Aug 8 – Olympic basketball preview Blake Murphy
Aug 7, 16 Olympic Men’s Basketball Recap: Lithuania d. Brazil Gavin MacPherson
Aug 7, 16 Photo/Video: Lowry posts message to DeRozan, Poeltl and Siakam hit trick shots Blake Murphy
Aug 6, 16 OIympic Men’s Basketball Recap: USA d. China Gavin MacPherson
Aug 6, 16 Olympic Women’s Basketball Recap: Canada d. China Spencer Redmond
Aug 5, 16 Kyle Lowry named NBPA Raptors Teammate of the Year Blake Murphy
Aug 5, 16 Olympics Schedule: When to watch Raptors, Canadian women Blake Murphy
Aug 4, 16 Raptors Jersey Power Rankings Barry Taylor
Aug 4, 16 Olympic basketball odds: USA heavy favorite on both sides RR
Aug 4, 16 Morning Coffee – Thu, Aug 4 Sam Holako
Aug 3, 16 The Rio Olympics Power Rankings Alex Gres
Aug 2, 16 Raptors announce signing of Jarrod Uthoff Blake Murphy
Aug 2, 16 Raptors Weekly Podcast, Aug 2 – Jerrymandering Zarar Siddiqi
Aug 2, 16 Morning Coffee – Tue, Aug 2 Sam Holako
Aug 1, 16 VIDEO: Lowry and DeRozan hook up for exhibition alley-oop Blake Murphy
Aug 1, 16 Report: Jerry Stackhouse to coach Raptors 905 Blake Murphy
Aug 1, 16 Delon Wright out at least 4 months following shoulder surgery Blake Murphy
Jul 28, 16 Morning Coffee – Thu, Jul 28 Sam Holako
Jul 27, 16 Introducing: Blue Jays Republic Sam Holako
Jul 27, 16 Morning Coffee – Wed, Jul 27 Sam Holako
Jul 27, 16 VIDEO: DeMar DeRozan misses potentially epic poster Blake Murphy
Jul 26, 16 Andrea Bargnani reportedly close to signing overseas Blake Murphy
Jul 26, 16 Morning Coffee – Tue, Jul 26 Sam Holako
Jul 25, 16 Sullinger on the Lowry Diet Sam Holako
Jul 25, 16 Afternoon Coffee – Mon, Jul 25 Sam Holako
Jul 25, 16 ESPN Forecast pegs Raptors for 51 wins Blake Murphy
Jul 25, 16 Raptors Weekly Podcast, July 25 – YO-nahs vah-lahn-CHEW-nahs Zarar Siddiqi
Jul 24, 16 VIDEO: DeRozan goes off in 4th quarter of USA friendly Blake Murphy
Jul 23, 16 Morning Coffee – Sat, Jul 23 Sam Holako
Jul 22, 16 Canada announces women’s Olympic basketball roster Blake Murphy
Jul 22, 16 Morning Coffee – Fri, Jul 22 Sam Holako
Jul 21, 16 Report: Raptors sign Jarrod Uthoff to partially guaranteed 2-year deal Blake Murphy
Jul 21, 16 Morning Coffee – Thu, Jul 21 Sam Holako
Jul 20, 16 Cap Sheet Update: DeRozan specifics, VanVleet guarantee, and a 2017 look-ahead Blake Murphy
Jul 20, 16 Morning Coffee – Wed, Jul 20 Sam Holako
Jul 19, 16 Jakob Poeltl scouting report and video breakdown Cooper Smither
Jul 19, 16 Morning Coffee – Tue, Jul 19 Sam Holako
Jul 18, 16 Raptors announce signing of Fred VanVleet Blake Murphy
Jul 18, 16 The DeMar DeRozan Experiment Revisited Shyam Baskaran
Jul 18, 16 Norman Powell named to All-NBA Summer League Second Team Blake Murphy
Jul 18, 16 Raptors Weekly Podcast, Jul 18 – Summer League and Free Agency Recap Zarar Siddiqi
Jul 18, 16 Morning Coffee – Mon, Jul 18 Sam Holako
Jul 16, 16 Delon Wright leaves game with dislocated shoulder, Raptors lose on bogus call Blake Murphy
Jul 16, 16 Quarterfinal Open Thread: Raptors vs. Wolves Blake Murphy
Jul 16, 16 Morning Coffee – Sat, Jul 16 Sam Holako
Jul 15, 16 Norman Powell questionable for Saturday Blake Murphy
Jul 15, 16 How Shake Ups in the East Have Shaped the Raptors’ Odds to Win in 2017 RR
Jul 15, 16 VIDEO: Jakob Poeltl on The Starters Blake Murphy
Jul 15, 16 Morning Coffee – Fri, Jul 15 Sam Holako
Jul 15, 16 Raptors hold on against Warriors to advance in Summer League Blake Murphy
Jul 14, 16 VIDEO: Caboclo and VanVleet hit buzzer-beaters Blake Murphy
Jul 14, 16 Norman Powell returns to game after suffering thigh bruise Blake Murphy
Jul 14, 16 Anthony Bennett signs with Nets Blake Murphy
Jul 14, 16 I Am Toronto: Video, quotes, and more from DeRozan and Sullinger pressers Kiyan Sobhani
Jul 13, 16 VIDEO: Pascal Siakam introductory press conference Blake Murphy
Jul 13, 16 Poll: Who’s impressed you most at Summer League? Blake Murphy
Jul 13, 16 Talking Raptors Podcast – Summer League Nick Reynoldson
Jul 13, 16 Raptors earn top seed in Summer League tournament, play Thursday at 10 p.m. ET Blake Murphy
Jul 12, 16 Fred VanVleet hoping to force Raptors into a tough decision Blake Murphy
Jul 12, 16 Report: Luis Scola agrees to 1-year deal with Nets Blake Murphy
Jul 12, 16 Mid-morning Coffee – Tue, Jul 12 Sam Holako
Jul 12, 16 Raptors take a chance with Jared Sullinger Shyam Baskaran
Jul 11, 16 Raptors lock down Mavericks, improve to 3-0 at Summer League Blake Murphy
Jul 11, 16 Raptors agree to terms on multi-year contract with Fred VanVleet Blake Murphy
Jul 11, 16 Celtics’ Stevens, Rozier comment on Sullinger’s departure Blake Murphy
Jul 11, 16 Report: Toronto to host 2017 D-League Showcase Blake Murphy
Jul 11, 16 Quick roster and salary cap update after Sullinger signing Blake Murphy
Jul 11, 16 Report: Jared Sullinger signs 1-year, $5.6M deal with Raptors Blake Murphy
Jul 11, 16 VIDEO: Lucas Nogueira keeps trying to be a reporter Blake Murphy
Jul 11, 16 Raptors to host San Lorenzo de Almagro in preseason Blake Murphy
Jul 11, 16 Raptors Weekly Podcast, July 11 – Classical Human Beings Zarar Siddiqi
Jul 11, 16 Morning Coffee – Mon, Jul 11 Sam Holako
Jul 10, 16 Norman Powell leads Raptors to nail-biter victory over Wolves Blake Murphy
Jul 10, 16 VIDEO: Norman Powell scorers 29 in comeback victory Blake Murphy
Jul 10, 16 Report: James Johnson signing 1-year, $4M deal with Heat Blake Murphy
Jul 10, 16 Canada loses to France in tournament final, fails to qualify for Olympics Blake Murphy
Jul 10, 16 Morning Coffee – Sun, Jul 10 Zarar Siddiqi
Jul 9, 16 Summer League Notebook: Injury updates, Bebe sighting, highlights, and more Blake Murphy
Jul 9, 16 Raptors officially sign Jakob Poeltl and Pascal Siakam Blake Murphy
Jul 9, 16 Canada edges New Zealand to advance to Olympic Qualifying Tournament final Blake Murphy
Jul 9, 16 Morning Coffee – Sat, Jul 9 Sam Holako
Jul 9, 16 Raptors flay Kings in Summer League opener Blake Murphy
Jul 8, 16 Pascal Siakam leaves Summer League game with knee sprain Blake Murphy
Jul 8, 16 Summer League Mailbag: Expectations for the kids, filling the PF spot, inactivity, and more Blake Murphy
Jul 8, 16 VIDEO: More Raptors talk Summer League Blake Murphy
Jul 8, 16 The Kyle Lowry Mystery is Coming Shyam Baskaran
Jul 8, 16 Morning Coffee – Fri, Jul 8 Sam Holako
Jul 7, 16 Report: Raptors have made inquiry about Drew Gooden Blake Murphy
Jul 7, 16 VIDEO: Raptors talk Summer League Blake Murphy
Jul 7, 16 Summer League preview Blake Murphy
Jul 7, 16 July 7 open thread: Moratorium lifted, Raptors called on Millsap, team ranks 8th in merchandise sales Blake Murphy
Jul 7, 16 Morning Coffee – Thu, Jul 7 Sam Holako
Jul 6, 16 Bismack Biyombo thanks Raptors fans in goodbye Instagram post Blake Murphy
Jul 6, 16 July 6 open thread: ‘Everyone’ did not get better Blake Murphy
Jul 6, 16 Canada beats Senegal ugly to move on to Olympic Qualifying Tournament semis Blake Murphy
Jul 6, 16 Morning Coffee – Wed, Jul 6 Sam Holako
Jul 5, 16 Ronald Roberts’ path to the NBA will now go through Turkey Blake Murphy
Jul 5, 16 July 5 open thread: Get on my (mid-) level Blake Murphy
Jul 5, 16 Cory Joseph leads Canada to victory in QOT opener Blake Murphy
Jul 5, 16 Morning Coffee – Tue, Jul 5 Sam Holako
Jul 4, 16 Report: Raptors have ‘serious interest’ in Dewayne Dedmon Blake Murphy
Jul 4, 16 Report: Pau Gasol signing with Spurs Blake Murphy
Jul 4, 16 July 4 open thread: Kevin Durant chooses Golden State Blake Murphy
Jul 4, 16 Raptors Weekly Podcast, July 4 – Free Agency Fun Fest Zarar Siddiqi
Jul 4, 16 Morning Coffee – Mon, Jul 4 Sam Holako
Jul 3, 16 Report: Pau Gasol could command $18-22 million Blake Murphy
Jul 3, 16 Canada announces roster for Olympic Qualifying Tournament Blake Murphy
Jul 3, 16 July 3 open thread: Is the market setting? Blake Murphy
Jul 3, 16 Morning Coffee – Sun, Jul 3 Zarar Siddiqi
Jul 2, 16 Poll: Would you make this trade for Paul Millsap? Zarar Siddiqi
Jul 2, 16 Report: Raptors could try to lure Pau Gasol Blake Murphy
Jul 2, 16 Report: Bismack Biyombo agrees to 4-year, $72M deal with Magic Blake Murphy
Jul 2, 16 DeMar DeRozan (so far) 4th in salary raise; Only 16th in percentage raise Zarar Siddiqi
Jul 2, 16 Morning Coffee – Sat, Jul 2 Zarar Siddiqi
Jul 2, 16 Just a reminder that Stephen A. Smith was dead wrong about DeMar DeRozan Zarar Siddiqi
Jul 2, 16 July 2 open thread: $1.7B committed, how Ross/Valanciunas deals look, updated free agent list Blake Murphy
Jul 1, 16 Report: Raptors met with Ryan Anderson on Friday Blake Murphy
Jul 1, 16 Probably Nothing: Meyers Leonard spotted with Dwane Casey in L.A. Blake Murphy
Jul 1, 16 Free Agency Mailbag: Primer follow-ups, targets, and scenarios Blake Murphy
Jul 1, 16 Kyle Lowry is never buying DeMar DeRozan dinner again Blake Murphy
Jul 1, 16 Morning Coffee – Fri, Jul 1 Zarar Siddiqi
Jul 1, 16 Report: Raptors agree to 5-year, $137.5-145M deal with DeMar DeRozan Blake Murphy
Jul 1, 16 July 1 free agency open thread Blake Murphy
Jun 30, 16 Video – An Anthony Bennett Rim Rocker vs Italy Zarar Siddiqi
Jun 30, 16 Raptors announce Summer League roster Blake Murphy
Jun 30, 16 Report: Raptors meeting with DeRozan on July 1, 4 teams ‘could’ follow Blake Murphy
Jun 30, 16 Raptors extend qualifying offer to Nando De Colo Blake Murphy
Jun 30, 16 The misfit that is Delon Wright Zarar Siddiqi
Jun 30, 16 Report: Thunder asking price for Ibaka was substantial Blake Murphy
Jun 30, 16 Is Ryan Anderson a fit for the Raptors? Spencer Redmond
Jun 30, 16 Morning Coffee – Thu, Jun 30 Sam Holako
Jun 30, 16 Report: Raptors interested in Nerlens Noel Zarar Siddiqi
Jun 29, 16 Taking The Next Step: How the Raptors compare to recent finalists and champions Alex Gres
Jun 29, 16 Searching for the low-end Biggie Small Four Zarar Siddiqi
Jun 29, 16 Morning Coffee – Wed, Jun 29 Sam Holako
Jun 28, 16 Thompson to join Canadian men’s team; Women’s Phase 2 camp roster announced Blake Murphy
Jun 28, 16 Raptors Free Agency Primer: Cap sheet, assets, exceptions, and more Blake Murphy
Jun 28, 16 Morning Coffee – Tue, Jun 28 Sam Holako
Jun 27, 16 2016 free agent list Blake Murphy
Jun 27, 16 Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan officially join USA Basketball Olympic team Blake Murphy
Jun 27, 16 Raptors Weekly Podcast, Jun 27 – Draft recap and free agency preview Blake Murphy
Jun 27, 16 Morning Coffee – Mon, Jun 27 Sam Holako
Jun 26, 16 Report: DeMar DeRozan not scheduling meetings with other teams Blake Murphy
Jun 26, 16 Morning Coffee – Sun, Jun 26 Sam Holako
Jun 25, 16 Talking Myself Into The Draft… Matt Shantz
Jun 25, 16 Morning Coffee – Sat, Jun 25 Sam Holako
Jun 24, 16 VIDEO: Jakob Poeltl and Masai Ujiri pressers Blake Murphy
Jun 24, 16 An Optimistic view of the Raptors’ Draft Night Anthony Doyle
Jun 24, 16 Do We Still Have Trust in Masai? forumcrew
Jun 24, 16 Raptors Post-Draft Podcast: A Feeling of Missed Opportunity Zarar Siddiqi
Jun 24, 16 Morning Coffee – Fri, Jun 24 Sam Holako
Jun 24, 16 Draft recap: Raptors pick Poeltl and Siakam, top undrafted names, and more Blake Murphy
Jun 24, 16 AUDIO: Jakob Poeltl conference call Blake Murphy
Jun 23, 16 Video – Adam Silver Announces Pascal Siakam (while breaking hearts in Green Room) Zarar Siddiqi
Jun 23, 16 VIDEO: Pascal Siakam draft workout, highlights Blake Murphy
Jun 23, 16 Raptors select Pascal Siakam with No. 27 pick Blake Murphy
Jun 23, 16 VIDEO: Dwane Casey and Delon Wright talk Jakob Poeltl Blake Murphy
Jun 23, 16 Video – Silver Announces Jakob Poeltl to Raptors – Interview + ESPN Analysis, Comps Zarar Siddiqi
Jun 23, 16 VIDEO: Jakob Poeltl strengths, weaknesses, highlights Blake Murphy
Jun 23, 16 Raptors select Jakob Poeltl with No. 9 pick after failing to deal it for Serge Ibaka Blake Murphy
Jun 23, 16 2016 NBA Draft – Raptors Live Chat Zarar Siddiqi
Jun 23, 16 DeMar DeRozan to join Kyle Lowry on USA Olympic squad Blake Murphy
Jun 23, 16 Kyle Lowry to play for USA in Olympics Blake Murphy
Jun 23, 16 Draft day rumor/open thread: Raptors reportedly leaning Labissiere, Ibaka on block, and more Blake Murphy
Jun 23, 16 Draft day hub: Workout list, rankings, podcasts, and more Blake Murphy
Jun 23, 16 Raptors lose Andy Greer to Timberwolves Blake Murphy
Jun 23, 16 The Dream Offseason Barry Taylor
Jun 23, 16 Morning Coffee – Thu, Jun 23 Sam Holako
Jun 22, 16 Draft Mailbag: Apparently everybody wants to trade the pick Blake Murphy
Jun 22, 16 My 2016 NBA Draft rankings Blake Murphy
Jun 22, 16 Morning Coffee – Wed, Jun 22 Sam Holako
Jun 21, 16 Raptors announce Summer League schedule Blake Murphy
Jun 21, 16 VIDEO: Masai Ujiri discusses the draft Blake Murphy
Jun 21, 16 Draft workout notes: Ivica Zubac and Diamond Stone, and Masai Ujiri speaks Blake Murphy
Jun 21, 16 Full list of the 59 players the Raptors worked out for the 2016 draft Blake Murphy
Jun 21, 16 Morning Coffee – Tue, Jun 21 Sam Holako
Jun 20, 16 The Doctor Is In Podcast – Special Draft Edition Steve Gennaro
Jun 20, 16 Morning Coffee – Mon, Jun 20 Sam Holako
Jun 19, 16 Draft workout notes: Richardson, Finney-Smith again, Poeltl-Labissiere note, and more Blake Murphy
Jun 18, 16 What does your perfect offseason look like? Blake Murphy
Jun 18, 16 Morning Coffee – Sat, Jun 18 Sam Holako

Australia 90, Lithuania 64 | Box Score

Well, that certainly didn’t go as Lithuania planned. With a tough draw opposite a fun Australian squad, things weren’t going to be easy for Lithuania, but getting waltzed off the floor to the tune of a 90-64 defeat certainly wasn’t in the plans.

The game opened up about how you should have come to expect for the Lithuanians, with Toronto Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas playing a supporting role that’s sure to frustrate those hoping for his 16-and-8 of last year’s EuroBasket. Valanciunas continued to set some bone-crunching screens but look somewhat passive with the ball and even fighting for post position against Aron Baynes, and the result was Lithuania staying away from the interior game. To his credit, Valanciunas continued to be one of the best rebounders in the tournament, but the inside game was going to be too tough against the Boomers for Valanciunas to sit idly by.

At the other end, Australia did well to stretch Lithuania out early and make them pay for a lack of attention to the 3-point line. A 5-of-10 mark from long-range helped push the Aussies to a 26-17 lead at the end of one, with Matthew Dellavedova and Patty Mills raining napalm. Lithuania’s rebounding was the only thing keeping them afloat around the shaky perimeter defense and a steady stream of turnovers.

The second quarter opened with Lithuania blowing a switch to produce another Dellavedova three, Patty Mills lulling Mindaugas Kuzminskas to sleep for a tidy cut, and then Mills breaking free for another open triple.

Meanwhile, Lietuva’s ball-handlers continued to insist Valanciunas subsist on second chances (or entry passes down at his feet), something he struggled with for stretches thanks to the presence of Baynes and Andrew Bogut. It’s not all on Valanciunas, as it hasn’t been in the tournament, but most had been waiting for him to assert himself for the first time in Brazil. That didn’t really happen.

Valanciunas would eventually get going for a spurt, with a rebound-and-bucket apparently getting him more comfortable. As the game slipped away from Lithuania, Valanciunas asserted his presence, absolutely destroying Mills with a screen before rolling into the post for a nice back-to-the-basket score against Bogut. This is the Valanciunas that Raptors fans are hoping to see more of in 2016-17, the one that showed himself in the postseason, and the one who may hold the key to the Raptors taking an internal step forward. Lithuania sure needed it, like, right this second, too, as they looked down the barrel of a 17-point deficit, but this type of play was the exception on Wednesday.

The Lithuanians couldn’t get much going at the offensive end, taking just a pair of free throws in the half, hitting but a single three, and turning the ball over a ludicrous 13 times. To be blunt, they deserved nearly every bit of the 48-30 hole they found themselves in at the half, and it was unclear if they’d even find the requisite urgency to make a push early in the half. Australia was due some regression from an 8-of-16 half from long-range – Mills and Dellavedova combined for seven threes and 31 points (and 39 points by the end of the game) – and Lithuania was shooting 52 percent on twos they managed to get off before coughing the ball up.

Lithuania opened the half trying desperately to cut the lead, with Jonas Maciulis canning a pair of triples to lead an 8-2 mini-run. That stretch included a terrific block from Valanciunas, where he manned the gap between Baynes, his assignment on rotation, and Bogut, who had sprung open on an earlier action.

But even as Lithuania’s defensive effort briefly improved on the perimeter, they got in their own way some, with Renaldas Seibutis nullifying a great defensive stand with an unnecessary foul in ball-denial, then committing a turnover shortly after. It wasn’t just a Seibutis issue, of course, it was a case of Lithuania taking two steps forward and then a big one back, precluding them from making a sustained run.

And then they just kind of…broke. For an elimination game, there was just no urgency or execution. I’d get into specifics, but when a team spends the entire second half down between 20 and 30, do you really care to read about the mini-runs? As for the Raptors’ content, well, Valanciunas was quiet in the second half, every commenter’s favorite draft-whiff Domantas Sabonis had probably his worst game of the Olympics, and former Raptors and professional Kid Rock impersonator David Andersen posted a 6-6-3 line for the Aussies.

The performance of Valanciunas throughout the tournament has been confusing, a little disappointing, and, based on Twitter and G-chat, contentious. It’s something that requires its own article, but it’s definitely a little strange to see Valanciunas play such a muted offensive role – he finished the tournament averaging 6.7 points, seven rebounds, and one block while shooting 39 percent – following two summers of featuring heavy in a very good Lithuanian offense. Some of this is due to team context and the attention that opponents gave him, but he has to wear some of the blame, too, for some occasionally poor decisions (he averaged 2.2 turnovers, largely from fighting through double-teams) and the passivity that occasionally creeps into his NBA game, too. He also looked a little slow, and he’ll need the two months before the season begins to round into peak form. At 24, Valanciunas is still a few years from the typical big-man peak, and it’s really difficult to extrapolate anything from a six-game international tournament, so don’t go overboard with concern; it just would have been nice to see the Valanciunas of the last two summers on display here, particularly when Lithuania needed it most.

For Lithuania as a whole, this is a wildly disappointing result. Their defensive effort was found wanting, they played largely undisciplined ball in the tournament, and they completely no-showed two games. This team came to Brazil to medal, and instead they’re done in the quarter-finals, finishing with a 3-3 record overall and a woeful point differential. It may not necessarily be a step back given they have some nice young pieces to continue building with, but they unquestionably came up short of their goal in Brazil.

Australia now moves on to take on the winner of Serbia and Croatia, and that winner should be terrified. Australia has been awesome, full stop, with only a narrow loss to the United States on their ledger. They’re physical, talented, and really difficult to defend, and they’re going to give whoever they run into in the next two rounds a lot of problems. They’ll probably be the favorite in their semi-final, and they’ve never even medalled before. Considering how young the program is – with Dante Exum and Ben Simmons still to be added – Australia could be poised for a run as one of the world’s top basketball nations.


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France 68, Canada 63 | Box Score

It was right there. Right. There.

The Canadian women’s basketball team put themselves in a position to make their own kind of history, over the last Olympic cycle, over the course of this tournament, and over most of Tuesday’s game. With a win against a higher-ranked France team, Canada would move on to the semi-finals of the Olympic basketball tournament for the first time since 1984 (just hours after Derek Drouin became the first Canadian to win a gold medal in a field event in 20 years, no less), setting up a showdown with the juggernaut United States on Thursday. A loss would mean the end of a fun, spirited tournament that would have shown, regardless, just how much there is to be excited about in Canadian women’s basketball, but left the sour taste of missed opportunity in the mouths of fans and team alike.

There isn’t enough mouthwash in the world following a 68-63 loss to France.

Entering as 5.5-point underdogs, Canada came out a house afire, executing at the offensive end like no quarter prior in the tournament. Some of that was owed to a hot shooting stretch, sure, but Miah-Marie Langlois and Kim Gaucher worked to dominate from the mid-range and out early, creating the requisite gravity for Tamara Tatham to begin attacking. With Canada’s ever-stout defense giving France trouble early, that offensive outburst saw Canada open up a 25-16 lead through one frame.

Like Canada, France has gotten by for most of the tournament on their defense, and so the Canadians’ hot start seemed tenuous. Factor in a second unit that’s struggled from the floor at times – Kia Nurse went 0-of-6 through tough, physical attention (both teams were unhappy with a tight whistle on drives) in the half to drop her shooting percentage to 24.5 percent (it finished at 25 percent), and Nirra Fields didn’t make her usual impact out of the gate – and a cold stretch was to be expected.

France’s comeback was a slower burn, with a 10-0 run over three minutes led by Valeriane Ayayi’s hot shooting and tough drives, and she rounded out the half with a game-high 12 points. Sandrine Gruda, the tallest player on the floor most of the time, drew enough bodies as Canada gang-rebounded to open up other opportunities, and she showed some nice versatility at the offensive end that led to seven points and some early foul trouble on Canada’s part, save for when Natalie Achonwa was able to pull one over on the officials. Gruda, by the way, finished with 14 points and a game-high 10 rebounds.

That run trimmed Canada’s lead down to just one, but the Canadians pushed right back, surely realizing they couldn’t afford to enter the second half with a clean slate. A nice Gaucher jumper trailing the play gave her a team-high 11 in the half, and an excellent defensive stand prevented France from getting a shot off in a nine-second final possession. All told, Canada held France to 43 percent shooting and won the turnover battle (narrowly – both teams lead the elimination round in turnovers), good enough for a 37-32 lead, about as strong a start as they could have hoped.

The third quarter didn’t start as swimmingly, with an initial heave a fitting omen for what was to come.

The frame was back-and-forth for the most part, with that three tying the game and then the two teams trading leads throughout. Canada’s shooting remained cold, and while Nurse brought a strong defensive effort against some bigger opponents, her shot remained awry, and the Langlois-Gaucher-Tatham triumvirate naturally came down to earth. Meanwhile, Canada’s defense kept them close, except for the occasional transition lapse, an issue that’s popped up at times in the tournament for brief stretches.

France would again use the transition game to tie the game back up entering the fourth, after Langlois neglected to hold for a late shot after Canada forced a massive back-court turnover (which came on the back of a huge Katherine Plouffe offensive rebound). And so Canada went into the fourth tied at 50-50, which seemed fitting given how evenly the teams matched up on paper and through three quarters.

It was just terrible for blood pressure.

The fourth started similar to the third, but with Canada’s offense continuing to sputter, France was able to eke ahead. When Olivia Epoupa produced one of her four steals on the night and sent Marine Johannes the length of the floor for a four-point France lead with seven minutes to go, Canada needed to talk things over and try to regroup. After some strange nobody-wants-to-win sequences, a returning Gaucher hit a massive three to stunt the France pseudo-momentum and cut the lead to three, only for Achonwa to send a bad post-entry pass out of bounds on the next possession. (The game really was like that down the stretch, with both sides seemingly allergic to making a run and with mistakes abounding on either side; Canada, in particular, got skittish in response to the zone France logically threw at them when they stopped hitting threes, and the ball got stickier than their 18 assists on 19 field goals would suggest.)

If there were ever a breakthrough Canada needed, it was Nurse driving down the right side for an and-one midway through the frame.

Canada’s calling-card defense continued to be their saving grace, even as France pushed to 13 offensive rebounds, and a French shot-clock violation opened the window for Canada to make use of the bonus. Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe, Canada’s best rebounder all tournament, hauled in an offensive board and went to the line to cut the lead to one. But as tips, stops, and late-clock forces continued on the defensive side, Canada struggled to score, with Nurse missing a couple of tough opportunities through contact (Gaelle Skrela did just a terrific job defensively in this one, even if Nurse’s own struggles contributed to her 3-of-17 night).

Even when Canada forced a five-second inbounding violation and cut the lead back to three on the subsequent possession, they still couldn’t get out of their own way – an attempt by Fields to foul was deemed unsportsmanlike (off the ball), which meant France got shots and retained possession. The end-of-game foul-and-score routine didn’t allow Canada to inch their way back in, and in the end, they have only their offense – all 38 points of it over the final three quarters – to blame. The defensive effort was once again terrific (France shot 41 percent and committed 21 turnovers), but Canada will spend the next four years figuring out how to produce points that don’t come on offensive rebounds or with Nurse at the line.

It’s going to be a long four years, and Canada’s next Olympic team could look drastically different from this one. Gaucher, Shona Thorburn, and Lizanne Murphy are likely done, and Tamara Tatham will be the team’s veteran presence next time around. Luckily, the pipeline of Canadian talent is strong, and this same core that won the 2015 FIBA Americas tournament could return as many as seven players who are currently 24 or younger. Nurse, in particular, should continue developing into a star, and the experience of being the top option here, even in a losing effort, should prove invaluable. The experience for the entire group will be important to growing the program internally over the next cycle, and they’ll surely use this finish – an encouraging one, but one a step or two short of their ultimate goal – as additional fuel.

It’s tough to think that way immediately after a tough loss, and there will surely be those disappointed (and drawing parallels to the men’s side, an endeavor that not only provides little utility but also ignores the fact that, you know, the women were here, made the qualifying round, and deserve their own conversation). The program is growing and moving forward with positive momentum. It’s just going to take a little time to get over the sting of a missed opportunity.


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Croatia and Lithuania suited up for the final game of group play in Rio, and it certainly held meaning. Although both teams already secured qualification before the game (as Spain defeated Argentina, eliminating Brazil in the process), their seeding was still up in the air. A Lithuania win would have given them first in the group, forcing Croatia to play the U.S. in the quarter finals. Meanwhile, a Croatia win would have sent them to the top of the group, dropping Lithuania to third (a very convoluted situation due to how close Group B was).

Q1

The Lithuanian game plan saw Valanciunas involved early, knowing full well they needed him playing better basketball if they are to contend for a medal. The start wasn’t smooth though, as JV committed a turnover within the game’s first minute, and followed that up with two missed field goals. Seibutis took charge early for the green and whites, using his quickness to get by his defender, and the early proceedings were tight with 5 lead changes.

Valanciunas appeared dejected after another poor start, playing against himself as much as against the Croatians. He managed to get back on track with his first basket with 4:25 to go in the first, and maintained the momentum with a block and an offensive rebound and dunk after that. Another vintage JV post move gave Lithuania its largest lead of the game, 21-11. The quarter finished 21-13, with Croatia playing very disorganized basketball, committing 5 turnovers.

Q2

Bojan Bogdanovic, Croatia’s leading scorer in Rio, made his first bucket one minute into the second quarter, foreshadowing what was to come. Saric used his size down low against Kuzminskas on two straight plays in a battle of two of the NBA’s newcomers, cutting Lithuania’s lead to a single point. Bogdanovic would later score from beyond the arc to tie the game, 27-27.

Midway through the quarter, Planinic executed a veteran post move on JV for the and-one, making the Raptors star pay for his overzealous defense. Late in the quarter, a mesmerizing sequence saw both teams combine to score six straight triples, with Lithuania responsible for 4 of them. Croatia took a 6-point lead into halftime, 47-41.

Q3

Croatia came out of the locker room confident and focused, forcing Lithuania into a couple of late shot clock scenarios. Strong defense coupled with incredible three-point shooting (Croatia shot 58% from beyond the arc, and were 10/12 at one point in the 3rd) saw them extend the lead. Two successive triples from the Balkan Splash Brother Bojan Bogdanovic resulted in a one-sided 3rd quarter (28-14), as Croatia took a 75-55 lead into the final period.

The Lithuanian mood in the stands after the third quarter

Q4

Lithuania showed signs of life early in the 4th as Kalnietis took charge – he scored a triple to steady the ship, and later added a steal and a dunk to cut the lead to 11, 80-69. Valanciunas was benched in the game’s last minutes, as Lithuania elected to have Jankunas in, a floor-stretching big man, as they looked to make a comeback in the limited time that remained.

A furious last-ditch effort saw Kalnietis and Kuzminskas each score from beyond the arc. Kalnietis then stole the ball yet again and finished the fast break with another dunk, trimming the lead to just 6, 85-79, with 43 seconds to go. Their efforts would come up short though, as a Saric free throw and Bogdanovic dunk would seal it for Croatia. The final score – 90-81.

Notes

  • Jonas Valanciunas ended the game with a mediocre 13 points and 6 rebounds on 6/15 shooting, committing 3 turnovers. His teammates appeared to look for him more in this one, leading to a few easy layups for the Raptors big man. When asked to do more with the ball in the post however, he did not fare very well. The increased touches might just be enough to get him some measure of rhythm for the elimination games, and it couldn’t come any sooner for both his team and himself.
  • Bojan Bogdanovic is a cold-blooded killer. The entire tournament, anytime Croatia needs a basket, the ball goes to him. The defender usually knows what he’s going to do, but Bogdanovic always manages to get a clean look off his step back nonetheless.
  • Croatia won the rebounding battle 37-27. The fear of playing the United States in the quarter finals certainly made them work that much harder than the Lithuanians, who knew the worst they would finish with a loss was third. Lithuania will now look forward to meeting Australia, who beat both Serbia and France in group play.

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Spain 73, Canada 60 | Box Score

With an opportunity to draw an easier quarterfinal opponent, avoid the U.S. until a potential gold-medal game, and prove themselves on the level of women’s basketball’s third-ranked program, Canada came up a little short. A long stretch with a paucity of offense allowed Spain to pull away after a tight start, and the Canadians found themselves on the wrong end of a 73-60 decision, instead drawing a more difficult path for the elimination phase of the Olympic tournament.

The first half was bookended by a pair of Spain triples that served to take a bit of wind out of Canada’s sails to start and close, but the time between was filled with Canada playing their trademark terrific defense. Even on the final possession of the half, Canada’s strong full-court pressure, particularly from Nirra Fields, forced Spain to attempt multiple inbounds and throw up a tough, late look.

Canada has quickly made the defensive side of the ball their calling card in this tournament, and they held Spain to 31 percent on twos in the half, switching aggressively on most actions that didn’t involve Astou Ndour and trusting their guards to handle a much larger Spanish outfit. Miah-Marie Langlois, who played a strong game at both ends of the floor, in particular held her own in the post, Natalie Achonwa provided short bursts of quality defense on the block, and Tamara Tatham showed some nice tracking along the perimeter.

The size disadvantage did materialize, though, as Canada’s gang rebounding efforts still left the Spaniards with 10 offensive rebounds in the half and 16 on the night, and Alba Torrens was able to drop 12 of her 20 points early on. The aggressive switching on the likes of  Torrens, Laura Gil, and Laura Nicholls also led to a bit of miscommunication when the 6-foot-6 Ndour was present.

Ndour picked up a second foul with a little under four minutes to play in the half, and Canada used her absence as a reason to get back to attacking the rim after the bulk of the half was spent firing from mid-range. With Spain in the bonus – and having picked up a pair of technical fouls to voice their displeasure with that – Canada was able to pick up a few late free-throw attempts to help keep the gap reasonable. Kia Nurse, who’s spent the tournament as a bit of a foul magnet, scored all five of her points in the half and six of her eight for the game at the charity stripe (though she shot 1-of-8 from the field, another off night), and Spain had a tough time protecting the paint to close out.

Prior to that point, getting inside required pulling Ndour from the rim and making some tough passes around her 7-foot-1 wingspan or relying on Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe, who had seven points in the half.

Even with the late surge, Canada found themselves down 33-29 entering the break, having shot 37 percent from the floor with a lone triple, a problem since Spain was occasionally zoning up after flashing short-term full-court pressure. Slowing Canada’s offense down was a clear goal for Spain (Canada managed just two fast-break points), and several of Canada’s 10 turnovers in the half came by way of shot-clock violations. Spain would try to speed things up the other way and look for shots early in the clock, but to Canada’s credit, their defense was able to get back and get set, with a few exceptions (live ball turnovers, namely).

Spain came out looking to pull away in the second half and quickly pushed the lead to 10. It looked like there may have been a bit of a momentum shift when Miranda Ayim drew a brutal transition charge on Torrens, but Spain opted to keep Torrens in the game with three fouls, and she quickly scored four unanswered before taking a breather. Ndour, meanwhile, fed off of passes over the heads of fronting Canadian defenders and drew a key third foul on Raincock-Ekunwe, likely Canada’s best option to defend her. Raincock-Ekunwe would switch off Ndour but promptly pick up a fourth, anyway (both sides were permanently unhappy with the oft-ticky-tack officiating in this one).

Achonwa answered the call in a major way at both ends, defending in the post and even beating Ndour one-on-one, Fields hit a few timely buckets to hold the lead at single-digits on her way to a team-high 13 points, and Kim Gaucher hit a huge shot at the buzzer to pull Canada back within two entering the fourth.

Unfortunately, Canada’s inability to create offense became an even bigger issue in the closing frame. Canada didn’t manage to get on the board until the 4:34-mark, and during that drought Spain was able to add 11 points to push the lead to 13. Nurse was finally, mercifully able to get to the line to end the dry-spell, but at that point the game was too far beyond reach. Canada continued to push and fight, eventually hitting a few baskets, but they just don’t have the firepower to close out a double-digit lead in just a few minutes (their 18-point comeback against Serbia was far more of a slow-burn).

Canada finished the game shooting 36 percent (and 1-of-11 on threes) with 17 turnovers, numbers that just won’t hold against a team as good as Spain. They managed to hold Spain to 35 percent from the floor in kind, but the Spaniards took 33 trips to the line, a major swing factor.

The loss wasn’t entirely unexpected, with Spain entering as a six-point favorite, but this had the makings of a potential statement game for the Canadians. Spain is above them in the perceived women’s basketball pecking order, and Canada had at times in this tournament looked like they may be ready to stake a claim at the sport’s second tier. Canada surely would have liked to send a message here, though in the larger scheme, the games to come will speak louder, anyway.

After finishing 3-2 in group play, Canada still has plenty of opportunity ahead. By virtue of losing this game, they finish third in Group B and draw France, rather than Turkey, in the quarterfinals. Looking forward, it also means Canada will be on the U.S. side of the bracket, drawing the Americans in the semifinals, should they topple France. Canada has a day off before Tuesday’s meeting with France, and they’ll need to spend that time figuring out how to avoid long stretches of frigid offense – they’ve shown they can defend good teams very well, but France was an above-average defensive outfit, too.

Tuesday’s going to be a grind. It might also be the biggest game in the last 30-plus years of the program, short of maybe last year’s FIBA Americas final. (The time of the game is still to be determined.)


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USA 100, France 97 | Box Score

Close calls against Australia and Serbia didn’t exactly wake a sleeping giant. Maybe the United States aren’t going to play uninspired defense once the games have a little more meaning, and France showed Sunday that the Americans are going to have to increase their intensity as the competition gets more serious. Yes, the U.S. came away with a 100-97 victory to wrap up the group stage a perfect 5-0, but the defensive cracks that have been showing were on display once again. Even with Tony Parker resting a sore toe and ceding the starting role to Thomas Huertel, the Americans had to rely on their otherworldly offense to out-race a French layup parade they seemed unable to slow for long stretches.

France started out relatively strong, dropping 24 in the first quarter despite the Americans looking far more interested defensively than they have in recent games, a fleeting state. Huertel and Nando De Colo, in particular, got things going early on with the type of constant movement that’s given the U.S. some trouble so far in the tournament. De Colo, by the way, finished with 18 points and five assists, continuing an excellent tournament for the reigning EuroLeague MVP. While he recently signed a multi-year deal to remain in Russia with CSKA Moscow, the Raptors still own his Early Bird rights and his rights as a restricted free agent, should he ever opt to make an NBA return. Huertel was great, too, with a 19-8-9 line and some big plays throughout.

Despite the strong offensive start, the French still found themselves behind six, with the U.S. shooting 75 percent from inside the arc in the frame, and the French defense without an answer for Kevin Durant (nine points in a very aggressive six-minute stretch to start the game), and DeMar DeRozan (seven free-throw attempts). Paul George took his turn causing issues in the second, finishing a tough alley-oop from DeRozan.

