Boucher one of summer leagues standouts | Lowry/Siakam a mid-level duo | A couple videos….
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Honestly the hardest decisions I’ve had to make in my professional career in the last 48hrs. Words cannot express my gratitude to the @raptors organization, the city of #toronto #canada and some of the best fans in the world! It was hard to leave this city and team after the historical season we had. Sometimes professional sports can be unforgiving in things that happen. I will never forget the love that you all showed me the moment I became a #raptor … I will never forget bringing #larryobrien back to #the6ix and I will never forget how #canada showed up for that parade! WE ARE #NBACHAMPS FOR LIFE. This next chapter for me is about professional growth and an opportunity to further my career by becoming a bench coach with the @lakers … never easy to move from a #comfortable place but I always say “be comfortable being uncomfortable”… Thank you TORONTO for making me one of yours! #wethechamps #wethenorth #wemadehistory #thejourneycontinues
The Raptors continued their emphasis on developing Canadian talent, putting three Canadians on their Summer League roster. Reigning G League MVP Chris Boucher, Raptors 905 guard and Team Canada contributor Duane Notice and undrafted free agent Lindell Wigginton all suited up. Their scouting reports can be found in the Raptors’ Summer League breakdown from Monday.
10. Toronto Raptors
2018-19 record: 58-24
2020 title odds: 50-1
Previous rank: No. 2
The Raptors didn’t have long to celebrate their stunning run to the franchise’s first title, thanks to Kawhi Leonard’s decision to leave his throne as King of the North to take up residence at Staples Center with the LA Clippers. Still, though the Raptors don’t have a championship ceiling anymore, they have a good enough roster — built around emerging young forward Pascal Siakam, the winner of this season’s Most Improved Player award — to remain a factor in the East. The Raptors do have several large expiring contracts belonging to Kyle Lowry, Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka that they could flip at the deadline for assets — or they could go into next summer with oodles of cap space to chase players who can remake their roster. Don’t expect anyone north of the border to be upset, though. They’ll be spending the season deservedly celebrating their hard-won title. — Bontemps
18. Toronto Raptors: Kyle Lowry-Pascal Siakam
The NBA Champions took a gamble on Kawhi and it worked for a season. Now, Lowry will have a new co-star in Siakam as Toronto looks to defend its title. The odds are slim but Siakam is the reigning Most Improved Player and Lowry is an All-Star. Siakam is expected to have an even bigger role next season with Leonard no longer in the picture.
Raptors win big but still lose Leonard:
In the Raptors case, the one-year rental will take less heat because of the championship. But the fact remains it did cost the team All-Star DeMar DeRozan, who wanted to be a lifer (a rarity in prior seasons in the 6ix) as well as a solid young big in Jakob Poeltl and their first-round pick this summer.
The addition of Marc Gasol at the deadline also pilfered young assets in Delon Wright, Jonas Valanciunas as well as sniper C.J. Miles plus their 2024 second-round pick. Again, it’s hard to argue Ujiri made all the right moves with it paying dividends, but the cost was high.
Ujiri maintains the team will attempt to repeat. Being handcuffed for six almost seven days at the start of Free Agency meant the best free agents were off the board by the time Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green‘s decisions were announced. Since then the Raptors GM has made some economical signings (Stanley Johnson, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and re-signed Patrick McCaw) and added some youthful prospects.
Whether they have a shot to stay in the mix especially with the East’s elite retaining stars or improving (specifically the Nets) is debatable. Factor in the Bulls are much improved and the Pacers made smart additions.
Pascal Siakam is the reigning Most Improved Player in the NBA, and with Kawhi now back home in LA, it appears that Siakam is the new King in the North. His numbers could take another leap this season.
For his efforts through four games, Boucher averaged 23.0 points, 9.8 rebounds, 1.3 assists, and 1.3 blocks per game, in 31.0 minutes per contest, while shooting 49 percent from the floor. (I have to assume they stopped counting the number of heat-check threes Boucher tried.) His Toronto squad did not manage to make it into the championship rounds, but Boucher is already an NBA champ so I’m sure its fine. Not bad for the 26-year-old Canadian still looking for his shot to break into the Raptors’ big man rotation. All told, Toronto finished 2-3 in the tourney.
For those curious, the Summer League First Team is made up of some no-brainer selections, including playoff starter Jarrett Allen, the Knicks’ wrecking-ball Mitchell Robinson, and highly-touted (Canadian!) prospect Brandon Clarke of the Grizzlies. That trio is joined by the Heat’s Kendrick Nunn and the Pelicans’ Nickeil Alexander.
