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Summer League – Yes, We Can Learn Something

We attended 3 days and 2 Raptors games live. I think there is too much criticism that summer league is "a waste of time" and "you cannot learn anything". Why? You can observe, among other things.

In amongst the FA moves (well, headfakes), here are our notes from Summer League. We attended 3 days and 2 Raptors games live. We were attempting to do a podcast while in Vegas, but the crew here said I had a “voice for print”.

I think there is too much criticism that summer league is “a waste of time” and “you cannot learn anything”.

Why? You can observe, among other things:

  • changes in physical appearance
  • ability to hit open shots
  • ability to make good decisions
  • how a player reacts to coaching
  • if a player is committed to help defense
  • if a player calls out screens and otherwise vocal on defense
  • raw athletic talent

Some of these observations are only available if you’re close to the action. Fortunately we were.

Our takeaways – biased towards the two games we watched live.

Solomon Alabi C 7’1″ 237 Florida State
Good frame, but needs to get much stronger. Raw. Appears to be a solid finisher around the hoop. Very “coachable”. An impressive 15-16 from the line during the 5 games. Criticism: didn’t hustle back on defense – overall a bit slow.

Bobby Brown G 6’3″ 175 Cal State-Fullerton
My biggest surprise on the Raptors roster was the play of Bobby Brown. This could be a case of being “Douby-ed” (quick, athletic guards can deceive us in summer league – right, Arsenalist?). Shot an amazing 67.6% (which of course won’t translate, but speaks to his shot selection) from the field.
His four assist average in about 20 min was solid. Took care of the ball. Most importantly – he worked his tail off on D. Having said all that, he’s bounced around the league for a couple of years, so I’ll likely be Douby-ed with these comments. Worth a look though if we trade Jose Calderon.

Dee Brown G 6’0″ 185 Illinois
Some solid play, but didn’t stand out. Pass first point guard. Small. Didn’t see a ton minutes until the last game.

Ed Davis F 6’10” 227 North Carolina
Mr. Davis was a pleasant surprise. Active on the boards on both ends, he really has a nose for the ball. Although quiet, he goes about his business and gets the job done. On D, he changed shots and had several nice blocks (incl 5 in one game). Talked a fair bit on D – helping out his guards. Played well against DeMarcus Cousins. On offense, he was better than I thought he’d be, but he also didn’t face too many strong defenders. Overall, several positive signs.

DeMar DeRozan G-F 6’7″ 220 USC
Everyone is raving about DeMar – and largely for good reason. Was third in scoring across all teams. Efficient as well – shooting 58% from the field. Athletic, running guards can excel in this style of game. But I’ll say that he’s much stronger (up almost a dozen pounds I hear), his shot continues to improve nicely, handle is better and his confidence is up. Those items will translate well – even with better competition.

Joey Dorsey F-C 6’8″ 268 Memphis
One rebound every two minutes. ‘nough said. Four offensive rebounds for his average 20 min of play. Think Reggie Evans, but younger and not injured. If Evans is traded, Dorsey can slip into the lineup nicely.

Ronald Dupree G-F 6’7″ 210 Louisiana State
I was about to write Dupree off, but he had a strong final game – 24 pts and got to the line 14 times. However, not consistent enough – nor strong at any one part of the game to be a good role player for the Raptors.

James Mays F 6’9″ 230 Clemson
Solid rebounder, but turnover prone and overall didn’t make good decisions. Besides shot 33% from the field.

Michael Roll G 6’5″ 200 UCLA
Excellent shooting fundamentals. High basketball IQ – offsets some of his physical limitations. Not great on D, but works his tail off. Did not show enough that we should consider him.

Cheikh Samb C 7’1″ 245 Senegal
His final game, he went off with 7 blocks. However, overall I was not impressed with him. Does not seem like a team player – didn’t call out any screens and didn’t seem to take instruction well from Coach Eric Hughes. The bench could easily hear my disapproval of a 20 foot jumper – just should NOT be taking that shot. Not a team player = someone I do not want in Raptors uniform.

Curtis Stinson G 6’3″ 215 Iowa State
Didn’t see much PT, but a solid facilitator. I’d take Bobby Brown over him though.

Sonny Weems G-F 6’6″ 203 Arkansas
Continued his strong play from the end of last season. Played well with DeRozan and B Brown – good fit. Shot selection was not a strong point – he forced it much too often. Starting to shoot the three ball – which I would like to see, but so far isn’t hitting it (23%). He was top 3 for SG last year for long 2s, so the three ball should come. Pass the ball more though Sonny.

Coach Eric Hughes
A brief mention as I was within earshot of Mr. Hughes. He did a great job of coaching the players – definitely understands the game. Heard several stories of how much work he puts into DeMar and Sonny’s development – often late into the evening.
Appreciated this – he’s coaching Michael Roll, in the dying minutes – in the final game that doesn’t really matter, despite Roll being unlikely to make the Raptors roster.

Other observations:

John Wall – saw him up close for 2 games. While I poked fun at @TheNoLookPass for his simple statement “John Wall is fast” – he is. Lightning quick. And the guy can find a way to the line like no other. Shot the ball poorly (38%) and turned the ball over frequently (over 5 per game), but also took the game over several times.

JaVale McGee – I mention him not only for this and this, but the improvement in his overall game. Dominant the two times I saw him (18 and 29 pts). Ryan Wolstat from the Toronto Sun thinks he’s just a tease, but I believe he’s ready for a break out year. Especially with Wall’s ability to find the big man.

Jeremy Lin – Wow, what a surprise. Maybe I’ll be Douby-ed again, but Adam Francis from RaptorsHQ was there with me and agrees – Jeremy Lin generally held his own against John Wall. It comes as no surprise – after watching him – that a team picked him up. I don’t see him as a starter, but could be a very good backup in this league. High basketball IQ (did I mention he went to Harvard?), hustle, makes good decisions, a competitor. Enjoy – he had the place on their feet with his effort and performance.

DeMarcus Cousins – won the Rookie of the Month award at Summer League?! T-Mobile had to get their name out there I guess. Overall, I hear he was dominant, but boy did he look average against the Raptors. The Raptors bigs did a good job on him (was only 5 for 18!) and he fouled out of the game with 10 fouls. I don’t know, but 33% shooting and 5 turnovers a game (!!) for a fellow that is 6’11” doesn’t put him in Rookie of the Month category. Maybe later in the season, but…

And finally, Micah Nori, I believe, was teaching Alvin Williams to always split 8s. Or something like that.