The Americans pushed the lead to as many as 11 in the second, but France’s guard play kept them in it, especially once the starters for both sides returned to the game. (It was basically lingchi along the baseline for stretches, and this was all without Parker.) France would enter the half down nine, having shot 65 percent on attempts inside the 3-point line but just 2-of-8 from behind it, while the U.S. rolled to 55 points on the same 56-percent shooting mark overall (assisting on every single field goal they hit in the half), the difference made up by a passive 19-6 free-throw attempt disparity.

The second half brought more of the same, with DeMarcus Cousins struggling through foul (three) and turnover (four) issues standing out, in particular. Some timely – and ridiculous – long-range shooting from Klay Thompson (he finished with 30 points on 7-of-13 from outside) helped maintain the lead, even as Huertel (who also picked up a third foul) and De Colo kept causing problems.

Seriously, Thompson went nova for a little bit, and the result was a 12-point U.S. lead entering the fourth, one that felt mostly insurmountable despite the defensive issues.

France was able to trim the lead to six with seven minutes to play in the final frame, with a small U.S. lineup (Durant was the de facto five) going cold on the offensive end. Joffrey Lauvergne missing a pair of free throws was a missed opportunity, but he came back shortly after with a huge finish to cut it to four, only for Kyrie Irving and Durant to link up for a ridiculous alley-oop in response.



Things continued much the same way from there, with the U.S. able to keep France just at arm’s length in the closing minutes. Irving’s playmaking and Cousins’ physical presence inside carried the offense, and France wasn’t able to close that final margin (Antoine Diot’s three at the buzzer cut the final score to three; France didn’t have an actual last chance to tie).

The U.S. hang on, again, despite allowing an opponent to shoot 56 percent overall and 67 percent inside the arc. Maybe they’re so talented on offense that it’s sustainable through the medal round, but you’d have to think a group this good will realize they need to find another gear, and then find it.

As for the two Toronto Raptors on the team, they continued to play important supporting roles. Kyle Lowry continues to be the team’s best option at the point when they’re in need of a defensive boost (they might be best off without a point guard if they run into more late-and-close situations, though Irving was great offensively in this one), and he added three assists in 13 minutes. DeRozan, meanwhile, continued his week-long parade to the rim, and but also continued struggling at the defensive end, save for showing some nice anticipation jumping passing lanes. He chipped in nine points in his 12 minutes, five of them coming at the free-throw line.

Here’s how Lowry and DeRozan produced for the group stage as a whole:

lowry ddr

The U.S. now sits and waits to find out their opponent for Wednesday’s quarterfinal. They’ll take on whichever team finishes fourth in Group B, but that could still be any of Spain, Croatia, Brazil, or Nigeria depending on how Monday’s slate of games turn out. Teams have been jockeying to avoid the Americans – first and third in Group B won’t see the U.S. until a potential gold medal game – but there’s uncertainty top-to-bottom with a very interesting set of matchups tomorrow. France, meanwhile, finished third in Group A and could see the U.S. again in the semi-finals.

If nothing else, the U.S. can use the next two days off to figure out what they can change on defense after three shaky outings on that side of the ball. Nobody, including oddsmakers, has wavered in considering the U.S. a strong favorite, and nothing they showed Sunday should change that, though France affirmed the U.S. vulnerabilities. That should make for more intriguing viewing in the knockout stage than we all maybe expected two weeks ago, which is appreciated.


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Spain def. Lithuania 109-59 | Box Score

With preliminaries almost wrapped up, the final two games became extremely important for some teams trying to move onto the medal rounds. Spain, who was seen as one of the medal favorites entering the Olympics, was on the outside looking in, one point behind Croatia and Brazil with two games to play. Spain lost their first two games by a combined total of three points and finally got their first win beating Nigeria. On the other hand, Lithuania has been stellar so far in Group B, winning all three of their games and look to continue that trend against the struggling Spain. This had become a must win for Spain, and Raptors Jonas Valanciunas could be very important in this game trying to defend Pau Gasol who is averaging 18.3 points in the Olympics thus far.

In the first quarter Spain would play with intensity, as they knew their Olympic chances rested on this game, and getting off to a slow start was not option. Forcing 8 turnovers, while shooting 56% helped them grow their lead to 15 in the first. It was the strong play of Gasol, who would put up 7 points, including some great defense to lead Spain in the first. On the Lithuania side, it was Mantas Kalnietis, who would score 7 points of his own, to keep Lithuania in arms length.

Every time Lithuania would start to look strong, Spain would just match. Spain’s work on the offensive boards was keeping their possessions alive,which was vital to them trading baskets with Lithuania in the second. Spain’s Ricky Rubio would push the pace for Spain leading to some easy transition baskets. Overall Spain’s ball movement in the half court set would lead to a lot of open shots. Spain would lead Lithuania at the half 49-29 extending their lead going into the second half. Gasol would finish the first half with 14 points, and 5 rebounds. Midaugas Kuzminskas would provide some great scoring off the bench, finishing with 9 points.

Gasol would not back down in the third, coming out quickly hitting three three’s in a row. The Spainish offense would continue to dissect any mistake Lithuania made in their half court set, and the ball movement would continue to lead to easy baskets. Spain could not miss in the third, continuing to extend their lead outscoring Lithuania 36-16,and held a comfortable 39 point lead heading into the fourth.

The fourth would be much of the same, Spain would cruise to a victory in this one, as Lithuania would sputter to get anything going on either end. Rubio and Gasol wouldn’t play in the fourth quarter, as their second unit would hold their huge lead on route to a 109-59 victory, and keeping Spain’s Olympic basketball hopes alive. Gasol would finish with a game high 23 points, on 7/9 shooting from the field, and 5 rebounds all without playing in the fourth. For Lithuania it would be Kalnietis, who would finish with 16 points, on 7/9 shooting.

https://twitter.com/FIBA/status/764608645611065345

Raptor Watch –

Valanciunas would play some pretty uninspired basketball in this one. His shot would be blocked by Gasol under the basket a few times, as he was simply outmatched on the offensive end. He finished with 0 points, on 0/6 shooting, with 10 rebounds, and 2 turnovers. On defense, Valanciunas would have trouble containing Gasol, who would overpower him in the paint for most of the game. Valanciunas would get caught a few times following the ball handler on the pick and roll, who would easily find Gasol for open shots, while Valanciunas was too slow to close out. Spain used this a lot in the beginning of the third, allowing Gasol to hit back to back threes. On the third time down, Valanciunas would get caught below a Rubio hand off to Gasol for another easy basket. Valanciunas is looked at as one of the best players on this Lithuania team. If they expect to do anything in this Olympic competition, they will need more production out of Valanciunas to succeed past the preliminaries.

Follow – @RaptorsRepublic

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Serbia came into the game with a 1-2 record, performing below their initial expectations after losses to France and Australia, while the United States claimed a flawless 3-0 record with their latest win coming against the Aussies.

Q1

Serbia’s first four possessions were not pretty, ending in a missed shot, two consecutive turnovers, and a pair of missed free throws to boot. At the other end, a Cousins smooth spin move led the U.S. to a strong 9-0 start. With Serbia looking listless, their head coach Djordjevic turned to Jokic with two and a half minutes into the game. The Nuggets-man went on to score his team’s first bucket with 7:01 left in the first.

DeMarcus Cousins had a rough stretch, as he was called for travel twice, and blocked by Jokic. He responded by blocking the young Serbian back on the next play however. U.S.A. continued its dominant early play with two alley-oops to DeAndre Jordan, taking a sizable 23-5 lead.

Every bucket Serbia got in this stretch appeared to be a miracle, as the U.S.A.’s choking defense allowed nothing easy. Lowry entered the game with 4 minutes left in the quarter, while DeMar made his first appearance with 41 seconds to go.

The Americans’ lead appeared destined to grow for the rest of the game, but two technical fouls called on Jordan and Green allowed the Serbians to creep back in with a 6-0 run of their own to end the quarter. The last play belonged to DeRozan, as he attempted a midrange at the buzzer with no luck (Déjà vu). The U.S. led 27-15 at the end of the first.

Q2

Serbia opened the second period with a Nedovic 3, and appeared to find its footing a bit, showing signs of life. DeMar got his first points from the line early in the quarter, before seeing his fellow Raptor Lowry leave the floor with 8:23 left, having made little impact on the game. Serbia continued their attack, even forcing a 5 second violation on Kyrie Irving. A Milos Teodosic 3 cut the lead to 8, but was quickly answered with a Kyrie 3 in a what would be a recurring theme for most of the night.

DeMar had a pretty layup to help the American cause before checking out with 6:22 to go in the half. The Serbians hit back with a Teodosic steal, which was followed by an incredible pass from the Serbian point guard to an easy Raduljica dunk, cutting the lead to 9 once again.

DeAndre Jordan was clearly inspired by the Judo competitions in Rio, as he pulled something akin to a Waza-ari on Kalinic, and got an unsportsmanlike foul called on him. U.S.A. had 3 technical fouls in the first half, which gave Serbia 2 shots and the ball each time, allowing them to stay within striking distance. While the Americans tower above any of their opponents when it comes to talent, their mental fortitude does not stand its equal.

A very respectable quarter from Serbia (winning it 26-23) gave them hope at halftime, with the score 50-41 for the Americans.

Q3

With only a minute into the quarter, Raduljica (who led the way for Serbia at halftime with 14 points) had to come out of the game with 4 fouls. FIBA rules dictate that 5 fouls constitute an ejection, unlike the NBA’s 6 foul rule. Despite the blow, Serbia continued to charge back, as a Bogdan Bogdanovic (not Croatia’s Bojan Bogdanovic) 3 cut the lead to 7, only to be answered with a Carmelo Anthony 3 at the other end.

Serbia’s defense really picked up in the third quarter, forcing the USA into a few turnovers. Their energy carried over to the offense, as a primal dunk by Jokic cut the lead to 5, 58-53. The former Yugoslavian nation continued to feed Jokic down low every chance they got, and the young Denver Nuggets big-man delivered nearly each time, keeping his team in it.

Both Lowry and DeRozan checked back in with just under 3 minutes left in the quarter, only to see a Teodosic 3 cut the lead to 5 yet again. DeRozan was the man who stepped up for the U.S. in these tense moments, as he found a seam in the middle of the defense and went in for a layup to extend the lead to 9. The Americans’ defensive adjustment consisted of putting Lowry on Teodosic to try and stop the Serb leader, and the Toronto Raptor stayed glued to him throughout his stint, denying him the ball on a few occasions. Three made free throws from the U.S. (they shot 42 in the game) sent them to the 4th up 10, 72-62.

Q4

Nikola Jokic flashed his extended range with a three to start the final period, cutting the lead to 7 once more. Serbia sent DeAndre Jordan to the line quite a bit – any time he would get the ball under the basket, they’d foul hard, giving him no chance for an easy two. Jordan finished with a surprisingly decent 5/8 from the line (including one make off the backboard).

A Lowry layup calmed the reigning champions’ nerves a bit, before he was sent back to the bench. Serbia began doubling the post and crowding the passing lanes, and maintained a switch-almost-everything policy, which they could afford to do given the length of their wings. As they cut the lead to 5, a DeRozan layup extended it back to 7.

Teodosic hit another crucial 3 to cut the lead to 4, 77-73, as Serbia fully believed they could get the win at that point in the contest. DeRozan answered with a pair of free throws, before taking a seat after a decent showing, with just under 7 minutes remaining.

The Serbian big man Raduljica came back into the game, and stayed for a mere 30 seconds, fouling out on a questionable call. He ended the game with 18 points on an efficient 6/8 from the field, and Serbia would have had every right to give up after that call. Of course, they didn’t.

An exciting sequence took place late in the game – as Markovic scored a 3 to cut the lead to 5, followed by a Paul George 3, only for Jokic to hit yet another triple. Jokic absolutely took the team on his back late in this game, scoring 25 points on an excellent 11/15 shooting night, including 2/2 from long range.

With the U.S. up by 3 with less than a minute to go, Paul George air-balled from close range, and Durant missed a three off the rebound. This set the stage for the final play, where Bogdanovic had an open three at the buzzer, only to miss and see Serbia lose yet another heartbreaker, 94-91.

Notes:

  • Lowry ended with 2 points, 1 assist and 1 rebound, while DeRozan chipped in with 11 points, 1 assist and 1 rebound. The two Raptors are not among the key cogs on the star-studded American team, but both contributed in their own way in this nail-biter; Lowry with his defense, and DeMar with important momentum-stopping layups and free throws.
  • The Americans appeared to learn their lesson from the game against Australia, and played strong pressure defense from the very beginning. They came up against a tricky point guard in Teodosic though, who would break their first line of defense a number of times. Looking at the big picture, it was a good experience for them to come up against adversity in two straight games, preparing them well for the single elimination rounds.
  • The game got chippy at a few points, mainly in the first half, as Serbia appeared to replicate the Australian formula of trying to get into the heads of the US players. It worked, as 3 technical fouls were called against the Americans in the first half. Serbia gave the U.S. nothing easy, but paid for it by having two important players with 4 fouls midway through the 3rd.
  • DeMarcus Cousins is an exceptionally talented player that Raptor fans justifiably dream about adding to the roster one day. However, he allows himself to be mentally taken out of games far too often, as he’s very hard on himself after every mistake, leading him to commit consecutive errors.

All in all, the U.S. team showed vulnerability – which may set up an exciting ending to the Rio basketball tournament.


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USA 81, Canada 51 | Box Score

Canada fought hard and took a good shot early. In the end, the U.S. were the U.S., and they summarily dispatched the Canadians 81-51 in group play on Friday.

Things started more tightly than perhaps anticipated, with Canada opening an early lead against the 29.5-point favorite and keeping things tight through the end of the first quarter. Throwing their bodies around with reckless abandon to earn an edge on the glass, Canada appeared to be making the U.S. a little uncomfortable. As it turned out, that only served to wake up the sleeping giant, with one of the Americans ripping the team’s effort with a profanity-laced tirade in an early huddle to re-calibrate the team.

Getting the Americans pushing back underneath the rims created the expected result, and as the U.S. evened out the rebounding edge, Canada struggled to end possessions on either side of the ball. Their defensive effort was spectacular throughout the first half, even on second- (and third-) chance opportunities, and it’s a major testament to Canada that they held a team averaging 111 points in the tournament to just 36 points in the half.

Unfortunately, keeping the game close also requires scoring, and Canada proved woefully incapable in a second quarter that saw them score just six points and go almost the entire 10 minutes without a field goal. With the U.S. overplaying Canada’s pet back-door actions and bringing deadly weak-side help in the form of Brittney Griner, Canada struggled inside, forcing passes into traffic and missing around the rim. The offense could have been balanced out some had the team not also shot 1-of-10 on threes, and a cold, 0-of-6 half from offensive spark-plug Kia Nurse hurt the second unit.

More than either of those factors, though, may have been the turnovers, with Canada’s 15 miscues in the half helping lead to 13 fast-break points and 20 points in the paint for the U.S. The box score suggests Maya Moore only had two of the Americans’ seven steals in the half, but that feels about 10 steals too low, and she had a game-high 12 points at the break. Canada’s early rebounding edge was even more important in retrospect once it disappeared, as the States’ primary source of offense was pushing off of misses and turnovers (and again, the Canadians’ defense once set in the half-court was terrific). Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe was terrific on the glass with a game-high eight rebounds, but Canada ultimately wound up a minus-18 on the glass for the game.

The second half started off much the same way at the offensive end for Canada, with Griner, the two-time WNBA Defensive Player of the Year, immediately recording her third and final block in the game. Canada was able to pull her away from the rim a bit, and Tamara Tatham made her pay with a beautiful dish to a cutting Kim Gaucher, but plays like this were a rarity.

Griner promptly went back to being a problem, finishing a beautiful high-low pass from Tina Charles and causing havoc even as a screener.

Nurse eventually got on the board after seven missed field goals – it’s hardly surprising that U.S. head coach Geno Auriemma, Nurse’s coach at U-Conn, had his team ready for her (she finished 1-of-9 for two points) – but the team as a whole remained ice-cold from the floor. And while they protected the ball better with a single turnover in the third quarter, they also got hammered on the glass, looking tired as the frame wore on. When Diana Taurasi heated up from long-range (she finished 4-of-5 on threes) and reigning MVP Elena Della Donne decided to make her presence felt, Canada just couldn’t keep up, and they entered the fourth down 60-36.

It was mostly a formality from there, with the only pressing question being whether or not Canada would cover the spread. They came one point shy, with the depth of the Americans proving too strong for a garbage-time push to close the final gap.

The result was as expected for the Canadians, and shouldn’t be looked at as a disappointment. The U.S. had wins of 26, 40, and 65 entering this game, and Canada held them to their lowest offensive output of the tournament (they hadn’t scored fewer than 103 points before this). Their defensive effort was something to be encouraged by, and for a team with seven players 24 or younger, any opportunity to go against the world’s basketball juggernaut is an important learning experience. Nobody was tasked with more than 27 minutes, they used their full 12-woman roster, and they got the chance to measure up to the class of the women’s circuit once again. These are important games while building the program, and the timing of the test – coming off of three wins but ahead of their most important group-stage game – was ideal.

From here, the 3-1 Canadians will take on Spain on Sunday. That game will likely determine who lands second in Group B, and it’s a major exam for the Canadians, going up against a non-U.S. team that’s still considered to be a favorite. A win would be a major statement ahead of the elimination round, and it could also help Canada avoid Australia and France in the quarterfinals.

It won’t be an easy outing, with Spain likely to also enter 3-1 (they play Senegal this evening) and with comparable performances to Canada against the U.S., China, and Serbia so far. Spain has struggled from the 3-point line in the tournament so far but are a strong rebounding outfit and take care of the ball. Spain entered the tournament with the third-best odds at gold to Canada’s seventh, and they’re the No. 3-ranked country by FIBA. Canada has shown over the course of the last two years that they’re ready for this opportunity, and Sunday should be a lot of fun.


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Tonight we got treated to another “Raptor vs. Former Raptor” battle as current Raptors starting centre Jonas Valanciunas led his Lithuanian squad against former Raptor blogosphere whipping boy Luis Scola and the Argentineans. This was the first real test for the Lithuanian squad, who had under-performed their way to some close games against weaker competition and were saved by simply having too much talent to lose coupled with some of the best basketball that Mantas Kalnietis has ever played. Age has left Argentina a shadow of the team that won 2004 gold but their experience and cohesion make them a formidable foe for any team but the Americans.

The first half of the game was an ugly affair, with the refs calling quick touch fouls one minute and letting shooters get bodied to the floor the next, leaving players unsure of what exactly they were allowed to do. This kept the pace of the game uneven and the players tentative. This sloppy play led to some poor shooting and an unexpectedly low-scoring first half, as Lithuania clawed their way to a 30-27 lead. There wasn’t lot that was noteworthy in the first half, with most of the entertainment provided by the play by play commentator’s attempting to figure out how to pronounce “Valanciunas” and struggling to tell the difference between Paulius Jankunas and Domantas Sabonis, who were mistaken for each other no fewer than three times.

But those who didn’t change the channel after the first half were treated to a great second half, as urgency set in and the players shook off the uneven officiating to play the games you’d expect from them at this level. Argentina relied on their chemistry and the savvy veteran play of longtime stalwarts Scola, Andres Nocioni, Manu Ginobili and Carlos Delfino. The aging Ginobili poured in 22 points, showing that while he doesn’t have the legs to get up and down the court constantly like he used to he’ll always have his bag of tricks at his disposal, like when he hit this nifty floater over Valanciunas:

He and Scola also showed that they can still run the pick and roll to perfection:

It wasn’t quite vintage Ginobili but it was enough to keep Lithuania from running away with the game as the tempo increased.

The aging Argentineans were not the only ones using the pick and roll effectively. The Lithuanians continue to use the threat of Valanciunas’ tremendous finishing ability to force defenses to collapse inside and yield open outside shots or opportunities to attack scrambling defenders. It continues to pay dividends and every now and then the defense is unable to stick with Valanciunas as he charges to the rim and we’re treated to one of these:


It’s a pick your poison scenario: you either give Lithuania’s shooters ample room or you give up a basket inside to Valanciunas. There are no good options, you just have to decide which you hate least.

As the game wore on the Argentinean team seemed to slow down, giving Lithuania more freedom to move in the halfcourt and a few transition opportunities which they converted with a bit of style:

The younger, deeper Lithuanian squad bounced back from a lackluster first half with a strong 3rd quarter. After trading blows with Argentina most of the way they built the games first double digit lead(57-47 off of a hot stretch from Mindaugas Kuzminkas, who scored 9 of his 23 points in the final 2 minutes of the quarter. Argentina was too good for Lithuania to just roll over and the veterans even managed to take a 61-59 lead in the middle of the fourth that they would hold for a couple of minutes but in the end they just couldn’t handle the size, youth and improved guard play of this Lithuanian squad, who would retake the lead and never let Argentina get closer than 3 points for the remainder of the game, winning 81-73.

Lithuania continues to be led by Kallnietis, their starting PG. He followed up his double-double against Nigeria with a very strong 17 point, 5 rebound, 7 assist performance tonight. Valanciunas continues to contribute with his rebounding on both ends and his gravity on offense but has not been able to receive the ball consistently. This is in part because his team seems to only look for him once per possession – if they look for him at all – and in part because he hasn’t been sealing his defenders well and has been suffering from a mild case of the Biyombo’s when it comes to catching passes. Lithuania has been fortunate to have other players step up in his stead but if Lithuania is going to get a medal in this tournament they’re going to need to find some ways to get the young big man the ball in position to score a little more consistently. Teams are crowding him because he’s their best offensive threat, they need to recognize that and find ways to use him as more than a decoy. Thankfully teammates have been able to take advantage of the extra attention he commands – tonight it was Kuzminskas stepping up with 23 points on 13 shots.

Lithuania takes a 3-0 record into Saturday, when they take on perennial powerhouse Spain at 6 p.m. Spain is a team that may be on their way to becoming what Argentina is now: a former gold medal contender slowed down by age. As Lithuania continues to build on last summers Eurobasket success


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The Toronto Raptors are moving swiftly to extend the contract of president and general manager Masai Ujiri, nearly two years before his current deal expires.

Marc Stein and Brian Windhorst of ESPN report that Ujiri and the Raptors are in “advanced negotiations” on an extension, one that will keep Ujiri in the fold long-term. Ujiri re-joined the Raptors after winning Executive of the Year with the Denver Nuggets in 2013 – he was the team’s director of global scouting and assistant general manager from 2007 to 2010 – signing a five-year, $15-million deal. The ESPN reporters aren’t mentioning contract terms yet, but it seems likely the 46-year-old Ujiri is in for a raise on his $3-million average annual salary.

A deal would be a no-brainer for the Raptors and Ujiri alike, and is probably a formality given how solid a match franchise and executive appear to be.

From Toronto’s perspective, they lock up a GM who was sure to be sought after once he was a lame duck, and they do so before any rumors can surface about his potential flight risk. Beyond that, Ujiri’s been at the helm for the best three-year stretch in franchise history as well as its single deepest playoff run, and he’s accomplished those goals while maintaining roster flexibility and keeping an eye toward developing youth at the same time. He was instrumental in the rapid introduction of a D-League affiliate in Mississauga and the BioSteel Centre in Toronto (and shout out to Tim Leiweke, who landed Ujiri and helped a great deal with increasing infrastructure and exposure for the Raptors in his short time), and the franchise recently allowed him commit to head coach Dwane Casey and All-Star guard DeMar DeRozan long-term.

For Ujiri, he gets to stay in a city he loves, with a franchise that’s given him the tools to succeed, as well as to help push his charitable endeavors. He seems a spiritual match with MLSE from a corporate citizenship perspective, and the loss of Leiweke hasn’t led to any change in organizational structure or approach that’s affected Ujiri. He’s the man calling the shots on the basketball side, the organization gives him what he needs (again, see BioSteel and his claims they can spend into the luxury tax once they’re in a cap situation where they’re actually able to do so), and he’s able to freely continue to help build basketball in Africa (Ujiri, the league’s first African-born GM, is actually there right now with Giants of Africa).

From a transaction perspective, it’s true that fortune favored Ujiri when the Knicks balked at a Kyle Lowry trade in the middle of Ujiri’s tear-down, allowing the Raptors to find an unexpected chemistry. Rather than paddle against that current, Ujiri fortified that group, placing an emphasis on culture and continuity but showing little hesitation if a piece (Greivis Vasquez, Lou Williams, Amir Johnson) needed to be moved on from, whatever emotional the attachment. He’s been quiet at trade deadlines and had a modest offseason due to salary cap limitations this summer, but he also found bargain deals in Cory Joseph, Bismack Biyombo, and Jared Sullinger, locked up Terrence Ross and Jonas Valanciunas to what now seem like below-market deals, landed Norman Powell in the second round (it’s too early to judge the rest of the picks he’s made with the Raptors, but insert your Bruno Caboclo joke here), convinced DeMarre Carroll to sign for less than he was offered elsewhere (reportedly), and kept the team’s draft pick war-chest full.

Some were disappointed this summer that Ujiri stood pat, once again valuing continuity and tinkering at the margins while somehow getting even younger, but that was always the likely approach this year, and the Raptors were reportedly close on some more substantial moves that fell through when other dominoes around the league fell. Beyond that, the Raptors are in a good position to make a move during the course of the year if one presents itself, as they won’t be hamstrung by a lack of sizable contracts to match salary this time around (and they own all of their own picks, plus a 2017 Clippers first, as bait). A move may not materialize, but the Raptors should once again be on their way to 50 wins and a chance at a deep playoff run, which is a far cry from where any other GM in team history has had the franchise heading into a season.

Perhaps more importantly than anything else, this echoes the strong signals of stability the Raptors have been sending for some time. Once a moribund franchise known for losing and for its remarkably high turnover – on the roster, behind the bench, and in the front office – the Raptors continue to move forward with the same core throughout the organization. Their reputation has improved as a result, aided by Ujiri’s apparent ability to relate to players and make an impression, plus the city of Toronto’s general growth in popularity, which the All-Star Game only aided. That momentum can take time to manifest into an actual move or competitive advantage, but it would be impossible to argue the Raptors aren’t the healthiest they’ve ever been right this moment.

No, the Raptors aren’t legitimate title contenders this year, and tough decisions loom as to how they’ll get there. For the championship-or-bust crowd, a repeat of the best season in franchise history apparently isn’t worthwhile, but development isn’t linear. The next jump the Raptors have to take is perhaps the hardest for any franchise in any sport – from very good to great – and the Raptors are trying to bet that Ujiri’s the man to take them there.


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AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Darren Calabrese

The NBA released the schedule for the 2016-17 season on Thursday. Below are some relevant dates for the Toronto Raptors, with a full schedule to follow.

You can find the Raptors full schedule here.

Christmas

As expected, the Raptors will once again be sitting out the league’s marquee Christmas Day slate. There was some thought that with the Miami Heat no longer being featured, a Raptors-Celtics game could be hot enough at that point in the season to get Toronto the (perceived as overdue) nod, but that’s not how it’ll go down. Boston will instead draw the New York Knicks, as first reported by Baxter Holmes.

National TV

The Raptors will be on national television in the U.S. six times this season, up from two a year ago. Here are the nationally televised dates:

  • Oct. 28 vs. Cleveland (ESPN)
  • Nov. 16 vs. Golden State (ESPN)
  • Dec. 8 vs. Minnesota (TNT)
  • Feb. 27 @ New York (TNT)
  • March 21 vs. Chicago (ESPN)
  • March 31 vs. Indiana (ESPN)

The Raptors will also be on NBA TV eight times, matching last year’s total. Some may be disappointed in the number of US-wide looks they’ll get given the three-year run they’re on (and how many teams like the Celtics and Lakers are getting), but at least it’s up 40 percent (14 total) from 2015-16 (10) and up 55.6 percent from 2014-15 (9).

Shout out to Matt Moore for having the Raptors numbers ahead of the NBA release.

Opener

The Raptors will open their season at home Wednesday, October 26 against the Detroit Pistons, the first game of a three-game home-stand to start the year that also brings the Cavaliers (Oct. 28) and Nuggets (Oct. 31) to town.

Breakdown

Here’s how often the Raptors will play each opponent:

  • 4 times: Phi, Brk, NYK, Bos, Cle, Det, Mil, Cha, Mia, Orl
  • 3 times: Chi, Was, Atl, Ind
  • 2 times: Western Conference

The Raptors also have 17 back-to-backs but avoid any stretches of four games in five nights.

There are also these splits, per the team:

Games by Month    
October/November: 18 (9 home, 9 road) December:              14 (7 home, 7 road)
January: 17 (10 home, 7 road) February:                 11 (5 home, 6 road)
March: 16 (8 home, 8 road) April:                         6 (2 home, 4 road)

Games by Day    
Sunday: 14 (9 home, 5 road)  Monday:                   10 (7 home, 3 road)
Tuesday: 10 (5 home, 5 road)  Wednesday:               18 (6 home, 12 road)
Thursday: 5 (3 home, 2 road)  Friday:                         19 (9 home, 10 road)
Saturday:  6 (2 home, 4 road)

Cavaliers

The Raptors will square off with the defending NBA champions on the following dates:

  • Friday, October 28 (Toronto, the second game of the season)
  • Tuesday, November 15 (Cleveland)
  • Monday, December 5 (Toronto)
  • Wednesday, April 12 (Cleveland, the final game of the season)

Celtics

Toronto’s new apparent rival, the Boston Celtics, are on tap four times as part of the usual Atlantic Division schedule. Here’s when Jae Crowder and DeMarre Carroll will battle to the death:

  • Friday, December 9 (Boston)
  • Tuesday, January 10 (Toronto)
  • Wednesday, February 1 (Boston)
  • Friday, February 24 (Toronto)

Warriors

The Raptors go head-to-head with the Super Super Team on the following dates:

  • Wednesday, November 16 (Toronto)
  • Wednesday, December 28 (Golden State)

Returns

  • Bismack Biyombo makes his return to Toronto with the Orlando Magic on Jan. 29 (and again March 27).
  • Luis Scola and Anthony Bennett return as members of the Brooklyn Nets on Dec. 20 (and again on Jan. 13).
  • The James Johnson Revenge Game is set for Nov. 4 when the Miami Heat visit (with an encore on April 7).

Home stands/Road trips

The Raptors have the following stands of four games or longer:

  • Nov. 18-25 – 5-game road-trip (Den, Sac, LAC, Hou, Mil)
  • Nov. 28-Dec. 8 – 6-game home-stand (Phi, Mem, LAL, Atl, Cle, Min)
  • Dec. 23-Jan. 3 – 6-game road-trip (Uta, break, Por, GSW, Phx, LAL, SAS)
  • Jan. 8-15 – 4-game home-stand (Hou, Bos, Brk, NYK)
  • March 3-11 – 5-game road-trip (Was, Mil, NO, Atl, Mia)
  • March 27-Apr 2 – 4-game home-stand (Orl, Cha, Ind, Phi)

Home schedule

For those of you looking ahead to key ticket dates, here is the team’s home-only schedule for the year:

Date Opponent Home/Away Time
26-Oct Detroit Home 730
28-Oct Cleveland Home 7
31-Oct Denver Home 730
4-Nov Miami Home 730
6-Nov Sacramento Home 6
12-Nov New York Home 730
16-Nov Golden State Home 8
28-Nov Philadelphia Home 730
30-Nov Memphis Home 730
2-Dec LA Lakers Home 730
3-Dec Atlanta Home 730
5-Dec Cleveland Home 730
8-Dec Minnesota Home 7
12-Dec Milwaukee Home 730
16-Dec Atlanta Home 730
20-Dec Brooklyn Home 730
5-Jan Utah Home 730
8-Jan Houston Home 6
10-Jan Boston Home 730
13-Jan Brooklyn Home 730
15-Jan New York Home 3
22-Jan Phoenix Home 6
24-Jan San Antonio Home 7
27-Jan Milwaukee Home 730
29-Jan Orlando Home 6
31-Jan New Orleans Home 730
6-Feb LA Clippers Home 730
12-Feb Detroit Home 6
15-Feb Charlotte Home 730
24-Feb Boston Home 730
26-Feb Portland Home 6
1-Mar Washington Home 730
13-Mar Dallas Home 730
16-Mar Oklahoma City Home 7
19-Mar Indiana Home 6
21-Mar Chicago Home 7
27-Mar Orlando Home 730
29-Mar Charlotte Home 730
31-Mar Indiana Home 7
2-Apr Philadelphia Home 6
7-Apr Miami Home 730

Full schedule

And here’s the full schedule, which you’ll be able to bet on pretty soon as win over/unders come out.

Date Opponent Home/Away Time
26-Oct Detroit Home 730
28-Oct Cleveland Home 7
31-Oct Denver Home 730
2-Nov Washington Away 7
4-Nov Miami Home 730
6-Nov Sacramento Home 6
9-Nov Oklahoma City Away 8
11-Nov Charlotte Away 7
12-Nov New York Home 730
15-Nov Cleveland Away 7
16-Nov Golden State Home 8
18-Nov Denver Away 9
20-Nov Sacramento Away 9
21-Nov LA Clippers Away 1030
23-Nov Houston Away 8
25-Nov Milwaukee Away 8
28-Nov Philadelphia Home 730
30-Nov Memphis Home 730
2-Dec LA Lakers Home 730
3-Dec Atlanta Home 730
5-Dec Cleveland Home 730
8-Dec Minnesota Home 7
9-Dec Boston Away 730
12-Dec Milwaukee Home 730
14-Dec Philadelphia Away 7
16-Dec Atlanta Home 730
18-Dec Orlando Away 6
20-Dec Brooklyn Home 730
23-Dec Utah Away 9
26-Dec Portland Away 10
28-Dec Golden State Away 1030
29-Dec Phoenix Away 9
1-Jan LA Lakers Away 930
3-Jan San Antonio Away 830
5-Jan Utah Home 730
7-Jan Chicago Away 8
8-Jan Houston Home 6
10-Jan Boston Home 730
13-Jan Brooklyn Home 730
15-Jan New York Home 3
17-Jan Brooklyn Away 730
18-Jan Philadelphia Away 7
20-Jan Charlotte Away 7
22-Jan Phoenix Home 6
24-Jan San Antonio Home 7
25-Jan Memphis Away 8
27-Jan Milwaukee Home 730
29-Jan Orlando Home 6
31-Jan New Orleans Home 730
1-Feb Boston Away 730
3-Feb Orlando Away 7
5-Feb Brooklyn Away 12
6-Feb LA Clippers Home 730
8-Feb Minnesota Away 8
12-Feb Detroit Home 6
14-Feb Chicago Away 8
15-Feb Charlotte Home 730
24-Feb Boston Home 730
26-Feb Portland Home 6
27-Feb New York Away 7
1-Mar Washington Home 730
3-Mar Washington Away 7
4-Mar Milwaukee Away 8
8-Mar New Orleans Away 8
10-Mar Atlanta Away 8
11-Mar Miami Away 8
13-Mar Dallas Home 730
16-Mar Oklahoma City Home 7
17-Mar Detroit Away 730
19-Mar Indiana Home 6
21-Mar Chicago Home 7
23-Mar Miami Away 730
25-Mar Dallas Away 830
27-Mar Orlando Home 730
29-Mar Charlotte Home 730
31-Mar Indiana Home 7
2-Apr Philadelphia Home 6
4-Apr Indiana Away 7
5-Apr Detroit Away 730
7-Apr Miami Home 730
9-Apr New York Away 1
12-Apr Cleveland Away 8

Canadian broadcast schedule

The Raptors generally announce their Canadian broadcast schedule after the fact, as TSN and Rogers have to duke it out for games. We’ll update you with a separate post when that information becomes available.


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The Toronto Raptors have signed Drew Crawford and Yanick Moreira, the team announced Thursday.

Crawford is the more interesting name here, as he impressed a great deal with the team at Las Vegas Summer League last month. After participating with the Raptors in that tournament in 2015, his agent reached out to the Raptors for the chance to re-join in 2016, and the Raptors were more than happy to oblige. He then proceeded to average eight points, 2.8 rebounds, and one assist in 17.9 minutes, working as a secondary ball-handler and proving a savvy mover without the ball. He was also a key factor in the Raptors locking down most opposition throughout the tournament, as a 6-foot-8 wingspan and solid frame allow him to switch across multiple positions as needed.

In between Summer League stints, Crawford played his way to All-Star status in Israel, averaging 15.8 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 2.2 assists for Bnei Herzeliyya. He also shot 34.5 percent on 51 3-point attempts, continuing to show his stroke has steadied since his days at Northwestern – in 2014-15, he shot 35.5 percent on 186 attempts in the D-League, where he averaged 16 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 1.8 assists (he shot 35.5 percent in college, too, but had a dip in his senior season). The son of NBA referee Danny Crawford and a multi-time Academic All-American, the 25-year-old Crawford brings the type of maturity the Raptors look for up and down their roster, and he blended seamlessly with the team in Vegas.

Moreira is a bit more of a project than Crawford despite also being 25, at least on the offensive side of the ball. Backing up at the five for the Raptors in Summer League, he averaged 2.4 points, four rebounds, and one block in 13.7 minutes, shooting just 2-of-10 from the floor. He had a major impact on the defensive end, however, and proved an intriguing piece when the Raptors went super-small with Moreira as the lone natural big, switching freely and hedging a little more aggressively than Raptors bigs traditionally do. At 7-feet with a 7-foot-2 wingspan, it’s easy to see him developing into a quality defender, he’ll just need to bring his offensive game along. After averaging 11.1 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks and shooting 55 percent as a senior at SMU in 2014-15, he split last season between Rouen Metropole Basket in France and UCAM Murcia in Spain, averaging 7.5 points and four rebounds and shooting 50.1 percent in 17.1 minutes.

He may be best-remembered for goaltending Bryce Alford’s game-winning shot attempt in the Round of 32 of the NCAA Tournament in 2015, giving UCLA the victory over Moreira’s Mustangs. He was snake-bitten in an elimination scenario again at Summer League, when he was whistled for a bogus foul on Tyus Jones at the end of regulation that gave Minnesota the win over Toronto. There’s plenty more to him than those moments, of course, and he international basketball fans will remember him for his outstanding performance in the 2014 FIBA World Cup (17.8 points and 8.2 rebounds per-game) and subsequent strong showing with Angola in last summer’s FIBA Africa Championship.

The statistical production from each player may not jump out, but that’s kind of exactly the point here, looking longer-term. Both came in and did a job off the bench, working in secondary roles around the Raptors’ primary roster players. It’s great to go off for 20 points and show out in a setting like that, of course, but teams aren’t exactly scouring the Vegas free agent bin for primary scoring options. They want guys who they know can excel with a narrower focus.

“The other guys have really come in and played their role. I think that’s the key to Summer League, and like I told the players, that’s a skill: To be able to come in and fit,” head coach Dwane Casey told Raptors Republic in Vegas. “Because if you go to any team in the league, you’re probably gonna be in a subservient role, a role that’s coming off the bench or whatever. So we’re looking to see how you accept that role here, and guys have done a heck of a job of coming in and filling in those roles.”

While terms were not disclosed, the deals are likely of the standard training camp variety, with a second non-guaranteed year tacked on in the event either player makes good on the camp invite and proves worthy of an NBA roster spot moving forward. That means a small partial guarantee in the $25,000-$100,000 range that would act as a supplement to the minuscule ($26,000 max) D-League income if the players were willing to become D-League affiliate players and clear waivers. It’s unclear if that’s the immediate plan for either player, but the Raptors signed four players to similar deals last summer, and there isn’t room for everyone again this time around.

In Crawford’s case, they would need to acquire his D-League rights from the Erie Bayhawks, which may cost them a mid-round pick or the rights to another player. He’s also more of a flight risk than any of the other camp invites, having had success overseas and with several lucrative offers likely awaiting him if he fails to break camp. As far as the money is concerned, with the Raptors already over the cap and unlikely to push to the luxury tax barring a fairly significant trade, the small guarantees paid out here don’t cost much in terms of real dollars or flexibility.

