Morning Coffee – Thu, Jul 9

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How Terence Davis’ pick-and-roll game could unlock the Raptors’ bench offence – The Athletic

Davis’ mistakes of aggression — forcing an attempt at the rim, seeing a dump-off opportunity too late, trying a risky pocket pass — are the type of dynamic play attempts that the Raptors lack, and so they might be a little more amenable to letting him play through those since they’re rare for the team and present opposing defences with novel threats to account for.

“I think that’s the scary part about it: I think he’s already positioning himself as one of the elite scorers and shooters in this league as a two-guard, and he has a phenomenal attitude,” Griffin said. “Coach (Nick) Nurse I think is allowing him room to grow and I think that’s important for young players. You’ve got to allow them to play through some mistakes. You can’t play tight, you can’t play in fear, and I think that’s one thing that Coach Nurse does with all our players is giving them the confidence to go out on the floor not worrying about looking over their shoulder or looking over at the bench. And if you’re faithful to that, Coach Nurse, he’ll roll with you.”

To hear Davis and Griffin both tell it, earning Nurse’s trust in the postseason may fall more on the defensive end than the offensive end. If Davis earns the eighth-man role, he probably ranks as the worst defender in the regular rotation. That’s a very high bar, though, and when engaged, Davis is mostly solid, save for the occasional back-cut or early leak-out. McCaw offers more consistent and high-event defence as Davis’ competition for the next guard up in the rotation, but Davis’ event creation in the half-court is a higher-impact skill given the team’s current strengths and weaknesses. Davis’ secondary skill-set on offence has resulted in synergistic pairings up and down the rotation, with the second-best offensive rating among Toronto rotation players, behind only Siakam (and second only to Gasol in net rating).

That’s especially true with how playoff defences gear up to exploit non-threats on offence. One poor or unwilling shooter can suffocate a half-court offence. As we saw earlier in the week, the Raptors don’t have the margin for error in their half-court offence to risk that, even if Gasol is healthy and Siakam takes a step forward. Davis’ slashing ability, the pressure he puts on the rim and any development as a pick-and-roll playmaker all make him an ideal fit in the hybrid starter-bench units the team figures to lean on heavily come playoff time.

Raptors Podcast: Breaking down Toronto’s eight seeding games – Yahoo!

Host William Lou is joined by Brad Vermunt, creator of Too Much Hoops, to discuss the Raptors’ upcoming schedule.

  • Raptors to play Lakers, Heat, Magic, Celtics, Grizzlies, Bucks, Sixers and Nuggets
  • Breaking down how the Raptors matchup with each opponent
  • Why Pascal Siakam is the Raptors’ most important player
  • How the format affects incentives in the restart

Koreen: We shouldn’t care how long Pascal Siakam went between taking jumpers – The Athletic

Late last week, a reporter asked Pascal Siakam, who was participating in individual workouts with the Raptors in Fort Myers, Fla., how long he had gone without playing basketball.

“I don’t know. I feel like I lost track of time as soon as I got into quarantine,” Siakam said. “I don’t know. … Like, it’s tough for me to say exactly what time. I could guess maybe around three months without actually playing or shooting the basketball. So yeah, to me that’s the length, and it’s definitely the most (I’ve gone without playing since picking up the sport). During the summertime, I usually take like two weeks break, tops.”

I tweeted out a condensed version of that quote on Twitter, and boy, I’d like a mulligan on that one. The variations of, “How could he not find access to a gym?” responses the tweet elicited, condemning Siakam for his lack of commitment to finding a way to keep his skills sharp, were plentiful. I won’t put specific responders on blast here, because I already did that on Twitter.

As I did that, Eric Nehm, one of my colleagues at The Athletic Wisconsin, gave me the equivalent of a virtual nod of recognition. Earlier in the day, Khris Middleton had made a similar comment.

Look, I am ignoring the usual “don’t read the comments” mantra that is typically a good one to live by (except at The Athletic, you beautiful, intelligent people). This type of response was so common that it necessitated pushback — particularly in cases such as Siakam’s and Middleton’s. The Bucks forward was the 39th pick in 2012. Siakam was 27th in 2016. Both have turned themselves into max players. They are not known for their shoddy work ethic.

