Pickup season is back and better than ever. This week the pickup Raptors were out in full force as a contingent 10-deep pulled up to one of Rico Hines’ famed UCLA scrimmages, enough for two whole teams. Team one of Fred VanVleet, Delon Wright, OG Anunoby, Norman Powell, and Pascal Siakam resembled a mid-season small-ball line up, while team two was a who’s who of late-rotation hopefuls as Greg Monroe, Lorenzo Brown, Malachi Richardson, Chris Boucher, and recent two-way signing Jordan Loyd, all came to get a run in.
Team one’s chemistry was notable from the start. Despite being matched up against teams comprised of any combination of Kevin Durant, James Harden, Paul George, and Russell Westbrook, the Bench Mob-hybrid was undoubtedly the most competent team in the gym. Their willingness to run in transition and make the extra pass created far easier looks than their star-studded opponents as the collective approach produced a shot profile made of predominantly open threes and fastbreak layups, rather than the usual iso-heavy mess that pickup oft entails:
Hometown kid, Norman Powell, also produced the Raptors’ pickup highlight of the summer, shaking Paul George before jamming down the lane on his old practice rim:
Team one was no slouch defensively either, as both Siakham and Powell sent a former MVP’s shot packing:
Sadly, team two didn’t receive near as much screen time due to a lack of name recognition, but Jordan Loyd did get a chance to introduce himself to Raptors fans with a hesitation pull-up three that he totally meant to bank:
Before the day was out, the two teams finally matched up, but unfortunately, with three former MVP’s and a perrennial All-NBA candidate on the other court, the cameras weren’t too focused on the Raptors-only game. Regardless, the intrasquad game did register a few noteworthy plays:
In addition, over the weekend, Pascal Siakam showed off the whole package and looked like one of the best players on the court in a Rico Hines’ run that featured the aforementioned Durant and George, among many others.
He gave Julius Randle fits, scoring on him in isolation on three seperate occasions:
He made light work of Jordan Bell multiple times:
He overpowered former all-defensive team frequent, Paul George, in the post:
He ran the floor in transition:
And he showed off the progress he’s made on his developing-faster-than-you’d-think three-point stroke:
As always, there are no takeaways from pickup. Just an enjoyment to finally have some basketball to watch– no matter how sloppy it is at times. For those wanting more, the first two volumes from this series can be found here and here. Thanks again to Ballislife for the footage.