Until that time comes, both players will be in competition for the Raptors’ 15th roster spot, which presently remains open. Fred VanVleet would seem to have the inside track as point guard insurance with Delon Wright set to miss at least a month of the season, but Jarrod Uthoff fills a more season-long need as a sweet-shooting combo-forward who can defend. Crawford fills a bit of a need as another two-way wing who can handle the ball, and Moreira is the only glaringly superfluous invitee as another somewhat raw, project center.

In any case, at most one of these players will make the team, and some of the others could be headed for Raptors 905 duty, giving that team a pretty terrific (and mature) talent base to supplement the youngsters on assignment. Assuming they clear waivers and decide not to cash in overseas, that is. Again, that seems somewhat unlikely for Crawford, but they can hope.

“I don’t think he’s a D-League player either, though,” assistant general manager Dan Tolzman told Raptors Republic of Crawford at Summer League (VanVleet being the other he’s referring to). “It’s a problem that we’ve got too many guys that are above the D-League standard and yet we don’t want to not have them in our system.”

As things stand, here’s how the roster for camp looks:

PG: Kyle Lowry, Cory Joseph, (Delon Wright – injured), Fred VanVleet
SG: DeMar DeRozan, Norman Powell, Drew Crawford
SF: DeMarre Carroll, Terrence Ross, Bruno Caboclo, Jarrod Uthoff (more of a 3/4, but we’ll slot him here)
PF: Jared Sullinger, Patrick Patterson, Pascal Siakam
C: Jonas Valanciunas, Lucas Nogueira, Jakob Poeltl, Yanick Moreira

It’s also possible the Raptors could still sign a veteran name to fill the final roster spot, employing either the veteran’s minimum exception or their $2.2-million bi-annual exception. The list of available names who fit the team’s current needs isn’t exactly an exciting one, but considering the team is already set to roster six players in their first three seasons in the league, adding another rookie like one of the four camp competitors may not be Plan A, however mature and experienced they may be.

Failing that, expect the Raptors to add another name or two to fight for the spot in camp. E.J. Singler is a player the Raptors really like and could give a small guarantee to in order to coax him into another year with the 905, and the team also still holds the rights to DeAndre Daniels, though he hasn’t looked ready for much beyond a D-League comeback season so far.


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Final Score U.S.A beats Australia 98-89 | Box Score

Day five of the mens Olympic basketball preliminaries, saw two undefeated teams go head to head, with each team looking to stay atop the rankings in Group-A. While Australia is a very good team, they are obviously the underdogs here facing the USA’s Dream Team. Team Australia is coming off a 15 point win against Serbia, while the US routed Venezuela by 44 points two days ago, on the strength of a great performance from the Indiana Pacers Paul George’s 20 points. Australia would have to try and limit the US from grabbing too many offensive rebounds, as they are averaging 16.5 a game as a team. The US got off to a slow start  in the last game against Venezuela, as they were tied at 18 after one. Australia is a much stronger team than Venezuela, it was important for the US to not fall behind early in this one.

In the first quarter, baskets came quickly from both sides. It was Carmelo Anthony who got the US off to hot start, scoring their first nine points all on threes. But Melo’s efforts alone, weren’t enough to pull away from Australia. The tough Australian defense, primarily from Andrew Bogut, wouldn’t allow the US any easy baskets inside. While Patty Mills and Bogut, would be efficient on offense to lead Australia for most of the first quarter. In the final two minutes, it was the Raptors own Kyle Lowry orchestrating the offense, while Anthony got hot again from outside to pull back to a tie game after the first at 29 a piece.

The second quarter would be a back and fourth game. The US typically has started slow, and then pulled away for their huge quarters in the second, but this wasn’t the case here, as Australia would pull away with the lead half way through the second. It was the Australian defense, forcing turnovers, getting open threes in transition, and shooting an uber efficient 68FG% at the half, while the US would only shoot 37FG%, which would put Australia on top 54-49 in good position to win this game. At the half Anthony would lead the way for the United States, with 17 at the half on 6/11 shooting. On the other end, it was San Antonio Spurs guard Patty Mills who would have 17 on 5/7 shooting from the field. The lead for Australia would be incredibly impressive, this would be the first time the Dream Team trailed at the half since the 2004 Olympics.

The US would come out quickly in the third, going on a quick 9-0 run to regain the lead. The hot start wasn’t enough for the US to pull away with a huge lead. Australia would settle down the US’s early lead, as their tough defense against the United States’ second lineup would pull their deficit to only three points going into the fourth.

For everyone who thought the Olympic mens basketball competition was going to be a pretty typical bulldozing by the United States, this one was pretty close throughout. It was kind of fun watching the US play under pressure, and see them work more as a team. While Australia would get good looks from almost everywhere in the fourth, they just couldn’t seem to keep up with the hot hand of Anthony, who would continue to knock down threes seamlessly down the stretch, and who would finish the game with 9 threes, and 31 points. For Australia, it was Mills who would lead the way for his team, finishing with 30 points. The US would survive this potential upset, expect to see this game played again in the medal rounds.

Raptors Report –

DeRozan wouldn’t see much floor time in this one, as he would only play a total of 3 minutes. He wouldn’t take a shot, finishing with one steal, and some shaky defense. Lowry was really impressive in the first half, and it was surprising that they US didn’t turn to him more in the second half, and decided to play Cavs guard Kyrie Irving instead. Lowry would play some great defense, and was great running the offense. He would finish with 7 points, 2 rebounds, and 4 assists.

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Canada 68, Senegal 58 | Box Score

For the first time ever, Canada is 3-0 in women’s Olympic basketball play.

With a 68-58 victory over Senegal on Wednesday, Canada’s now taken care of the early part of their schedule ahead of big challenges in the U.S. and Spain, but they’ll surely be scouring the tape from this one for a means of coming out a little stronger. A slow first half like the one Canada had against Senegal could be deadly when the competition gets ratcheted up, and Canada will be looking for ways to tighten up some early jitters and cold shooting. Even once they settled, they didn’t close particularly cleanly, either.

Still, they took care of business when they were at anything but their best, and that’s worth being pleased with. They’re 3-0 with a plus-36 differential, good for second in Group B for the time being, as good a start as they could have hoped for this week, and with room for improvement.

Things started out shaky for the 34-point favorite, to the point that it seemed at times in the first half like head coach Lisa Thomaidis might be at her wit’s end. The starting lineup was frigid, failing to score until nearly four minutes into the game. Kia Nurse’s introduction into the game midway through the first quarter helped key a 17-5 run the rest of the frame, as Senegal struggled to avoid fouling her at both ends of the floor.

Natalie Achonwa and Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe leveraged a major size advantage inside and Nurse dropped nine (with a plus-13) in 14 minutes in the half, but Senegal kept pushing the pace off of Canada’s eight turnovers, refusing to shoot unless they could get into the paint or fire from long-range. A cold 2-of-12 mark from outside helped limit the damage some, but Canada’s own 1-of-9 mark from outside kept things close. Somewhat surprisingly, Canada held just a 33-24 lead at halftime, though there was a strong sense that they were one good run from asserting their status as the heavy favorite.


That run came in the third, with Canada shooting a little stronger from the floor and stretching the lead out as far as 16. They entered the fourth in control with a 14-point advantage but took their foot off the gas, and a plucky Senegal squad leveraged even more Canadian turnovers (eight in the half for 16 on the game) to win the fast-break battle and slowly move their way back into it. Canada didn’t necessarily relinquish control, but with the lead down to seven at the three-minute mark and Senegal more than happy to play the high-variance David strategy of launching from beyond the arc (they finished 4-of-18), an upset was very much a possibility.

As they did last game, Canada once again looked to Nurse to settle things, and she answered in kind to end the run and stretch the lead back to nine. Canada would hang on from there, with Nurse finishing with a team-high 14 points despite a 4-of-13 night from the floor. Few had their shots dropping on an afternoon the Canadians shot 39 percent overall and 4-of-19 on threes, but some unselfish play resulted in 21 assists on 26 field goals and 11 of the 12 women who played getting on the board. Miah-Marie Langlois, in particular, moved the ball well, and Tamara Tatham came up big with a 13-and-10 double-double to swing the game inside (and help neutralize the excellent Aya Traore, who dropped 24 for Senegal).


Thomaidis may look to shorten the rotation some as the competition gets tougher, as while depth can be an advantage over the course of the tournament, Canada needs to find a tight rotation that works against the U.S., Spain, and entering the elimination rounds. It will be interesting to hear if Canada considers starting Nurse, their best offensive weapon over the last two games, to kick-start the offense, or if Achonwa’s minutes will increase following a strong but short showing here (a tough call considering Tatham’s outing and Katherine Plouffe’s strong defensive outing). The options at Thomaidis’ hands are a luxury, to be sure, you’d just think she’d want to play her best groups moving forward, if Canada’s certain which those are.

In any case, Canada will be a heavy underdog against the States on Friday, a game in which they’ll look to find their best selves ahead of a huge game opposite Spain on the weekend. It’s going to be a really fun couple of days for this squad.


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Lithuania 89, Nigeria 80 | Box Score

It wasn’t the dominant buzzer-to-buzzer performance many were expecting and Jonas Valanciunas had a second consecutive quiet game, but Lithuania finds itself sitting comfortably at 2-0 after topping Nigeria 89-80 in group play Tuesday.

Things didn’t start as planned for the Lithuanians, who entered as 17.5-point favorites. With seven turnovers at the offensive end and some shaky defense around their own rim, they found themselves unable to take command early. When former Raptor Ben Uzoh produced a steal that resulted in a transition bucket late in the first, Nigeria held an unlikely three-point lead, one they’d keep into the second quarter thanks to an Ekene Ibekwe dunk at the end of the frame. It was an inauspicious start for Valanciunas, too, who coughed the ball up three times in response to intense pressure in the post – Nigerian head coach Will Voigt was instructing his players to “be a centerfielder in the paint” when Valanciunas was in the game, and the team responded by doubling and getting under his hands aggressively when their ball-denials didn’t succeed.

Not surprisingly, Lithuania didn’t exactly get cooking with Valanciunas on the bench, either. Domantas Sabonis, who had a strong night overall, opened the second by knocking down a jumper but Mindaugus Kuzminskas picked up an offensive foul and then needed a friendly roll to take the lead back. Naturally, Ibekwe responded with a three and a huge block back the other way, with Nigeria sending the clear message that Lithuania wasn’t just going to cruise back into control by sheet force of regression just yet. A Michael Umeh drive to the rim following some traded triples was about all Lithuanian head coach Jonas Kazlauskas could take without his starting center, and the new-look Raptors center made his way back in, his team down two.

He didn’t make an enormous splash on offense beyond having some distracting pull on the defense, but he came through with a great block on Chamberlain Oguchi when switched onto the guard (though Nigeria scored on the ensuing inbound play).

Nigeria wouldn’t go away, especially from long-range, where they shot 6-of-13 in the first half. After Valanciunas couldn’t hit a fading hook, Ike Digou hit his second three to give him a game-high 11 points in the half (he’d finish with 19), and even a quick Valanciunas response only helped keep the deficit at 41-36 entering halftime.

Lithuania came out looking hungrier – and likely, a bit worried – in the second half, starting a little faster and with Sabonis in place of Paulius Jankunas at the four. Valanciunas received a quick hook, too, thanks to picking up an early third foul (for the second consecutive game), and he’d sit for the remainder of the quarter. Even without their anchor, Lithuania began to assert themselves, opening on a 5-0 run to tie and later going on a 12-0 run to build a lead that swelled all thew way to 11 by the end of the frame. That 29-13 third quarter was closer to what was expected coming in, and Lithuania was in the driver’s seat, trying to fend off a Nigerian squad that just kept fighting.

With Valanciunas back in the game, the highly anticipated Uzoh-Valanciunas “Raptors past vs. Raptors future” battle continued. After an Uzoh bucket (he finished with eight points), Valanciunas was fouled in the post on back-to-back touches (the first saw him stick a tough finish despite the wrap, with the officials deeming the foul was before the shot). Another trip, another foul on Valanciunas, this one fouling Ibekwe out of the game, a not insignificant development for any Nigeria comeback hope. He also helped out on the defensive end…

…Not that it was all rainbows for him there.

Valanciunas finished the game having played 23:43 due to the foul trouble (he picked up a fourth but stayed in the game for most of the fourth), scoring 10 points on 3-of-5 shooting with five rebounds and three blocks. All told, the foul issues through two games are disappointing and the statistical production modest relative to his more recent international tournaments, but there’s been nothing terribly discouraging. He should be better as the tournament moves along and the intensity picks up.

To their credit, Nigeria didn’t fold up shop at all, continuing to scrap to keep the Lithuanian lead to single digits (and even cutting it back to five late in the fourth). Lithuania is just a more talented team, and the rebounding edge (plus-9), distributing mastery of Mantas Kalnietis (21 points and 12 assists, though I still miss Sarunas Jasikevicius), and the scoring of Jonas Maciulis (21 points) proving too much.

Lithuania next draws Argentina on Thursday, when Valanciunas will have a chance to go toe-to-toe with former teammate and international basketball legend Luis Scola. Lithuania, by the way, opened the tournament with odds that pegged them tied for the fifth-best chance at gold. Beating Brazil, with whom they held equal odds, pushed Lithuania’s line from +2800 to +2500 (the win over Nigeria shouldn’t result in a shift, unless the threat of an upset cools the market some). (You can get the latest updates on the game and tournament odds here.)

Thursday should be a good lens through which to evaluate Valanciunas. That game is going to be all kinds of fun.


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TORONTO, CANADA - JULY 14: DeMar DeRozan #10 and Masai Ujiri of the Toronto Raptors pose for a photo during a press conference after signing his new deal on July 14, 2016 at the Real Sports Bar & Grill in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by Ron Turenne/NBAE via Getty Images

Can the Raptors avoid the treadmill and make the leap into contention? | The Defeated

Ujiri can’t offer any lottery picks, but they have young talent on cheap deals (Valanciunas, Terrence Ross, Norman Powell, Delon Wright, Cory Joseph), and could even move a star player on a long-term contract in DeRozan (all that goodwill bought by Ujiri? Gone in an instant if he were to flip DeRozan.)

The Raptors have plenty to offer for teams looking to add tangible talent rather than the promise of picks.

Would something like Valanciunas, Ross, and Powell be enough to tempt the Sacramento Kings into giving up two years of DeMarcus Cousins? Or if the Atlanta Hawks tear it all down, could Ross and picks get back an expiring Paul Millsap? Perhaps the Philadelphia 76ers re-open discussions involving Nerlens Noel.

Either way the Raptors would be at the mercy of the market. Teams like Boston, Denver and Phoenix sit in pole position after spending years accumulating assets. If a team decides to start a rebuild by trading their star player, those three teams have the most to offer.

Even if the Raptors manage to complete a trade, they’ll most likely have to give up productive players to complete the deal (if nothing than to match salary since they’re over the cap.) Losing any of their nine rotation players would hurt in some way. Even losing Ross, a staple of the trade machine, would result in a loss of vital 3-point shooting. Contending teams don’t trade productive players because that’s why they’re contenders to begin with.

That leaves some type of move along the fringes. The Raptors might snag a useful role player with a pick and a cheap contract (Sullinger’s deal is good for up to $8 million of incoming salary). But so far, Ujiri has shied away from making these types of deals, and even when he’s pursued them around the past two trade deadlines, he’s found the price to be too high. And even so, are the Raptors a role player away from beating Cleveland?

Birthday with the homies!

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Bro had no chance #wethenorth #raptors

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Can't wait for the press conference to finish #wethenorth #raptors

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Predictive or Predicament? Three Teams Poised for Regression | Basketball Insiders

The Raptors were dead last in the NBA for percentage of baskets assisted last year, relying heavily on Lowry and DeRozan to work their magic, and it could spell trouble in River City if either takes a step back. They’ll hope for better health from Jonas Valanciunas and DeMarre Carroll, but injuries masked the fact that even once they returned, Toronto was a better team while both sat on the bench.

This is understandable for Carroll, who may have strained himself getting back in time for the stretch run, but it’s a more worrying trend for Valanciunas. Frankly, departed Bismack Biyombo was pretty clearly the more effective center within Toronto’s most used lineup combinations. Valanciunas is a highly skilled beast in the right situation; whether this is that situation is a valid question with DeRozan back on the books long term and limited touches to go around. Don’t be shocked to see the Raptors quietly gauge his trade market on a fair contract if they underachieve.

It’s all a bit concerning for a team that already exceeded their Pythagorean expectation (based on point differential) by three wins, then added precisely zero new talent in the offseason. Biyombo’s departure hurts, especially on defense, where the Raptors would have been a bottom-half team during the minutes he sat. Patrick Patterson and Corey Joseph are nice players who have nonetheless probably reached their value ceilings. Dwane Casey has proven capable of connecting with and motivating his team, but he is also relatively incapable of adjusting his approach when better teams clamp down on Lowry and DeRozan.

No idea how to caption this #wethenorth #raptors

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These Rio press conferences are brutal #wethenorth #raptors

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Raptors are forecast to slip back next season | Raptors Rapture

Let’s also remember the Raptors played poorly in the playoffs. Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan were mired in dreadful shooting slumps, yet the team managed to scrape together Game 7 wins in their first two series. They even threw a scare into the Cavaliers by beating them twice in Toronto before the bubble burst.

The writers predicting regression both make much of the loss of Bismack Biyombo. Yes, it hurts that he’s moved on after a stellar playoff effort, but you can’t keep everyone. The reason Biyombo got so much playing time was the loss of Valanciunas to injury. A healthy JV can make a big difference in crunch time.

The Raptors might be better to start the season than last year’s team was. If Jared Sullinger can maintain his career averages, we’re immediately better on the boards. We now know Norman Powell can play in the NBA, as can Delon Wright when healthy.

Depth, familiarity, experience – I’ll take my chances with our group.

Got next #wethenorth #raptors

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OAKLAND, CA - JULY 26: DeMar DeRozan #9 of the USA Basketball Men's National Team shoots a free throw against China on July 26, 2016 at ORACLE Arena in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)

United States 113, Venezuela 69 | Box Score

It seems like we are well into Mens Olympic basketball, even through one or two games of play we can already sort out who’s a serious medal contender and who’s not. This year USA’s “Dream Team”, was already looked at as the heavy favorite, but with an impressive showcase, and a dominating 119-62 win over China in game one of the preliminaries, they have erased any doubts people may have had about them. On the other hand, Venezuela is one of the few teams without an NBA player on their roster, and is looked at as one of the underdogs in Group A, as Venezuela lost their first game to Serbia 86-62. Power forward Gregory Echenique, and the rest of the Venezuela team looked to put up a fight against the powerhouse United States.

The first quarter wouldn’t prove to be the blood bath people might have thought this game would be. Both teams would come out cold, and stumble into a lot of turnovers. Early foul trouble and live ball turnovers, would prove troublesome for the US. With DeMarcus Cousins, Klay Thompson, and Paul George all picking up two early fouls, forcing the US to play everyone but Harrison Barnes on their roster in the first. John Cox would pour in seven points, while Gregory Echenique would post 4pts/4reb/2ast to keep this game tied at 18 going into the second.

Early in the second quarter the US would continue to have problems stringing together good possessions. USA would look sloppy with 9 turnovers, and continue to struggle with how the game was being called, picking up 12 fouls in the process of their cold spell. For how rough the US looked early, Venezuela was only worse. Venezuela was outscored 30-8 in the second, allowing the US to open their lead up to 22 points going into the half. Kevin Durant would finish the first half with 11 points on 3/3 shooting from the field, while Carmelo Anthony would hit two threes late in the second to score 10 points, therby passing Michael Jordan on the US Olympic all time scoring list. John Cox would lead the way for Venezuela at the half with 9 points, but would be relied on to shoot on a ton possessions, finishing 3/10 from the field in the first half.

The USA would continue their good play in the third quarter, but Venezuela would match their play for most of it. It would be Echenique, who would prove troublesome for the US in the pick and roll. The 300lb Echenique, would finish the quarter with 14 points, and 6 rebounds. As the two teams would score 27-25 for the US in the third, but Venezuela simply didn’t look like they had enough to mount a comeback from their second quarter deficit.

Out of the gate in the fourth, the US extended their lead with their bench unit going on a quick 9-0 run. The offence wouldn’t stop there, eventually outscoring Venezuela by 20 points in the fourth. It was Paul George who was getting it done on both ends, as he would finish the game with a game high 20 points on 6/7 shooting from the field, making three three’s. The player to watch moving forward for Venezuela, was the previously mentioned Echenique. He finished the game with 18 points, and 7 rebounds, on an impressive 6/7 shooting from the field.

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Raptor Update –

In the first half, Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan would only combine to play eight and a half minutes. They would get considerable amount of time in the second half, as the bench unit proved effective in growing the United States lead. Lowry would finish with 5 points, on 1/4 shooting, but would have 5 rebounds and 9 assists, and be instrumental in running the offense. DeRozan would finish the game with 8 points, on 3/5 shooting, he would also add 3 rebounds.

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Canada 71, Serbia 67 | Box Score

That the ball was in the hands of 20-year-old Kia Nurse, fresh off of surgery and a shaky outing in the Olympic tournament opener, wasn’t all that surprising. That she dribbled out the clock and made a great read to feed Miah-Marie Langlois for a game-sealing three helps to explain why. That the Canadian women were even in a position to hit a dagger in the game’s closing seconds tells you everything you need to know about why Canadian basketball fans are so high on this squad.

Not long before Langlois’ sure-to-be evergreen-highlight, things looked dire for the Canadians. A strong start at the defensive end dissipated quickly, and a high-pressure Serbian front was forcing Canada out of their game at the offensive end. The result was a heavy dose of Canadian turnovers, a defense that was trying it’s damnedest but couldn’t get settled after the initial scrambles caused by the transition pressure, and a deficit that swelled to what felt like an insurmountable level.

Canada entered halftime down eight, momentum decidedly on Serbia’s side thanks in part to some tough, deep threes. With Canada unable to adjust immediately, Serbia quickly pushed that lead to 18. The defending European champions entered the game as modest 2.5-point favorites and the tournament as moderately stronger medal contenders than Canada (according to oddsmakers), and their pressure and experience appeared to perhaps be too daunting for a very young Canadian side. Ana Dabovic was surgical on the offensive end with a 14-5-5 line that doesn’t do her game justice and Jelena Milovanovic proved difficult to keep off the score sheet with 19 of her own. Canada’s advantage on the glass wasn’t quite enough early on, even with Serbia shooting a frigid 6-of-22 from long-range to help cover for some defensive miscues on the perimeter.

That Canadian side is also deep, however, and head coach Lisa Thomaidis did some nice tinkering – including heating up Canada’s own defensive pressure in the back court – to wrestle some momentum back. Thanks to Nurse opting to salt the earth with nine of her game-high 25 points in the third quarter, Canada reeled off an 11-0 run late in the frame. Things turned bleak again momentarily when Serbia closed the quarter with five unanswered, and Canada was left looking up at a 12-point hole entering the fourth despite taking a mighty swing back at the Serbians.

Anyone expecting the team to roll over at that point hasn’t been paying attention in this Olympic cycle. The FIBA Americas champions – the exact same group, in fact – were able to lean on their in-spite-of-our-youth experience to continue chipping away, with some fresh legs an 11-woman rotation provides proving valuable down the stretch (and some otherworldly perseverance from Nurse, who played the entirety of the second half). The defense found the gear it showed in the game’s opening minutes, the Serbians collapsed around the pressure they now felt they had to put on Nurse (who responded with five assists), and 22-year-old Nirra Fields made here presence felt with some timely buckets. Kim Gaucher, who struggled to a 3-of-13 mark from the floor overall, found the right time to make her opportunities count, too.

Unlikely though it seemed, Canada had trimmed that 18 point lead to 12, and then down to no lead at all by the 4:46 mark of the fourth, thanks once again to Fields.

Back on even footing, Canada and Serbia traded shots down the stretch with neither side able to wrangle control. After Dabovic made two trips to the line sandwiched around a major block near the rim on Nurse, Serbia held their last lead, 67-65, with 1:11 to go. Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe, herself just 24 and not a major part of the rotation a year ago, responded by scooping up an offensive rebound, getting fouled, and sticking the finish for a go-ahead and-one. Sonja Petrovic tried to answer with a drive but was whistled for a travel, setting up a Canada timeout and the Nurse-to-Langlois bucket. (Langlois, by the way, is also just 24, meaning Canada had three players 24 or younger on the floor for the final 8:31 of play.)

Can we…can we just watch this a few more times? Thanks.

The win is huge for Canada not just because it’s a moderate upset that moves them to 2-0, but because beating Serbia – now the most likely fourth-place finisher in Pool B, assuming Canada can take care of business against Senegal on Wednesday – improves Canada’s chances of avoiding Australia in the quarterfinals. That’s looking ahead a bit, and Canada has plenty of work to do before that point, of course. But Monday’s game had the biggest seed-changing potential of any of Pool B’s round robin games, barring upsets, and Canada sent a strong message that they’re not to be counted out, no matter the deficit. (It also gives Canada a shot at second in their pool if they can pull off an upset against Spain on Sunday, but again, that’s a bit forward-looking with Senegal and the U.S. on tap before then.)

This was the message all along, and it was iterated loud and clear: The Canadian women may be a remarkably young group and may not be perceived as a medal favorite just yet as a result, but they’re here trying to push that timeline ahead a cycle and make life uncomfortable for the incumbents. They’re off to a damn good start.


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The second day of the men’s OIympic basketball tournament kicked off with Jonas Valanciunas and the promising Lithuanian team facing off against the host country Brazil. Expectations are high for Lithuania in Rio. Their recent international showings have been very strong, winning silver in Eurobasket in both 2013 and 2015 with their squad being bolstered by a strong youth program that has recently produced Valanciunas, 2016 1st round pick Domantas Sabonis and recent New York Knicks signee Mindaugas Kuzminskas. Brazil’s recent record has been a little bit spottier but their squad does feature a fair amount of NBA-level talent and their significant home court advantage should keep them from being an easy out for most teams.

Early on in the game Brazil made it very clear that if they were going to get beat Valanciunas wasn’t going to be the one to do it. Every time he rolled to the rim after setting a screen the Brazilian squad would send a second defender to the paint to sandwich him and make sure he couldn’t catch the ball. They clearly preferred giving up open outside shots over defending Valanciunas at the rim. This sounds great in theory but when your opponent shoots 21-29 in the first half on the way to a 58-29 lead a team may start to reconsider.

Lithuania saved Brazil from this predicament by trusting their ability to hold the lead early in the 2nd half and playing long stretches without either Sabonis or Valanciunas on the floor, giving the Brazil defense a break by allowing them to match up with Lithuania’s 3rd and 4th string centers. This eliminated the need to collapse on the pick and roll or double team the post and allowed them to extend their defense out to bother the Lithuanian shooters which in turn allowed them to eat into the large Lithuanian lead, eventually closing to 4 points with 2 minutes left to play before a timely three point play from Sabonis extended it to three possessions and solid free throw shooting down the stretch kept the game out of reach.

Even though the victory wasn’t as convincing as it should have been there were a lot of positives for Lithuania. Their hot shooting on the open looks created by Valanciunas’ gravity should give future opponents pause if they were planning on packing the paint on defense. The team is normally carried by their frontcourt but got some solid outside shooting from Renaldas Seibutis and a great overall game from veteran guard Mantas Kalnietis, both of which bode well for their ability to play a great all around game going forward. Their defense was also solid when they were playing their regular rotation and not diving deep into the bench with a big lead.

For his first foray into Olympic competition the young Sabonis acclimated himself very well when given the ball near the rim. His outside shot was suspect, making high-low action with Valanciunas difficult, but when he got the opportunity to score in the post he was impressive. Early on he scored on this impressive post up:

Then hit Brazil with the drop step to a left handed layup:

But perhaps most impressive of all was this three point play to end a long Lithuanian scoreless drought and keep the game out of reach:

It would have been nice to see more Valanciunas but it was a great game that should help set the tone for Lithuania going forward. They’ll pound it inside when they have space, bomb from outside when they don’t and will hopefully ride one of the more balanced rosters in the tournament to a medal spot. With Canada not making it to the games having three Raptors on the podium when it’s all said and done would be a nice consolation prize.


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A trip to Brazil for the Olympics has somehow brought Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan even closer. Lowry took to Instagram on Sunday with a funny, touching, heartfelt birthday message to his tag-team partner.

This is a real friendship , this is a real bother, this is us forreal!!! Words can only explain so much to what this dude means to me so it’s not going even matter what i say because words can’t explain how important our friendship is to me. Thank you for being you at all time no matter what from DAY1( even though you ain’t pass me the ball back when I 1st got to the team😂😂jk) but we’ve grown as men, fathers , sons, and everything else in the last 4 years and most importantly we’ve done it TOGETHER!! I could go on and on but I ain’t because you soft and might cry when you read it so imma stop now 😂😂. I love you bro that’s real talk, no matter what happens ever in life we still gone be brothers!! Happy life day !!!! #youknowyoustillmylilbro #dinneronmebecasueitsyourbirthday #1-3equals4bro😂😂 #SIKE#ineedthemostexpensivemeal #hadtocropoutcuzbigassheadlol #youstilldontpassmetheballenoughlol #brothers#lovebro#COMP10 #donewiththismushystufflol

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Elsewhere, rookies Jakob Poeltl and Pascal Siakam were filming trick shots at the Panini rookie photo shoot. (I guess this means Siakam’s knee is OK?)

#paninidunk #panininbarookie

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We got them soccer skills #paninidunk #panininbarookie

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When it comes to Olympic basketball there isn’t a lot of doubt about who is going to take the gold; barring a series of Paul George-style freak accidents to half the team the USA squad is penciled in for the top spot and I don’t think anybody doubts that they’ll get it.  This is little more than a formality for them, with little in the way of drama and their only real competition being previous incarnations of team USA. At this point the only thing that seems unclear is what their eventual point differential will be.

Team USA kicked off their road to the medal round tonight against a Chinese squad that they had already beat by a combined 99 points in two pre-Olympic exhibition games and this one went about as well as the other two, with the Americans running away with the game early and cruising to a 119-62 victory. The game played out more or less exactly how you’d expect, with the length of the American guards and the strength of their forwards allowing them to control the action all over the court. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving hit a combined 9-13 three pointers to keep the defense stretched out, allowing DeAndre Jordan and DeMarcus Cousins to dominate the paint with the former grabbing 4 offensive rebounds in only 13 minutes and the latter shooting 6-8 and getting the line 5 times for 17 points in 15 minutes. Throw in some full court defensive pressure by Kyle Lowry, Paul George and Jimmy Butler and some transition offense from DeMar DeRozan and you have the makings of an easy blowout.

The Chinese team knew going into this game that they didn’t really have a chance but they approached this game exactly as they should have: a chance to test their mettle against the best in a game that matters to prepare them for their matchups against the rest of the field. They could easily have phoned it in but they continued to try to play their game throughout, running their sets consistently and trying new plays out of timeouts even when the game had already been out of reach for quite some time. If this game was little more than a high profile scrimmage they approached it in the way that will benefit them the most going forward.

The Raptors participants in this game did exactly what you would expect of them. Lowry pressured the ball on defense and charged at the rim with reckless abandon, getting two steals and 10 free throws in his 13 minutes. As someone who loves gritty basketball players I’m very pleased that Lowry can’t seem to play without giving maximum effort all the time, but as someone who wants to enjoy Lowry playing at this level for a few more years I cringe a little bit every time I see him go crashing into a defender during the offseason. That’s a minor concern, though – if we’re going to consider that a problem it’s what we’d call one of those good problems.

Like Lowry, DeRozan went out there and did what he did best, primarily by attacking the rim with his leaping ability. He gave us the most DeMar DeRozan sequence possible when he caught an alley oop, lost his man on defense for an open three, drew two defensive fouls on one offensive possession, bricked an outside shot on the next possession and then almost caused an international incident by doing this to young Chinese PG Zhao Jiwei:

This all happened in just over one minute, giving the world a quick overview of everything DeRozan is about. If you liked watching the Raptors last season, then you had to like what you saw from their representatives on Team USA tonight because it was everything you’ve come to expect from them.

Next up on the schedule for the Raptors enthusiasts will be Jonas Valanciunas and the Lithuanian team taking on the Brazilian squad on Sunday at 1:15 P.M followed by the USA vs. Venezuela on Monday at 6 P.M. For the Canadians out there who aren’t sure where they can catch the Lithuanian games the CBC has had free HD streams of all of the basketball games that have not been aired on a major network. Check for the Lithuania game here.


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After a dazzling opening ceremony last night, the Summer games have begun! On the first day of the Rio Olympics, the Canadian Women’s basketball team took on China in their first game of preliminaries. With the top four teams of each group moving on from preliminaries, Canada will look to get off to a great start against a team they have beaten four times this year.

It was a milestone game for Canada’s captain Kim Gaucher, who is playing in her 200th game for Team Canada. On the other end, China’s 6”5 Nan Chen would come out of retirement to play in the 2016 games.

In the first quarter, both teams would be slow out of the gates. Canada would miss their first six FGA’s, but would only hold China to three points during their early cold stretch. The tough defense would continue through the first quarter, only allowing China to score nine points. Canada would hit their stride at the end the quarter, going on a 5-0 in the last minute to end the first quarter 19-9.

Canada would continue their tough defense in the first half, more importantly it was their rebounding that kept them on top. China would have 18 boards in the first half, to Canada’s 25. China’s size advantage wouldn’t bother team Canada, as they would have 11 offensive boards keeping their scoring possessions alive. China would close the gap to six points mid way through the second, but Canada again would close the quarter strong. Holding China to 3 points in the final 2 minutes, and with Miah-Marie Langlois scoring two threes in the final minute and a half of play to close out a strong first half.

It would be much of the same in the third quarter, but baskets would come more quickly from both ends. China would score 20 points in third, but Canada would match, continuing their dominant play scoring 23. It was the duo of Tamara Tatham and captain Gaucher, that would continue Canada’s strong play in the second half. Although Gaucher would only score 2 points, she would be instrumental in every other facet adding 7REB and 5AST in the game.

Canada would come out hot in the fourth quarter, quickly extending their lead past 20 points. It would be on the strong play of Tatham, that would lead team Canada. Tatham would go 4/4 from three in the game, and be the game high scorer with 20PTS, to go a long with her 6REB. Olympic rookie Langlois wouldn’t disappoint, scoring 11PTS, while showing some veteran poise running the point which set the tone and pace perfectly for the much faster team Canada.

China would struggle down the stretch, only scoring 2 points in the first four minutes of the fourth. The veteran Chen would have a team high 13PTS, but it wouldn’t be enough to cool down team Canada. China will look to rebound against Senegal on Monday, to gain some ground. Canada would win their first game of Rio in convincing fashion 90-68, giving them two points in the Group B bracket. Everyone would score on the Canadian roster, shooting a blistering 65% from three, while out rebounding China 44-38. Canada will take on Serbia on Monday Aug 8th at 1:15PMEST. Stay tuned to Raptors Republic for more Olympic Basketball coverage.

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The NBPA announced their award winners for the 2015-16 season on Thursday, as voted on by the players. Along with naming Stephen Curry the MVP and Russell Westbrook the best dressed, the NBPA announced Teammate of the Year for each team.

Kyle Lowry was given the nod for the Toronto Raptors.

This is a nice nod from Lowry’s pals in the locker room, who clearly appreciate the way in which he’s grown into one of the leaders on the team. Considering the reputation Lowry had at one point in his career, this is yet another point of validation for his immense growth, on and off the court.

Now, if we could all make sure not to sleep on how good Lowry’s 2015-16 season was on the court, too. Kyle Lowry Over Everything.


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The 2016 Summer Olympics are here! More specifically to your interests, Olympic basketball is here! Just a few weeks removed from Summer League, we have something to keep us going for two weeks before another long lull ahead of the start of the 2016-17 season. Drink it in, mannnnnn.

Our Coverage Plan

It’s the middle of summer, which means there’s not a whole lot else going on with the Toronto Raptors. So, as promised, we’ll shift our focus for the next two weeks to the Olympic tournament. After all, three Raptors are playing on the men’s side, and the Canadian women have a chance to really make some noise on the other side.

At the same time, it’s the middle of August and these games are only Raptors-adjacent, so don’t expect the full preview-quick reaction-recap treatment. We’ll get a post up for each of the games in the chart below (so long as the relevant teams remain) bringing you a quick recap, any major highlights from our guys and gals, and any notable performances/news. The hope is that it’s a quick way for you to catch up or keep an eye on the Raptors/Canadians.

Day Time (ET) Men/Women Country
Aug. 6 6:00 PM Men USA (v. China)
Aug. 6 1:15 PM Women Canada (v. China)
Aug. 7 1:15 PM Men Lith (v. Brazil)
Aug. 8 6:00 PM Men USA (v. Venz)
Aug. 8 1:15 PM Women Canada (v. Serb)
Aug. 9 6:00 PM Men Lith (v. Nigeria)
Aug. 10 6:00 PM Men USA (v. Aust)
Aug. 10 4:45 PM Women Canada (v. Sene)
Aug. 11 9:30 PM Men Lith (v. Argen)
Aug. 12 6:00 PM Men USA (v. Serbia)
Aug. 12 2:30 PM Women Canada (v. USA)
Aug. 13 6:00 PM Men Lith (v. Spain)
Aug. 14 1:15 PM Men USA (v. France)
Aug. 14 4:45 PM Women Canada (v. Spain)
Aug. 15 9:30 PM Men Lith (v. Croatia)
Aug. 16 TBD Women TBD – Quarters
Aug. 17 TBD Men TBD – Quarters
Aug. 18 TBD Women TBD – Semis
Aug. 19 TBD Men TBD – Semis
Aug. 20 TBD Women TBD – Medals
Aug. 21 TBD Men TBD – Medals

You can see the tournament odds here, get the latest updates on the game and tournament odds here, and check out Alex’s power rankings of the men’s side here.

We can’t really get into details of how/where to find illegal streams or use VPNs or whatever here, but you’re free to provide tips to each other in the comments.

USA Basketball – DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry

DeRozan and Lowry both figure to come off the bench for the U.S., with Lowry backing up Kyrie Irving at the point and DeRozan rounding out a deep wing rotation (and, if exhibition games are any indication, operating as the third point guard in garbage time). Their workloads should be pretty light given the nature of the American roster and their dominance, but it should be fun to see them dominating.

Unfortunately, it seems likely you’ll need to find streams of USA games until the medal rounds if you’re in Canada.

Day Time (ET) Men/Women Country TV
Aug. 6 6:00 PM Men v. China
Aug. 8 6:00 PM Men v. Venezuela
Aug. 10 6:00 PM Men v. Australia
Aug. 12 6:00 PM Men v. Serbia
Aug. 14 1:15 PM Men v. France

Lithuania – Jonas Valanciunas

Valanciunas should be one of, if not the focal point of the Lithuanian offense, and this tournament represents a big opportunity for him to increase his profile. Underutilized in Toronto, Valanciunas could use a medal showing to make yet another argument that his teammate-cum-opponents should lean on him a little more often.

Unfortunately, it seems likely you’ll need to find streams of Lithuania games until the medal rounds if you’re in Canada.

Day Time (ET) Men/Women Country TV
Aug. 7 1:15 PM Men v. Brazil
Aug. 9 6:00 PM Men v. Nigeria
Aug. 11 9:30 PM Men v. Argentina
Aug. 13 6:00 PM Men v. Spain
Aug. 15 9:30 PM Men v. Croatia

Canada – Women’s National Team

The Canadian women have a legitimate chance to push for a medal here, returning the same roster that won the 2015 FIBA Americas tournament.

