Are you sick of Summer League basketball yet? The Raptors path is set for this tournament format and they get the day off today having landed the 6th seed in the tournament. They will play the winner of the Pelicans vs. Nuggets set to tip off at 6pm local time in Toronto. The Raptors will play Thursday at that same time 6pm local against the winner.
If the Raptors win they would advance to the Quarter-Finals and essentially keep playing until they lose. If they were to lose that game on Thursday they would play a consolation round game on Friday and after that be done with Summer League.
At least this is how I have it all figured out. Make no mistake that while this tournament format is interesting it is just an excuse to try and make people buy into the fact that Summer League is relevant. When I say buy in I mean that quite literally. The NBA trying to sell these games and make a buck live in Las Vegas is one thing, to sell them online to have the privilege to see them is another.
Case and point the first half or more to the point the first quarter of the Raptors vs. Kings yesterday. It was so bad at the half TNT announcer Craig Sager was almost apologetic for what people had just seen. Even Sager is not going 100% in summer league. Where is the outlandish Hawaiian shit or long flowered patterned shorts?
What Summer League does do is give us a glimpse at the young players that are part of the roster and see how they are developing since April when the Raptors last played a game that counted in the standings. In that regard you can say the Raptors have been a success regardless of where this summer league squad ends up in this tournament. Jonas Valanciunas has been better and he is getting some experience at being the focus of defences trying to stop him. He has a lot of work to do in that regard as he needs to learn how to see and re-act to double teams better.
Terrence Ross got off to a slow start but has slowly started to produce. He is working on a much more grounded game in Summer League. Not much high flying as I think Acy and Jonas both have had more dunks than Terrence. Still I can’t help but think given the level of competition we are talking about we should be seeing more out of Terrence Ross. His minutes this year will not be a guarantee like they were last year.
Perhaps the most pleasant surprise in summer league has been Quincy Acy. I never need to see Quincy Acy taking three point shots. I think this league in general has gone totally nuts with this idea of trying to get guys that are bangers to stretch the floor. The odds Quincy Acy can get an offensive rebound are much higher than if he can hit a three point shot. Despite the improvements it seems very tough to envision a lot of minutes for Acy unless injury woes hit the Raptors.
The only other roster player we have seen is Dwight Buycks and with only one game under his belt I don’t feel ready to form an opinion on him as of yet. He wasn’t bad in his debut with the Raptors and honestly to play point guard in Summer League is a tough challenge with so many players out for themselves the team concept gets lost. Also you get a lot of turnovers based on the lack of quality of players on the floor at times.
I will never be a fan of Summer League and it is not out of jealousy that I am not in Vegas to cover it. Maybe a little but in reality it just has been hyped up into a bigger event than it actually is. This is not just something we see in basketball but in all sports. Live coverage of the NFL Combine with a bunch of guys doing football drills? It just gets too much at the end of the day. We as society seem to want and crave any little nugget of information no matter how insignificant it may be.
Might have a surprise for you later tonight we shall see. If I don’t will still be on the radio for my weekly visit with the guys on The Sports Grind that you can check out at 11:15pm on www.cjlo.com