Now they are being criticized for a lack of commitment, with some linking their fresh, expensive extensions from last offseason — Siakam’s doesn’t kick in until after this season — to their recent inactivity. To which I say (*writer considers the merits of using all caps*) WE WERE, AND ARE, IN THE MIDDLE OF A GLOBAL PANDEMIC.

Raptors remain cautiously confident in NBA’s plan despite daunting unknowns – Sportsnet.ca

The NBA’s bubble was envisioned as offering an added layer of protection for all involved as the pandemic was hopefully in retreat or, at least, on pause before a second wave that most hoped wouldn’t rise up until the fall.

Instead case rates are skyrocketing across the United States at an almost exponential rate, with Florida being one the states where it is spreading fastest.

It took a little more than three months for the U.S. to hit one million cases on April 28, but it took roughly half that time — 44 days — to get to two million on June 11. It has taken just 26 days to reach three million — a quarter of the world total — as of Wednesday. At that rate, absent more aggressive measures to slow the spread, the country is two weeks from four million cases and could mark five million by the time the NBA regular season is scheduled to resume on July 30.

This was not part of the plan.

Rather than subjecting players and staff to undue risk by trying to return to play at all, the NBA may be rescuing them from stormy seas. The bubble may be the safest place in the U.S. at the moment and the NBA’s plan may be the most robust that any of the major sports trying to return to play has come up with.

The 37-member travelling parties that teams are allowed to take into the bubble — up to 17 players along with coaches, support staff and executives — have been getting tested regularly since teams began congregating in their home markets on June 23.

That was planned so that those with the virus should be clear of it before arriving in Orlando. As an added measure when the Raptors arrive at Disney World Thursday, the first thing they’ll have to do is isolate in their rooms for 36 hours, leaving only to be tested, with pre-packaged meals being brought to their doors.

Only after receiving two negative tests inside the bubble will they be able to leave their rooms and begin practicing and enjoy what amounts to a luxurious summer camp set up by the league, complete with live entertainment, games areas, golf and spas.

The Raptors have been following a similar format in a hotel in Naples Fla., where the team assembled rather than have to deal with border issues in Toronto. While a relatively small fraction of NBA players and staff tested positive in the lead-up to Disney World, there have been some concerning signs. The Brooklyn Nets have had five players test positive and six other teams had to close their home practice facilities due to positive tests so far.

Even if it works – By Bruce Arthur – Video – TSN

Even if the NBA’s return to the court ends with a team hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy, it won’t be the same, and even then, it might not work. After COVID-19 put sports on pause, the NBA is now back. Bruce Arthur takes a closer look at some of the storylines heading into the bubble, and what we could see if it does work.

The Toronto Raptors select Alice in Wonderland in the SB Nation Disney character draft – Raptors HQ

With that in mind, SB Nation’s NBA sites spent the last couple weeks embracing their inner Lopez brother and leaned into the Disney of it all with a 22-team draft of all the original Disney characters you know and love. On account of a random draft order generator we here at HQ were not granted the opportunity to draft Robin Hood, who is objectively the best character (and maybe athlete?) the happiest place on Earth has produced. But that’s fine. When have the Raptors ever needed a high pick to find a gem?

Stuck picking 14th overall, Raptors HQ selects Alice from the 1951 classic, Alice in Wonderland.

Admittedly, I was a little unclear on what we were supposed to draft for in this exercise. Having perused the other team sites, it seems most folks were picking characters with their on-court abilities in mind. I opted to make my pick based on which character most embodied the spirit of the defending NBA champions. But that’s fine, because Alice is a kick ass pick in either context.

The on court stuff is obvious. Girl has magic mushrooms, given to her by her chain smoking caterpillar bud, that help her grow quite tall, which seems useful for basketball to me. With Marc Gasol deep in the throws of his mid-thirties and Chris Boucher being more of an erratic four than a steady back-up five, post-shrooms Alice fits as a rim protecting reserve who can give you 10 minutes, even while rocking dress flats. A 2019 Sixers team with such a reliable back-up may have beaten the Raptors in round two.