Day Time (ET) Men/Women Country TV
Aug. 6 1:15 PM Women v. China TSN
Aug. 8 1:15 PM Women v. Serbia CBC
Aug. 10 4:45 PM Women v. Senegal CBC
Aug. 12 2:30 PM Women v. USA TSN
Aug. 14 4:45 PM Women v. Spain

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Being able to watch DeRozan and Lowry on the U.S. Olympic team has turned out to be a pretty good fix for the usual feelings of withdrawal that come during this time of year.

It’s a good time to be Raptor fan. The franchise is led by two blue collar, All Star guards who love playing for the city and country. JV looks like he could be an All Star in two seasons. Norman Powell is the new Kobe. Let’s get the season started already!!

When it comes to the greatness, there is no offseason. This applies to players and fans. For fans, this can be a good time of year to reassess your Raptor wardrobe. How are you showing your support for the team clothing wise?

T-shirts and hats are the most sensible choices for fan wardrobe. Hats can be worn multiple days with multiple outfits and everyone loves t-shirts.

Raptor hoodies are good too and of course there’s the OVO collection courtesy of the Global Ambassador.

But there’s no greater statement a fan can make than wearing a player’s jersey. It’s a true commitment for a couple of reasons. For one: it’s one of the more costly investments when it comes to team paraphernalia and two: there’s no grey area. Jerseys aren’t just about the team but an individual. If that player leaves the team for whatever reason the jersey becomes obsolete.

For these reasons a couple factors should be considered before investing in a player jersey.

1. Skill Level

How valuable is the player to the team? Is he replaceable?

2. Contract Situation

How long is the player locked up for? Could the leave through free agency?

3. Off Court Shenanigans

Does the player stay out of trouble or is he a distraction off the court or in the locker room? If they’re on TMZ more often than ESPN the likelihood of being dealt increases. Unless they play in Sacramento.

With these factors in mind it’s time to present the first edition of the official Toronto Raptors Jersey Power Rankings. These rankings act as a guide for Raptor fans looking to make a jersey purchase with long term value. Like team power rankings, they can fluctuate throughout the season. If you’re already a hard-core fan of a particular player, by all means make the move and get that jersey. However, if you’re a hard-core fan of the whole team in general and looking for some guidance on a sound player-jersey investment, this chart is for you.

RaptorJerseyPowerRanking4

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Yesterday, Alex power ranked the 12 teams competing for Olympic basketball gold on the men’s side. In it, he ranked USA Basketball as the prohibitive favorite, with Spain, Lithuania, and France falling in line as the next most likely countries to medal.

As it turns out, oddsmaskers tend to agree, except in the case of Jonas Valanciunas’ squad, ranking the 12 competitors with the following odds:

1. USA -1600 (Alex rank: 1)
2. Spain +1000 (2)
3. France +1400 (4)
4. Serbia +2200 (6)
T-5. Brazil +2800 (7)
T-5. Lithuania +2800 (3)
7. Argentina +3300 (9)
8. Croatia +5000 (5)
9. Australia +12500 (8)
T-10. China +50000 (11)
T-10. Venezuela +50000 (10)
T-10. Nigeria +50000 (12)

The US is nearly as prohibitive a favorite on the women’s side:

1. USA -1400
2. Australia +850
3. Spain +1400
4. France +2000
5. Serbia +2800
6. Brazil +3300
7. Canada +4000
8. Turkey +5000
9. Belarus +12500
10. China +15000
11. Japan +50000
12. Sengeal +75000

If you’re a believer in the Canadian women, it could pay off to put your money where your patriotism is (and if you’re more for casino games than sportsbooks, click here to discover the best online casino for Canadian players).

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HOUSTON, TX - AUGUST 1: DeMar DeRozan #9, Paul George #13 and Jimmy Butler #4 of the USA Basketball Men's National Team watch their teammates during the game against Nigeria during the USA Basketball Showcase on August 1, 2016 at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images)

Who Is Cliquing Up on Team USA’s Men’s Basketball Team? | The Ringer

DeMar DeRozan and Carmelo Anthony

Melo and DeRozan may be more than a half decade apart in age, but as Harrison Barnes’s team photo makes clear, they’ve clearly bonded over the fact that the Olympics offer both maligned stars a safe haven to finally escape the pressure and just be dope at what they do. Oh, and their shared love of bucket hats:

But Melo isn’t just a headwear aficionado — he’s also very invested in the luxury-watch scene. Per TMZ, “the guys at Haute Time” even threw an Olympics-send-off party for him, and it’s only a matter of time before he’ll have DeRozan rocking a $25,000 Hublot. This is sure to make DeRozan’s former BFF, Lowry, low-key jealous; for Team USA’s sake, here’s hoping the resulting animosity doesn’t carry over to the hardwood.

Giants Of Africa Documentary Named To TIFF Lineup | Toronto Raptors

“On behalf of Hubert Davis and the team that worked so hard to tell the story of these children with a dream in Africa, we are honoured that Giants of Africa will be showcased at one of the world’s greatest film festivals,” said Masai Ujiri. “We believe that sport really can change the world and encourage these youth to dream big. We are very grateful to the Toronto International Film Festival for giving us such a powerful platform to tell their story and ultimately helping these young people realize their potential through the game of basketball.”

Raptors 905 new coach is Jerry Stackhouse | Raptors Rapture

Stack comes into his new job with massively more playing credibility than any Raptor coach since Lenny Wilkens (make no mistake – Lenny may have been an indifferent leader of the Raptors, but he was a superb player). Whether Stack can impart his secrets to the eager kids, and crank up their skills, remains to be seen.

If he does, I’d wager he’ll be on the front bench beside Dwane Casey in 2017-18.

The Raptors over the years have not been particularly friendly to ex-players becoming coaches. Perhaps that’s because the messy early years of Isiah Thomas linger in the memory of team executives like Larry Tanenbaum. Whatever the reason, the Raptors have employed career coaches like Kevin O’Neill, Jay Triano and Brendan Malone (and now Casey, of course) to a greater extent than most teams.

The D-League team’s coach is an important job, and making good will have a positive impact on the big team. Let’s hope Stack can pull it off.

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Canadian hoopsters hold camps to help kids | Toronto Sun

“It’s important to do these camps, especially for me, especially here in Toronto, I was here not too long ago, so I know know how it feels to be in their shoes and for somebody (in the NBA) to come,” Joseph told a few reporters.

“I know what type of inspiration that did for me being at Steve Nash’s Skills Academy when Jay Triano was teaching us. It’s funny because with Team Canada (this summer), I told Jay, he told us in the camp, I was maybe 12 years old, he told us, ‘Every time you take the ball to the rack, dribble it with your off-hand.’ I did that every day, and now, I told him, ‘Now my left-hand dribbling is better than my right hand.’

“So I know how it feels. I think it’s special, when you get an opportunity to do it.”

Also special for Joseph? The children chanting “Captain Canada” as he arrived at the camp.

“It just goes to show you that what playing for your country can do,” he said.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BIqRQlahlON/

Ranking the NBA’s Eastern Conference | Basketball Insiders

3. Toronto Raptors

The Raptors have had great regular season success the last three seasons, winning three straight division titles. However, the playoffs had been far less fruitful. Toronto made amends this past postseason, squeaking past both the Pacers and the HEAT, before falling to the Cavs in the Conference Finals. The Raps are bringing back essentially the same roster – save the losses of Bismack Biyombo and Luis Scola. Toronto will bring in Jared Sullinger to replace Biyombo as a back-up big off the bench.

Guard play is so important in today’s NBA, and the Raptors are powered by their dynamic backcourt duo of Kyle Lowry and (the newly rich) DeMar DeRozan. Thus, along with the improved team defense, it would be foolish to assume the Raps don’t win around 50 games next season and return as a high seed heading into the 2017 postseason.

Why I look so short? Ha. Beard Goals.. @trey_richards @jaerichards

A photo posted by Patrick Patterson (@pdpatt) on

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Child with Down Syndrome gets attention from Ron Baker, Fred VanVleet | The Wichita Eagle

“The organizers of the camp went to Ron and Fred and said there was a little guy who really wanted to meet them,” Adamson said. “They stopped what they were doing and came over to talk to Keaton and get a picture taken with him. You should have seen his smile, it was just the biggest smile you ever saw. He watches them, he knows who the Shockers are.”

Keaton’s mother, Andrea Palmer, said she was star struck when she met Baker and VanVleet. But it’s the look on Keaton’s face she’ll always remember.

“Basketball and swimming are really his two big things,” Palmer said. “But I played basketball when I was growing up in El Dorado and my dad was my coach, so I would say basketball takes a precedence over swimming for Keaton.”

Keaton’s fraternal twin brother, Kaden, also attended the Baker camp. Earlier in the summer, they were at Gregg Marshall’s camp at Koch Arena.

“Kaden really watches out for his brother,” Adamson said. “At the end of the camp, Ron picked two kids from his group to play against another group on the basis of sportsmanship and one of the kids he picked was Kaden. I attribute that a lot to having Keaton as a brother because he’s learned to look out for him and to include him and to share the ball with him.”

r/NBA Roast of the: Toronto Raptors (15/30) | /r/nba

They call Toronto “the 6” because that’s how many playoff wins it takes for their fans to consider it a successful season.


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Olympic basketball has arrived. Qualification tournaments have been played, the exhibition games are behind us – it’s now time for the real thing. The prestigious competition often dominated by the United States will get underway Aug. 6 in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. Before the action begins, it’s time to rank the rosters and evaluate who has the greatest chance of upsetting the reigning champions.

12. Nigeria (World Ranking: 25)

Nigeria

The Nigerians were never considered to be among the favourites in the competition, but the announcement that neither Al Farouq Aminu nor Festus Ezeli will join the team in Rio cemented their standing as the weakest team in the tournament. Nonetheless, they will have Chamberlain Oguchi on the roster, the 6’6″ wing that was named MVP of the 2015 AfroBasket (he plays his professional basketball in Poland).

An intriguing youngster to keep tabs on will be Michael Gbinije, a Syracuse guard that was selected 49th in the 2016 draft by the Detroit Pistons. Despite his lack of professional basketball experience, he may be asked to take on a leading role for D’Tigers.

Nigeria is a relative newcomer to major international competitions, with Rio marking only their second Olympic appearance (after a 10th-place finish in London in 2012). Their 2015 AfroBasket title was also their first. Nigeria is now producing talent at a higher rate, and their FIBA competition experience is vital in their progress towards becoming one the best teams in the world.

11. China (World Ranking: 14)

China

China’s win over the Philippines in the final of the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship ensured they enter Rio through the front door, led by Yi Jianlian’s performances that earned him the tournament’s MVP honors. Although he’s been out of the NBA since 2012, Jianlian is in his prime at 28 years old, and has earned four straight Chinese Basketball Association domestic MVP awards from 2013 to 2016.

Another intriguing player to watch is 7’2″ center Zhou Qi, a 2016 second round draft pick (Houston Rockets). Qi’s past includes an astounding stat line from China’s 2011 FIBA U16 World Championship game against Germany, where he recorded 41 points, 28 rebounds and 15 (!) blocks.

China placed 8th on three different occasions in the summer Olympics, the latest as hosts in 2008, and would be looking to repeat the feat in Rio. They have the quality big-men for the task in Jianlian, Qi and Zhelin, but will have to prove that their perimeter players can match the output of their centers if China is to survive the group stage.

10. Venezuela (World Ranking: 22)

Venezuela

At a time when the country is in a state of emergency, suffering from civil unrest due to inflation and lack of access to basic goods, its basketball team will attempt to bring a modicum of happiness to its people with a respectable performance in Rio. Venezuela’s greatest achievement in the summer Olympics was finishing 11th in 1992, and they’ve set their sights on a quarterfinals appearance, knowing they’ll have to beat the likes of China and Australia in Group A to make it to the top 8.

Making matters more difficult is the absence of Greivis Vasquez, a veteran NBA point guard who is still recovering from injuries. The team managed to shock at the FIBA Americas in Mexico last summer without him, beating a relatively star-studded Canada in the semifinals, and then Argentina in the final. Venezuela will therefore be confident they can make history without a single NBA player on the roster.

The team’s biggest star is not one of the guys running up and down the court; rather he’s the head coach – Nestor ‘Che’ Garcia. Garcia lives and breathes every second of the game on the sidelines (to put it lightly), and I recommend every sports fan watch at least one Venezuela game this summer, if only to witness what true, unadulterated passion for a sport looks like. ‘Che’ wills his team on when their talent is not enough, and his players lay it all on the line for him. Whether they’ll achieve their top-8 aims or not, Venezuela’s basketball team will certainly entertain in Rio.

9. Argentina (World Ranking: 4)

Argentina

The San Antonio Spurs of international FIBA basketball, albeit not as successful. Like their NBA counterpart, they keep growing grey hairs and getting counted out, yet continuously defy expectations to reach the latter stages of most competitions. This is likely to be the last big tournament for the golden age of Argentinian basketball, as Ginobili, Delfino, Scola and Nocioni’s average age stands at 36.

For the first time in many years though, it appears that there will be worthy new blood taking the reigns of the national team behind those icons. Youngsters like Nicolas Laprovittola and Patricio Garino (recently signed by the Spurs) have shown flashes of being capable of maintaining Argentina’s status as a top basketball nation.

An interesting story to follow on the blue and whites is the return of Carlos Delfino to competitive play, as he was recovering from injuries since 2013. He looked sharp in exhibition games and will have ample motivation to earn another contract, be it in the NBA or the Euroleague. The team has a wealth of experience on the roster, which could play a major role in tense knockout games if they succeed in getting out of pool play. Although a repeat of the 2004 Olympic gold medal is unlikely, never count out the Argentinians.

8. Australia (World Ranking: 11)

Australia

The Aussies come to Rio with a roster that opponents want nothing to do with. It features the likes of Aron Baynes, Andrew Bogut and Matthew Dellavedova, as icepack manufacturers stand to see their revenues jump after every Australia game. Alongside the mainstay Mills, it’s Dellavedova who will be asked to create for himself and others, taking on a larger role than he’s used to in the NBA (a recurring theme in FIBA tournaments).

Australia qualified to the tournament by winning the FIBA Oceania Championship in 2015, a tournament that consisted of only two games between two teams, Australia and New Zealand. The Aussies won both games, and were able to turn their attention to the real challenge beginning in early August.

The roster offers other experienced NBA players like Joe Ingles and the ever-present David Andersen, combining to form a decent, if unspectacular side that will challenge for a top-8 finish. However, the overall talent level will likely not allow them to reach the lofty heights of previous Olympics (finished 4th three times).

7. Brazil (World Ranking: 9)

Brazil

The host nation presents some familiar faces in Barbosa, Varejao and Nene, but doesn’t have the talent level of some of the other teams in the competition. The reason they have a very realistic chance to get through a challenging Group B is the very fact that they’re the home team. Despite the controversy surrounding the Olympic hosts, their fans will flock to their games and push them to elevate their performances.

Utah Jazz point guard Raul Neto will be asked to lead by example, as he’s entering his 4th major international tournament at 24 years of age, after a decent rookie season in the NBA. Alongside another NBA guard in Huertas, the pair will need to spread the floor and create scoring opportunities for their big men.

Brazil’s poor 2015 FIBA Americas performance notwithstanding (none of their top players featured, as they had already automatically qualified to the Olympics), they’re arriving after an impressive 6th place finish in the 2014 World Cup, which included a victory over Argentina in the round of 16 before a quarterfinal elimination at the hands of eventual runner-up Serbia. It’s likely that Argentina will be the team they need to beat once again in order to at least finish 4th in the group and set up an exciting potential match up against the United States.

6. Serbia (World Ranking: 6)

Serbia

The ever-present Milos Teodosic will once again look to take the basketball-crazed nation to a medal. There is certainly talent on the team spread around some of Europe’s best clubs. However, a single name rises above the others – Nikola Jokic, the roster’s lone NBA player, carries an air of excitement about him. The 21 year-old was named MVP of the qualifying tournament, averaging 17.8 points and 7.5 rebounds per game, flashing some serious star potential.

Serbia will look to build on its 2014 World Cup appearance, where they finished second behind the United States after impressive wins over Greece and France along the way. They looked strong in the 2015 EuroBasket as well, going 7-0 until a semi-final 3-point loss to Lithuania ended their championship hopes.

They qualified to Rio after professional wins over the likes of Czech Republic and Puerto Rico this summer. The pool play will likely see them battle France for 2nd, in hopes of avoiding Spain and Lithuania in the quarterfinals.

5. Croatia (World Ranking: 12)

Croatia

When it comes to international FIBA Basketball, the Croatians often take a backseat to the more illustrious former Yugoslavian nations like Serbia and even Slovenia at times. This tournament, things may turn out differently. Nearly half the roster consists of young guys playing their basketball in the modest Croatian league, but they’re not without talent. Players like Mario Hezonja (Orlando Magic), Bojan Bogdanovic (Brooklyn Nets) and former NBA player Roko Ukic will need to show leadership and a steadying presence. Though they may be the biggest names, they’re not going to be the main attraction.

Croatia’s star in this tournament will be the young Dario Saric, who is finally joining the ranks of NBA players in the upcoming season with Philadelphia. Saric earned the MVP award in the most difficult of the summer’s Olympic qualifying tournaments, as Croatia had to beat both Greece and Italy to get to Rio. Saric averaged 14 points, 10 rebounds and 2.2 assists in the four games played, and will be asked to do even more in Brazil.

Croatia’s 2014 World Cup (10th) and 2015 EuroBasket (9th) performances left a lot to be desired, but their 2016 summer showing lifted their spirits and expectations accordingly. The nation that produced Drazen Petrovic and Toni Kukoc is the dark horse this summer, and will prove a difficult obstacle for every opponent.

4. France (World Ranking: 5)

France

The French have proven themselves to be among the elite in FIBA basketball over the last few years, and are continuously producing quality young talent. Their 2015 EuroBakset journey ended in the semifinals in a heartbreaking overtime loss to eventual champions Spain, and they’re itching to set the record straight against their rivals. However, they did not impress in the qualifying tournament, as each of their wins was closer than expected, whether their opponent was the Philippines, Turkey, or Canada.

Although the French squad boasts a number of proven NBA players, it’s CSKA Moscow star Nando De Colo who carried them to Rio in the qualifying tournament, earning MVP honors in the process, adding to his Euroleague MVP award from the 2015-16 season. Rio will likely play out as the venue for the official passing of the torch from Tony Parker to De Colo.

The only change from the qualifying tournament is the inclusion of Utah’s athletic center Rudy Gobert, adding much-needed paint protection to the team. France will need to find their rhythm and improve from their qualifying form if they’re to challenge for a medal.

3. Lithuania (World Ranking: 3)

Lithuania

The only nation among the 12, and in the world perhaps, that can honestly call basketball its number one religion. A small country in the northeastern corner of Europe with a population of under three million, that has consistently produced fundamentally-sound basketball players for the Euroleague’s top teams. They’re now starting to cross the Atlantic and into the NBA, headlined by the skilled and powerful Jonas Valanciunas of the Toronto Raptors.

JV has established himself as a mainstay in the NBA, and appears ready to put Lithuania on his broad shoulders and lead them to an Olympic medal. He will have help from newly minted NBA players in Kuzminskas (New York Knicks) and Sabonis (Oklahoma City Thunder). They’ll be joined by the veteran Euroleague point guard Kalnietis, and lead a roster that will need to prove greater than the sum of its parts.

Lithuania’s 2015 EuroBasket performance was encouraging, as they finished 2nd behind only Spain, following impressive victories over Italy and Serbia. Their 2014 World Cup campaign ended in the semifinals against the United States, as they recorded a 4th-place finish. Lithuania will look to build on those experiences in the hopes of reaching the gold medal game.

2. Spain (World Ranking: 2)

Spain

Once again, the Spaniards present the most difficult challenge to the star-studded Americans. Their roster is not as talented as in past years (missing Marc Gasol), but still features a number of NBA players. The decorated veterans that will lead the way early on will be Pau Gasol, Navarro and Calderon. However, as the tournament heads towards the knockout stages, the younger talents will need to make their mark if Spain are to have a chance of eclipsing their greatest Olympic achievement (three silver medals).

Nikola Mirotic’s style of play is a perfect fit for international basketball, and he will look to relive past glories as a youngster starring in the Euroleague. He will be expected to consistently play at a high level, and a good tournament will give him the confidence needed to carve out a role in the re-modeled Chicago Bulls after a disappointing NBA season for both player and club.

The reigning EuroBasket champions will look to put the disappointing quarterfinals elimination in the 2014 World Cup behind them, and justify their standing in the basketball world as the ‘next best team’ behind the American Goliath.

1. United States (World Ranking: 1)

USA

The team to beat. A single look at their medal count tells the story – 14 gold medals in the summer Olympics. Despite missing some of the world’s best players (LeBron James, Steph Curry), the roster is filled with NBA All-Stars looking to add to their nation’s storied tradition. If their exhibition games were any indication, the U.S. squad may not be tested until the last two games of the tournament, if at all.

Every player on the roster has a chance to leave their mark at Rio, but most eyes will focus on Paul George. The Indiana Pacers franchise player had an excellent comeback season after a horrific injury, returning to All-Star form in the process. George almost single-handedly eliminated the Toronto Raptors in the first round of the 2016 playoffs, and will look to cap off his comeback with an Olympic gold medal.

Any nation looking to take down the perennial champions will need to slow down their best shooters in Thompson, Durant, Anthony and Irving, while winning the rebounding battle against behemoths like Cousins and Jordan. A Sisyphean task if there ever was one.

Let the games begin.


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The Toronto Raptors announced Tuesday that they have signed undrafted forward Jarrod Uthoff.

The news of Uthoff’s signing was reported back on July 21. Go read that to catch up, but here’s some of what we wrote at the time:

Similar to the Fred VanVleet deal, Uthoff’s will likely contain a guarantee in the $25,000-$75,000 range and means he’ll be in training camp with the team. As things stand now, it probably also means he’ll be competing with a handful of players for the team’s 15th roster spot, although plenty can change between now and camp, and the Raptors still have their $2.2-million bi-annual exception to use if there’s a more veteran name they like. As a reminder, the Raptors brought in four players on similar deals last year for a 19-man camp, and teams can go as high as 20 on the roster at any given time. The money is also mostly inconsequential to the Raptors, who are over the cap but aren’t threatening the luxury tax, barring a trade.

And like VanVleet, Uthoff’s a name the Raptors surely liked around draft time. He was among the 59 publicly named players the Raptors brought in to work out before the draft and was the fourth-highest ranked player on our Raptors Republic draft board to go undrafted. While we ranked him 54th, ESPN’s Chad Ford was even higher on him, ranking him 36th, while none of the prominent rankers had him outside of the top 60. In other words, this is a player most felt should have been drafted, even if it was late.

The Raptors surely see him as a potential role player down the line, capable of coming in and spacing the floor while playing solid-to-plus defense. Whether that manifests at the NBA level this season is unclear, and the Raptors would probably be thrilled to have him as an affiliate player with Raptors 905 if he clears waivers and opts not to sign overseas (where his partial guarantee would help supplement the paltry D-League salary).

While he averaged 18.9 points as a senior at Iowa last season, it’s probably the 38.3-percent career mark from long-range and the 1.8 blocks per-game over three seasons as a Hawkeye that stand out to Toronto here. A 6-foot-10 combo-forward with an 6-foot-11.5 wingspan, Uthoff uses his size and athleticism well to guard the small forward position and may be able to rebound well enough to play the four if he can add some size this summer (he’s only 214 pounds). His steal and block rates were strong when adjusting for pace, usually a good harbinger of how defense will translate, and he reads plays intelligently on or off the ball. He could stand to be more physical, which may come with additional bulk, but for now he should be passable, if not solid at that end.

On offense, he has great size for the three-spot or great range for the four, and he has a pretty enough jumper that he could be a plus as a low-usage option. As his role grew at Iowa this year, he also got to work more as a cutter and creating for himself, showing potential to expand his game beyond a catch-and-shoot threat at the NBA level. His turnover rate was also exceptionally low for someone using as many possessions as he did, though again, it’s the 3-point stroke that stands out here, because his handle isn’t terrific and he’s not exceptionally quick.

A First-Team All-Big Ten player and consensus Second-Team All-American, Uthoff also brings the type of off-court maturity the Raptors appreciate (he was the Academic All-American of the Year and a member of the Big Ten All-Defensive team, too).

The addition of Uthoff can probably be viewed a little differently after Monday’s news that Delon Wright will miss upwards of four months. While Uthoff looked like a more natural fit with the current roster balance a week ago, the team may now opt to keep Fred VanVleet for point guard depth. There also remains the chance they use their bi-annual exception (or veteran’s minimum) on a veteran to fill the 15th roster spot.

Uthoff’s deal is a partially guaranteed two-year deal. He’ll get the same $50,000 guarantee that VanVleet is, with the rest of his 2016-17 salary not becoming guaranteed until Jan. 10. Interestingly, Uthoff also has a $100,000 guarantee for 2017-18 if he’s on the roster past July 25 of next summer, whereas VanVleet’s deal becomes fully guaranteed for next year if he’s on the roster past July 20.

Consider Uthoff in the mix for the final roster spot, and failing that, his guarantee would be a nice supplement to a potential D-League salary if he’s willing to go that route and clears waivers.


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Tim Chisholm swings by the podcast to talk the Raptors summer and pay homage to the freshly-promoted, Jerry Stackhouse. There’s a whole host of topics on offer, so many that it’s tiresome to list them here, so may as well just have a listen.

Grab the iTunes feed or check us out on Stitcher on Android. There is also the plain old feed. You can also download the file, or just listen below:


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in game five of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2016 NBA Playoffs at Quicken Loans Arena on May 25, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.

Delon Wright out at least 4 months following shoulder surgery | Raptors Republic

The timeline suggests Wright is going to miss time well into the season. It’s Aug. 1 today, camp opens Sept. 27, the season usually begins in late October, and Wright’s time table wouldn’t have him back until at least December. Wright wasn’t set to see a ton of time out of the gate despite appearing ready for backup minutes at the NBA level – he played just 229 minutes with the parent club a year ago – but he seemed poised to at least play beyond garbage time at some point this year. The surgery not only derails the start of his sophomore campaign, it also threatens to limit his biggest offseason task, adding size and strength, something that was coming along quite well before the injury.

This ostensibly leaves the Raptors with only two point guards in Kyle Lowry and Cory Joseph, and so while at one time it seemed unlikely that Fred VanVleet could make the roster as a fourth guard, it now becomes a lot more reasonable a use of the team’s 15th roster spot. VanVleet is on a partially guaranteed deal that will see him in camp with the team, where he’ll compete with Jarrod Uthoff and any other signings. Instead of using the final roster spot for forward depth, the Raptors may be in a position where they feel the need to keep an extra point guard, at least until Wright can return (VanVleet’s deal wouldn’t become fully guaranteed until Jan. 10).

The Raptors really like VanVleet and see him as an NBA-caliber player, so they’d likely be comfortable with him as the third-string point guard. He’s a steady hand with deep range who plays mostly mistake-free basketball, which is all you really ask for from a depth piece, and his role would be minimal given the names ahead of him on the depth chart. For those who questioned why the team would sign VanVleet given their existing guard depth, well, things like this tend to happen sometimes, and locking in a player they liked to a flexible, team-friendly deal now seems quite prescient.

Raptors will have to wait for second season with Delon Wright | Toronto Star

Wright being sidelined should present an opportunity for Fred VanVleet, whom the Raptors signed just two days after Wright’s injury occurred. VanVleet is a six-foot, 195-pound guard who put up 6.2 points, three rebounds and 1.6 assists for the Raptors’ Summer League team.

Raptors guard Wright out four months after shoulder surgery | Sportsnet.ca

He sustained the injury on July 16 during a Las Vegas Summer League game against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The estimated timeline of his return would see Wright be back with the club at the beginning of December, meaning he will be out of the lineup for at least the first month of the season.

This is a tough blow for the 24-year-old who already was struggling to see floor time. Last season, his rookie year, he spent the bulk of it with Toronto’s D-League affiliate, Raptors 905, and was only able to get in 24 games with the big club where he averaged a measly 3.8 points per game in just 8.5 minutes per contest.

Report: Jerry Stackhouse to coach Raptors 905 | Raptors Republic

As affable and quotable as they come, Stackhouse only has a year of experience on an NBA staff, having landed with the Raptors last summer. He does, however, bring some experience coaching at the AAU level, and he got a taste of running a team at Las Vegas Summer League last month. During his freshman season as an assistant, players spoke highly of working with Stackhosue one-on-one, particularly on the offensive end of the floor, and it’s clear his personality helps provide some amount of necessary levity at times.

It’s hard to get a gauge for how effective Stackhouse may be as the man in charge, and it will be interesting to see how the young players respond to him. (The 905 run the parent club’s schemes at each end of the floor, using largely the same playbook, but Stackhouse may ditch the Raptors’ offense in favor of nothing but long twos.) If nothing else, it should be a lot of fun to see and hear Stackhouse trash-talking from the sidelines.

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Stackhouse in line for Raptors 905 head coaching job | Toronto Star

tackhouse, 41, would fill the void left by Jesse Mermuys, who coached Raptors 905 in its inaugural season before accepting an assistant coaching role under Luke Walton with the L.A. Lakers.

The 2015-16 season was Stackhouse’s first on an NBA sideline, after an 18-year career as a player that saw him named an all-star twice. After retiring, he coached his own AAU team before landing on Casey’s staff.

In his first days on the job with the Raptors last season, Stackhouse spoke of wanting to climb through the ranks of coaching, rather than seeking out a head coaching gig the second he retired.

“I would have loved to have coached the Brooklyn Nets. That was a team I knew very well. I think I was better prepared because I’d been coaching AAU basketball for three or four years,” he told the Star. “But everyone’s path is different. Now that I’m actually in it, I don’t think I was necessarily as ready as I could be, if I’d just learned a little more and observed more.

“Between the lines, you’re not going to lose me there. But kind of … auxiliary things, where I’m seeing and figuring out how I would do this or that, would I do this the same way or would I treat it different? I’m making those mental notes.”

Stackhouse also said the varied experience of his career would help him as a coach.

Happy #LongWeeknd y'all. Stay safe. #WeTheNorth

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Sources: Raptors 905 to name Stackhouse new head coach | Upside & Motor

The Toronto Raptors used their expansion D-League team a lot last season as Anthony Bennett, Bruno Caboclo, Delon Wright, Lucas Nogueira and Normal Powell combined for 77 games played in Mississauga.

Stackhouse will now have ample opportunity to help develop young players, including those on the Raptors’ roster, for future chances in the NBA. He played 18 seasons in the NBA, so he certainly knows the ins and outs, and what it takes to be a professional. Now we get to find out if he’s able to effectively pass that knowledge on to the next generation of upon us.

If you a real #raptors fan, who dis? #wethenorth #raptorstrivia

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Raptors’ championship push – making haste slowly | Raptors Rapture

Let’s face it, Raptors fans: the 2015-16 season and playoffs were the most successful in the team’s history, by far. Yet our guys ran up against a Cavaliers juggernaut and fell short. Are we on a treadmill? Is our team fated to make another memorable run to the EC finals, only to be brushed aside once more?

To answer my own question – that’s the most likely outcome. If the Raptors and Cavaliers, as currently constituted, met in Game One tomorrow, I wouldn’t put our chances of winning four games before they did at better than one in five. But I’m confident GM Masai Ujiri and coach Dwane Casey are mulling this matter day and night.

There are some reasons for optimism. By the time the playoffs roll around, LeBron will be 32. While he’s aging gracefully, there’s no doubt coach Tyronn Lue will carefully monitor his meal ticket’s minutes. LeBron averaged 35.6 minutes per game in 2015-16, which is his lowest usage rate ever. James has started an absurd 986 regular season games, and 199 more in the playoffs, in the 13 seasons of his Hall of Fame career to date. That’s a lot of wear and tear.

Raptors in Need of Consistency from Terrence Ross | Raptors Rapture

Undoubtedly contributing to Ross’ inconsistent statistics is his often questionable shot selection. Ross has a tendency to create his shot off the dribble while he is a more efficient shooter off the catch. Fans would like to see him improve his shooting percentage by taking smarter and higher quality shots. Terrence Ross is already a talented offensive player; consistency is what he is missing to truly certify him as a reliable player. One of the main worries fans have about Ross is the lack of physicality on the defensive end. Despite having a smaller build, being a great defender requires a willing demeanor and a disruptive style of defense; physical build is arguably a mere addition.

Did I miss something? Send me any Raptors-related article/video to rapsfan@raptorsrepublic.com


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USA Basketball continues to dominate its pre-Olympic exhibition schedule, and DeMar DeRozan keeps finding his way onto the highlight reel. On Monday, he did so with an assist from Toronto Raptors teammate Kyle Lowry, who deked out some Nigerian defenders before throwing a perfect lob for a one-handed DeRozan slam.

Lowry, starting for a resting Kyrie Irving, finished the game with 8-8-11 while DeRozan scored 13 with five dimes off the bench. DeRozan also had this one:

With the 110-66 victory, the US wrapped up their exhibition slate undefeated and unthreatened. The Raptors’ All-Star backcourt are strong favorites to earn a gold medal in Brazil later this month.


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The D-League is about to get a whole lot more personality.

The Toronto Raptors have opted to go with Jerry Stackhouse as the next head coach of their D-League affiliate, Raptors 905, according to a report from Chris Reichert of Upside & Motor.

As affable and quotable as they come, Stackhouse only has a year of experience on an NBA staff, having landed with the Raptors last summer. He does, however, bring some experience coaching at the AAU level, and he got a taste of running a team at Las Vegas Summer League last month. During his freshman season as an assistant, players spoke highly of working with Stackhosue one-on-one, particularly on the offensive end of the floor, and it’s clear his personality helps provide some amount of necessary levity at times.

It’s hard to get a gauge for how effective Stackhouse may be as the man in charge, and it will be interesting to see how the young players respond to him. (The 905 run the parent club’s schemes at each end of the floor, using largely the same playbook, but Stackhouse may ditch the Raptors’ offense in favor of nothing but long twos.) If nothing else, it should be a lot of fun to see and hear Stackhouse trash-talking from the sidelines.

This represents a great opportunity for Stackhouse to continue to grow his resume behind the bench. Other D-League coaches have appreciated the assignment, believing it not only provides experience as a head coach but can help improve a coach’s skill set for an eventual return to an assistant role. It’s the D-League for everyone, after all, and Stackhouse is on a good timeline just three years removed from the end of his playing career.

He’ll be replacing the outgoing Jesse Mermuys, who left the post after the inaugural season (in which he did a great job) to take the second chair on Luke Walton’s bench with the Los Angeles Lakers. It was originally believed that Raptors player development coach Jama Mahlalela was the frontrunner for the job, with 905 assistant David Gale potentially also in the mix (keep the 32-year-old Gale on your radar over the next couple of years). Mahlalela, who was the primary coach in Vegas, was cool on the idea, a source told Raptors Republic, and head coach Dwane Casey may not have loved the thought of losing his top player development assistant in back-to-back seasons. (The move still leaves Casey’s staff a little thin, having lost Andy Greer and now Stackhouse, and the team could look to bolster the bench in the coming weeks.)

It’s unclear what the Raptors 905 roster will look like for 2016-17 beyond the likely presences of Bruno Caboclo, Pascal Siakam, and Jakob Poeltl. The team retains the returning rights to anyone who finished last season on the roster (E.J. Singler and Davion Berry), have the rights to a few other names, and could look to acquire other player rights through trade (Drew Crawford) or the draft (Yanick Moreira), depending on who opts for the D-League over an international deal. Training camp began in early November last year.


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Delon Wright will miss at least four months following arthroscopic surgery to repair and stabilize a labral tear in his right shoulder, the Toronto Raptors announced Monday.

Wright injured the shoulder in the team’s final Las Vegas Summer League game on July 16. X-rays came back negative and Wright was diagnosed with a dislocated shoulder, and further testing revealed the tear.

The timeline suggests Wright is going to miss time well into the season. It’s Aug. 1 today, camp opens Sept. 27, the season usually begins in late October, and Wright’s time table wouldn’t have him back until at least December. Wright wasn’t set to see a ton of time out of the gate despite appearing ready for backup minutes at the NBA level – he played just 229 minutes with the parent club a year ago – but he seemed poised to at least play beyond garbage time at some point this year. The surgery not only derails the start of his sophomore campaign, it also threatens to limit his biggest offseason task, adding size and strength, something that was coming along quite well before the injury.

This ostensibly leaves the Raptors with only two point guards in Kyle Lowry and Cory Joseph, and so while at one time it seemed unlikely that Fred VanVleet could make the roster as a fourth guard, it now becomes a lot more reasonable a use of the team’s 15th roster spot. VanVleet is on a partially guaranteed deal that will see him in camp with the team, where he’ll compete with Jarrod Uthoff and any other signings. Instead of using the final roster spot for forward depth, the Raptors may be in a position where they feel the need to keep an extra point guard, at least until Wright can return (VanVleet’s deal wouldn’t become fully guaranteed until Jan. 10).

The Raptors really like VanVleet and see him as an NBA-caliber player, so they’d likely be comfortable with him as the third-string point guard. He’s a steady hand with deep range who plays mostly mistake-free basketball, which is all you really ask for from a depth piece, and his role would be minimal given the names ahead of him on the depth chart. For those who questioned why the team would sign VanVleet given their existing guard depth, well, things like this tend to happen sometimes, and locking in a player they liked to a flexible, team-friendly deal now seems quite prescient.

As for Wright, it’s certainly a disappointing turn. The Raptors were happy with his progress entering Summer League, and they’ll have to hope the setback doesn’t slow his growth too much. It’s hard to peg down a return date, but the Raptors may get to experiment with using the D-League as a sort of rehab assignment for the first time when Wright begins rounding into form. That’s a question for the winter, though. For today, wish Wright a speedy recovery and be thankful the team was aggressive on the VanVleet front.


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OAKLAND, CA - JULY 26: DeMar DeRozan #9 of the USA Basketball Men's National Team shoots a free throw against China on July 26, 2016 at ORACLE Arena in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)

A Letter to the Raptors – Part 2 | PoundTheRockBlog

I don’t know what it’s like to cheer for a perfect collection of players led by the smoothest shooter of all time like Golden State. I don’t know what it’s like to root for a team that has one of the best all around players in history, receiving the benefit of both his skill and the referee’s whistle. What do their fans feel when they sweep the Pistons in the first round? And the Hawks in the second? Uncontrollable joy and wonder are probably far from it. What is it like sitting down at a bar to watch a conference final game, knowing in your mind, backed by the opinion of every legitimate pundit available, that your team will most likely win the game? Where’s the fun in that?

Instead, we were treated to a playoff run where you never knew how a given game would end. We could count on only one thing – that in the games that mattered most, our boys would claw, scratch, block and bully their way to a chance at a win. And yes, a Ross assist to an opponent’s fast break, or a Demar dribble off his foot (and into Dragic’s deserving face) would make us pull our hair out. But then we’d get a Biyombo finger wag or an intercontinental-hang-time dunk by Stormin’ Norm that would send us out of our seats (and our beers onto underserving friends).

And isn’t that what sports fandom is all about? To be up against the odds, not knowing what will happen, watching your boys give it their absolute best?

Revisionist history #wethenorth (hat tip to @bleacherreport)

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I still think a Taj to the Raptors trade for Delon Wright is the way to go. | Blog a Bull

Now you go the other way. You’re looking at a maximum return of a low first rounder or high second round pick. Statistically speaking, there’s not a high hit percentage on that location of pick. I’d prefer another wing with some upside versus another big creating the exact same logjam Taj currently poses. Delon Wright is trapped on that team as the third Point Guard. Taj would give the Raptors a grit player which would help their defense greatly with teams like the Cavaliers.

Delon is big enough and a good enough shooter to play backup Shooting Guard and a high enough basketball IQ, slick passer, and ability to run an offense to be a good back up Point Guard. He’s Snell’s replacement if he washes out. We’d have a heck of a wing rotation with a bunch of tall, slick passing, combo guards who could all play defense.

