Joel Embiid and Tobias Harris made their preseason debuts in Philly, which obviously made this game quite different from Tuesday’s opener. Philly put up 71 points in the first half and cruised from there, much thanks to growing pain-esque live ball turnovers for easy transition threes. Since we touched on Scottie Barnes in depth after the first contest, let’s take a look at some players whose roles are yet to be determined.
Gary Trent Jr, Goran Dragic
I put these two together because it’s a legitimate question who should start (if any). Dragic has started the first two games alongside Fred VanVleet with quiet performances in both games as he gets used to a new team. Starting both the Dragon and Steady Freddy seems to go against the length and positionless basketball mantra the Raptors are starting to build, and more like two small-guard lineup we’ve come accustomed to when Kyle Lowry was here.
Trent got his first pre-season action after sitting out Tuesday with quad soreness and wasted no time getting shots up. He attempted five of his 12 shots in the first quarter, which is remarkable considering he came off the bench. Shot selection will always seem to be a topic of discussion for Trent. It’s a matter of what line-ups can raise the quality of shots he takes. Would you rather him play with the starters and get easier looks based off defenses paying attention to the likes of Fred, OG Anunoby and in due time, Pascal Siakam? Would that take away shots from your core stars? Or do you prefer him being the microwave off the bench that can shoot you in or out of a game? I still don’t know about this type of shot.
Svi might earn a fan club soon. Two-thirds of his career attempts have come from the three-point line but he’s shown off some other parts of his game. His shot creation off the dribble has impressed Nick Nurse so far, and it’s been very decisive. Svi had a very fluid midrange pullup in the second quarter, followed by a reverse dunk (what?) off an assist by OG. He’s also shown flashes of being a good cutter as well. Svi seems to have a knack for making the smart play.
Last but not least, Malachi made the most out of his second and fourth quarter minutes. Malachi went on a mini scoring spree in the fourth, highlighted by this pure looking jumper. Again, considering what role Dragic has, Flynn is going to have to fight for his minutes as well.
The OG Report
Ok, the role questions stop here. Gotta write a little about OG as we are seeing his offseason work flourish already. This play against Harris in the second quarter was an eye opener for me. The release is quicker, the confidence is there, and even though he faded away OG made sure to create contact with Harris first for separation. Just last season, Anunoby would try to barrel through a defender and pick up an offensive foul in a similar situation.
Also, this had to be the funniest play of the night, I’m just happy it went in.
One quick note on VanVleet. Now being the lead guard, this is something he NEEDS to add to his game to improve his shooting percentages. He made a floater in the first game which raised some eyebrows. If Fred can create off the dribble and do this consistently though? That’s a game changer.
Off to Boston!