Before I get started, I’ll say this – NBA Summer League is crap.
This is the same league that saw Marco Belinelli absolutely destroy opponents and seem poised for NBA greatness…Instead, he mostly rode the bench during the regular season. Likewise, Adam Morrison (yes, THAT Adam Morrison) averaged over 20 points per game this year. So, obviously, it’s not the greatest indicator.
Still, it’s not that you can’t glean anything from summer play. More so, the stats mean nothing.
The eye test is another story completely, and Raptors’ rookie Demar DeRozan has passed that with flying colours. Let’s not start crowning him as Rookie of the Year just yet, but it’s becoming obvious he’ll be at least a solid player at the NBA.
TSN’s Tim Chisholm has an excellent breakdown of the Raps at Summer League. From his blog:
“DeRozan looked surprisingly composed on the court in Vegas, and that bodes well for the Raptors. His ball-handling skills were better than advertised, and he got to handle the ball a lot more than he did at USC. The club was looking to see what he would be able to do in different situations offensively, and while he wasn’t able to beat his man off of the dribble all that often en route to the basket, he did show a remarkable ability to keep his dribble alive and create when cut-off. He was tremendous at moving without the ball to get himself open for mid-range jumpers, and after some first day jitters, that jumper looked about as smooth as you could ask for. It isn’t always a case of whether he hits all the shots or not (though his .493 shooting clip was very impressive) but where and when he chooses to shoot. He rarely forced his offence, even in situations where the team was isolating him and asking him to create, and he was very active rebounding the ball and, of course, he finished with some thunderous dunks before the week was out.
There were pitfalls, too, though. His defence was certainly a work in progress, as was expected after one year of college ball. He looked lost A LOT off of the ball, rarely moving or using his length to disrupt plays, and he was beaten by his man frequently. While this isn’t a huge issue for a rookie like DeRozan, who was seen primarily as a scorer/athlete, it probably affects the plans of the Raptors going forward.”
All things considered, DeRozan has looked great. Look, we already knew he was considered a project, and that means he should be raw. Well, he looks a lot more polished than almost anyone expected, and that’s great news. Defensively, there will be problems, but it looks like Toronto may have finally found a slashing wing player. The fact that DD looks poised and in-control, even at Summer League, is both somewhat surprising and incredibly encouraging.
The next step is watching him face real pros, and that won’t happen until preseason.
Oh, and you can check out DeRozan’s highlights this video. Check out two pretty impressive dunks starting around the 12-second mark.
Another is here.
Check out the rest of Chisholm’s blog here – Some great nuggets on Quincy Douby (who looks great, too), along with Patrick O’Bryant (who doesn’t).
In other Raps news, it looks like Jarrett Jack will in fact be a Raptor, now that Earl Watson has signed for cheap with Indiana. A solid signing for Toronto, and I’ll break that down once it becomes official this week. Carlos Delfino, though, seems like he may not be a sure thing anymore. Fans and analysts had mostly assumed Delfino would come back from Russia to sign with the Raptors, but it seems the sides are far apart on an offer. My take is that Delfino (who wants at least $5 mil/season) is asking for too much in this economy, and over-valuing himself. Still, the fact remains that he can make more than that in Russia, so he probably will.
I’m cool with that – Frankly, there are better bargains to be had in the NBA right now. Here’s hoping Colangelo takes a long look at Von Wafer and Flip Murray, two guys who can be scorers off the bench. And if Douby plays well this year, he’d fill the role perfectly. Now that Turkoglu has signed with Toronto, there isn’t the same need for another creator, and again, Delfino is simply asking for too much.
It will be interesting to see how the rest of free agency shakes out – Here’s to hoping Rasho Nesterovic ends up in Toronto.