Finally, it depends on if you watched Delon Wright in college or not and liked him. I thought he was outstanding and showed a lot of upside. I think he’d actually be hard to pry away from Toronto who are very high on him. Wright is just stuck in a numbers game behind two high paid Point Guards.

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There’s bigger role in store for Raptors C Jonas Valanciunas. | Raptors Rapture

Statistical projection

15.5ppg, 10.4rpg, 1.5bpg, FG 55%, FT 77%, 1.8tpg (Top 30 fantasy asset)

Bold prediction

Jonas Valanciunas will make the Eastern all-star team. He might not get voted in by the fans as a starter but could very well be a reserve. Even NBA analyst Jeff Van Gundy said he should have made the all-star team last season.

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Toronto Raptors: 2016 Offseason Grades | Hoops Habit

Last season, Sully averaged 10.3 points, 8.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 23.6 minutes per game for a well-balanced Boston Celtics team. He started in 73 of his 81 games, making it the healthiest of his four seasons in the league.

If Sullinger can stay healthy — and more importantly, stay in shape — he’ll be a quality and cost-effective backup. With Patrick Patterson set to hit free agency next summer, the Raptors will also have options as to who they’ll want to keep on the roster moving forward.

At only 24 years old, Sullinger still has yet to carve out a concrete role in this league, but perhaps playing for a superior Raptors team will help him find it. If not, his contract comes off the books next summer anyway.

Grade: C+

Flex on 'em. #WeTheNorth #RBA

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Ranking All 30 NBA Starting Small Forwards 2016-17 | Sportsblog

24 Terrence Ross (Toronto Raptors): Terrence Ross is a versatile player, especially for his size.  However, he is incredibly inconsistent and is just not a go-to option in Toronto.  If you just watch his highlights, you’d swear he was one of the league’s best players.  But he lacks efficiency, which is the key component to being a star.

New Best Buds. #WeTheNorth #RBA

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Can The Knicks New Super Team Beat The Raptors? | Pro Bball Report

Assume everyone shows up to camp healthy and stays healthy. The next big issue for the Knicks is simple chemistry. These guys haven’t played together. Even the Big 3 in Miami took half a season to figure out how to share the ball and be effective and no one should be comparing the risks the HEAT took putting together LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh with the risks Jackson is taking adding Rose and Noah to Carmelo Anthony and company.

Winning the Atlantic Division by overtaking two teams with solid winning records that are bringing back substantially the same rosters isn’t likely to happen, even if things go relatively well for the Knicks right from the start.

The Knicks focus has to be on the second half of the season and the playoffs. Stay healthy and figure out how to play together over the first 40 games without falling too far off the playoff pace and then push for the best playoff seeding that’s reasonably attainable.

Knicks fans have reason for optimism. This is more talent than they’ve seen on their team for a while. However, optimism shouldn’t be translated into pressure. Success for the Knicks isn’t becoming the next “super team” right away.

Success is building team chemistry, finding a way to keep their new found talent healthy and making the postseason. One step at a time. And somebody needs to convince Rose he doesn’t have to prove anything to anybody. He just needs to make shots, facilitate the offense and stay on the court.

Not your NORMal day at Raptors Basketball Academy. #WeTheNorth @normanpowell4

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Norman Powell Making Friends At Raptors Basketball Academy, Embracing Offseason Training | Toronto Raptors

Throughout the team’s time in Vegas, Powell talked about wanting to be a leader for his younger teammates. He wanted to improve his ability to find guys for open shots, read the floor, and be a steadying hand when needed.

“I was mainly focused on trying to help the team in the areas that were asked of me,” he said. “This year in summer league it was about showing I can be more of a vocal leader, telling guys what I see, where to go, different plays. Getting them ready with terminology and stuff like that. I think the year I had with the team, making it to the Eastern Conference Finals really helped do that. Seeing Kyle [Lowry], he was talkative no matter what was happening in the game, whether we were down or up, he was talking to the team, keeping everyone focused and engaged. That’s what I was trying to do in summer league.”

Leading by example comes naturally to Powell. Going from the rookie who is soaking up everything around him like a sponge, to the guy who is speaking up and giving advice is still an adjustment, though. His time in Vegas was a good opportunity to get some experience at no longer being the rookie on the team. It also served as a two-week bonding experience with the rest of the summer league squad, as well as providing the first chance to get to know Siakam and Poeltl away from the court.

“It was really fun,” Powell said. “Those guys are really motivated. I knew Jakob from college so I’m little familiar with him and how he plays. He’s a really good guy off the court. Really focused, really determined, really hungry, and really coachable. I’ve just spent one year in the league, but he’s already asking me about different things, where he can improve, what to look for, what to be prepared for. Even though I only saw Pascal a little bit I’m really excited. He’s really athletic, really versatile from what I saw. He runs, jumps, can shoot the ball a little bit and is a great guy off the court. I’m really excited to get to know him next season.”

Summer Camp ready ✔️ #WeTheNorth

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Positionless hoops & the Raptors: our team can compete | Raptors Rapture

The Raptors’ starting centre is JV until someone takes his job away, or he’s traded. (Note: Jonas has attended Hakeem’s big man “academy”.) While I see JV trade speculation on occasion, it’s my firm opinion that such a move is not in the cards. Put another way: if another team wants Jonas, they will have to call Masai Ujiri with a boffo offer. Our GM isn’t calling anyone about JV.

Jonas is not the fastest man on his feet, but he’s not the slowest either. He can certainly get up and down the floor as well as anyone his size in the league, and he’s only 24 years old. Expecting improvement in speed and footwork is reasonable for the young man.

His reaction time on defense has improved, though the needle has merely moved from mediocre to acceptable. JV blocked 1.3 shots Per Game [PG] this past season, which is nothing special. What has improved is his personal foul rate, which decreased to 2.6 PG, the lowest of his 4-year career. He’s got to stay on the floor, and keeping the fouls down is essential.

“Big men mature later.” attributed to Bud Grant, Minnesota Vikings coach

Where things will get interesting is at the Power Forward spot, assuming (as I do) the Raptors roll out Jared Sullinger as the Game One starter. Will he have the mobility to assume the wide-ranging defensive responsibilities Dwane Casey demands? If not, the Raptors may struggle against ball-movement offenses like those of Atlanta and Boston.

BLESSED to say I've made it to 30… God is Good!!! #TeamCarroll #TeamCarroll #Blessed #StayPositive #JYD2Point0 #SrSwagDaddy

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It’s been EIGHT years since Zarar and I (and Scott and Josh who aren’t with us anymore) launched RR, and its impact on our lives has been incredible. When we started this thing of ours, it was a corner of the internet where we could laugh/cry (more crying than laughing back then) about the franchise. We were relentless with our criticisms, analysis, and love for this team, and people took notice.

We have grown from a two-bit expletive laden blog to a real organization, run by Blake (thank Jah!), that breaks news and covers every aspect of the franchise 24/7; all from the support you’ve given us… Ok enough of the melancholy, but know that we are very appreciative of the support, and better off from the criticisms you have heaped on us over the years, which brings us here…

Starting today, we are very proud to be launching Blue Jays Republic. This project is something we have wanted to do for over a year, but haven’t been able to drag over the finish line until now.

There are a lot of great Blue Jays blogs out there (Jays Prospects, Blue Jays from Away, Blue Jays Blog, Jays from the Couch, Blue Jay Hunter, Jays Journal, Bluebird Banter, JaysNation and many more), but there is room for more voices, and we have something to say.

We have a great team in place:

…and will have you covered with Quick Reactions (no one does it better, period), Morning Coffee’s (so you don’t have to), and everything in between.

This is an exciting project for us, and we hope you will feel the same. As always, you can drop me a line at any time (rapsfan@raptorsrepublic.com) with suggestions, complaints, links…we’re also looking for writers!


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OAKLAND, CA - JULY 26: DeMar DeRozan #9 of the USA Basketball Men's National Team goes to the basket against China on July 26, 2016 at ORACLE Arena in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

Andrea Bargnani reportedly close to signing overseas | Raptors Republic

Does Bargnani have any sort of lasting impression on the franchise?

Yes. Not only are we cursed with bad jokes every draft cycle, a fanbase aversion to European bigs who can supposedly shoot, and the earworm TBJ-cum-StartersBargnani All-Star anthem, but Colangelo’s replacement, Masai Ujiri, was able to unload Bargnani to the New York Knicks. That package included Marcus Camby (bought out), Quentin Richardson (waived), Steve Novak and a 2017 2nd-round pick (traded together to Utah for Diante Garrett, who was subsequently waived, in a salary dump), a 2014 2nd-round pick (sold to Brooklyn to select Xavier Thames), and of course, a 2016 1st-round pick that became Jakob Poeltl.

Raptors fans would have been happy to unload Bargnani’s deal for nothing at that point. Three years and two weeks later, that the Raptors have a promising lottery pick to show for it seems a minor miracle.

Because he lasted seven seasons in Toronto, he’s also all over the franchise leaderboard:

Games: 6th (433)
Minutes: 6th (13,130)
Points: 4th (6,581)
Rebounds: 5th (2,095)
Blocks: 5th (382)
Threes: 3rd (579)
Win Shares: 12th (16.3)
Missed Field Goal Attempts: 5th (3,115)

I also still have a signed Andrea Bargnani jersey somewhere in storage.

VIDEO: DeMar DeRozan misses potentially epic poster | Raptors Republic

While it’s funny to laugh at a missed dunk, I tend to lean the opposite direction and appreciate them. Nobody has ever achieved greatness playing it safe, shooters gotta shoot, nothing ventured nothing gained, and all of that. DeRozan having the confidence to even attempt a dunk that insane…we should all be gifted that kind of confidence from time-to-time, just to see what we could do (or even just try) with it. Shoot your shot, DeMar…attempt to end the life of a Chinese defender your attempt to end the life of a Chinese defender.

Watch USA Basketball’s Vine, “Kyle Lowry knocks down a couple treys in #USABMNT warmups!”

Toronto Raptors on Instagram: “Dates confirmed for Masai Ujiri’s @giantsofafrica camp in August with stops in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, Botswana & Senegal. Head to raptors.com for more details. #WeTheNorth”

ESPN’s Early Projections have the Raptors at 51 wins for the 2016-17 season | Raptors HQ

Now, the assessment offered there is not entirely unfair. The team is put in a deadlock with the improved Boston Celtics, but a few steps ahead of the modestly upgraded Pistons and Pacers. This has a ring of accuracy to it. No doubt though, the loss of Biyombo hurts. While it remains to be seen whether his absence will cost the team five wins (with Scola’s production easy enough to replace), a total of 51 does not feel too out of line.

The frank truth of the situation though is this: somehow, amazingly, we Raptors fans may actually be a tad disappointed with the outcome (51 gotdang wins). I don’t mean this in the usual “they’ve slighted us again!” vibe we usually carry around with us. I mean it in the legitimate “shoot, it’s tough to stay on top” sentiment of the most seasoned of winners. We’re gunning for success these days!

Barring disaster, the Raptors will enter next season on the longest sustained bout of success they’ve ever had. They may clear 50 wins for the second time in a row. They most certainly will make the playoffs — for the fourth consecutive time, a franchise record. And they’ll again be considered one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference, capable of running through one or two rounds of the post-season. Not title contenders, no, but a good and solid and well-run organization.

That’s not nothing.

Toronto Raptors on Instagram: “Day 2 of #RaptorsBasketballAcademy in the books. Head to raptors.com for more pics. #WeTheNorth”

Day 2 of #RaptorsBasketballAcademy in the books. Head to raptors.com for more pics. #WeTheNorth

A photo posted by Toronto Raptors (@raptors) on

Bruno Caboclo on Instagram: “Parabens Irmao Deus abencoe cada dia teu. #bodybuilding #arnoldschwarzenegger #Biiiiirrrrrr #NaoVaiDaNao Happy Birthday my Ninja.”

Realistic Expectations for Toronto Raptors Rookie Jakob Poeltl in 2016-17 | Bleacher Report

It’s hard to find many holes in Poeltl’s game because he was well-coached at Utah and doesn’t try to do more than he’s capable of. Many players in summer league chase numbers, but it was refreshing to watch Poeltl try to blend in with the experienced roster the Raptors sent to Las Vegas.

Casey will be able to trust Poeltl to be in the right spots and not force the issue. Some teams may have worried whether he’ll be able to score at the professional level, but he’s the type of prospect who should be willing to play a much different role than in college.

The biggest concern is whether anyone can give the Raptors what Biyombo did. His energy was infectious, and his shot blocking was intimidating. Poeltl is typically more of a deterrent at the basket, choosing to wall up instead of lunging for blocks and taking himself out of the play if he swings and misses. At 7’0″ with a 7’2 3/4″ wingspan, he’s effective as a rim protector without piling up a ton of blocks.

Like Biyombo, Poeltl has the foot quickness to switch a ball screen and defend perimeter players in space, but it could take time getting used to handling NBA athletes. The physicality of the game will also be an adjustment, but in summer league Poeltl showed he can handle himself.

Jonas Valanciunas on Instagram: “Huge rain in Buenos Aires 🌧🌪💦 #LTeam #Rio # Rain”

https://www.instagram.com/p/BIVKyOrgvoy/

Toronto Raptors on Instagram: “Hands up if you’re at the Raptors Basketball Academy ✋🏾. #WeTheNorth”

https://www.instagram.com/p/BIVVlQ1BkxZ/

Toronto Raptors: DeMar DeRozan Celebrated New Deal by Going to Sleep | Tip of the Tower

DeRozan said: “I just treated it like it was a regular day for me. I knew what my gut was telling me, where my feelings were at, the approach I wanted to make.

“With that, it felt regular to me. I didn’t want to put too much pressure, too much hype on myself for something that felt like was right for me.”

In many ways, this speaks volumes about the 2009 ninth overall draft pick. Analysts often comment about his ability to remain calm under pressure, and it’s interesting to get an insight into the mindset which contributes towards this.

Raptors Republic on Instagram: “If you a real #raptors fan, who dis? #wethenorth #raptorstrivia”

If you a real #raptors fan, who dis? #wethenorth #raptorstrivia

A photo posted by Raptors Republic (@raptorsrepublic) on

Delon Wright on Instagram: “LA🌴”

https://www.instagram.com/p/BIV5eNhAU1L/

Giants Of Africa Extends Basketball Mission To Six Countries Across Africa | Toronto Raptors

Each summer, Giants of Africa ‎brings top international coaches to the continent to host basketball camps designed to help young African players develop athletically, establish life goals and to refine their fundamental knowledge of the game. In addition to on-court basketball skills coaching, Giants of Africa strives to foster participants’ development through life skills education. As part of the summer program, the Giants of Africa team also conducts local community outreach initiatives in each country it visits. This year, the team will be supporting the following outreach programs across Africa — SEED Academy and Village Pilote in Senegal, The Village of Hope in Ghana, Little Saints Orphanage in Nigeria, Mully Children’s Family, as well as the installation of a new basketball court in Kiberia, (a partnership between Giants of Africa and H.E. Evans Kidero, the Governor of Nairobi County) in Kenya, Rafiki Club Kigali in Rwanda and the MPULE Foundation in Botswana.

“Encouraging the dreams of African youth is at the core of what we strive to achieve with Giants of Africa,” said Masai Ujiri, President and General Manager of the Toronto Raptors. “Basketball is a sport that has become increasingly popular across the globe. And we want to support African youth by using basketball as a tool to educate and teach core values such as dedication, discipline, and respect for others. We believe supporting the infrastructure of basketball in Africa via coaches, facilities and camps is imperative to create opportunities for African youth to play and develop both on and off the court. We are thrilled to be extending our reach to six African countries this year.”

Giants of Africa began hosting camps in Africa 14 years ago. Since the camps inception more than 100 camp attendees have moved on to high school or university in the United States, with approximately 18 participants now playing basketball professionally in Europe. Modeled after the NBA’s Basketball Without Borders initiative, Giants of Africa holds two types of annual camps – Top 50 Camp and Big Man Camp. The Top 50 Camp focuses on the top 50 kids from across the country and provides campers with three intense days of instruction. The Big Man Camp teaches young athletes at 6-foot-8 and above the basic fundamentals of the game with a focus on running, catching, footwork and shooting.

Norman Powell on Instagram: “Chillin in the 6ix”

Chillin in the 6️⃣

A photo posted by Norman Powell (@normanpowell4) on

Bruno Caboclo on Instagram: “2.4 nogueirão”

2.4 nogueirão

A photo posted by Bruno Caboclo (@brunofive) on


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Remember back when Norman Powell bobbled his incredible dunk against the Indiana Pacers, and DeMar DeRozan chided that moments like that are “why I don’t do fancy dunks?” Well, DeRozan appears to have forgotten his own advice, trying to pull off a ridiculous 360 poster dunk in USA Basketball’s exhibition game against China on Tuesday:

Here’s another look, with DeRozan’s reaction:

That would have been an all-timer. Don’t believe me?

This isn’t the first marquee missed 360 of DeRozan’s career, either.

While it’s funny to laugh at a missed dunk, I tend to lean the opposite direction and appreciate them. Nobody has ever achieved greatness playing it safe, shooters gotta shoot, nothing ventured nothing gained, and all of that. DeRozan having the confidence to even attempt a dunk that insane…we should all be gifted that kind of confidence from time-to-time, just to see what we could do (or even just try) with it. Shoot your shot, DeMar…attempt to end the life of a Chinese defender your attempt to end the life of a Chinese defender.

The U.S. won 107-57, by the way. DeRozan had 4-2-3 and Kyle Lowry 5-1-4, modest production as the Americans let Carmelo Anthony go to work.


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Andrea Bargnani is close to signing a two-year deal with Baskonia, according to a report from Alfonso Azkorreta passed along by Sportando.

This deal raises a number of questions:

Why the hell am I reading about this on Raptors Republic?

Well, the short answer is that the news has gotten very slow of late, and I’m kind-of-not-really-but-supposed-to-be on vacation, so content’s been light. The longer answer is that Bargnani holds an immense place in the history of the Toronto Raptors. In 2006, then-general manager Bryan Colangelo made Bargnani the No. 1 pick in the draft, tying the franchise’s future to Il Mago’s success. When a player is a franchise’s only ever No. 1 pick, when it defines a failed era, when his subsequent premature contract extension more or less costs the GM his job, and when his ouster becomes the beginning of the best era in franchise history, well, he kind of holds an important place in team lore.

Also, his career is just super interesting to me. The two years in New York didn’t work out, and I thought that was it. Brooklyn weirdly gave him a shot, that didn’t work out, and now, after 10 years, it seems like his NBA career is probably done. That he’s still playing at 30 isn’t all that surprising, but the move overseas feels like the closing of the book on Bargnani’s NBA career.

Is Bargnani the biggest draft bust ever?

No, definitely not. As much as Bargnani never delivered on the promise of a No. 1 pick – and proved a worse selection than several of the names taken after him – there have been worse No. 1 picks. It was a bad selection, to be sure, but it’s hard to call anyone who lasts a decade in the NBA and has one or two near-All-Star seasons a bust as a player overall.

Solely as a No. 1 pick, here’s how Bargnani compares to his peers in Basketball-Reference’s database of 67 No. 1 picks:

Win Shares: 50th
Win Shares per-48: 57th
PPG: 40th
RPG: 46th
BPG: 27th
FG%: 49th
3FG%: 2nd (this one kind of shocked me since he shot 29.8% over his last five seasons, but he shot 37.1% on 3.7 threes per-game over his first five years)

Wait, two near-All-Star years?

Let us not forget that for a brief time – longer than just “the 13 games” – Bargnani looked like he may pan out as at least a valuable offensive piece. Over 2010-11 and 2011-12, he averaged 20.8 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 1.9 assists with a 53.4 true-shooting percentage and a 16.9 PER. Of course, topping out as roughly average in terms of efficiency, while using 28.3 percent of your team’s offensive possessions, isn’t a great look, and injuries and the loss of his 3-point stroke conspired to nip that progress in the bud pretty quickly.

And of course, there was that 13-game stretch. From Dec. 26, 2011 to Jan. 25, 2013, Bargnani averaged 23.5 points on 57.6-percent true shooting with 6.4 rebounds, 2.1 assists, and a massive 36-point outburst in his penultimate game before suffering a calf injury (which, not coincidentally, was also his first game back from injury). Sigh…the good times.

Does Bargnani have any sort of lasting impression on the franchise?

Yes. Not only are we cursed with bad jokes every draft cycle, a fanbase aversion to European bigs who can supposedly shoot, and the earworm TBJ-cum-StartersBargnani All-Star anthem, but Colangelo’s replacement, Masai Ujiri, was able to unload Bargnani to the New York Knicks. That package included Marcus Camby (bought out), Quentin Richardson (waived), Steve Novak and a 2017 2nd-round pick (traded together to Utah for Diante Garrett, who was subsequently waived, in a salary dump), a 2014 2nd-round pick (sold to Brooklyn to select Xavier Thames), and of course, a 2016 1st-round pick that became Jakob Poeltl.

Raptors fans would have been happy to unload Bargnani’s deal for nothing at that point. Three years and two weeks later, that the Raptors have a promising lottery pick to show for it seems a minor miracle.

Because he lasted seven seasons in Toronto, he’s also all over the franchise leaderboard:

Games: 6th (433)
Minutes: 6th (13,130)
Points: 4th (6,581)
Rebounds: 5th (2,095)
Blocks: 5th (382)
Threes: 3rd (579)
Win Shares: 12th (16.3)
Missed Field Goal Attempts: 5th (3,115)

I also still have a signed Andrea Bargnani jersey somewhere in storage.

What the hell is Baskonia, and are they better than Aquemalaga?

Saski Baskonia is a team in the Spanish ACB league, generally considered to be the second best league in the world. Now sponsored by inappropriately named credit union Laboral Kutxa, they’re also the former team of Raptors legends Jose Calderon and Jorge Garbajosa, as well as some other NBA notables (Roddy Beaubois played for them last season). If it doesn’t ring a bell, it’s because they’ve long been known as Tau Ceramica, their sponsor from 1987 to 2009. They’ve also been moderately successful, winning three Spanish Championships and six Spanish Cups. Last season, they finished fourth in the ACB and fourth in Euroleague, their best season since their last title, in 2009-10. In short, this is about as close to an NBA-caliber situation he could land in outside the NBA.

There are just so many Outkast jokes to make with a team named Baskonia, we can’t get to them all here.

How badly would Jakob Poeltl have to mess up to make #TakeThatMasaiUjiri stop being funny?

Infinity bad.

Closing thoughts

I wish Andrea Bargnani all the best and actually hopes he kills it in Spain so that another NBA team takes a chance on him in 2017 or 2018. Il Mago’s greatest trick yet may be convincing us all he’s disappeared – Europe is just his second act, and every magic trick has a third act, the hardest part, the part we call Il Prestigio.


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ESPN Forecast pegs Raptors for 51 wins

Among the things that stand out is the Raptors having such longer odds at an East title than their win total would suggest. This could indicate a belief the Celtics are a better matchup for the Cavaliers, that they’d beat Toronto in a playoff series, that they may take a while to reach their peak, that there’s a lot more public money on a “sexy” team that made some noise this offseason, even if DeMarre Carroll would warn they’re not playoff-tested yet, or any number of other things.

What’s clear from both the bookmakers and ESPN predictors is that there is the Cavaliers, there’s the Celtics and Raptors, and then there’s a jumble of teams jockeying for standing beyond the top three. That feels right as a broad stroke to paint the East with right now.

Sullinger on the Lowry Diet | Raptors Republic

Zazagooh nails it with assessment that the lack of QO in a sellers market must have shaken him into action; truth is, we should take it happily. I’m not expecting Sullinger to pull a Lowry 180, but any sort of discipline this off-season that stretches as far into next year as possible can only help.

Either way, it is encouraging to see that he’s serious about this coming season, whether altruistically or selfishly.

Raptors Republic on Instagram: “Sullinger looking GREAT on the Lowry diet #wethenorth #oneyearrental #nomorefatjokes”

Sullinger looking GREAT on the Lowry diet #wethenorth #oneyearrental #nomorefatjokes

A photo posted by Raptors Republic (@raptorsrepublic) on

NBA Japan on Twitter: @Jared_Sully0″

Jared Sullinger is apparently already on the Lowry Workout Plan | Raptors HQ

Sullinger is listed at 6’9” and a robust 260 pounds. Unfortunately for Sully, this is not a holy-shit-is-that-even-possible 260 like LeBron James’ listed weight; it is more of an obvious straight-to-the-midsection 260, an all-too-believable 260. Now, if it feels uncomfortable to read about this, believe me it is just as uncomfortable to write about. For who am I, doofus blogger, to comment on the fitness level of a professional athlete? I ate a leftover hamburger for lunch today and spent most of the afternoon sitting in a desk chair. Maybe we should all just let Jared be Jared.

And yet, Sullinger, buoyed by either a sense of professional responsibility or, as is more likely the case, the huge pay day coming after this 1-year contract with the Raptors elapses, is apparently already making like Lowry.

Toronto Raptors on Instagram: “Solid first day at the Raptors Basketball Academy. #WeTheNorth”

Solid first day at the Raptors Basketball Academy. #WeTheNorth

A photo posted by Toronto Raptors (@raptors) on

Raptors Republic on Instagram: “If you a real #raptors fan, who dis? #wethenorth #raptorstrivia”

If you a real #raptors fan, who dis? #wethenorth #raptorstrivia

A photo posted by Raptors Republic (@raptorsrepublic) on

Bruno Caboclo Scouting Report | Basketball Scouting

WEAK-SIDE OFFENSE

Caboclo parked in the corners throughout the week, with three-point shots accounting for 31 of his 47 attempts from the field in Vegas.

He has not shown to improve much since the end of the season. Caboclo remains a capable open-shot shooter, nailing 35.5% of his shots from beyond the arc, but a gunner who struggles when an opponent rushes his release, as he pulls the trigger rather methodically still.

Caboclo flashed some ability to make shots on the move – once out of screening for the pick-and-pop and one other jogging around a screen, setting his feet quickly and letting it fly in balance. But Toronto didn’t give him many opportunities to check if that’s a skill that can be truly counted on.

Attacking closeouts, Caboclo showed once again he’s not particularly explosive off the bounce but has strength in his 218-pound frame to maintain his balance through contact and get into the lane. He did not finish as well in traffic as he had in the D-League, unable to attack length at the rim with any burst (even out of one foot) or score well enough on non-dunk finishes, as he shot seven-for-16 on two-pointers.

From a team offense-standpoint, Caboclo rarely caught-and-held the ball and proved himself very willing to make the extra pass around the perimeter. But he once again showed he’s not particularly instinctive as a cutter, very rarely diving baseline to the basket, which is disappointing considering he’s flashed the ability to play above the rim as a target for lobs running the break in transition a couple of times.

Raptors latest signing: Jarrod Uthoff | Raptors Rapture

Lucky for the Raptors, Jarrod’s game is not one dimensional. In his senior year at Iowa, he posted fantastic defensive stats, averaging 2.5 blocks per game and 1.8 steals per game. Uthoff’s main asset on this end is his length, which he uses effectively to knock away post entry passes and contest shots at the rim as the weakside help defender. In the post, Jarrod shows remarkable tenacity and strength, often forcing his opponents far from the low block and into contested long twos. A player with this defensive skillset is always a welcome sight for NBA teams, Uthoff projects to be a net positive on the defensive end and could bring some rim protection to the Raptors in lieu of Biyombo’s departure.

However skilled a player Jarrod is, it appears that he is near his ceiling. At 23, Jarrod has already hit many of the developmental milestones that launch NBA rookies from bench minutes into the starting lineup. Throughout his time at Iowa he made major strides, beginning his career as a bench player and ending it as Iowa’s offensive star. So, it may not be reasonable to expect any further major improvements. If Uthoff fails to impress the Raptors coaching staff throughout training camp enough to get the final roster spot, expect him to end up in Mississauga with the 905, where he may still develop into an NBA calibre player.

Patrick Patterson on Instagram: “Rest & Relaxation..”

Rest & Relaxation.. ☀️

A photo posted by Patrick Patterson (@pdpatt) on

DeRozan Motivated To Continue His Journey With Raptors | Toronto Raptors

DeRozan isn’t one to spend a lot of time reflecting, choosing to focus on what needs to be done instead. Still, it was impossible to avoid looking back on all that has happened over his seven years in Toronto on the morning he headed over to the arena to sign his new contract and meet with the media.

“It’s just [about] how much I’ve grown here, how much I’ve seen the city grow, how much recognition I’ve seen the city gain,” DeRozan said. “The whole nines. It’s amazing for me to be a part of that and I feel like I had something to do with it and feel like I’m a staple in the country now.”

DeRozan is coming off his best individual season as well as the franchise’s most successful in history. He could have elected to take things slow this offseason. He could have rested his body and mind for a bit before easing into workouts to prepare for training camp. Of course this isn’t the route he chose. When USA Basketball offered an opportunity to represent his country and get to do it along with Lowry, as well as getting to learn from some of the brightest minds in basketball, DeRozan jumped at the chance.

In addition to getting to suit up for USA, DeRozan also embraced getting to train beside some of the league’s best players. When speaking about remaining in Toronto, DeRozan continued to stress that he’s looking forward to continuing to build on the success of the previous season.

“It’s [about] finding that extra motivation year in and year out,” DeRozan said. “Some way, somehow, you always find that motivation at the highest level it needs to be to preform and come back and be better. Thats what it’s all about.”

Terrence Ross on Instagram

BB4L 8️⃣-0️⃣

A photo posted by Terrence Ross (@3tross1) on

DeMarre Carroll on Instagram

https://www.instagram.com/p/BITCsBWgAJ2/


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TORONTO, ON - JULY 14 - Toronto Raptors Jared Sullinger talks to the media at a press conference at the Real Sports Bar. July 14, 2016. Bernard Weil/Toronto Star

It’s been a week and a half since he passed a bigger paycheque in order to join a winning team (sorry, Jae), and our answer at the four has gone from this:

TORONTO, ON - JULY 14 - Toronto Raptors Jared Sullinger talks to the media at a press conference at the Real Sports Bar. July 14, 2016. Bernard Weil/Toronto Star

to this:

skinnysully(source)

This seems to be a reoccurring theme for Sully as zazagooh points out on Reddit:

I remember last season similar pictures cropping up on the Celtics subreddit, he really focused on losing weight in the offseason but put it back on during the season.

I’m not saying that’s the case this time, maybe the fact he didn’t get a big QO with all the money going around is enough to scare him straight and have him keep the weight off this year. I like Sully though, even though he was kinda fat last year he had good conditioning and played hard and hustled in 81 games. People might forget this but he was the 5th man out at the start of the year with KO/Zeller/Amir/Lee infront of him and he worked his way into the starting line up.

Anyway, TLDR just wanted to say don’t be totally surprised if he comes into the season and is fat. But also don’t be disapointed [sic] by it, cause he’s a good passer, has a nice midrange game and is a great rebounder. And if he can finally extend that range past the 3 point line then you’ve got a great great player coming off the bench.

Zazagooh nails it with assessment that the lack of QO in a sellers market must have shaken him into action; truth is, we should take it happily. I’m not expecting Sullinger to pull a Lowry 180, but any sort of discipline this off-season that stretches as far into next year as possible can only help.

Either way, it is encouraging to see that he’s serious about this coming season, whether altruistically or selfishly.


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Masai Ujiri’s Free Agency Patience Comes with Its Own Hidden Risk | VICE Sports

That Biyombo is now gone should be instructive to Ujiri and Raptors fans alike. It is not necessarily a bad thing, as it is tough to imagine a world where paying him and Jonas Valanciunas north of $15 million annually would be an efficient use of resources. It does, however, naturally limit the amount of cohesion the Raptors can have from year to year.

This is where Ujiri must do some daunting calculus, marrying basic risk-reward navigation with the team’s long-term objectives. Yes, it must be frustrating that Ujiri could not tack on another year or two on Biyombo’s contract to maintain club control, even if it would have resulted in a higher annual salary (Biyombo had a player option on his contract that he could have opted into this summer, assuming that he hated his agent). Now, Casey has to hope Valanciunas is ready for full-time centre duties on the defensive end, while praying some combination of Sullinger, Lucas Nogueira and maybe Jakob Poeltl can replace Biyombo’s overall production, if not its specific composition. (The Raptors will simply not be able to replace Biyombo’s rim protection and shot blocking.)

On the other hand, Ujiri is likely thrilled he did not do something foolhardy like guarantee Scola or Anthony Bennett a second year. The same fiscal conservatism that cost the Raptors Biyombo—without a multi-year deal, the Raptors did not own his early-Bird Rights, which meant a solid season would virtually guarantee his stay in Toronto was brief—has also kept the Raptors’ cap sheet fairly clean.

The contracts for DeMarre Carroll (age, health), DeMar DeRozan ($!!!) and Terrence Ross (Terrence Ross) may not work out in the end, but the team’s long-term commitments are all to players whom the Raptors are still very much glad to have around.

Raptors: DeMarre Carroll Takes Right Approach to Jae Crowder Dig | Tip of the Tower

Overall, the Raptors will not be so quick to dismiss the Celtics. After all, this is a team coming off a 48-win campaign themselves, and definitely headed in the right direction.

However, Carroll says they’ll leave the speaking to their divisional rivals: “We’ll let our game do the talking.

“We’ll let Jae Crowder get in the media and do all his talking. We’ll just fly under the radar and do what we’re supposed to do, and that’s to hopefully one day bring a championship to Toronto.”

DeMar DeRozan’s Sick Move | USA vs China | July 24, 2016 | 2016 USA Basketball Showcase – YouTube

DeMar DeRozan 11 Points in 4th Quarter | USA vs China | July 24, 2016 | 2016 USA Basketball Showcase – YouTube

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F0rKd8W7kY8

Toronto Raptors: Was Mike Krzyzewski Right to Call out Kyle Lowry? | Tip of the Tower

Aschburner reported that at one point, the 69-year old Krzyzewski grabbed Lowry and said: “Would you take one shot at least? You talk about changing your role from a team that you play on (in the NBA) to this team.”

Admittedly, the first instinct is to question the Chicago, Illinois native’s need to call out Lowry. You could argue that taking shots is the least of his issues.

Consider that during the regular season, the 2006 first round draft pick averaged 21.2 points per game, on more than 15 attempts per contest. If anything, it’s his assists average which could stand to improve.

However, the reality is we’re dealing with one of the most decorated coaches in basketball history. Krzyzewski’s resume includes four Gold medals as Team USA head coach, along with five NCAA championships in charge of Duke.

As such, if the former Army player has some advice for his players, you have to believe he knows what he’s talking about. Expect to see Lowry improve on the three shots he attempted against Argentina, when he plays China on Sunday.

Kyle and DeMar photobombing fans – YouTube

ⓂarcusD on Twitter: “https://t.co/y23GyaLCXD”

Raptors Republic on Instagram: “If you a real #raptors fan, who dis? #wethenorth #raptorstrivia”

If you a real #raptors fan, who dis? #wethenorth #raptorstrivia

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The Toronto Raptors might have struck gold with Jarrod Uthoff | Rollin in the Rye

With the ability to hit the 3-ball, shooting 39.2% from distance last season, Uthoff would be able to spread the floor for penetrators like DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry. He’s also more than capable of putting the ball on the floor himself, so don’t be surprised if we see a couple poster dunks this  season.

Just like with any college senior going to the NBA, it’ll take some time to adjust to the professional game. If it takes Uthoff longer than expected, there’s always the 905; the Raptors’ D-League team.

Uthoff wouldn’t be the first Raptor player to do so, with many of Masai Ujiri’s picks spending time with the 905. The latest surprise was Norman Powell, a 4-year product out of UCLA, who blossomed at the end of the year after starting the season playing 8 games for the D-League affiliate.

There is a single thing we know Powell and Uthoff do share, it’s hard work ethic. With their versatile skill sets and defensive mentality, they would make a scary duo around the wing, and even scarier one when you mix in Delon Wright, Pascal Siakam, and Jakob Poeltl.

DeMarre Carroll on Instagram: “YEEPPP 💯💯💯#TEAMCARROLL #JYD2Point0 #TeamCarroll #Freshness #IDOTHIS #Blessed”

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DeMarre Carroll on Instagram: “Wow…Thank you fam for the surprise party!!! #FamilyOverEverything #JYD2Point0 #TeamCarroll #StayPositive #Wifey #Love”

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Terrence Ross on Instagram: “⏫⏫⏫”

https://www.instagram.com/p/BIPIho-DGCS/

Terrence Ross on Instagram:

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Norman Powell on Instagram: “Wedding Season. @nickkazemi”

Wedding Season. @nickkazemi

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Norman Powell on Instagram: “Congrats to the bro last night on Getting married @traviswear had a great time. Wishing you and @kbzzle Nothing but the best. #BrotherHood #guessididntgetthememowithbowtie lol”

Jonas Valanciunas on Instagram: “We all have different opinions whats going on😅 Kiekvienas turi savo nuomone🇱🇹#LTeam #Rio”

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DeMarre Carroll on Instagram: “OKK…100100100#TeamCarroll #JYD2Point0 #Blessed #TeamCarroll #SrSwagDaddy”

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Lakers News: DeMar DeRozan On Why He Did Not Sign | LA Sports Media

“When you have an opportunity to go home, that’s something that certainly would cross your mind. But it wasn’t anything,” DeRozan told Southern California News Group. “After I finish playing, I’m pretty sure I’ll live in L.A. But I just wanted to do something special and leave a legacy of my own in Toronto.”

DeMar DeRozan Shares Why He Didn’t Want To Join The Lakers | Lakers Nation

The idea of DeRozan wanting to build something special where he was drafted is admirable. The Raptors have improved greatly from DeRozan’s rookie season, and just made the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time. DeRozan wanting to build on that makes complete sense.

DeRozan’s reasoning also serves as a reminder that sometimes players have their reasons for not joining the Lakers that have nothing to do with something the Lakers have done wrong. It has become normal for many to bash the Lakers and use things like this to show how far they have fallen, but in this case, the Lakers probably wouldn’t have had much of a chance even if they were a playoff team.

“In Masai we trust” – Raptors moves this past year | Raptors Rapture

So if you buy my scoring, Masai gets one “F”, and every other mark is satisfactory or better – a lot better. Actually the “F” was earned by Bennett; Masai merely cost his employer, MLSE, some money. I think they will survive.

Our trust in Masai has been rewarded.

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The Toronto Raptors may be a little worse in 2016-17 than they were in 2015-16. They’re still going to be very good.

That was the general expectation at the end of a franchise-best season and heading into an offseason where they lacked the flexibility to make a big leap, and it appears to be the belief now that the larger parts of the offseason have played out. ESPN’s annual Summer Forecast for the Eastern Conference was released Monday, and the group of rankers have the Raptors pegged for a 51-31 record, tied for second in the conference with the much-improved Boston Celtics.

That shouldn’t be all that surprising. Yes, it’s a five-win drop-off, but there’s a lot at play here.

Reasons for improvement
*DeMarre Carroll and Jonas Valanciunas may not miss a full season combined
*IN: Jared Sullinger, Jakob Poeltl, Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet/Jarrod Uthoff/15th Man TBD
*One of the youngest contending teams in the NBA
*Chemistry, consistency, culture, low turnover
*Norman Powell

Reasons for decline
*Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan were able to play top-10 minutes
*OUT: Bismack Biyombo, Luis Scola, James Johnson, Anthony Bennett, maybe Jason Thompson
*One of the youngest contending teams in the NBA
*Atlantic Division improved
*Regression to the mean (may have outperformed talent level/expectations)

Some of those points are up for debate or mean more/less to you, but it’s easy to look at where the Raptors are and conclude that they should be somewhere in the area they were last year, give or take a few games based on variance/injury/regression/whatever. And it’s not as if 51 wins is a negative prediction – the Raptors would still be favored to win at least one playoff series, and if ESPN’s predictions played out correctly, there would be an awesome (and likely heated) second-round showdown with the “prove it in the playoffs” Boston Celtics.

