Wainright can do no wrong as Raptors handle Rockets

6 mins read
Via: Garrett Ellwood / NBAE, Getty Images

Nothing resonates more with sports fans than seeing a player give it his all. There’s several different ways that he or she can achieve this. High-flying maneuvers, emphatic dunks, hitting deep and clutch three’s are things which fall under that umbrella. So what about the guy that saves the ball from going out of bounds like how Andre Drummond did with his child yesterday? (Shoutout Andre Drummond by the way) What about a guy that fights for a loose ball like it’s his last meal? I’d argued it’s as hard to come across those guys as it is to come across a star. A lot of it has to do with them being are overlooked by individuals not exclusive to their teams fan base. 

I know it’s Summer League and it’s important to factor in that this is a tryout for training camp. But then again, it’s also telling of how badly some players want the opportunity to be on a roster come opening night. Putting too much stock into these players is a cautionary practice which is more stressful than it should be.

There was never a point in Toronto’s matchup with Houston where it looked as though things were going to go south for the northside franchise. Houston took a 10-5 lead with roughly six minutes to go in the first quarter, but that’s when the Raptors turned on the jets. It started with a vicious Precious Achiuwa dunk, mere seconds after tip-off, and continued for the next 40 minutes of regulation. It was truly an effort by community as everyone on the roster logged some time and contributed to the 92-76 win. The Rockets had to play without Jalen Green for most of the game, who was only available for 12 minutes and left, experiencing some visible discomfort after a shot attempt near the end of the second quarter, struggling to get back on defense.

Ultimately, the Raptors were dominant, leading by as many as 23 points. It was a runaway victory led by Ish Wainwright, which is why I went off about hard-nosed players above. Like Wainwright, Achiuwa had a great game and we learned that he can also shoot threes, something he didn’t have much of a chance to show in Miami. Toronto also won the battle of the boards (which is something that wasn’t said often last season), 40-38. The defense was great, forcing the Rockets to shoot 33.3 percent from the field and 25.7 from beyond the arc.

The main reason is for this is largely because everyone on the roster was aggressive. If their shot wasn’t falling, they’d get it on the defensive end. Scottie Barnes didn’t have his greatest game offensively, but we all agreed that this part of his game will take time to develop (even though it’s not atrocious or a legitimate area of concern).

With that being said, the Raptors didn’t win this game because of offense. 42.7 percent from the field and 32.4 percent from the three isn’t exactly efficient basketball but at the end of the day, this is Summer League and it’s more important to look at this from a potential-based perspective, rather than an established-professional perspective. As I said before, the defense was tight. Several Raptors would go over screens instead of under. They dove for loose balls, fought for rebounds, and did the little things that remind you if players like PJ Tucker or even… Kyle Lowry.

The MVP of this game was obviously Ish Wainright. The dude was a monster on defense and really took it to Houston on offense. He had a beautiful stat line of 20 points, seven rebounds, four steals and two blocks. He also connected on four of his six attempted threes, hitting 58.3 percent of his 12 overall shot attempts. However, what you didn’t see in the boxscore was his infectious knack for hustle. Every time there was a loose ball, he was one the guys that threw his body at the hardwood. When his teammates shot the ball, he’d fight for positioning down low in case he could conjure up the board.

I remember reports claiming that his offense wouldn’t be better than “above-average” and I’m not saying this is an indication that he’s going to be Toronto’s knock-down shooter. What I will say is that I expect Wainright to have played himself into Toronto’s opening night roster, based on his performance throughout these three games. Last night was just the icing on the cake. When Khem Birch first came to Toronto, he stated that the team expected him to shoot. Clearly, that courtesy (or is it an expectation?) has been extended over to the Summer League.