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Five Things I Dig and Don’t Dig about the Toronto Raptors Preseason

This week on Five Things, I talk Precious progression, Gary passing, OG inoffensive, poor shooting, and Dalano defence.

Uno mas exhibition game until the 2022/2023 NBA season commences for the Toronto Raptors. There are high expectations for this team - both internally, from moi, and from much of NBA media (#5). Brian Windhorst was the most recent blogboyman to rave Raptors.

Before then, I've some thoughts on what the preseasons showed us and what we may or may not expect in the coming months. Let's roll.


Dalano Banton's emergence this preseason shouldn't be too much of a surprise. He's already played the equivalent of two preseasons spending the summer at the helm of two separate Nick Nursian basketball teams – Summer League and FIBA AmeriCup. There, with mostly resounding results, the volume and heavy lifting fell upon his shoulders.

In preseason, so far, Banton's taken a major step forward. It's an itsy-bitsy sample of four games, but Banton's last year of 5 points on 5.2 attempts on 46% shooting in 14 minutes per game in the regular season has transformed into 10.5 points on 7 attempts on 62% shooting in 14 minutes this preseason.

What's a bit more surprising and impressive has been Banton's progress on defence.

Banton is, impressively, 7th in defensive rating this preseason among players who have played at least 12 minutes per game in at least 3 games - Davion Mitchell, a renown defender, the only guard ahead of Banton.

Banton has always been a hellacious full-court prowler and continues to be. Poor Daishen Nix.

It's the team defence and ability to migrate multiple actions, though, where Banton's improved. Below, Banton's tracking Payton Pritchard, hampering his progress up court. Banton avoids Grant Williams elevator door shoulders on a hand-off, then sags to stop a Malcolm Brogdon drive and, simultaneously, shoots the gap on the kickout for a pick.

Banton's also looking like a capable back up to for Freddy when defending the pick-and-roll. In training camp, Nick Nurse, in response to the endless queries regarding Freddy VanVleet’s minutes, mentioned that Freddy was Toronto's lone elite defender of the pick and roll.

Malachi is too small; OG too big; Gary too slow; everyone else too 6’8”. That leaves Dalano who is quick enough to remain on-ball and big enough to handle switches as Toronto is like to do.

In the following clip - I know it's a hand-off not a pick-and-roll [getting footage is hard in the preseason, gimme a break] - you'll see both Banton's versatility and persisting foibles.

Once again, Banton haunts the ball carrier, Alex Caruso. Coby White comes up for a quick lateral, Freddy and Banton seamlessly swap checks like they're both size 32s. Then things go awry. Banton becomes completely ensconced with the ball and forgets all about his new assignment, White.

That's a good example of where Banton's at. The framework is there and the potential mightily great, but still the odd slip up: jumping a pump fake, rising out of his defensive stance, a meandering or two.

If Banton achieves a semblance of scoring and defensive consistency early on in the season, Nurse will have another agent of chaos to confidently wield in the heat of a game.

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