Here’s how ESPN’s predictions for the East stack up next to the latest odds to win the conference outright, per Bodog.

Team Bodog Odds to Win East ESPN Win Prediction
Cleveland -250 57
Boston +500 51
Toronto +1400 51
Atlanta +2500 44
Chicago +2500 40
Indiana +2800 45
Detroit +4000 45
Miami +4000 36
New York +4000 40
Milwaukee +5000 39
Washington +5000 41
Orlando +6600 35
Charlotte +10000 43
Philadelphia +15000 20
Brooklyn +20000 20

Among the things that stand out is the Raptors having such longer odds at an East title than their win total would suggest. This could indicate a belief the Celtics are a better matchup for the Cavaliers, that they’d beat Toronto in a playoff series, that they may take a while to reach their peak, that there’s a lot more public money on a “sexy” team that made some noise this offseason, even if DeMarre Carroll would warn they’re not playoff-tested yet, or any number of other things.

What’s clear from both the bookmakers and ESPN predictors is that there is the Cavaliers, there’s the Celtics and Raptors, and then there’s a jumble of teams jockeying for standing beyond the top three. That feels right as a broad stroke to paint the East with right now.

Any early predictions on how many games the Raptors will win, or which Raptor will hit the game-winner in Game 7 of the second-round series against the Celtics?


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USA Basketball continued their anticipated exhibition dominance on Sunday, following up a drubbing of Argentina with a summary dispatch of China in Las Vegas.

The fourth quarter belonged to DeMar DeRozan, who scored 11 of his 13 points in the frame. His mid-range game was on point, as is his trademark, and he even spent some time running the point

Earlier, he got the opportunity to show off one of his trademark moves, the pump-fake up-and-under from the block.

Kyle Lowry finished with five points and five assists in 16 minutes, too, missing but a single free throw and declining to turn the ball over even once. Both Raptors’ All-Stars had much quieter games against former teammate Luis Scola on Friday, but this team is built such that different players are going to get their game by game.

The U.S. has three more exhibition games over the next week-plus. Yeah, they’re just tune-ups, but this is probably what people should expect from the prohibitive favorite in Brazil, at least until the medal round. Their first official Olympic game goes Aug. 6 against this same China squad.


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BOSTON - JANUARY 14: Atlanta's DeMarre Carroll, center, tries to work his way through a first half pick being put on him by the Celtics Tyler Zeller, right, which allows Boston's Jae Crowder, left, to advance the ball. The Boston Celtics hosted the Atlanta Hawks in a regular season NBA game at the TD Garden. (Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Raptors’ Carroll responds to Jae Crowder’s comment | Sportsnet.ca

In an interview on Thursday, Boston Celtics forward Jae Crowder said that he thinks his team has what it takes to reach the Eastern Conference Finals this coming season, and that he “wasn’t worried about” the three-time defending division champ Toronto Raptors impeding the Celts’ progress. Shortly after the story below was published, Raptors forward DeMarre Carroll was asked about Crowder’s comments during an appearance on SN 590 The Fan.

Here’s what Carroll had to say: “I think it’s a comment from a person who hasn’t been in a playoff situation. When you haven’t been on that level you don’t understand what it takes. Myself, going to back-to-back Conference Finals, I know what it takes. I think it’s a comment from a guy who hasn’t played at that level, sounds like a young [guy] comment.”

Shots fired!

DeMar DeRozan has stayed loyal to L.A. and Toronto | LA Daily News

Those at the Drew League and Compton High convey the same feeling about DeRozan.

The reasons first point toward DeRozan’s on-court accomplishments.

As early as 14 years old, DeRozan played pickup games at the Drew League that featured endless matchups against other future NBA players, such as Crossroads’ Baron Davis and Leuzinger’s Dorell Wright. There, DeRozan threw down countless windmill dunks that Smiley argued was “good enough to be in the NBA dunk contest.”

“They gave you that toughness not to have any fear,” DeRozan said. “A grown man is not going to take it easy on you because you’re a kid out there. They’re going to go at you.”

DeRozan then stayed determined in ensuring Compton High would become relevant despite rivals Centennial and Dominguez dominating the local landscape. Those opponents became casualties when DeRozan guided the Tarbabes his junior year to the Huntington Beach Ocean View championship.

“It was motivating , not just because of the rivalries,” said Tony Thomas, DeRozan’s high school coach. “Every one of those schools recruited him and he decided to stay at his home school.”

Countless parents and faculty expressed concern to Thomas that DeRozan would eventually leave. DeRozan frequently heard from friends he should. Instead, DeRozan guided Compton High to two Moore League titles, their first in a decade.

“Nobody can ever tell me what I need to do,” DeRozan said, “or what I should do better than myself.”

…and GO!!

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Raptors Norman Powell Style Combines Dwyane Wade And Tony Allen | Pro Bball Report

Injuries created opportunities and Powell played in 25 games averaging 22.8 minutes and started 20 games after the All-Star break. Once he was in, there really was no way for Casey to get him out of the rotation.

Playing at the two and the three, Powell averaged 9.6 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.6 assists after the All-Star break. He was shooting 46.6 percent from the field and 45.5 percent from three-point range on 3.1 three-point attempts a game. Eventually even Casey had to stop calling Powell’s offensive production “gravy.”

Powell was tenth in rookie scoring after the break and had the fifth best rookie plus/minus at +2.9. He had earned his right to be on the court with his defense, but his offense was just getting too hard to overlook.

In April, he earned the Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month award averaging 15.3 points, 4.4 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 31.6 minutes in eight games.

At 23-years-old, Powell isn’t a finished product and he doesn’t have to look like Wade or Allen to be a very important and effective player for the Raptors next season. Just maintaining that aggressive mindset and taking another step forward in his skills development will be big for Toronto.

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Toronto Raptors: DeMar DeRozan can learn a lot from USA Basketball | Tip of the Tower

DeRozan is a liability on defense, but it’s not due to lack of physical limitations – his principles are bad. He dies on screens and is absent-minded when off the ball.

Spending time with people as savvy as Jordan and George can allow the 26-year old to learn through osmosis. If he keeps getting exposed in certain ways, his teammates will be able to guide him though his mistakes.

Authority figures can only provide so much advice. Eventually, players will turn to each other for assistance and there will be a plethora of help.

All players see the floor differently, whether they are looking for passing lanes, shooting pockets or seams to the rim. This crop of USA basketball brings a very unique set of players to the table.

From Malaga to Madrid! And then to Buenos Aires! With pretty good company! #LTeam #Rio

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Norman Powell: From Extreme Poverty and Nearly Quitting Hoops to Toronto’s Second-Round Standout | National Basketball Players Association

I never was really content with how last season went. I felt like I could’ve played better. I’m always looking at the next thing I need to achieve, even when I do have a good game. Most people are, like, “You did phenomenal for a second-round pick,” but I never pictured myself as a second-round pick. I felt I was a top-20 pick in the draft, and everything else was just trying to go out there and prove people wrong.

It was good for me to make a little noise last season, have people talking about you, but I still block all that out because there’s so much more for myself that I feel like I can achieve.

The whole reason why I came to Vegas this year was to work on things that the Raptors want me to improve upon—leading the young guys, keeping the energy up, talking to the team and getting them ready and adjusted. I’m talking to the young guys about what this season is going to look like, what they should expect and trying to lead by example.

I’m a real hard-working committed guy, so I’m coming in here not looking for rest or an excuse. I’m playing through everything—adversity, bad calls, whatever it is. It’s the same thing they’ve got to do. Mainly I’m a leader by example by just the work I put in, and people usually follow along with that. But now it’s working on being that vocal leader.

If you a real #raptors fan, who dis? #wethenorth #raptorstrivia #pickingitupanotch

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Who is Fred VanVleet and why he have Raptors contract? | Raptors Rapture

Fred reminds me of J.J. Barea, a small, feisty ballhandler and defender who has made the NBA through hustle and brains rather than athleticism. I don’t know whether Fred has even a puncher’s chance to make the big club out of camp. After all, there are 3 men ahead of him (Kyle Lowry, Cory Joseph, Delon Wright), none of whom are going to donate their minutes to an unknown rookie.

Yet he’s not completely unknown. Fred led his Shockers, appropriately enough, to a completely unexpected Final Four berth in the 2013 NCAA Championships. They were defeated by eventual champion Louisville, but their run was impressive. Here’s a link to the Wichita State website for Fred’s collegiate achievements, which are impressive.

There’s a lot of Lowry in Fred’s game also. He’s an effective rebounder, and isn’t shy about physical contact with bigger players (which in his case includes almost everyone). His assist to turnover ratio is no more than respectable, but I’m spoiled because I remember the golden years of Jose Calderon.

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Proud Olympians. #WeTheNorth

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Canada Basketball announced the roster for the senior women’s Olympic team on Friday. Looking at the list, it’s really difficult not to get excited about their chances in Rio this summer.

The team of 12 is as follows:

Position First Last Height Hometown Team/Club
Forward Natalie Achonwa 6’3 Guelph, ON Indiana Fever (WNBA)
Forward Miranda Ayim 6’3 London, ON Bsket Landes (France)
Guard Nirra Fields 5’7 Lachine, QC UCLA/Phoenix Mercury (WNBA)
Guard Kim Gaucher 6’1 Mission, BC Mondeville (France)
Guard Miah-Marie Langlois 5’8 Windsor, ON Enisey Krasnoyarski (Russia)
Forward Lizanne Murphy 6’1 Beaconsfield, QC Angers (France)
Guard Kia Nurse 6’0 Hamilton, ON University of Connecticut (NCAA)
Forward Katherine Plouffe 6’3 Edmonton, AB Nantes Reze (France)
Forward Michelle Plouffe 6’3 Edmonton, AB Mondeville (France)
Forward Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe 6’2 Penticton, BC Bendigo Spirit (Australia)
Forward Tamara Tatham 6’1 Brampton, ON Dynamo-Guvd Novosibirsk (Russia)
Guard Shona Thorburn 5’9 Hamilton, ON Nantes Reze (France)

The roster was chosen from a group of 18 that attended their Phase 2 Camp in Edmonton and their Phase 3 camp in Toronto. It returns seven players from the 2012 Olympic team that reached the quarterfinals, plus five Olympic rookies, led by Kia Nurse. If the roster looks particularly familiar, it’s because it’s also the exact group of 12 that won gold at last summer’s Pan-Am Games and at the 2015 FIBA Americas, punching their ticket to Brazil. Led by coach Lisa Thomaidis, this group has a great deal of experience together by international standards, and that showed as they began tuning up this summer.

Over the last few weeks, Canada went 7-1 in exhibition play, and they’ll now head to the U.S. for three games as part of the USA Basketball showcase, one last practice run before the Olympics get underway Aug. 5.

Canada, who are ranked ninth in the world by FIBA as of October, are in a group with the U.S. (1), Spain (3), China (8), Serbia (14), and Senegal (24), and will need to finish in the top four to advance. Given the momentum of the program and the abundance of talent on the roster, you have to like their chances of doing so. Bookmakers, meanwhile, have Canada tied for sixth in odds to win the entire tournament, and while the U.S. is a heavy favorite for good reason, this Canadian squad is good enough to realistically have a medal in mind.

(Photo Courtesy: Canada Basketball)


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Report: Raptors sign Jarrod Uthoff to partially guaranteed 2-year deal | Raptors Republic

On offense, he has great size for the three-spot or great range for the four, and he has a pretty enough jumper that he could be a plus as a low-usage option. As his role grew at Iowa this year, he also got to work more as a cutter and creating for himself, showing potential to expand his game beyond a catch-and-shoot threat at the NBA level. His turnover rate was also exceptionally low for someone using as many possessions as he did, though again, it’s the 3-point stroke that stands out here, because his handle isn’t terrific and he’s not exceptionally quick.

A First-Team All-Big Ten player and consensus Second-Team All-American, Uthoff also brings the type of off-court maturity the Raptors appreciate (he was the Academic All-American of the Year and a member of the Big Ten All-Defensive team, too). His age is such that maybe his upside is limited relative to other names in the draft, but the Raptors may see a player who can contribute in a specific role in short order here, and it was once thought he might sniff the first round, so there’s value here as an undrafted free agent.

The question now becomes whether the Raptors can find a veteran to plug in at a forward spot using their bi-annual exception (or a veteran minimum). With six players already on the roster on their rookie deals, adding another inexperienced piece in Uthoff or VanVleet (or Drew Crawford or E.J. Singler, who I expect to be in camp if they don’t sign overseas) seems somewhat unlikely, but the available options on the wing or at the forward spot are pretty uninspiring. For now, the Raptors are pretty set at the guard and big spots, but unless they’re willing to go small-ish (Terrence Ross, DeMar DeRozan, Norman Powell) at the three for DeMarre Carroll insurance, they’re probably looking at forwards. Uthoff fits the bill, positionally and as a shooter who won’t hurt them (and may even help) on the defensive end.

NBA Free Agency: Raptors sign Jarrod Uthoff to a 2-year partially guaranteed contract | Raptors HQ

The bottom line here is, much like VanVleet, Uthoff will be brought in as a player the Raptors organization likes. He’ll be in training camp, and presumably get a chance to be on the Raptors 905 if everyone is so inclined. The odds of him actually being the 15th man on the Raptors full-time roster seem fairly low.

Raptors sign forward Jarrod Uthoff of Iowa to two-year deal | Toronto Star

Like the signing of guard Fred VanVleet on Monday, the Raptors can use training camp to see how Uthoff fits into the team’s plans. He has the size and shooting ability to provide help at the power forward spot, but could also be a player the team sends to Raptors 905 in the D-League and continue to evaluate through the season.

If you a real #raptors fan, who dis? #wethenorth #raptorstrivia

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Raptors Sign Undrafted Iowa Forward Jarrod Uthoff | Pro Bball Report

The former Iowa Hawkeye star went undrafted Thursday, a mild surprise after many projections had him as a mid-second round pick.

“Jarrod Uthoff has a bizarre game that almost seems hard to place in the NBA,” explained Adi Joseph, a deputy editor for the Sporting News. “Will he be able to block shots at the NBA level? And if he can’t, will he be able to defend well enough in other ways? That was the worry with him. He has the size and skills, but they don’t fit a traditional or even a modern NBA role.”

“He can knock down shots, space the floor and I think he can hang on the defensive end,” ESPN draft expert Jay Bilas had said of Uthoff earlier in the week, predicting he would be a second-round choice. “As long as he gets with the right team, I think he can be a help to somebody.”

College days #TBT

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Report: Raptors sign power forward Jarrod Uthoff | Sportsnet.ca

At 6-foot-10, Uthoff is considered a stretch four, and shot 38.2 per cent from beyond the arc last season. He appeared in four games for the Sacramento Kings at the Las Vegas Summer League. He joins a Raptors squad with three power forwards under contract in Patrick Patterson, first-round pick Pascal Siakam, and recently-signed Jared Sullinger.

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Listen to The HeadQuarters: Episode 38 – The Jared Solo-inger Episode. Brought to you by Matt Bonner | Raptors HQ

Sean Woodley does a solo edition of the podcast to discuss the Jared Sullinger signing, predict what Norman Powell might do with the Raptors in 2016-17 and answer a bunch of listener questions — including a Pokémon related one. This episode is brought to you by Matt Bonner.

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Lowry, DeRozan Embrace Opportunity With Team USA | Toronto Raptors

The All-Star backcourt could have enjoyed a business-as-usual summer, filled with early morning workouts and afternoon scrimmages, but when USA Basketball called both were ecstatic to switch up their summer plans. Neither player was about to take the opportunity to represent their country at the Olympics for granted. Getting to add another experience to the things they’ve accomplished together over their five-year friendship is just another bonus.

“It means a lot,” Lowry said. “It just builds on the things we’ve done together as a unit. It means that we worked extremely hard to get to this position and we both earned it.”

For DeRozan, who saw countless teammates come in and out of the locker room through his first four seasons with the team, the stability he’s found with Lowry has been immeasurably important.

“It means everything,” DeRozan said of suiting up for Team USA alongside Lowry. “We’re playing for the Olympics. We’re playing in the Olympics for a gold medal. Two teammates…It’s a great experience when you look at it that way.”

While other players prefer to take the offseason to rest tired bodies and minds, DeRozan couldn’t imagine passing up the shot for Olympic gold. After winning a gold medal with Team USA in the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup, adding another to his collection would be the icing on the cake to cap off the best individual basketball year of his professional career.

“It’s a great opportunity,” he said. “A lot of professionals don’t get the chance to compete for a gold medal for their country and to have two teammates do that and try to do that together is awesome.”

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Q&A: DeMar DeRozan talks Team USA chemistry & re-signing with the Raptors | Believe The Hype

Today I caught up with Team USA guard DeMar DeRozan at Team USA’s pre-Olympic camp in Las Vegas. DeMar and I spoke about the squad’s preparation so far for next month’s Rio Olympics, re-signing with the Toronto Raptors, what he’s looking at taking away from the experience and bringing back to the NBA next year and more.

2016 Is A Great Summer To Be A Mediocre NBA Free Agent | FiveThirtyEight

DeMar DeRozan’s five-year, $139 million contract to stay with the Toronto Raptors is just crazy. He will average $27.8 million a year, but his CARMELO value per year is $13.1 million. The Raptors will be paying more than $14 million per year over value for a player who is the second-best on the team. In the 2015-16 season, DeRozan led the team in scoring, with 23.5 points per game, and played well in the playoffs. But his WAR was just above 5, compared with teammate Kyle Lowry’s nearly 14.

Getting To Know 4KORNERS: Toronto Raptors’ Resident DJ | HuffPost

Q: What was it like to be the DJ for the 2016 NBA all-star game and which celebrity did you enjoy meeting?

A: Performing at the NBA All Star Game was definitely a career highlight. Honestly, wow! I can’t even explain in words how amazing that was. That entire week I played huge and awesome events all over the city, and capped it all off by playing the actual game. I’m still kind of mind blown thinking back. As for celebrities, I didn’t really meet anyone that made me turn into a “fan boy” or anything, haha. But it was really cool to have so many people from all worlds of entertainment in our city at once. It was an unforgettable week.

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The Toronto Raptors have signed undrafted forward Jarrod Uthoff to a partially guaranteed two-year deal, according to a report from Shams Charania of The Vertical.

Similar to the Fred VanVleet deal, Uthoff’s will likely contain a guarantee in the $25,000-$75,000 range and means he’ll be in training camp with the team. As things stand now, it probably also means he’ll be competing with a handful of players for the team’s 15th roster spot, although plenty can change between now and camp, and the Raptors still have their $2.2-million bi-annual exception to use if there’s a more veteran name they like. As a reminder, the Raptors brought in four players on similar deals last year for a 19-man camp, and teams can go as high as 20 on the roster at any given time. The money is also mostly inconsequential to the Raptors, who are over the cap but aren’t threatening the luxury tax, barring a trade.

And like VanVleet, Uthoff’s a name the Raptors surely liked around draft time. He was among the 59 publicly named players the Raptors brought in to work out before the draft and was the fourth-highest ranked player on our Raptors Republic draft board to go undrafted. While we ranked him 54th, ESPN’s Chad Ford was even higher on him, ranking him 36th, while none of the prominent rankers had him outside of the top 60. In other words, this is a player most felt should have been drafted, even if it was late.

After going undrafted, Uthoff joined the Sacramento Kings for Las Vegas Summer League, averaging 4.5 points, 2.3 rebounds, and one steal, one block, and one assists in 17.4 minutes. That’s modest statistical production, to be sure,  but the 23-year-old isn’t being brought in to try to fill the stat sheet up. The Raptors surely see him as a potential role player down the line, capable of coming in and spacing the floor while playing solid-to-plus defense. Whether that manifests at the NBA level this season is unclear, and the Raptors would probably be thrilled to have him as an affiliate player with Raptors 905 if he clears waivers and opts not to sign overseas (where his partial guarantee would help supplement the paltry D-League salary).

While he averaged 18.9 points as a senior at Iowa last season, it’s probably the 38.3-percent career mark from long-range and the 1.8 blocks per-game over three seasons as a Hawkeye that stand out to Toronto here. A 6-foot-10 combo-forward with an 6-foot-11.5 wingspan, Uthoff uses his size and athleticism well to guard the small forward position and may be able to rebound well enough to play the four if he can add some size this summer (he’s only 214 pounds). His steal and block rates were strong when adjusting for pace, usually a good harbinger of how defense will translate, and he reads plays intelligently on or off the ball. He could stand to be more physical, which may come with additional bulk, but for now he should be passable, if not solid at that end.

On offense, he has great size for the three-spot or great range for the four, and he has a pretty enough jumper that he could be a plus as a low-usage option. As his role grew at Iowa this year, he also got to work more as a cutter and creating for himself, showing potential to expand his game beyond a catch-and-shoot threat at the NBA level. His turnover rate was also exceptionally low for someone using as many possessions as he did, though again, it’s the 3-point stroke that stands out here, because his handle isn’t terrific and he’s not exceptionally quick.

A First-Team All-Big Ten player and consensus Second-Team All-American, Uthoff also brings the type of off-court maturity the Raptors appreciate (he was the Academic All-American of the Year and a member of the Big Ten All-Defensive team, too). His age is such that maybe his upside is limited relative to other names in the draft, but the Raptors may see a player who can contribute in a specific role in short order here, and it was once thought he might sniff the first round, so there’s value here as an undrafted free agent.

The question now becomes whether the Raptors can find a veteran to plug in at a forward spot using their bi-annual exception (or a veteran minimum). With six players already on the roster on their rookie deals, adding another inexperienced piece in Uthoff or VanVleet (or Drew Crawford or E.J. Singler, who I expect to be in camp if they don’t sign overseas) seems somewhat unlikely, but the available options on the wing or at the forward spot are pretty uninspiring. For now, the Raptors are pretty set at the guard and big spots, but unless they’re willing to go small-ish (Terrence Ross, DeMar DeRozan, Norman Powell) at the three for DeMarre Carroll insurance, they’re probably looking at forwards. Uthoff fits the bill, positionally and as a shooter who won’t hurt them (and may even help) on the defensive end.

Here’s how the roster stands today:

PG: Lowry, Joseph, Wright, VanVleet
SG: DeRozan, Powell
SF: Carroll, Ross, Caboclo, Uthoff
PF: Sullinger, Patterson, Siakam
C: Valanciunas, Nogueira, Poeltl


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Cap Sheet Update: DeRozan specifics, VanVleet guarantee, and a 2017 look-ahead | Raptors Republic

Reports varied on the exact numbers of DeMar DeRozan’s new five-year deal, ranging from $137.5M (Michael Grange of Sportsnet and Bruce Arthur of the Toronto Star) to $139M (some U.S. outlets) to $145M (most U.S. outlets). The assumption I was working on was that $137.5M was the base, $139M included “likely” incentives (which count against the cap), and $145M included “unlikely” incentives (which only count for luxury tax, not salary cap purposes).

Well, according to Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (the authority on such things), DeRozan’s cap hit is only $137.5M. It’s still possible that incentives could push it higher, but for our purposes, we’re now going to go with $137.5M for the cap rather than $139M. This also means that the “discount” DeRozan gave the Raptors form his total max is just shy of 10 percent, which is certainly not nothing.

Also notable in DeRozan’s contract structure is that the fifth year is a player option, and that the Raptors opted to max out the first year of the deal and then pay him a set amount each year beyond that. Maxing out the first year made plenty of sense given his salary wouldn’t affect their cap space this year, anyway, and from there they could have tried to maximize money in a certain year (dropping it for next summer and then increasing later, or increasing early to drop it later in the deal). Instead, they went for certainty and an even spread (this is basically the most they could have it be a set annual salary, since they couldn’t push Year 1 any higher). It also means DeRozan will make 28.2 percent of the cap this year and an estimated 27.2 percent next year.

Masai Ujiri’s Free Agency Patience Comes with Its Own Hidden Risk | VICE Sports

That Biyombo is now gone should be instructive to Ujiri and Raptors fans alike. It is not necessarily a bad thing, as it is tough to imagine a world where paying him and Jonas Valanciunas north of $15 million annually would be an efficient use of resources. It does, however, naturally limit the amount of cohesion the Raptors can have from year to year.

This is where Ujiri must do some daunting calculus, marrying basic risk-reward navigation with the team’s long-term objectives. Yes, it must be frustrating that Ujiri could not tack on another year or two on Biyombo’s contract to maintain club control, even if it would have resulted in a higher annual salary (Biyombo had a player option on his contract that he could have opted into this summer, assuming that he hated his agent). Now, Casey has to hope Valanciunas is ready for full-time centre duties on the defensive end, while praying some combination of Sullinger, Lucas Nogueira and maybe Jakob Poeltl can replace Biyombo’s overall production, if not its specific composition. (The Raptors will simply not be able to replace Biyombo’s rim protection and shot blocking.)

On the other hand, Ujiri is likely thrilled he did not do something foolhardy like guarantee Scola or Anthony Bennett a second year. The same fiscal conservatism that cost the Raptors Biyombo—without a multi-year deal, the Raptors did not own his early-Bird Rights, which meant a solid season would virtually guarantee his stay in Toronto was brief—has also kept the Raptors’ cap sheet fairly clean.

The contracts for DeMarre Carroll (age, health), DeMar DeRozan ($!!!) and Terrence Ross (Terrence Ross) may not work out in the end, but the team’s long-term commitments are all to players whom the Raptors are still very much glad to have around.

@demar_derozan @kyle_lowry7 Lookin' good, fellas. #WeTheNorth

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Patterson’s mom happy with Toronto’s family feel | Glasgow Daily Times

When Patrick Patterson joined the Toronto Raptors two years ago, his mother admits she did not know coach Dwane Casey was a former Kentucky player or assistant coach.

“I just did not know that at all,” said Tywanna Patterson. “But I love Dwane Casey. He lets young men play their game. The NBA is a little different from college. In college, whatever the coach says goes. In the NBA, there is more leeway and if a player has an idea for setting up a play or something, the coaches listen.

“Dwane is a good family man. He creates a family atmosphere and I love that. I want a coach to love my son or have his best interests at heart. Dwane does that. He takes care of my kid.”

DeMar hasn't seemed to grasp the concept of the Twitter mirror. #WeTheNorth

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If you a real #raptors fan, who dis? #wethenorth #raptorstrivia (bonus points for the dude he's boxing out) #pickingitupanotch

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The NBA offseason is grinding to a bit of a halt with a depressing list of available names remaining (more on that this weekend). While it’s a little boring for most, the Toronto Raptors’ offseason was always going to be pretty quiet (though recent reports from Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun and Josh Lewenberg of TSN suggest that general manager Masai Ujiri was far more aggressive than the results would indicate).

As a refresher, here’s what’s happened with the Raptors this offseason, and what remains:

Re-signed
DeMar DeRozan – 5 years, $137.5-145M – Read More (and here)

Signed
Jared Sullinger – 1 year, $5.63M – Read More (and here)
Fred VanVleet – 2 years, minimum – Read More (and here)

Drafted
Jakob Poeltl – No. 9 – Read More (and here)
Pascal Siakam – No. 27 – Read more (and here)

Departed
Luis Scola – Brooklyn – Read More
Anthony Bennett – Brooklyn – Read More
Bismack Biyombo – Orlando – Read More
James Johnson – Miami – Read More

Purgatory
Jason Thompson (Non-Bird rights)

Other
Nando De Colo – Staying in Russia – Read More

To Do
Lucas Nogueira – 4th-year team option (Oct. 31)
Bruno Caboclo – 4th-year team option (Oct. 31)
Delon Wright – 3rd-year team option (Oct. 31)
Fred VanVleet – 2016-17 guarantee (Jan. 10)

Other Dates
Aug. 8 – Can trade Poeltl, Siakam
Dec. 15 – Can trade Sullinger, VanVleet
Jan. 15 – Can trade DeRozan

Other Assets/Exceptions
*$2.2M bi-annual exception
*Minimum exception (unlimited, up to 20 roster spots)
*Can receive and/or send up to $3.5M in cash
*Rights to DeAndre Daniels and DeeAndre Hulett

What follows are a few notes on the deals that are done and an updated cap sheet.

DeRozan’s Contract Structure

Reports varied on the exact numbers of DeMar DeRozan’s new five-year deal, ranging from $137.5M (Michael Grange of Sportsnet and Bruce Arthur of the Toronto Star) to $139M (some U.S. outlets) to $145M (most U.S. outlets). The assumption I was working on was that $137.5M was the base, $139M included “likely” incentives (which count against the cap), and $145M included “unlikely” incentives (which only count for luxury tax, not salary cap purposes).

Well, according to Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (the authority on such things), DeRozan’s cap hit is only $137.5M. It’s still possible that incentives could push it higher, but for our purposes, we’re now going to go with $137.5M for the cap rather than $139M. This also means that the “discount” DeRozan gave the Raptors form his total max is just shy of 10 percent, which is certainly not nothing.

Also notable in DeRozan’s contract structure is that the fifth year is a player option, and that the Raptors opted to max out the first year of the deal and then pay him a set amount each year beyond that. Maxing out the first year made plenty of sense given his salary wouldn’t affect their cap space this year, anyway, and from there they could have tried to maximize money in a certain year (dropping it for next summer and then increasing later, or increasing early to drop it later in the deal). Instead, they went for certainty and an even spread (this is basically the most they could have it be a set annual salary, since they couldn’t push Year 1 any higher). It also means DeRozan will make 28.2 percent of the cap this year and an estimated 27.2 percent next year.

2016-17: $26.54M
2017-18, 2018-19, 2019-20: $27.74M
2020-21: $27.74M (player option)

VanVleet gets $50K

We reported from Las Vegas that the Raptors had agreed to terms with Fred VanVleet on a partially guaranteed multi-year deal, but we didn’t have the amount of the guarantee at the time. Pincus helps us out by reporting that VanVleet’s guarantee is for $50,000 this season and confirming our report that it’s otherwise a two-year deal at the minimum.

As with all non-guaranteed deals, VanVleet’s salary for this season would become fully guaranteed on Jan. 10. The guarantee date for his second year is July 20, giving the Raptors a few weeks of flexibility if he were to last on the roster through this season.

Just as a refresher: Don’t look too much into this signing. The Raptors signed four players to similar training camp/D-League affiliate deals last summer, paying them a total of $150,000. The guarantee is a means of securing the player for camp and possibly also supplementing their D-League salary (if they’re amenable to playing there and clear waivers). A lot can still happen and the team believes VanVleet is an NBA player, so paying what amounts to pocket change to keep him in the organization through camp (and possibly into the Raptors 905 season, at $76K instead of the $26K D-League max) is smart. It also doesn’t affect the team’s cap situation and is very unlikely to have an impact on the luxury tax.

Updated Cap Sheet

Here’s a look at what the Raptors’ cap sheet looks like today:

cap july20

Note that the Raptors still hold rights on De Colo and Thompson. The rights to De Colo may wind up useless since he’s on a multi-year deal in Moscow, but there’s no real cost to keeping him on the books now that they’re above the cap, anyway. Thompson’s rights will disappear once he signs elsewhere and also allow the Raptors to give him 20 percent above his minimum to keep him, should they so choose (it seems unlikely given the roster setup right now but who knows).

The Raptors could clear De Colo, Thompson, and VanVleet (other than the $50K) if they needed to, but that probably won’t be necessary.

In terms of adding, the Raptors can safely use their $2.2M bi-annual exception or a veteran minimum, plus hand out some partial guarantees, without pushing to the luxury tax. They are hard-capped at $117.33M for the season, but their only means of getting that high would be a pretty significant trade. Now that they’re above the cap, they can’t just absorb salary, but they can add more salary in a trade. Here’s a look at how much they can take back, courtesy CBAFAQ.com.

Outgoing salary Maximum incoming salary
$0 to $9.8 million 150% of the outgoing salary, plus $100,000
$9.8 million to $19.6 million The outgoing salary plus $5 million
$19.6 million and up 125% of the outgoing salary, plus $100,000

Lowry Extension?

Just a quick note because a few people have asked – the Raptors cannot give Kyle Lowry a contract extension. The CBA is quite restrictive of extensions, and you have to have cap space in the current season to extend Lowry’s deal. Not only that, but Lowry doesn’t qualify for an extension (he’s not three years into this contract), and the finances are such that it would have made little fiscal sense for him to sign one at any point. He’s going to be in the DeRozan situation next summer, opting out and looking for a new, long-term deal.

A Look Ahead to 2017

I’ve been asked about how much cap space the Raptors might have for next summer. The truth is it’s too early to tell since this offseason isn’t yet complete, but assuming nothing changes beyond Thompson leaving, here’s what the Raptors’ cap sheet would look like on the first day of free agency next year (leaving out cap holds for their two draft picks, because it’s unclear how rookie salaries will be handled in the next CBA, and it’s not really important right now):

2017cap

That’s not a lot of wiggle room! Non-Bird rights mean they won’t be able to re-sign Sullinger at market value (like the Biyombo situation), which is fine given the discount they’re getting this year. They can, however, exceed the cap to re-sign Patterson and Lowry, and they can keep them on the books at their cap holds until the rest of the offseason plays out.

As an illustration of another scenario, let’s say VanVleet is cut in camp, the Raptors move on from De Colo’s rights, renounce Sullinger since they probably can’t re-sign him, and decline the options on the Brazilians. Bad news: They’d still have no cap space, and their offseason would once again amount to retaining players, making picks, and making a play with the mid-level exception.

2017cap3

In a scenario where you wanted to retain Lowry and maximize cap space, you’re looking at the moves mentioned above, waiving Powell’s non-guaranteed deal, declining Wright’s option, renouncing Patterson, trading or stashing both picks and…you’d have about $1.5M in cap space, less than any exception they’d have for staying above it. In other words, barring a trade, next offseason might be just as quiet as this one.

2017cap4

It’s worth noting that the league will likely be working under a new CBA at that point, so the rules that govern teams may have changed. And a ton can change with the roster, too. This is just how it looks with really rough projections a year out, since some of you asked.


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LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 14: Patrick McCaw #0 of the Golden State Warriors goes to the basket against Jakob Poeltl #42 of the Toronto Raptors during the 2016 NBA Las Vegas Summer League game on July 14, 2016 at the Cox Pavillion in Las Vegas, Nevada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images)

Jakob Poeltl scouting report and video breakdown | Raptors Republic

Post Up

The few times Poeltl has gotten the ball in the post with the intention to score or make decisions, he has shown promise. Although the sample size is small, he typically has been able to make his way into the paint once the entry pass has been made. He has trouble creating good post position for himself before the catch, but once he has the ball in his hands he is pretty effective at getting within scoring range.

The Raptors typically tried to feed him out of their SLOB (Sideline Out of Bounds) “Zipper” set. Instead of Poeltl setting a screen after the ball handler makes a zipper-cut above the arc, he’d veer back to his original side of the floor and try to get post position. After an entry pass, the Raptors typically ran a split cut above him to disallow for any off-ball defenders to try and “dig” into the post.

Poeltl doesn’t get sped up in the post and is a calm presence down low. It remains to be seen how efficient he will be scoring the ball when dumping it to him in the low block, but he has shown a couple of nice counters.

Additionally, he has the ability to pass from the post, something which took another Raptors center three years to grasp. Poeltl’s vision is not otherworldly on the low block, but it’s not a weakness either. That seems to be the case for all of Poeltl’s post play – he’s not bad, but also isn’t a world-beater. He’s shown enough to continue to be intrigued and seeing how he develops will be interesting, especially if/when teams decide to switch against him in the pick and roll.

Poll: What type of player should the Raptors sign as their 15th man? | Raptors HQ

The Raptors basically have two choices:

1) Sign another SG/SF type to slot in behind Ross/Powell to provide a little shooting/defense when the time comes. Presumably this would be a veteran guy, in the mould of, say, a John Salmons-type. [Salmons’ head perks up] I said, type. The Raptors won’t have much (or any) money to give said player, so your dreams of J.R. Smith being signed away from the Cavaliers will have to be put on hold. Still, there are options out there.

2) Sign another PF/C type to provide some reliable minutes in the front court. I use the word reliable here because the Raptors front court rotation is just full of questions. After Jonas, Jared and Patrick, there are two rookies (god love’em) and the man they call Bebe. Now look, I love Bebe, but it’s clear Toronto doesn’t quite yet trust him to play 15-20 minutes a game. It’s not even clear he can actually play 15-20 minutes a game. Sure, maybe? This suggests, with Poeltl and Siakam heading to the D-League for stretches, that the Raptors may look to add one more big body. I mean, Jason Thompson is just sitting by the phone, guys.

If you a real #raptors fan, who dis? #wethenorth #raptorstrivia

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Had a great time in Vegas learned a lot. Back to the Grind. Can't wait for next season. #WeTheNorth #UTG

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The first Austrian born NBA player has made quite an impression through his first few games with the Toronto Raptors’ Summer League team. Jakob Poeltl has displayed a variety of skills during his stint in Las Vegas, particularly what he is capable of as the anchor to a defence, while also leaving plenty to the imagination, as he has found himself in a guard-dominated offence with plenty of experienced and aggressive talent surrounding him.

Defence

ICEing
This past season, the Raptors made a conscious decision to switch their defensive scheme when responding to pick and rolls that start at the sideline and aim to go towards the middle of the floor. Specifically, they adjusted from primarily hedging and recovering to what is commonly referred to as ICE defence. In theory, this should benefit large seven-footers such as Jonas Valanciunas and Poeltl.

For those unfamiliar with how ICE defence looks on the court, he’s a quick on-court diagram 

Poeltl appears to be a mixed bag in this area. His issues generally stem from flawed timing and awareness, where he either finds himself leaving the probing ball handler a beat too early or “shows” far too high and gets burned by the speedy guard dribbling downhill. Both of these issues produce similar results in that they allow the ball handler to turn-the-corner and force Poeltl to start chasing. This causes a tertiary defender, slotted away from the two-man pick and roll action, to leave their assignment and rotate towards the ball. This inevitably creates open looks along the perimeter. At that point, it depends how well the scrambling and recovering defenders can make up for the advantage they have given to the offence, as well as how well can the offence execute (in Summer League, the answer is generally “not well”, but during the regular season that flips).

That compilation has some positives, as Poeltl is able to rotate and protect the rim nicely on one of the drives after failing to execute his job as a big-man in ICE defence. Mostly, his mistakes in this area were covered up by poor offensive players not being able to execute on his missteps. This isn’t to say he is a complete failure or liability as a defender in ICE, he’s just a mixed bag who also showed some flashes, just not as often.

When he executes, he shows proper footwork and timing by not allowing the ball handler to get a clear lane or angle on the baseline to find an open shooter along the perimeter. Instead, he is able to wall off the paint and in this instance, nearly forced a turnover.

ICE defence has become the most common way to defend pick and rolls since Tom Thibodeau revolutionized the way teams think on that end of the floor, but it is still a common occurrence that the defence is unable to deny the middle. In those instances, Poeltl had a much better showing, as he was able to display his above average lateral quickness, as well as his large frame that negated any simple attempts towards the rim.

Allowing Middle

Poeltl’s comfort level when the on-ball defender was unable to force the ball handler away from the middle of the floor actually rose, which is unusual for players of his size. Typically they are picked apart by speedier guards, but Poeltl was able to angle his body well enough to impede straight line drives to the rim. Additionally, his filled out frame had offensive players bouncing off of him. Poeltl either stayed grounded while contesting shots in a Duncan-esque way, which allowed for good rebounding position without fouling, or jumped to block any passing lanes.

His positioning was generally stellar in these instances, angling his body and feet so offensive players had no viable option to the walled off paint.

High Pick and Rolls – Showing High

The last scenario where Poeltl defended pick and rolls came out of possessions where the ball handler started high and in the middle of the floor. Centers are usually vulnerable in scenarios such as these, as they have to find the proper balance for positioning. They need to be high enough and near the screen so the freed up ball handler doesn’t launch a three off the dribble, while also not setting themselves up to be blown by. Poeltl’s confidence in his lateral quickness allows him to be far more aggressive than the typical seven-footer and it provides a clear advantage.

