Checking Out With The Raptors From Las Vegas

Thoughts after a wrapping up with the Raptors at another NBA Summer League experience in Las Vegas….

- This isn’t exactly an original sentiment and I fully acknowledge that it means nothing in the grand scheme, but Jonas Valanciunas was certainly Raptors MVP at NBA Summer League, should make the All-Tournament Team and deserves serious consideration for Summer League MVP.  [EDIT: Done and DONE!]

We’ve mentioned his noticeable development in terms of size and skill. Now bring on EuroBasket 2013, where the competition should ramp up considerably.

Acy Takes Aim

- Quincy Acy will always make highlight reels for putback dunks like the one that got the Raptors to within one possession late against the Suns and high-percentage plays like that certainly help explain his 50 per cent shooting from the field for the tournament.

But the Beast from Baylor also made his share of mid- to long-range jumpers this week, particularly in the quarter-final matchup with the Suns where he knocked down six by my count. According to Acy, it’s just confidence stemming from plenty of work put into that aspect of his game…

Searching For The Real Ross

- Tough to assess this tournament for Terrence Ross. Much like his rookie season, we saw flashes of impressive athleticism, his desire to attack and get to the free throw line, his ability to knock down threes, strong perimeter defence and improved ball handling. But head coach Dwane Casey has expressed his desire for consistency from Ross and this five-game sample proved inconclusive in that regard.

Can Ross take a leap in year two with the Raptors similar to his sophomore season at the University of Washington? Training camp is our next opportunity to try and get an answer.

Echenique’s Army

- Player with the largest online booster club this week has to go to Gregory Echenique. The centre had a slew of fans from both his alma mater at Creighton and his native Venezuela lobbying via Twitter for him to get more time here in Las Vegas.

No easy feat through the first four games with JV soaking up nearly 30 of the 40 miuntes per contest. But with Valanciunas out on Saturday, Echenique finally got some solid run against the Suns and the energetic big man acquitted himself well with seven points (on 3-3 shooting from the field), three rebounds and two blocks in 17 minutes of action.

- Player with the largest film crew tailing him? That would be veteran Coby Karl, who will be part of the latest film from Marius Markevicius. You may remember the writer and director from his last project — The Other Dream Team — which featured Valanciunas in a prominent role and had a special screening in Toronto earlier this year.

Bucyks Brings Buzz

- Dwight Buycks gets the distinction of most buzzed-about Raptor not named Jonas and why not? His Summer League play in both the Orlando and Las Vegas showed off speed to burn, range on his jumper, great court vision and based on his NBA journey, the work ethic to get even better.

It’s going to be interesting to see what kind of role Buycks can claw out with what’s shaping up to be some solid point guard depth for the Raptors. Until then he can continue to enjoy rock star status simply by changing his Twitter profile pic.

Seems like Raptors fans may have a solid rookie to track this season after all.

The Wright Stuff

- So does anyone outside of the regular roster players at Summer League have a chance at a training camp invite? The likeliest candidate could be forward Chris Wright. Casey has said he likes the high-flyer’s hard-nosed approach whenever he’s on the floor and the head coach was personally working with Wright on both his free throws and jump shot earlier in the week at practice on the UNLV campus. Stay tuned.

DeRozan’s Triple Training

- I landed in Las Vegas immediately following the informal gathering of numerous Raptors vets, but one mainstay we saw a lot of this week was DeMar DeRozan. The new father has a home in the area and shuttled frequently between his native LA for Drew League games and back to Las Vegas to support his younger teammates in Summer League Play.

DeRozan also put in a lot of work with Casey and members of the coaching staff after Summer League practices at UNLV and if there’s one takeaway, it’s that the 23-year-old is diligently working on his jump shot and in particular, his 3-point shooting.

DeRozan will remain in Las Vegas to take part in the 2013 USA Basketball Men’s National Team mini-camp with some of the best and brightest young talents in the NBA.

Posted in Summer League 2013 |
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