Lindell Wigginton (SG): My take on Wigginton flew all over the place over five games, in part because I wanted to see him succeed and in part because, well, his performance was all over the place, too. First, the good: Wigginton looked much better defensively than he did at Iowa State, with far more consistent engagement on the ball and a real sense that if he stays dialed in, he could be able to defend the point full-time. He’s also going to be an elite grifter anywhere he plays, with a quick first step, great burst and solid footwork on his pull-up that will help him draw fouls in an array of situations. He also possesses that innate end-of-clock ability that so many bench scorers make their money on late in quarters. And to be thorough, the bad: His shots really weren’t falling here, with an 11-of-33 mark overall and a 1-of-11 mark from outside. Wigginton is a far better shooter than that, with good off-the-ball movements and a quick, fluid release, but the struggles to finish inside could be real — a lot of his burst takes him into help waiting in the paint, and he hasn’t developed the craft to finish against elite size just yet. The Raptors were also hoping he’d show more point-guard skill, which would help negate some of the concerns about his size and finishing, but he mostly just looked to score. I came in hoping Wigginton might do enough to earn an Exhibit 10 deal, getting a camp invite and a bonus to stick with the 905. He still might, as a 26-point, three-assist, three-steal finale really helped wash out a bad taste from his first few appearances.
Up-and-coming Canadian NBA talent took centre-stage during the NBA’s Summer League, with Brandon Clarke, Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Chris Boucher all earning hardware.
Boucher, fresh off his NBA Championship run with the Toronto Raptors, was named to the All Summer League Second Team.
The 26-year-old appeared in four games, averaging 23 points and 9.8 rebounds on 49 per cent shooting from the floor.
Wigginton, a six-foot-two point guard from Dartmouth, N.S., was one of three Canadians playing for the Raptors at the NBA Summer League tournament in Las Vegas. The other was guard Duane Notice.
Wigginton, 21, was bypassed in June’s NBA draft, but his pre-draft workout with the Raptors was good enough to land him a contract and spot on the club’s Summer League roster. Now, the Nova Scotian will be looking to earn a place on the main roster for the upcoming season, a position his former coach Colter Simmonds believes is attainable.
“If they tend to develop for the future, I think it would be a good idea to take him,” Simmonds told Star Halifax last week. “He just needs to have more reps playing at the point guard spot on a permanent basis. He has everything else. The things he needs only come with time.”
No one from Nova Scotia has ever played in an NBA game, meaning all eyes from the east coast are on Wigginton when he steps on the court.
Should he choose to sign with the Raptors, Bender will be part of a playoff-contending team. Despite losing Kawhi Leonard, Toronto has made it clear that it has no plans to go on a full rebuild. The Raptors are bringing back most of the players from last season’s championship roster in order to see if they can still play at an elite level, even without one of the game’s best players.
To get an A, the Raptors needed to re-sign Kawhi Leonard – everyone knew that going into the free agency period. Without him, the team now has a ceiling of a middle of the conference playoff team.
The loss of Danny Green can’t be understated either. In a league where 3-point shooting is becoming more and more essential, Green’s departure leaves a hole Toronto failed to fill.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Stanley Johnson are nice players. What they provide defensively could be intriguing for Nurse and his staff. Their ability to get out and run could hide a few of their deficiencies on offence, but it’s hard to imagine a world where both can play on the floor together for extended stretches.
Keeping Marc Gasol should be seen as a positive. His ability to move the ball in the halfcourt should take the pressure off Pascal Siakam and Kyle Lowry to have to create everything off the dribble. As an expiring deal, he can also be a valuable trade asset for the team down the line.
Re-signing Patrick McCaw gives the team more time to work with him to see if there’s breakthrough potential with the 23-year-old. And adding Matt Thomas and Terence Davis gives Toronto two guys they can continue to develop in the backcourt.
Ujiri and Bobby Webster acquired a lot of projects this offseason. Every player they’ve signed has had the potential label slapped on them at one point or another. But the Raptors have done well over the last couple of years of developing their in-house talent.
Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby and Siakam have all been put through the system and come out on the other end as quality NBA players. As the saying goes, trust in Masai. He has an eye for talent and the staff to maximize it.
The only issue is coming off a championship season, grabbing projects to replace superstars just isn’t good enough.
It’s safe to say the Raptors will have a shot at Giannis once he hits free-agency waters in 2021. It all depends on Ujiri’s convincing power and the state of the Raptors roster whether or not they land the biggest prize of that summer.
Should the Raptors somehow, someway get Antetokounmpo, getting an equal co-star wouldn’t be impossible. The appeal of playing alongside a perennial MVP contender will be irresistible enough that someone from the so-called NBA’s cream of the crop will find a way out of his current team to tandem with Giannis north of the border.
But who could it be?
Well, Joel Embiid might be a natural candidate. Sure, he signed a five-year, $147 million contract extension that will lock him up until 2023. But as what George to Clippers deal showed to everybody, a lengthy deal isn’t going to be a roadblock for any trade to happen.
This is a players’ league now. Stars have officially taken over the driving seat from the owners and GMs. They are now the master of their own ships. Players have now full control of their destination.
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