Poeltl’s positioning finds him high enough to meet the ball handler as they come over the screen so to not allow them space to shoot from the perimeter. When the ball handler attempts to drive against Poeltl, he keeps up in the footrace and meets them at the rim, forcing tough looks or blocked shots. As a result, most ball handlers got rid of the ball as Poeltl showed high after they used the screen. Poeltl was able to recover well to his original defensive assignment, the screening and now rolling big man. His ability to recover so quickly and efficiently allowed for him to be in prime rebounding and rim protecting position.

There were some rare occasions where Poeltl negotiated the screen poorly with his on-ball defender and ended up putting himself on the wrong side of the screen to defend the ball handler. This allowed for some straight line drives. It happened only a handful of time, but it is still worth mentioning as an area he can improve in.

Coach Dwane Casey remarked after the draft that he was very impressed with Poeltl’s “speed and agility,” especially during his pre-draft workout doing cone-based drills. That aspect has immediately translated for Poeltl, especially when he is able to defend in space. If he can continue his ascension in this aspect of defending, he might be able to include himself in a rare category of seven-footers who will not be abused by high pick and rolls in the middle of the floor, especially when facing the off-the-bounce, three-point threats that have taken over the point guard position.

Rim Protection and Rotation

Poeltl’s ability to defend the rim during Las Vegas Summer League has been impressive. Aside from hovering around two blocks per game, his ability to properly position himself and slide into prime real estate in the paint has been striking in the most boring way possible. Poeltl does not jump from one side of the lane to the other, or use incredible length and explosiveness to block shots. He doesn’t possess the hops that DeAndre Jordan has, but to compensate for that he plays the game away from the ball and a few steps ahead. He’s proven to be quite good at sniffing out the decoy action on his side of the floor while attentively searching to find position for the real attack.

Poeltl can stand straight and raise his arms while hopping at the last optimal moment, as to not give up the valuable positioning he worked hard for seconds prior. Sometimes, he just puts his body well in front of the oncoming player to take a charge, or dissuade the drive from coming at all. While his jumping ability is not striking in the least, his fast-twitch reactions are impressive. Chances are that any put-back attempts will be caught by his hands before they reach the rim.

Post Defence

This aspect of defending is not incredibly important or prevalent when speaking in relative terms to the other scenarios touched on prior, but Poeltl seems to be fine here. Small sample size, as he hasn’t defended many possessions one-on-one in the post, but he’s held his own. Not incredible or a world-beater by any means, but it doesn’t seem like a weakness either. Most notably, he doesn’t appear to give away good post position prior to the entry pass and seems to frustrate inexperienced post players into passing out if they can’t abuse him early.

Offence
Jakob Poeltl is a very low-usage player in the Raptors Summer League offence. Delon Wright and Norman Powell take the reigns on that end of the floor and are very aggressive, so while Poeltl is involved and active in the offence, it doesn’t translate to a high volume of points, shots or even touches. His offensive contributions at this point are very modest in relation to his importance and production on the defensive end. Still, there are certainly takeaways from the offensive side of the floor for the Austrian rookie.

Offensive Rebounding

Through the first round of the 2016 playoffs, the Toronto Raptors’ starting center, Jonas Valanciunas, dominated the Indiana Pacers by attacking the offensive glass in a cerebral fashion. Poeltl, while nowhere near as dominant, has shown similar flashes of analyzing the floor around him to decide when to pounce for an offensive rebound.

In the first clip, the Summer League Raptors run a pet play that the Regular Season Raptors love to use to end a quarter or half, called “Horns Flare” When executed properly, the recovering big man will scatter across the floor and let his primary assignment, in this case Poeltl, dive to the rim without any back-line defender to box him out. Poeltl, understanding that a fundamental advantage of two defenders being drawn to the ball, dives to the rim and carves out space to put himself into prime offensive rebounding position. Throughout his time in Las Vegas, Poeltl has made a point of establishing position under the rim when an advantage has been gained somewhere else on the court. His sticky hands pluck balls away from the rim and he has a good sense of when to go for a putback or to reset the offence.

Teams are moving away from offensive rebounding, as they feel the scale tips more positively in favour of transition defence. But when you have an opportunistic rebounder such as Poeltl, who doesn’t wildly dive under the rim without reason, it is much easier to allow for your big man to have the freedom to decide for themselves when to attack the offensive glass.

Post Up

The few times Poeltl has gotten the ball in the post with the intention to score or make decisions, he has shown promise. Although the sample size is small, he typically has been able to make his way into the paint once the entry pass has been made. He has trouble creating good post position for himself before the catch, but once he has the ball in his hands he is pretty effective at getting within scoring range.

The Raptors typically tried to feed him out of their SLOB (Sideline Out of Bounds) “Zipper” set. Instead of Poeltl setting a screen after the ball handler makes a zipper-cut above the arc, he’d veer back to his original side of the floor and try to get post position. After an entry pass, the Raptors typically ran a split cut above him to disallow for any off-ball defenders to try and “dig” into the post.

Poeltl doesn’t get sped up in the post and is a calm presence down low. It remains to be seen how efficient he will be scoring the ball when dumping it to him in the low block, but he has shown a couple of nice counters.

Additionally, he has the ability to pass from the post, something which took another Raptors center three years to grasp. Poeltl’s vision is not otherworldly on the low block, but it’s not a weakness either. That seems to be the case for all of Poeltl’s post play – he’s not bad, but also isn’t a world-beater. He’s shown enough to continue to be intrigued and seeing how he develops will be interesting, especially if/when teams decide to switch against him in the pick and roll.

Pick and Roll/Screening

This may come as a shock to many of you, but a Toronto Raptor screen-setter did not typically see the ball on his rolls to the rim. There are a variety of reasons as to why this is happening, but it’s mainly due to Wright and Powell being very aggressive with the ball in their hands – and rightfully so. Both were experienced players in their first Summer League and now both of them look almost comically over-qualified to even appear in Las Vegas competition. It’s natural that both would drive to the rim and attempt to score more than dish to the big man who freed them.

With that in mind, it’s really difficult to know if he is effective as a finisher/decision maker in pick and roll situations. It doesn’t mean he is bad or good, it’s just the almost complete absence of information to know either way.

He’s had a handful of possessions (and a handful might be a liberal estimate) where he’s received a pass after setting a pick and had to make a decision as a roller, whether that be a quick finish or to dish it off in a pseudo four-on-three. Again, it is important to stress the fact that there is so little information, it is the furthest thing from a certain conclusion about whether he will be an effective pick and roll finisher. That goes for everything in Summer League, but especially in this area.

That being said, Poeltl has a positive impact as a screener, regardless of his touches. Early on in Summer League, I thought he had a lot of trouble setting meaningful, flesh-on-flesh screens that would allow for Powell and Wright to get separation. He quickly eased into things and showed that screening is a place where he can succeed in the offence. He is Spursian in his ability to read on-ball defenders to know when to flip a screen at the perfect moment to catch an aggressive defender by surprise. Even though he doesn’t really see the ball when he rolls to the rim, the defence reacts as if he is a threat to finish anyways, which helps off-ball perimeter Raptors get more space to release a shot against a defender who is closing out after sucking into the paint to “tag” Poeltl.

Last thing of note for Poeltl’s screening is that because he has such a mature and filled out frame, any wide pindown where the defender tries to “shoot the gap” is an automatic open look for Raptor guards. There is no way off-ball defenders are getting back into the play after trying to cheat with him as a screener, he’s just too big.

Conclusion
While Jakob Poeltl has shown different aspects of his game in which he thrives, as well as some areas where further development is understandably still necessary, he has ultimately been a low-usage player. This is worth noting as the analysis of his game might lean in an overwhelmingly positive lens as he is not put in a position where he is forced to do many things he is bad at, particularly on offence. There is value in a player knowing his limits (or not being expected to push the boundaries of those limits) but it is still important to consider.

With all that in mind, Poeltl has shown that there is plenty to be excited for in the future of the young Austrian, whether that be with the big club or in Mississauga.


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The DeMar DeRozan Experiment Revisited | Raptors Republic

Of course, when I wrote that piece on DeRozan nearly a year ago, there was some hope Kevin Durant could actually be considering the Raptors. Nonetheless, the money Durant, Mike Conley, Al Horford, and other free agents demanded this summer, meant that the money paid to DeMar made practical sense. If you’re in the market for a two-time all-star that’s top-10 in the league in scoring, it means that you’re either at the max, or pretty damn close to it. And don’t forget, when the salary cap rises even higher next year to projected levels in the $100M – 110M range, this contract may look that much better. Currently, we’re looking at an increase around 22% as compared to 2016/2017 levels, meaning guys like Lowry or prized free-agent Russ Westbrook could command money in the $30-$35 million range. That’s just silly; and it’ll allow us to put DeMar’s contract into a much better perspective next summer. Who knows – at some point in the near future, DeMar’s contract could look like Lowry’s does now (seriously).

What can’t really be quantified however, and something we didn’t really consider coming into last year, was DeRozan’s attitude. As Masai Ujiri said in the DeRozan presser on Thursday, the integrity, commitment, and loyalty DeRozan showed throughout the free agency process was pretty incredible – and for someone who works as hard as DeMar does, he developed somewhat of a soft spot with Coach Casey and Masai. Here’s a super athletic guy, drafted by the Raptors,and  working his tail off and showing improvement every year – why not take our chances and reward him instead of starting over with something you’re not sure of? From that perspective, this deal, while made for clear on-court reasons, was also made to reward a first-class citizen off the court in the prime of his career.

All things considered, the DeMar DeRozan experiment at least thus far, has been a success. You have an above-average volume scorer that gets to the line at an elite level, and can deliver solid mid-range scoring to compliment the three-point shooting and ranginess of Kyle Lowry. He’ll never be a locker room problem, is an outstanding role model for young players, and has earned a great deal of respect from his coaches. For the long term, I’ll take whatever comes with that.

The Raptors continue to build culture, sustainability this off-season | Raptors HQ

Re-signing DeRozan not only ensures the team’s second-biggest asset doesn’t walk for nothing, it also keeps Toronto’s biggest supporter in the locker room. There’s mutual interest in keeping him around – despite a game that at times seems maddening, DeRozan has been exceedingly vocal in his support of the Raptors, which both coalesces his team and perks the ears of free agents.

Draftees Poetl and Siakam weren’t attractive first round picks, but they fit the mold of what the Raptors are trying to build. Poetl has shown in Summer League that he can grow to be a capable defensive big, moving his feet and challenging shots from like-sized players. Siakam may be a surprise, another motor forward that Ujiri has coveted on every stop in his management tour.

The team’s lone free agent signing, Sullinger, is admittedly fraught with weight issues. The Celtics, who have leaked almost everything internal this off-season, weren’t shy in expressing their feelings on Sully’s paunch. Still, he’s 24, he can rebound and stretch the floor, and was signed during a cooling period on NBA bigs. A starting power forward approaching his prime was signed for $6 million in an off-season where Timofey Mozgov drew almost triple that. Better yet, he seems to have an understanding of what the Raptors are building.

There haven’t been trades, but you can assume there will be. Terrence Ross is an old cap player playing below his new cap value, and teams will value his three-point shooting. The Raptors are tired of waiting for him to become a multi-tool player and if they can find a partner who wants a mercurial, athletic wing, he will be on the move.

Just because that trade or any others didn’t happen though, just because the Raptors are staying the same, doesn’t mean Ujiri isn’t building.

If you a real #raptors fan, who this? #wethenorth

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How do the Raptors measure up in the East? | Sports on Earth

The Raptors got an up-close view at what championship level basketball looks like in the playoffs against the Cavaliers, who they took two games from in Toronto. Kyle Lowry and DeRozan had their signature moments in the series, after fighting through individual shooting slumps in the first two rounds against Indiana and Miami, but after the series was tied 2-2, the Cavs went to another level, beating Toronto in Game 5 at home by 38 points, and clinching the series in Game 6 handily on the road. The playoff run was a huge accomplishment for the Raptors, but it also showed them how far away they remain from getting an invite at the championship table.

How Masai Ujiri can get the team there is the question that will loom over whatever success this core group achieves next season. Unfair perhaps to keep raising the bar for a team that’s been on an upward trajectory for three years now, but that is the reality of the NBA: Intermediary success is just a checkpoint, and the reward is to ask: What’s next?

There isn’t a clear answer as to how Toronto can take that leap. Ujiri rejected a draft night trade proposal from Oklahoma City for Serge Ibaka after the asking price was deemed too steep. A Paul Millsap trade was discussed, but didn’t materialize after Al Horford chose the Celtics. Pau Gasol considered Toronto, but went to San Antonio instead. On Thursday, the Raptors also introduced Jared Sullinger, their main free agency addition this summer, a low-risk, high-reward signing at one-year, $6 million, but also not the type of roster upgrade that can push the Raptors to the next level.

In lieu of acquiring a superstar, what the Raptors have is roster flexibility and an All-Star backcourt. DeRozan is the only core player that’s signed to a deal that reflects the market value of the new financial landscape of the NBA. Others, including Terrence Ross, DeMarre Carroll and Jonas Valanciunas are signed to deals that look like relative bargains compared to the money handed out this summer, especially when you consider the roles and number of minutes they play on this roster. That roster flexibility extends to the bench, where Patrick Patterson and Cory Joseph stand out as two of the best contracts when you take into account the rising salary cap.

Norman Powell named to All-NBA Summer League Second Team | Raptors Republic

Powell made the First Team a season ago, but a panel of media members decided he was only among the 10 best, rather than five best, this time around. The truth is that Powell showed he’s too advanced for this setting, although there’s plenty of good reason to still have him there if you’re the Toronto Raptors. Taking on a primary ball-handling role in the offense and generally drawing the toughest defensive assignment, Powell averaged 19.8 points, 4.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists, and one steal while hitting 12 of his 26 3-point attempts, getting to the line seven times per-game, and somehow improving his offensive efficiency metrics from last summer. He also took on a large leadership role, something we’ll have more on later this week or next.

The best part about this would-be snub is that it almost certainly motivates Powell’s grind, because everything motivates his grind.

@demar_derozan & @kyle_lowry7 go to work in @usabasketball's training camp. #WeTheNorth

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Impressive performance earns Raptors’ Powell All-NBA Summer League nod | Sportsnet.ca

After leading his team to a number one seed and despite a heart-breaking loss in the quarterfinals, Toronto Raptors shooting guard Norman Powell has been named to the All-NBA Summer League’s second team.

Powell, who was named to the first team in his Summer League debut last year, led the Raptors in scoring in each of their five games, averaging 19.8 points per game, which was good for ninth. After going a perfect 3-0 in round robin play, Powell led all players in PER and showed off a markedly improved shooting stroke, particularly from beyond the arc.

Powell also chipped in 4.4 boards and one steal per game. One particular point of emphasis for Powell heading into the Summer League was his drive-and-dish game, taking advantage of his ability to draw multiple defenders as a ballhandler due to the threat he poses getting into the lane . While his 2.4 assists per are a little lower than what he and the team would have liked, Powell did place an emphasis on playmaking throughout the Summer League.

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Toronto Raptors: 5 Things Learned From Summer League | Tip of the Tower

The Raptors are the best MLB team in the NBA. The organization puts a great amount of effort into developing young talent, even though the squad as it currently exists is in ‘win now’ mode.

The Raptors were capable of rolling out a lineup of Wright/Powell/Coboclo/Siakam/Poeltl during summer league, which consists of players that all have contracts with them. As the NBA roster is designed now, Wright, Caboclo and Siakam may see more time in the d-league, but that’s the system working as intended.

The Raptors 905 is more closely tied to their NBA team than any other d-league team and their NBA affiliate. The 905 play at the Hersey Centre which is only about 30 minutes away from the ACC, making it very easy from the players to move between leagues.

If Wright or Siakam look like they are developing into better pieces than those on the roster, or if players get injured, they’ll get called up to the NBA to play like Powell did during the 2015-16 season. Otherwise they’ll continue to develop in the d-league, until the Raptors think their young talent is good enough to effectively contribute to the team.

Raptors announce signing of Fred VanVleet | Raptors Republic

This is mostly just a procedural note, but the Toronto Raptors announced Monday that they have signed undrafted free agent Fred VanVleet to a multi-year deal.

Raptors Republic broke news of the signing from Las Vegas Summer League on Tuesday. Official terms were not disclosed, but the deal contains a partial guarantee in the first year and means VanVleet will be in camp with the club. As we explained at the time, you shouldn’t read too much into the signing just yet

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NBA Free Agency: Raptors sign Fred VanVleet to multi-year contract | Raptors HQ

The obvious issue to take with the move is one of position. The Raptors now have a whopping four point guards under contract — Kyle Lowry, Cory Joseph, Wright and VanVleet. It’s important to keep in mind here, however, that the Raptors are just trying to keep a solid player they like around. VanVleet could have conceivably gone overseas to play, so the move may help convince him to stick around in the D-League with the Raptors 905. At the very least, VanVleet will be with the big league squad through training camp to push the rest of the roster and improve his own game. Then, a more final decision can be made — at which point, as an affiliate player, some other team can pick up VanVleet (a la Axel Toupane).

Raptors Sign Fred VanVleet | Toronto Raptors

VanVleet’s conference honours include MVC Player of the Year twice (2014, 2016), First Team All-MVC three times (2014, 2015, 2016) and MVC All-Defensive Team three times (2014, 2015, 2016). He was also a two-time finalist for the Bob Cousy Award (2014, 2015), given to the nation’s top point guard.

Raptors sign G VanVleet to multiyear deal | NBA.com

VanVleet played four seasons at Wichita State (2012-16), averaging 10.2 points, 4.5 assists, 1.6 steals and 26.8 minutes in 141 career games (102 starts). He ranks first all-time in school history in assists (637), steals (225) and assists-to-turnover ratio (3.08). VanVleet helped the Shockers to three Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) titles, three MVC regular season titles and nine NCAA Tournament victories in four trips.
VanVleet’s conference honours include MVC Player of the Year twice (2014, 2016), First Team All-MVC three times (2014, 2015, 2016) and MVC All-Defensive Team three times (2014, 2015, 2016). He was also a two-time finalist for the Bob Cousy Award (2014, 2015), given to the nation’s top point guard.

NBA: Ranking the Eastern Conference | Cheat Sheet

The Raptors, much like the Pistons, made few moves to improve their roster. But when you win 56 games and nearly edge out the Cavs for the No. 1 seed in the conference, you can get away with only tinkering a bit. The biggest move for the Raptors — other than locking up head coach Dwane Casey on a three-year deal and shooting guard DeMar DeRozan on a five-year deal — was bringing in former Celtics big man Jared Sullinger.

Toronto will likely be stuck in the good-not-great region yet again next year, with their star power not bright enough to take down LeBron James and the mighty Cavaliers in the playoffs. But the silver lining is that they should be good enough to claim the No. 2 spot yet again.

Bruno Caboclo’s Future With The Raptors | Raptors Rapture

It seems that keeping Bruno for the remainder of his contract is the best course of action. Barring a sudden need for cap or roster space, Bruno adequately fills the role of 15th man. Without Bruno the team would fill his spot with another player who would not get playing time. While this roster spot could be filled by a veteran who provides leadership, the Raptors’ core is experienced and has evolved past the need of contracting leaders. With the Raptors gearing up for another run at the defending champions, the Cleveland Cavaliers, Bruno’s appearances should be few and far between, and ideally he will spend the year working with the 905.

If we are keeping Bruno, the question then becomes, what do we expect him to become? From his stints in both the NBA and D-league, it is clear that the Raptors organization is trying to shape Bruno into a three-point shooter. This year, with the Raptors 905, he shot 6.9 three-pointers a game, which accounted for 53% of his total field goal attempts. Bruno made these threes at a rate of 33%, which ranks lower than the NBA average of 35%. His physical characteristics indicate that this number should improve. Bruno’s wingspan gives him the potential to be a lethal shooter. Similar to Kevin Durant and Channing Frye, his long arms give him such a high release point that it is incredibly difficult to contest these shots. Furthermore, this length should help when finishing around the rim, allowing for a more refined offensive game.

Raptors sign Fred VanVleet, point guard impressed in Summer League | Toronto Star

VanVleet will have a chance to make a further impression on GM Masai Ujiri and coach Dwane Casey in training camp. The Raptors are stocked at the point guard spot, with Kyle Lowry, Cory Joseph and Delon Wright set to eat up all of the minutes for the coming season, though VanVleet could be a player who the Raptors stash with their D-League team.

Did I miss something? Send me any Raptors-related article/video to rapsfan@raptorsrepublic.com


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This is mostly just a procedural note, but the Toronto Raptors announced Monday that they have signed undrafted free agent Fred VanVleet to a multi-year deal.

Raptors Republic broke news of the signing from Las Vegas Summer League on Tuesday. Official terms were not disclosed, but the deal contains a partial guarantee in the first year and means VanVleet will be in camp with the club. As we explained at the time, you shouldn’t read too much into the signing just yet:

If VanVleet looks like an odd fit as a 15th man for the Raptors, take a beat here. It’s July 11, and a lot can change between now and the beginning of the NBA season. Trades and free agency can change things quickly, and even if they don’t, the Raptors see VanVleet as an NBA talent, and there’s good reason to add a player like that to the organization’s talent base. The partial guarantee may help convince VanVleet to agree to being made a D-League affiliate player if he’s cut in camp (similar to what they did with four Summer Leaguer-to-D-League players last year), but there’s no assurance he’d even make it through waivers. That’s not their immediate thinking, nor is it VanVleet’s.

For now, the Raptors identified a player they really like and felt should have went drafted, and they signed him. Where, exactly, he fits won’t be clear until training camp, but the important part – landing a player who looks like an NBA piece and securing him to a flexible, team-friendly deal – is one of the safer bets you can make here in Vegas.

You can read more about the VanVleet signing and how he plans to attack the offseason here. From that piece:

As it stands, VanVleet looks like the fourth point guard, which would pencil him on the outside of the regular season roster. There’s a chance the Raptors could slip VanVleet through waivers and make him an affiliate player in the D-League, if he’s willing, but it’s not a certainty he’d go unclaimed, and neither team nor player are looking at the addition that way right now.

“To me, he’s just too good to be undrafted,” Tolzman says. “I wanted to bring him in as insurance, because I think he’s an NBA player and a lot can change in free agency and training camp. I wanted to get a guy that was, if injuries or whatever happen, this guy’s ready to go. And I think he’s proven that he looks like an NBA player.”

None of that is to say the Raptors have any changes in their immediate plans. They’re just being realistic about what can happen over the course of an offseason. That can be hard on the player side, but the NBA’s crazy July served as a well-timed reminder to VanVleet about the fluidity of situations.

“At first it was like ‘Ah, damn, they got three point guards already.’ Then, like, the next day, Rose was on the Knicks, KD was on the Warriors, Wade was on the Bulls, so it was like, anything can happen,” he says. “Things happen, players move around all the time. All I can do is control what I can control and make them make a tough decision. That’s what I’ve been focusing on, is just being the best me and putting the pressure on them to make a tough call.”

Expect a few more names to be added on similar deals ahead of training camp. E.J. Singler, Davion Berry, Drew Crawford, and maybe Yanick Moreira seem like possible candidates if they don’t opt for more substantial overseas offers, and the Raptors would be thrilled to have any of those names with Raptors 905 this season if they were amenable to it and cleared waivers.

As far as the 15th roster spot is concerned, I still think the Raptors would like to add a more experienced forward, but with only their bi-annual exception left to use above the minimum, it might be slim pickings.


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During training camp last year, I started my run at RR with a piece on DeMar DeRozan and his contract status with the Raptors. This situation was easily one of the top story lines for the team at that time of the year, and for some Raptor fans, there was uneasiness. Not only about the prospect of DeMar leaving, but also about the prospect of retaining him at a questionable cost.

The DeMar DeRozan Experiment – Oct 1, 2015

Going into his seventh year, DeMar was a solid draft choice by Bryan Colangelo that improved every year in the league; but he was one that still possessed a few obvious flaws. In a way, the 2015/2016 campaign was a validation season for DeMar DeRozan and the collective fanbase, as it seemed like a virtually foregone conclusion that DeMar was coming back for max-money.

Given DeMar has once again signed with Toronto long-term, I thought it’d be interesting to revisit what we felt at that time, and see if some of the key improvements we wanted to see in DeMar’s game came to fruition. Not only were some of these items obvious, some of them can be said for DeRozan’s entire career with the Raptors.

What it boiled down to back then

Winning: This one was easy. Even though I thought it would be difficult for the Raptors to retain DeRozan purely on winning (as winning 50+ games and a post-season series victory weren’t guaranteed) that’s exactly what happened. The Raptors not only won 50+ games, they shattered the franchise single-season win record with 56 wins, they gave the city its first trip to the conference finals with two series victories, and they once again reinvigorated a basketball fanbase starved for a winner. In some ways, given DeRozan’s personality, commitment to Toronto, annual improvements, and the Raptors’ season results alone, it was basically guaranteed that DeMar would be back at this price; no matter what some of the rest of this list may say.

Defense (consistently): As a wing with reasonable size, DeRozan’s lack of strength, and lateral quicks often made him a below-average defender. But if he could rebound, DeRozan could make himself an asset for the Raptors defensively. While the Raptors became a better defensive team overall in 2015/2016 as compared to the year prior (going from 23rd to 11th    – the additions of Joseph, Biyombo and Carroll obviously help), DeRozan’s basic defensive numbers remained the same.

Defensive Stats

In certain situations, DeRozan’s size and individual defense would play a factor, but on most nights DeRozan was bested at the defensive end of the floor – and was exposed quite awfully by Paul George and Dwyane Wade in the playoffs. I love DeMar’s offensive strengths, but let’s be quite honest – the defense was not the reason he got this contract, and likely will be a weakness for him going forward. The Raptors will need to back up DeRozan’s defense with strong defenders including DeMarre Carroll, and where applicable, Joseph, Patterson, or even Sullinger.

3-point shooting (again, consistently): Again, this one was obvious as well – but it was desperately needed. With everything DeRozan brought to the table offensively, the 3-point shooting (DeRozan shot at a 28% clip in 2014-2015) just wasn’t cutting it. For the Raptors to effectively be able to play lineups with JV or other bigs that don’t have 3-point shooting, the ability at the wing to knock them down is so important – adding Carroll to the mix certainly helped the cause to the extent that Carroll was able to play during the season.

DeMar DeRozan 3-point shooting – 2013/2014 Season (79 games)

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DeMar DeRozan 3-point shooting – 2014/2015 Season (60 games)

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DeMar DeRozan 3-point shooting – 2015/2016 Season (78 games)

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DeRozan improved both his ability and range at least a tad last year as compared to the previous 2, but the shooting still wasn’t where we all wanted it to be. DeRozan has proven to be great with one dribble or less and with his feet set, but off the dribble or fading, DeRozan’s percentages drop considerably. Not to mention, as we’ve grown accustomed to, DeRozan shoots it much better at the left and right corners (41% and 46% in the right and left corners) than straightaway or at the elbows. But to be considered a real threat, I think DeMar will have to increase his volume of shots as well. Shooting 35%+ isn’t going to mean anything if it means he hits just 47 all year.

So, again, while I think DeRozan really has tried to improve, I’ll still say this really wasn’t the reason we signed him. It’s something he’ll have to continue to improve, and it’ll be up to Dwane Casey to get enough out of our other shooters (hopefully Sullinger can become one as well) to preserve floor-stretching in the major lineups. If DeMar can target at least 75 3-pointers at a 35%+ clip this season, I’ll consider it a satisfactory improvement, and one we can live the contract out with.

4th Quarter and Clutch Performances: While it’s hard to measure “clutch”, we can obviously turn to 4th quarter scoring as a quick indication. For DeMar, while shooting percentage increased slightly over the past couple of years, his overall production in the fourth quarter has been virtually the same over the past 3 years.

Fourth Quarter Stats

These numbers definitely show the improvement since the 2012-2013 season, a season filled with close losses and frustrating last second misses from DeMar, Kyle and others.

Here are just a few of those “moments” we saw from DeMar during last season:

When it comes to fourth quarter performances from DeRozan, I think it’s safe to say we’ve yet to see the best. I expect DeMar to remain one of the top scoring options for the Raptors down the stretch this season (this is Dwane Casey we’re talking about); and if he shoots anything at or above 40-45% in those scenarios, or gets himself to the line, I think we’ll all be happy.

Market factors: Of course, when I wrote that piece on DeRozan nearly a year ago, there was some hope Kevin Durant could actually be considering the Raptors. Nonetheless, the money Durant, Mike Conley, Al Horford, and other free agents demanded this summer, meant that the money paid to DeMar made practical sense. If you’re in the market for a two-time all-star that’s top-10 in the league in scoring, it means that you’re either at the max, or pretty damn close to it. And don’t forget, when the salary cap rises even higher next year to projected levels in the $100M – 110M range, this contract may look that much better. Currently, we’re looking at an increase around 22% as compared to 2016/2017 levels, meaning guys like Lowry or prized free-agent Russ Westbrook could command money in the $30-$35 million range. That’s just silly; and it’ll allow us to put DeMar’s contract into a much better perspective next summer. Who knows – at some point in the near future, DeMar’s contract could look like Lowry’s does now (seriously).

What can’t really be quantified however, and something we didn’t really consider coming into last year, was DeRozan’s attitude. As Masai Ujiri said in the DeRozan presser on Thursday, the integrity, commitment, and loyalty DeRozan showed throughout the free agency process was pretty incredible – and for someone who works as hard as DeMar does, he developed somewhat of a soft spot with Coach Casey and Masai. Here’s a super athletic guy, drafted by the Raptors,and  working his tail off and showing improvement every year – why not take our chances and reward him instead of starting over with something you’re not sure of? From that perspective, this deal, while made for clear on-court reasons, was also made to reward a first-class citizen off the court in the prime of his career.

All things considered, the DeMar DeRozan experiment at least thus far, has been a success. You have an above-average volume scorer that gets to the line at an elite level, and can deliver solid mid-range scoring to compliment the three-point shooting and ranginess of Kyle Lowry. He’ll never be a locker room problem, is an outstanding role model for young players, and has earned a great deal of respect from his coaches. For the long term, I’ll take whatever comes with that.

 


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It’s not the Most Valuable Player award and the championship that Norman Powell was hoping before, but the Las Vegas Summer League once again recognized Powell’s summer dominance on Sunday, naming him to the All-NBA Summer League Second Team.

Powell made the First Team a season ago, but a panel of media members decided he was only among the 10 best, rather than five best, this time around. The truth is that Powell showed he’s too advanced for this setting, although there’s plenty of good reason to still have him there if you’re the Toronto Raptors. Taking on a primary ball-handling role in the offense and generally drawing the toughest defensive assignment, Powell averaged 19.8 points, 4.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists, and one steal while hitting 12 of his 26 3-point attempts, getting to the line seven times per-game, and somehow improving his offensive efficiency metrics from last summer. He also took on a large leadership role, something we’ll have more on later this week or next.

The best part about this would-be snub is that it almost certainly motivates Powell’s grind, because everything motivates his grind.

The Raptors went 4-1 in the tournament, losing a knockout game when tournament MVP Tyus Jones drew a questionable foul call on Yanick Moreira, sending Jones to the line for game-winning free throws at the buzzer.

The full All-Tournament teams are as follows:

Samsung All-NBA Summer League First Team
Tyus Jones (Minnesota)
Jordan McRae (Cleveland)
Bobby Portis (Chicago)
Ben Simmons (Philadelphia)
Alan Williams (Phoenix)

Samsung All-NBA Summer League Second Team
Jaylen Brown (Boston)
Thon Maker (Milwaukee)
Kelly Oubre Jr. (Washington)
Norman Powell (Toronto)
Tyler Ulis (Phoenix)

As an interesting Raptors’ side note, Jakob Poeltl had the highest points per-possession of any first-round pick in the tournament, per Synergy, but he also received the fewest possessions per-game. Insert your Jonas Valanciunas offensive usage jokes here.


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Blake joins Zarar to talk about what he saw in Las Vegas Summer League. We talk Jared Sullinger taking a cut, Luis Scola exiting stage left and straight to Brooklyn, trade chips, and also find a way to mention Chase Budinger.

Grab the iTunes feed or check us out on Stitcher on Android. There is also the plain old feed. You can also download the file, or just listen below:


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Raptors Have Successful Showing At LVSL Despite Results | Toronto Raptors

For the second year straight, Toronto remained undefeated heading into the tournament. Jama Mahlalela and Jerry Sackhouse split head coaching duties, with Stackhouse manning the sideline during Saturday’s game. Despite the result, it was a wild finish with Toronto leading by six with under three minutes to play, then Minnesota raring back to take a three-point lead before Powell tied the game with a 3-pointer with 1.1 seconds to go. With everyone in the arena assuming overtime was a lock, the foul call came as a surprise, but Jones calmly sank both free throws to close out the victory and help the 24-seeded Timberwolves get the 81-79 upset victory.

With the team going its separate ways following Vegas, the work continues. Rookies Siakam and Poeltl will get their first taste of Vancouver to work with Raptors director of sports science Alex McKechnie. Most of the young Raptors players will also end up spending time training in Los Angeles, getting in daily basketball runs with assistant coaches and veterans like DeMar DeRozan and Terrence Ross.

The biggest goal of summer league, despite the competition of players and coaching staff, isn’t to win the championship. That would have be nice, surely, but the aim of two weeks together in Vegas is to evaluate, educate, and introduce players into the Raptors system while showing them organization’s identity.

With general manager Masai Ujiri, head coach Dwane Casey and nearly the entire coaching, scouting and front office staff on hand to observe the action, the opportunity is there to make an impression. Most crucially, players wearing a Raptors uniform in Vegas come away with a good taste of what it is that the Raptors are building in Toronto and why it has fans and players so excited.

Sunday Vibes.. ☀️

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Raptors’ Poeltl, Wright already buddies in basketball | Toronto Sun

The Raptors won’t have that problem with Jakob Poeltl and Delon Wright whenever they start to share the floor (both must fight their way up the depth chart), as Poeltl will have something of a safety blanket on hand in Wright, his teammate while at University of Utah.

“I think the biggest benefit is probably going to be in Jakob’s case to have Delon just helping him get through it, holding him accountable on the court,” Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak told the Toronto Sun in a recent one-on-one interview after a Raptors Summer League contest.

“I don’t know that you always have that relationship on the court and so when you’ve got a point guard that’s going to help a big guy, and I know Jakob trusts Delon, so I think those two in particular are going to be able to grow a little faster maybe than two other typical players.”

Poeltl concurred.

“It’s just easier to play with a guy that you’ve already played with for a whole season, I think it’s a good situation for me,” Poeltl said.

“He listens to me and we feed off each other well,” Wright said, adding he likes the screens the big man sets and how hard he rolls to the rim, opening up space for Wright to penetrate by forcing the opposing centre to stay with Poeltl.

“I think I can help make this transition easier for him.”

Is Raptors Bruno Caboclo Still 2 Years Away From Being NBA Ready | Pro Bball Report

His Summer League shooting stats were in line with what he did in the D-League (40.3% FG, 33.5% 3FG), but continuous improvement is the order of the day and it’s hard to say Caboclo has made the kind of leap hoped for two years ago.

His rebounding still leaves a lot to be desired as well. Caboclo averaged 3 rebounds per game in 2014, 4.2 in 2015 and 4.0 in 2016. A 6’9 combo forward should be able to do more against Summer League competition. With the Raptors 905, he was grabbing 6.5 boards a game last season and he should have found it easier in the summer.

“You have that length and talent and you look like Kevin Durant, but you just haven’t had that same reps, that same coaching and the same anything growing up,” Raptors 905 head coach Jesse Mermuys told Pro Bball Report in an exclusive one-on-one behind the scenes interview during the season. “(Caboclo) needs playing experience, he needs minutes and he needs us as a coaching staff to help him every single day and be able to live with some mistakes and growing pains and I thought we’ve done that so far and as long as he just trusts us and is patient with the process everybody just needs to slow down and just let this thing happen and when he’s ready, if he does it the right way and doesn’t try and rush it, he’ll be ready.”

There was an opportunity for Caboclo to impress at Summer League this year as the Raptors really don’t have much depth at small forward currently. However, the big kid from Brazil still doesn’t look ready to take on much of a role at the NBA level, at least not on a team hoping to get back to the Eastern Conference Finals.

The draft day mantra of “two years away from being two years away” is getting closer to becoming reality, but there are signs Caboclo’s game is improving in certain areas. All that may be required is another large dose of patience.

Speedy recovery for the bro @delonwright. I know you hurt right now but had to get you back.

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Five Moves That Will Impact the Atlantic Division the Most | Harwood Houdini

He has a good chance of being the starting power forward alongside Valanciunas as Poeltl won’t be implemented as the starter right away, and Patterson has only started 11 games for the Raptors in three seasons. Easing Poeltl into the NBA and having Patterson continue his better suited bench role, Sullinger is looking like a better addition by Toronto every day.

While Valanciunas does most of his work in the paint – 85.5 percent of shots come from inside 10 feet – Sullinger has a chance to be a solid pick-and-pop player with Lowry. Despite only shooting 35.1 percent from 10-to-16 feet out last season, Sullinger has shown he can be a solid mid-range shooter in the past, but consistency has always been the problem.

However, him and Valanciunas should fit very well together and help cover up each other’s flaws. Valanciunas has averaged at least 1.2 blocks per game in three of his four NBA seasons, while Sullinger is not a rim protector by any means.

It’ll also give the Raptors a chance to see how Poeltl and Valanciunas work together as both players like to play in the paint. While adding depth to their front court was a priority for Toronto, Poeltl didn’t seem like the best fit next to their franchise center. Having Sullinger being a consistent contributor on offense, and a decent defender, will help their new look front court a lot.

ICYMI: @normanpowell4 made it interesting last night. #WeTheNorth

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I’m not watching the game live, but I was alerted to the fact that Delon Wright has left the Raptors’ summer league quarterfinal with an apparent shoulder injury.

According to Raptors 905 sideline reporter and friend of the site Ashley Docking, it doesn’t look good.

The Raptors confirmed that Wright underwent X-days and had a dislocated shoulder put back in place.


As someone who’s dislocated a shoulder before, umm, ouch. The nice thing is that if X-rays were negative, he may have gotten away with minor AC joint damage, but I’m working off of very limited information here. The timeline for recovery from a dislocated shoulder can vary a great deal, and the biggest fallout here may be the injury limiting Wright from continuing to add to the significant bulk he’s put on since the end of the season. Hopefully it’s a shorter-term issue and he can be back in the gym shortly.

If nothing else, it seems likely that Wright’s summer league is done as a precaution, however this game turns out.

Oh wait, it’s definitely over, because the Raptors lost on this bogus call. Yanick Moreira has just the worst luck at the buzzer of elimination games.

Anyway, I’m at a family event so won’t have anything more for you until tomorrow. Apologies for that.

Summer League is now over for the Raptors and Norman Powell will probably have to settle for a repeat as First Team All-Vegas instead of the MVP he was on his way to earning. Damn.


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Hey there, and happy Saturday! Normally we don’t do open threads and we just let the previous post stand as a sort of de facto comment section for games, especially in the summer, but we’re at a little bit of a programming loss today: I have a thing that’s going to keep me from watching the game until tomorrow morning, and nobody as of yet has been able to step up and take the recap. So, we’re going to lean on you, in the comments, to fill everybody in on what goes down.

The Raptors take on the Timberwolves at 4 p.m. ET in a game that’s not listed on Canadian TV but one I’m told will be on NBA TV Canada. The loser is done for the tournament, the winner moves on to take on Phoenix or Denver in the semifinals tomorrow. The championship game goes Monday.

UPDATE: The game is airing on ESPNU, but if you don’t have that, you might be out of luck. The game won’t air on NBA TV Canada until tomorrow. So if you don’t have ESPNU or League Pass, well, it’s illegal streams for you.