Speaking of ‘shrooms, this is where the off-court intangible stuff comes in to play. Alice’s bad trip of an afternoon through Wonderland is just about the closest representation of the Raptors’ 2018-19 championship run in the history of film. Alice is a character who came from humble beginnings, languishing in the dull English countryside just as the Raptors had over decades as the league’s irrelevant, Commonwealth-ruled outpost franchise. In the film’s climax, Alice uses the help of the late-arriving, fan favourite Cheshire Cat to escape execution and get back home — basically Fred VanVleet turning into a three-point bombing monster in the final 10 games of the post-season. And after all the commotion in the Queen of Hearts’ garden, Alice awakens from her nap, thrust unwillingly back into her normal life, but forever changed by whatever the hell it was she just experienced.

Raptors buckle up for a wild Disney ride that might not end till October | The Star

Having gone through almost two weeks of virtual seclusion on Florida’s Gulf Coast, much of the team’s travelling party moves inland Thursday with a new set of circumstances, new restrictions and a new lifestyle waiting for them.

The Raptors — a 36-person group, pared from the 48 on hand in Naples and Fort Myers — will be among the last eight of 22 NBA teams starting life on the NBA’s Disney campus near Orlando, all hopefully leading to a champion being crowned some time in early October.

“I think the early stages, or days, of the Disney thing are critical,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said this week. “Getting a whole bunch of testing done and getting kind of to a point there … I think it will all be done at a really high level and remain fairly safe.”

But no one knows for sure, which is cause for trepidation from everybody involved. This is unprecedented. The coronavirus everyone is running from is cruel and at times unpredictable, and that has to be foremost in their thoughts.

“This virus has humbled many, so I am not going to express any higher level of confidence than we are following the protocols, and we hope it works as we designed it,” commissioner Adam Silver said in a speech Tuesday.

Raptors VanVleet knows hardship small businesses face during pandemic – CityNews Toronto

The Toronto Raptors are on their way to Orlando Thursday but fan-favorite Fred VanVleet has Canada in his heart and on his mind. He ventured into the small business world a few years ago as he is one of many of the Raptors who have their own clothing line. Even though he isn’t in Toronto he is encouraging people to support small businesses in their community during the pandemic.

“I own my own small business so it definitely hits home for me,” VanVleet told CityNews from Florida. “I know what it takes to run a small business. I know the challenges that come with that, the hustle and drive that you have to have to keep up. It’s so important for me to spend, and to shop small. It’s something that I just live every day, it’s is something I believe in.”

VanVleet recently teamed up with American Express for their Shop Small campaign and even though he hasn’t been in Toronto in a few months, he wants to make sure the city is taking care of each other.

“That’s one of the things I love about Toronto’s is the small businesses and you know, it just gives the city a culture and a vibe. Because of the year that we’ve had 2020 hasn’t been kind to anybody. I’ve seen personally, how Canada and especially Toronto, come together, we saw last year when we won.”

The challenges of being a Black play-by-play announcer in the NBA – The Undefeated

Entering the 2019-20 season, 11 teams had the same TV play-by-play man — all white men — for more than two decades, according to Chris Herring of FiveThirtyEight. Long tenures leave less room for new faces. Additionally, a third of NBA teams have had the same radio play-by-play man serving for more than two decades, according to Herring. Toronto Raptors co-play-by-play radio announcer Paul Jones, a Black Canadian, is the only person of color in that position in the NBA.

What was the scouting report on Raptors legend Vince Carter coming out of UNC? | NBA.com Canada

In the same mock draft, MacMullan had Carter going seventh overall to the Sacramento Kings saying: “Chris Webber’s displeasure about being a King could trigger another trade that alters the landscape on draft day, but Carter is the best player available here.”

Carter ended up being more than just the seventh-best player in the draft, he finished his career as one of the top players of the class behind only future Hall of Famers and Finals MVPs Dirk Nowitzki and Paul Pierce.

Not many scouts knew that Carter would play more seasons than anyone in NBA history, but they all had an idea that his athletism was otherworldly.

Few scouting reports are accessible on the internet from the 90s but Usenet NBA Mock Draft wrote about VC’s explosiveness.

“Athletically, he’s outstanding. He could become a terrific defender in the NBA with his athletic ability. He does everything at a high level. He’s a leaper. He has to work on his jump shooting and his ballhandling and develop a better feel for the game. He’s a lottery pick.”

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