Norman Powell (thigh contusion) and Pascal Siakam (sore knee) are questionable. Still, the Raptors are 4.5-point favorites, likely because they’ve already beaten the Wolves in the tournament and because the Raptors have been pretty dominant at the defensive end. If Powell and Siakam can’t go, expect Drew Crawford and E.J. Singler to draw the starts in their place, and expect Bruno Caboclo to take 30 threes.

Anyway, hopefully someone comes through with a recap, but if not, I apologize. We’ll resume regular coverage tomorrow, regardless.


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Norman Powell questionable for Saturday | Raptors Republic

Even though a loss would end the Raptors’ time in Vegas, there’s little sense pushing things if Powell’s leg is sore tomorrow. This is Summer League, after all, and as much as Powell has talked about wanting to win the championship, the team has every reason to be cautious. For his part, Powell talked after the game about being the type to play through injuries. In this case, the decision may not be his. Whether or not get goes will likely be decided by how his leg responds to treatment Friday and whether there’s any swelling the morning of the game.

Should Powell play, the Raptors are in a good position to beat the Wolves for a second time in the tournament. Powell’s been one of the top players in Vegas for a second consecutive season, locking down on the defensive end while averaging 20.5 points, five rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 1.3 steals in 25.8 minutes. He’s 11-of-21 from long-range, is averaging nearly eight trips to the line per-game, and owns some ludicrous offensive efficiency metrics. If he sits, a larger load will fall on Delon Wright, Jakob Poeltl, and Bruno Caboclo. Drew Crawford, coming off of a great outing against the Warriors, would likely draw the start in Powell’s stead.

How Shake Ups in the East Have Shaped the Raptors’ Odds to Win in 2017 | Raptors Republic

The Raptors will be in tough next season, for sure, but they did cross off the biggest task on their offseason agenda early. They extended former USC standout DeMar DeRozan’s contract on July 1st. He inked a five-year deal worth $139 million before incentives. He is now one of the highest paid players in the league and the Raptors have officially opened their bank to keep the core together (cap rules prevented them from going all-in, mind you).

The infrastructure is here to stay and Toronto is keen on keeping their position in the league as one of the top dogs – despite their current sportsbook standing.

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SULLY!! #wethenorth

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There’s No Reason To Dismiss The Raptors | Today’s Fast Break

The Lithuanian big man enjoyed his best season last year, averaging 17.8 points and 12.6 rebounds per-36 minutes and producing a 22.6 PER. He then bettered those numbers in the playoffs, averaging 18.5 points and 14.5 boards per-36 and a 26.8 PER.

Injuries limited Valanciunas to just 60 games in the regular season and a severely sprained ankle forced him to miss the final four games of the conference finals. But it’s inarguable that he’s an emerging talent and a no-brainer that he’s a safer bet as a foundation piece than Biyombo because his offensive arsenal is far more advanced.

And make no mistake, the Raptors desperately need Valanciunas’ scoring inside, because as the playoffs showed they lack in outside shooting. They also added Boston’s Jared Sullinger, who should help fill some minutes as a stretch-four.

He’s been an inconsistent shooter throughout his career, but he’s only 24 and at this point a minor upgrade over Scola, who’s washed.

The real reason for optimism for the Raptors though is general manager Masai Ujuri has put together quite the collection of young, talent. Kyle Lowry is 30, DeMarre Carroll is 29, and they’re the “graybeards” of the lot. DeRozan is 26. Patrick Patterson is 27, Terence Ross 25 and Cory Joseph 24, as is Valanciunas. Just about everyone will get better.

Captain #wethenorth

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NBA PM: Perception of Toronto Changing? | Basketball Insiders

Once again, the franchise had the momentum. Once again, the franchise had one of their top stars entering free agency with the ability to leave for perceived greener pastures. All-Star guard DeMar DeRozan had interest throughout the league for his services. Twenty-point scorers are a premium and even though DeRozan doesn’t knock down a boatload of three-pointers, the havoc he causes getting to the rim continues to put respective defenses on their heels.

But DeRozan opted to stay put. The veteran guard didn’t engage in a whirlwind tour of being wined and dined by league executives and celebrities in different locales. DeRozan instead rather quickly agreed to a whopping five-year, $139 million deal to remain with the Raptors and for once keep the momentum moving forward.

“I am Toronto,” DeRozan reportedly said shortly after inking his new deal. “Outside of where I’m from, I represent this city harder than anybody. I’ve got so many goals I want to accomplish still; I just can’t wait to put that jersey back on and keep going.”

ICYMI: This man is now a Raptor. #WeTheNorth

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Summer check in with Toronto Raptors head coach Dwane Casey | Sportsnet.ca

The Jeff Blair Show places a call to Toronto Raptors head coach Dwane Casey to discuss DeMar DeRozan staying within the organisation’s fold for another five years, the acquisition of Jared Sullinger, his initial impressions of draft picks Jakob Poeltl & Pascal Siakam, and the development of Norman Powell, Delon Wright & Bruno Caboclo.

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Bruno Caboclo with the rejection vs. the Warriors – NBA India

DeMar looking slick #meninblack #wethenorth

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Raptors’ Jared Sullinger: Will likely start at power forward | CBSSports.com

Sullinger seems the favorite to open the season as the Raptors’ starting forward, The Toronto Sun reports. “We’ll figure it out. I know how effective [Patrick Patterson] is coming off of the bench. I know Jared has started [a lot of games in Boston],” coach Dwane Casey said this week. “I still like Pat coming off of the bench, again, I don’t want to guarantee anybody anything, but I like the combination of [Jonas Valanciunas] and Jared, unless they come up and just stink up the place, which I don’t see that happening.”

Amir Johnson helped sell Jared Sullinger on the Toronto Raptors | masslive.com

“I talked to Amir while I was in Vegas,” Sullinger said, as transcribed by Raptors.com’s Holly MacKenzie. “Amir said it’s a beautiful city. He didn’t want to leave. He said the fans are unbelievable. He said Toronto made him who he is today. When you hear stuff like that, especially from Amir, being able to know Amir, everything he’s done, everything he’s been through, it means everything coming from Amir.”

Based on how the Eastern Conference looks right now, the Celtics and Raptors could reasonably finish second and third — which would set them up to meet in the second round of the playoffs. If that happens and Sullinger rips off a string of double-doubles, give Johnson partial blame. But also remember the Celtics had already renounced Sullinger’s rights by the time Johnson gave that advice; he was just trying to help a friend, and Sullinger would have been drawn to the situation in Toronto anyway. It’s a good place for him to rewrite his reputation if he’s willing to put in the work.

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Toronto Raptors News: Fred VanVleet, Luis Scola, Anthony Bennett | Tip of the Tower

A four year senior from Wichita State, VanVleet was brought onto the Raptors as an undrafted free agent. Prior to the NBA Draft, most scouting services projected him to be an undrafted free agent, or at best a late second-round pick.

Despite his projection, VanVleet has been a pleasant surprise this summer. What the 5-foot-11 guard lacks in athleticism, he more than makes up for with his elite basketball IQ. He’s also shown an improved three-point shot this summer, which should help his chances of becoming the Raptors 15th man this season.

VanVleet won’t overwhelm anyone, but his skill set does fit the profile of a solid NBA backup. If he can continue to improve his three-point shot and defence, he could eventually develop into a poor man’s Cory Joseph, which is more than serviceable in today’s guard oriented NBA.

First Summer League in the books.

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Raptors Building A Defensive Wall With Jared Sullinger | Pro Bball Report

“Defensive rebounding and building a wall,” Ujiri responded to Pro Bball Report. “I know Biyombo was a shot blocker, but we will probably have a different type of defense now with a big wall there and sometimes now you might not get that shot blocked, but (Sullinger) will stand in front of you and you’ll know he’s there.”

Sullinger isn’t a direct replacement for what Biyombo brought to the Raptors last season. Both players are among the elite in rebounding, but where Biyombo was a deterrent at the rim on defense, Sullinger has the ability to put up a lot of points and just maybe that will give head coach Dwane Casey a little more flexibility as he can play Jonas Valanciunas or Patrick Patterson with Sullinger and not lose his floor spacing, paint presence or defensive rebounding. Raptors fans will remember Sullinger’s 25 point 20 rebound game against Toronto.

“The basketball I.Q. is the biggest thing for me,” Ujiri said. “I love to talk about the picks he sets which will be great for our guys. He stretches the floor and he can play the four and the five.

“To be limited (by the salary cap) and to get a guy like this without having to move anybody, it fell in our lap. We got extremely lucky and we are extremely excited.”

“(Sullinger) is going to be our starting four guy,” Casey said on Sportsnet 590 The Jeff Blair Show. “Our goal is to get him and JV (Jonas Valanciunas) to mesh offensively and defensively.

When you're 4-0, you get a practice day. #WeTheNorth

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Trade for Toronto Raptors Still Possible | Raptors Rapture

The front office could offer a package of Patrick Patterson, DeMarre Carroll & Lucas Nogueira as well as a future 1st round pick, with the ESPN Trade Machine claiming the Raps would benefit from this trade more than their trade partners, in an attempt to entice the Clippers into trading Griffin. Los Angeles have had a major gap to fill in the small forward position for some time and Carroll would offer assurances there. His impact as an elite perimeter defender wouldn’t go amiss in a conference that contains Durant and Kawhi Leonard amongst others while Nogueria would add youth to a team that is spoilt with veteran leadership. Though Patterson is a much better performer off the bench, the Clippers might run the chance that he settles in as a starter, especially with Paul creating shots for him.


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The Toronto Raptors could be without the star of Las Vegas Summer League on Saturday.

Norman Powell is considered questionable for the team’s quarterfinal game against the Minnesota Timberwolves (4 p.m. ET) due to a left thigh contusion.

Powell took a knee to the thigh early in the third quarter against the Golden State Warriors on Thursday, hitting the deck in a scary moment for Raptors fans. After a brief visit to the locker room, he was able to return to the game and help lead the Raptors to a victory, a 4-0 start to the tournament, and a berth in the quarters, where the tournament now takes on single-elimination form.

Even though a loss would end the Raptors’ time in Vegas, there’s little sense pushing things if Powell’s leg is sore tomorrow. This is Summer League, after all, and as much as Powell has talked about wanting to win the championship, the team has every reason to be cautious. For his part, Powell talked after the game about being the type to play through injuries. In this case, the decision may not be his. Whether or not get goes will likely be decided by how his leg responds to treatment Friday and whether there’s any swelling the morning of the game.

Should Powell play, the Raptors are in a good position to beat the Wolves for a second time in the tournament. Powell’s been one of the top players in Vegas for a second consecutive season, locking down on the defensive end while averaging 20.5 points, five rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 1.3 steals in 25.8 minutes. He’s 11-of-21 from long-range, is averaging nearly eight trips to the line per-game, and owns some ludicrous offensive efficiency metrics. If he sits, a larger load will fall on Delon Wright, Jakob Poeltl, and Bruno Caboclo. Drew Crawford, coming off of a great outing against the Warriors, would likely draw the start in Powell’s stead.

A win would see the Raptors move on to the semifinals on Sunday (against Phoenix or Denver) and then potentially the championship game on Monday.

Pascal Siakam missed a third consecutive game Thursday due to knee soreness and can probably also be considered questionable for Saturday. He’s back in Vegas with the team after a few days in Ontario to sort out immigration for the coming season.


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Not a lot of moves have been made by the Raps this offseason, then again when you finish two wins short of the finals, an overhaul really isn’t necessary. The move they did need to make was replacing Bismack Biyombo. The big forward opted out of his contract to go on the hunt for the major bucks. He found just that in Orlando, signing a 4-year $72 million dollar deal. It’s hard to argue when there’s that kind of cash on the table. None the less, the Raps hope they found a stop-gap replacement as they welcomed former Boston Celtic Jared Sullinger to The Six and drafted Jakob Poeltl. They weren’t the only ones shopping the market in the East though.

The New York Knicks added Derrick Rose, Brandon Jennings and Joakim Noah. While the Bulls replaced Rose with former Miami Heat legend Dwayne Wade. The Bulls will be a question mark, but the Knicks have definitely strengthened their squad. So much so, in fact, that they are now tied with Toronto in the odds. TopBet.eu lists the Raptors at +6000, right next to New York, in a very competitive Eastern Conference.

Cleveland +300
Boston +2500
Toronto +6000
Chicago +6000
New York +6000
Indiana +8000
Miami +10000
Atlanta +10000

Of course, sitting atop the group, are the NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers. They won’t be falling down the charts any time soon, although interestingly enough, they are ranked behind the Golden State Warriors on the list. Despite winning the title just weeks ago, the Cavs have dropped to number two already. Adding Kevin Durant to an already record setting Warrior squad can do that to a team.

The Raptors will be in tough next season, for sure, but they did cross off the biggest task on their offseason agenda early. They extended former USC standout DeMar DeRozan’s contract on July 1st. He inked a five-year deal worth $139 million before incentives. He is now one of the highest paid players in the league and the Raptors have officially opened their bank to keep the core together (cap rules prevented them from going all-in, mind you).

The infrastructure is here to stay and Toronto is keen on keeping their position in the league as one of the top dogs – despite their current sportsbook standing.

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Toronto Raptors rookie Jakob Poeltl got to flex a little bit of his personality and sense of humor on Thursday, joining The Starters on NBA TV.

One of Canada’s greatest exports, J.E. Skeets and the gang to talk about how to pronounce his last name, his celebrity crushes, and more. This was awesome.


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TORONTO, ON - JULY 14 - Toronto Raptors DeMar DeRozan and family arrived at the Real Sports Bar for a press conference announcing his return to the team. July 14, 2016. (Bernard Weil/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

I Am Toronto: Video, quotes, and more from DeRozan and Sullinger pressers | Raptors Republic

DeRozan’s presser was more emotional – understandably. Masai, in a heartfelt statement, spoke very highly about DeRozan’s dignity and development as a player over the course of his career. The fact that DeMar only held a meeting with Toronto and no one else was brought up as a specific example from Masai, who also noted that he met with DeMar at 9pm last night in his LA home – it was a deal which was done within 15 minutes.

Masai also pointed to DeMar’s family, calling them the Raptors’ own, and the general tone of the presser was that of high amicability between the two parties.

DeMar’s desire to leave behind a one-team legacy is genuine. He sees himself more alike to his predecessors Kobe Bryan and Tim Duncan, who came and left their NBA mark with one franchise – etching their names in the city forever. When asked when he knew he’d always play in Toronto, DeRozan said it was the day he was drafted back in ’09.

Raptors Press Conference: DeMar DeRozan – July 14, 2016 – YouTube

DeMar DeRozan – July 14, 2016 – YouTube

Raptors Republic on Instagram: “”I am Toronto” – DeMar DeRozan #wethenorth”

"I am Toronto" – DeMar DeRozan #wethenorth

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Staying in the Six: Raptors sign DeRozan to multi-year contract | Toronto Sun

“I learned loyalty the hard way growing up, so it means a great deal to me, especially now,” DeRozan said. “The way I approach everything in life, loyalty is always the No. 1 factor for me.”

The Raptors were able to offer him an extra year and more money than any other suitor, but didn’t quite pay him the max. That wasn’t a necessity for DeRozan. Being home where he was comfortable and had put in so much over the years was.

Speaking to a handful of reporters in Las Vegas, Raptors head coach Dwane Casey was thrilled to have DeRozan remain in the fold.

“Huge, loyalty. He’s our own guy, has helped us win, produce, he’s been a big part of our program,” Casey said, before adding he, like DeRozan himself, is expecting more out of the two-time all-star.

“I still say this, DeMar is still a growing player, he still has another level to go to. Get his three-point shot in, continue to be consistent defensively, those are two areas where he can take that next step. He’s a great leader, you all know his offensive game, his mid-range game. I’m happy for DeMar and his family that he can be rewarded for having us take steps forward toward being a championship (contending) program.”

Raptors Press Conference: Jared Sullinger – July 14, 2016 – YouTube

DeRozan extension proves continuity at the heart of Raptors’ off-season | Sportsnet.ca

The Raptors would have almost surely taken a step back should DeRozan have opted to sign elsewhere. Fortunately for them, the thought never entered his mind. “I feel like we always got the short end of the stick,” DeRozan said of his early impressions on the Raptors today, perched in front of a large crowd, dressed in a finely-tailored navy suit worthy of a man who’s annual salary just increased by a cool $15 million between the time he fell asleep last night and woke up this morning. “And I took pride in wanting to change that.”

He says he knew he wanted to play out his career in a Raptors uniform from the day he was drafted, and many lean years where the franchise looked to be stuck in the mud in the post-Chris Bosh era did nothing to dissuade him. As he put it: “I don’t run when things get tough.”

DeRozan is the type of player and person worth rewarding, and the Raptors reward for doing so will be a continuation of winning basketball. In other words: A no-brainer on all levels. Hell, even his new salary, which was difficult for many to wrap their heads around, looks pretty good compared to other massive deals handed out this summer. DeRozan is expected to make $27 million next season, which is, well, a lot, but it’s only three million more than Nic Batum, Chandler Parsons, and Harrison Barnes will make. Everything in context.

The biggest change for the Raptors— in every sense of the word— comes in the form of Sullinger, who also met with the media on Thursday and joins the Raptors on favourable terms. For one, his contract is safe— one year at a minimal cap hold, the team’s $5.6 million exception.

But more importantly, Sullinger comes to the Raptors hungrier than ever (insert joke here). Hearing him speak about how important it is for him to succeed with the Raptors this season, you get the feeling he knows he swung and missed on an opportunity to land the type of major-money contract many of his NBA counterparts signed this summer. It should only stand to benefit the Raptors, who are not only hoping that a commited Sullinger will work harder than ever to improve his conditioning— long the biggest knack against him— but also that he takes out his frustrations on the court.

Jared Sullinger – July 14, 2016 – YouTube

Staying in the Six: Raptors sign DeRozan to multi-year contract | Canoe

“There’s nobody that has done it with more class, more dignity, more passion,” Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri said.

“I am Toronto,” DeRozan said, simply.

For a franchise that saw Vince Carter and Chris Bosh leave after their first contract extensions and Tracy McGrady bolt even before that, DeRozan’s commitment is massive.

Not only is he the captain, he goes out on recruiting missions, since winning is his priority. He helped the team land DeMarre Carroll last summer, wooed Wesley Matthews, LaMarcus Aldridge and Pau Gasol, among a few others, and isn’t satisfied with making the Eastern Conference Finals one time.

And he wasn’t about to bolt for greener pastures.

“I don’t run when things get tough,” he said. “I’ve put my blood, sweat and tears into this organization … I wasn’t done yet.”

DeRozan said he was advised to take meetings with other teams and go through the recruiting process for the first time since committing to USC years ago, but wasn’t interested.

“I learned loyalty the hard way growing up, so it means a great deal to me, especially now,” DeRozan said. “The way I approach everything in life, loyalty is always the No. 1 factor for me.”

Masai Ujiri – July 14, 2016 – YouTube

DeRozan’s loyalty a rarity in today’s NBA | TSN

Ask almost any pro athlete, in any team sport, what they strive for and their list will be remarkably similar: be an all-star, make the hall of fame and – usually above all else – win a championship, or championships. Of course, those goals are consistent with DeRozan’s but he has another that rarely makes the cut in this business. He wants to spend his entire career with the team that gave him his shot. He wants to be a Toronto Raptors lifer.

“It’s so rare these days,” DeRozan said. “When you look at the NBA, there are not too many guys that stick it out with one franchise through it all. For me, that’s big. You can never take that legacy away, saying this guy played for one team. I’m working my way to doing that.”

Seven of the 20 longest-tenured active NBA players that ended last season playing for their original franchise will be wearing a different jersey next fall. Like Durant and Wade, Al Horford and Joakim Noah changed addresses in free agency while Serge Ibaka, Jeff Teague and Derrick Rose were traded.

Duncan, who was at the top of that list after spending 19 seasons with the San Antonio Spurs, has decided to call it a career. The Duncan types, Nowitzki types – he’s now No.  1 on the list after 18 seasons with the Dallas Mavericks – are a dying breed. DeRozan, 16th on that list at the start of the summer, could be as high as ninth on opening night when he tips off his eighth season with the Raptors.

In DeRozan, Toronto has locked up a very good, albeit imperfect player who, along with teammate and close pal Kyle Lowry, forms one of the top backcourt tandems in the league. The merits of his game are, and probably will always be open for debate. Few elicit the mixed bag of credit and criticism he does, even among his team’s own fan base.

Vegas Bebe, Vegas! – YouTube

I Am Toronto: DeMar DeRozan Re-Signs With Raptors | Toronto Raptors

DeMar DeRozan accomplished a life-long dream when the Toronto Raptors selected him with the ninth pick in the 2009 NBA Draft. Just 19 years-old, coming off a solid freshman season at USC, the Compton, California native was headed for Toronto. In his wildest dreams, he couldn’t have predicted speaking into a microphone seven years later, telling everyone watching that, “I am Toronto.”

“I honestly couldn’t have imagined it,” DeRozan said. “Even when I think about it now, I didn’t have a passport until I came here and worked out. I’d never been in snow. I still was wearing Chuck Taylor’s in the wintertime. Just to look at how far I’ve come, it’s crazy.”

Toronto had become DeRozan’s home away from home long before he entered the free agency period this summer. Still, there’s always an uncertainty that accompanies free agency, the chance that a surprise can happen, a player can be swayed, a decision changed. Almost always, at least. For DeRozan, who has long stated his desire to finish his career with the team that drafted him, free agency was easy. He invited the Raptors front office into his home when the free agency negotiation period began, and 15 minutes later, he’d agreed to a five-year extension to remain with the only professional team he’s ever known.

“What a great day for us,” Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri said. “You look at this young man here and, to me, I get emotional because there’s nobody that has done it with more class, more dignity, more passion. I spend every day with this kid here and this is a blessed day for the Raptors.

“I am so proud that Canada has the opportunity to have somebody like this in our organization. We take pride in not only giving him this contract, but also seeing what the future is for our team going forward

Watch Chase Shannon’s Vine, “VanVleet!”

Raptors’ DeMar DeRozan pays summer visit, proudly proclaims ‘I am Toronto’ | Toronto Star

“For DeMar DeRozan to have one meeting and not have any intentions (of leaving) — and, trust me, we deal with a lot of stuff in our league — this is true class,” Masai Ujiri, the team’s president and general manager said.

“Us as individuals have to look at him, the youth have to look at this kid and say this is how I want to be. I am so proud that Canada has the opportunity to have somebody like this in our organization and we take pride in not only giving him this contract but in seeing what the future is for our team.”

The loyalty aspect of DeRozan’s decision to stay can’t be under-stated because it is central to who he is as a man. Basketball minutia aside, it is an admirable trait. He is in, completely.

“Every person that’s close to me, every person that knows me, if I’m in it with you, I’m in it with you,” he said.

Watch The Cauldron’s Vine, “Bruno Caboclo hits the floater to end the 1st half”

Sullinger picked winning over money to join Raptors | Toronto Sun

“I don’t know how this one fell into our lap but it did. We’re really lucky,” Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri told reporters in Toronto about Sullinger, who averaged 10.3 points, a career-best 8.6 rebounds and made 73 starts for the playoff-bound Boston Celtics last year.

Sullinger was reportedly offered twice as much money from another suitor, but chose the three-time defending Atlantic Division champions, knowing the squad remains one of the best in the East.

“It was a no-brainer,” Sullinger said.

“The (other) offers were nice but at the end of the day it’s all about winning and an open opportunity … Money’s great, but money can’t buy you happiness. I think winning keeps you happy.”

Sullinger, 6-foot-9 and 260 pounds when in shape (which has been an issue), has a lot of talent, soft hands, good passing instincts and a top-notch presence on the boards, but his commitment has wandered at times as his weight ballooned.

That will need to change and, in a contract year, most likely Sullinger gets the message.

All sides should benefit from this move.

Blake Murphy on Instagram: “Contrary to most photo evidence, I do, in fact, enjoy my job.”

Contrary to most photo evidence, I do, in fact, enjoy my job.

A photo posted by Blake Murphy (@eblakemurphy) on

Jared Sullinger said lure of winning, not money, brought him to Raptors | Toronto Star

“If you look at the history, if you look at Masai’s track record, you understand those offers were nice, but at the end of the day it’s all about winning and I see an open opportunity and I also see winning,” he said.

A pairing with Jonas Valanciunas in the Raptors’ frontcourt may not be ideal in this age of jump-shooting big men, and while Sullinger thinks the two big men could do some damage on the glass, he doesn’t seem bent on becoming some jump-shooting big man.

“I’ve done it but you’ve still got to get your jump hooks off,” he said.

The Raptors acted quickly to sign Sullinger — he became a free agent Sunday and the deal was agreed to on Tuesday — but he still had time to do some homework.

“I talked to Amir (Johnson) out in Vegas and he said it’s a beautiful city — he didn’t want to leave — and he said the fans are unbelievable,” Sullinger said. “He said Toronto made him who he is today and when you hear stuff like that, especially from Amir, it means everything.”

Raptors Republic on Instagram: “”My whole goal, since I first got here was to make this whole city and this whole country be known.” – DeMar DeRozan #wethenorth”

Raptors hold on against Warriors to advance in Summer League | Raptors Republic

The way this Raptors team is playing in the tournament, allowing a late lead-changing run is ill-advised. The defense continued to lock in, and while the grind-it-out offense produced some low-quality looks, Wright helped push things in transition and Caboclo came up huge with a ridiculous block at the rim off of a backcourt turnover. That led to a Crawford triple, and the game was more or less sealed. (But not before Ognjen Kuzmic, who had a good time opposite Poeltl in this one, scored on a second-chance opportunity and the Warriors terrified the Raptors with a late backcourt steal.)

And so for the third game in a row, the Raptors faced adversity on their way to yet another victory. They’re 4-0, and they now move to the single-elimination quarterfinals, where they’ll meet the Minnesota Timberwolves, whom they’ve already beaten at 4 p.m. ET on Saturday.

There’s no longer much room for error, and this Raptors team is showing they can win imperfect. Despite the cool start and injury, Powell still managed 17 points on just nine field-goal attempts. Crawford was huge with eight of his 13 points in the fourth quarter. Poeltl didn’t have the greatest of defensive nights but managed seven points and seven rebounds and was a robust plus-14. And Wright, who missed a few shots early at the rim, shot 3-of-10 overall, and had four turnovers, made up for a lot of that defensively and with some heady plays down the stretch.

Toronto Raptors on Instagram: “Hold it. #WeTheNorth”

Hold it. #WeTheNorth

A photo posted by Toronto Raptors (@raptors) on

Poll: Who’s impressed you most at Summer League? | Raptors Republic

This was somewhat expected, or at least hoped for. With at least five players tabbed for the NBA this season, the Raptors have more talent than most teams here, and they have a fair amount of Summer League experience. Norman Powell was First-Team All-Tournament last year and looks like he has little business playing here any longer. Bruno Caboclo is in his third Summer League. Even guys like Drew Crawford and E.J. Singler bring some nice experience to the bench.

Toronto Raptors on Instagram: “Halftime at Cox Pavilion w/ the Raps on top 39-35. @delonwright leading a balanced attack w/ 6p-4r-3a. @brunofive chipping in a team-high 7. #WeTheNorth”

Summer Raptors beat Warriors 75-69 | Raptors HQ

Poeltl looks to be an efficient offensive player moving forward, but at the age of 20, he still has a long way to go in terms of having an NBA body that matches the style he’s trying to play. He was having some trouble establishing deep post position, and boxing out for defensive rebounds. It was good to see him get involved in the pick and roll game with some success though.

Toronto Raptors on Instagram: “🐇 #WeTheNorth”

https://www.instagram.com/p/BH3UV2mhNiu/

Perfect record earns Raptors No.1 seed ahead of Summer League tournament | Sportsnet.ca

Norman Powell has been the most impressive, leading the way on both ends of the floor, posting averages of 21.7 points on 44% shooting (incl. 52.6% from deep) to go along with six rebounds, 3.3 assists, and a steal per game. He’s currently second in the Summer League with a PER of 37.7. Yes, it’s just the Summer League, but for context Steph Curry led all players in the NBA last season with 31.5 (Jonas Valanciunas led the Raps with 22.6).

In his third Summer League appearance in a Raptors uni, Bruno Caboclo is averaging 12.7 points, while point guard Delon Wright is averaging 8.3 points and 4.7 assists. Rookie centre Jakob Poeltl has posted impressive—if somewhat bizarre— numbers thus far, shooting 90% from the floor yet taking just ten shots total through three games to go along with seven boards, 1.3 steals and 2.3 blocks in 24 minutes per game, and has looked very solid overall thus far.

Toronto Raptors on Instagram: “Yak’s @thestarters debut. #NinjaPoeltl #WeTheNorth”

Yak's @thestarters debut. #NinjaPoeltl #WeTheNorth

A photo posted by Toronto Raptors (@raptors) on

Terrence Ross Working Hard to Maximize Potential | Basketball Insiders

“I want to win,” Ross said. “I love this game and would play it if I had to pay someone to let me play. So for me, it’s about getting better and competing at the highest level. I’m blessed to have this opportunity to play at this level and be successful, but I want to be better.”

Looking at the Raptors’ roster, Ross is confident in the squad’s ability to compete.

“I think we are a versatile team,” Ross said. “We have guys who can play different roles and guys who have different skill sets, so really everything boils down to matchups. Coach [Dwane] Casey plays whoever he feels can get the job done and I respect that.”

Because Ross was a top-eight draft pick and has so much potential, expectations have been pretty high for him since he entered the league. This, of course, comes with some criticism and negativity – even from Toronto fans (who are very passionate). He has tried block all of that out, focusing instead on his support circle of teammates, coaches and family.

“I just keep working. People have a right to say what they want to say, but I just lean on my teammates and coaches,” Ross said. “I always have to make sure I continue to do anything I can to help my team win. What people say is out of my control, good or bad.

“[My motivation comes from] my family mostly. I want to make them proud. I also get motivation from my teammates. We got pretty far this year and I want to get better so we can improve our chances next year. I think everybody on the team feels that way. That’s what makes being in Toronto with these guys so special.”

Toronto Raptors on Instagram: “4-0. Off to the QF’s after a 75-69 win over G State. #WeTheNorth Norm – 17/2/2 Crawford – 13/5 Delon – 11/5/4 Yak – 7/7”


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Raptors 75, Warriors 69, Box Score

Coaches say that Las Vegas Summer League is about more than just wins and losses. Player development is quite obviously at the forefront, and putting players in new, unique, unfamiliar situations is almost welcomed, even if it makes the path to victory a little more difficult. You want to win, ultimately, but so long as a game readies the players for those same new situations later in their careers, it’s tough to “lose” in the bigger picture. When you lose, don’t lose the lesson, and all that.

Well, the Toronto Raptors found themselves in some unfamiliar water in the first half against the Golden State Warriors on Thursday.

With two days off in a row thanks to a bye for earning the top seed in the championship portion of the tournament, the Raptors came out looking a little sluggish and disorganized. That Norman Powell, their clear-cut MVP through a 3-0 start, came out looking unlike himself made the challenge even greater. Powell got into foul trouble, too, forcing tough decisions on the staff now that the foul limit is down to six. Not only was Powell not on his game early and not on the court, the Raptors got to have a turn facing, well, a Powell type. Patrick McCaw was unstoppable across two quarters, dropping 19 of his 28 points in the first half to keep an otherwise disinterested Warriors team afloat through the break.

Toronto’s defense continued to carry them, as it has all tournament, they just didn’t have an answer for Raptors Republic’s pet draft prospect. Still, thanks to a buzzer-beater from Bruno Caboclo – and hey, if you want to talk about the unfamiliar… – the Raptors managed to enter the break up 39-35.

Powell came out looking to reassert his dominance in the third quarter but quickly suffered a left thigh bruise fighting through a screen, temporarily paralyzing Raptors Twitter with fear. Immediately upon returning, he got back to scoring, and the Raptors began to pick up a modicum of momentum in the back half of the quarter. The Warriors hung around on the back of some fine defense of their own, and then the Raptors used another buzzer-beater, a three-quarter-court heave from Fred VanVleet, to head into the fourth still up four.

Sensing a window for an upset, the Warriors opened on an 8-0 run before Powell was able to get to the line, swinging control to their side. That control hung in the balance for most of the quarter, with the game going through 10 lead changes overall. With Delon Wright, Powell, and Jakob Poeltl in the game, the Raptors took the lead back, locked in on defense, caused a near shot-clock violation, and then forced a turnover ICEing a side pick-and-roll. When Drew Crawford made a heady steal, ran the floor for a layup, and drew a foul, the Raptors bench exploded, the momentum swelling as the 9-0 run forced the Warriors to call a timeout and figure things out.

The way this Raptors team is playing in the tournament, allowing a late lead-changing run is ill-advised. The defense continued to lock in, and while the grind-it-out offense produced some low-quality looks, Wright helped push things in transition and Caboclo came up huge with a ridiculous block at the rim off of a backcourt turnover. That led to a Crawford triple, and the game was more or less sealed. (But not before Ognjen Kuzmic, who had a good time opposite Poeltl in this one, scored on a second-chance opportunity and the Warriors terrified the Raptors with a late backcourt steal.)

And so for the third game in a row, the Raptors faced adversity on their way to yet another victory. They’re 4-0, and they now move to the single-elimination quarterfinals, where they’ll meet the Minnesota Timberwolves, whom they’ve already beaten at 4 p.m. ET on Saturday.

There’s no longer much room for error, and this Raptors team is showing they can win imperfect. Despite the cool start and injury, Powell still managed 17 points on just nine field-goal attempts. Crawford was huge with eight of his 13 points in the fourth quarter. Poeltl didn’t have the greatest of defensive nights but managed seven points and seven rebounds and was a robust plus-14. And Wright, who missed a few shots early at the rim, shot 3-of-10 overall, and had four turnovers, made up for a lot of that defensively and with some heady plays down the stretch.

More importantly than those individual points, the Raptors shot 33.9 percent and were able to secure a victory against a quality team with a red-hot scorer (the 40 free-throw attempts surely helped). Their defense is on another plane as far as Summer League teams go, and they held the Warriors to sub-40 shooting with just 12 free-throw attempts and an uncanny 6-of-29 mark that came on a diet of late-clock heaves. It was impressive once again, and the Wolves know all too well how the Raptors can lock things down when they need to.

Saturday should be fun. Three more wins to go.

Note: Pascal Siakam sat with knee soreness. He’s rejoined the team and might be good to go for Saturday.
(Photo Courtesy IG:Raptors)


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A quarter after Bruno Caboclo hit a buzzer-beating triple, new teammate Fred VanVleet one-upped the Brazilian with a ridiculous, buzzer-beating, three-quarter-court heave.

This is just a great still shot from our dude Cam.


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Well, this is scary. There’s no way around it.

Trying to fight around a screen in the third quarter against the Golden State Warriors on Thursday, Norman Powell took a knee to the left thigh and hit the floor.

He stayed down for several moments before struggling to his hands and knees and then heading to the bench to be evaluated. After a commercial break, Powell was in the locker room, and head coach Dwane Casey left the stands to check on him.

If you want to maintain optimism, it appeared Powell caught the knee in the thigh, not the knee, so maybe this is just a charley horse or bruise of some sort. Powell was also running on the sideline testing out his leg shortly after, which is encouraging, and he gave our boy Jared Greenberg of NBA TV a thumbs up.

UPDATE: Powell has a left thigh bruise and will return. Thank Shammgod, the Vegas gods smile upon us.

If he were to be out for any amount of time, it would have been incredibly disappointing in a tournament in which he’s been dominant, and in which Toronto’s already lost rookie Pascal Siakam to a minor knee injury. Really glad it worked out and looked far worse than it actually was.

Now go get that MVP.


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It’s Yung Poutine: Comeback Season.

The Brooklyn Nets have inked Anthony Bennett to a two-year deal, according to Shams Charania of The Vertical. The deal will pay Bennett the league minimum (a total of $2.1 million) in each season, and in a nice piece of business for the Canadian, this year’s salary is fully guaranteed.

This…is not news from a Toronto Raptors perspective. I write this post only because I’ve been asked an inordinate amount of times whether the Raptors might kick the tires on a Bennett redux at the end of their roster this year. The answer to that was probably always a firm no, considering the reclamation experiment failed last season, but those curious can at least put it to rest now.

Drafted first overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2013, Bennett suffered through a shoulder injury and sleep apnea that hurt his conditioning, and that issue has plagued him even as he’s gotten in better shape. He was a part of the Andrew Wiggins-Kevin Love trade as salary flotsam, and after a disappointing sophomore season, the Minnesota Timberwolves made the rare move to buy out the third year on his rookie-scale contract, rendering him a free agent.

The Raptors plucked the hometown kid on a minimum deal, hoping to develop him with a longer-term focus rather than thrusting him into playing time he wasn’t ready for. To his credit, he worked tirelessly while waiting for a chance, often working out intensely before games and even reportedly requesting a D-League assignment (whether that was a convenient PR spin is open to questioning). Unfortunately, he didn’t play well in the D-League, exhibiting poor shot selection in a small sample. After playing 84 minutes over 19 appearances with the Raptors, the team decided a playoff push with five players they couldn’t lean on for depth was too tall a task, and they cut him to make room for Jason Thompson.

In the time since, Bennett’s done minicamps with the Nets and New York Knicks and participated in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament with Canada. His decision to represent Canada instead of fighting for a job through Summer League is appreciated, and Bennett shot 55.6 percent for the qualifier, averaging 6.8 points and five rebounds in 19 minutes.

Landing with the Nets should be a great opportunity for Bennett, and he’ll see a familiar face in Luis Scola. Crazy though it may seem for the Nets to sign Bennett over any number of unproven pieces, he’s still just 23 and, again, is a former No. 1 pick. He looked to be in terrific shape with the national team, the Nets had roster spots to fill, and he’ll get a chance to compete for playing time in Brooklyn, something few teams were likely offering. I still don’t think Bennett is worth giving up on completely, so long as expectations are managed properly. On a minimum deal, my only criticism for the Nets would be that they didn’t inflate the non-guaranteed second year to make Bennett a potential offseason trade asset if things don’t work out.

Over 128 career games, Bennett is averaging 4.2 points and 3.1 rebounds and shooting 38.8 percent overall and 25.6 percent on threes. Yung Poutine, baby.


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The signings of Jared Sullinger and DeMar DeRozan were made official today as both inked deals on different ends of the spectrum. While Sullinger’s one-year deal sees him earn $6 million, DeRozan signs on for another 5 years at $139 million. Both players were presented in front of media today at Real Sports Bar and Grill with Masai chiming in on the essential reasons the Raptors want both Sullinger and DeRozan part of the team next season, and in DeMar’s case, well beyond.

Jared Sullinger

Sullinger was presented first, and as Masai Ujiri presented his new signing, he reiterated that Sully ‘fills in two positions that are much needed’. Also important to note – despite what some thought – Sullinger could be the starting four next season. Even if he’s not a perfect stretch-four alongside JV, he can still shoot well enough from the mid-range and deep that he can keep teams concerned with his range, all the while being a really good rebounder on the defensive end. Taking into consideration that Patrick Patterson seems to excel off the bench more than he does as a starter, a depth chart which sees Patterson come off the bench for Sullinger makes enough sense.

The signing is as straightforward as can be. The Raptors acquire a low-risk / high-reward player at a position with a glaring hole, and as Matt Devlin pointed out in today’s presser, he’s capable of dropping 25 and 20 – just like he did against Toronto back in January of last season. In Masai’s words, the Raptors were lucky that Sullinger ‘fell into their lap’.

Yes, it was rather fortunate given how slim the pickings were at the four in the open market. Even if they can probably only hold on to Sullinger for one season, he’s a good plug the Raptors desperately need now with little cost attached to it.

When asked which player he’s most excited to played with, Sullinger half-jokingly said it was Valanciunas, and that he was ‘getting tired of his elbows’.