Toronto Raptors: Summer League Roster, Key Storylines
The Raptors’ summer squad went 5-0 in 2010 (2011 was canceled due to lockout), but what matters more than their record is who among their current assembly of players, from lottery picks to overseas journeymen, will stand out and look ready to make on impact on the team.
Unfortunately for the Raptors, highly touted 2011 fifth overall pick Jonas Valančiūnas and his Lithuanian national basketball squad qualified for the Olympics. He will miss Summer League to train for the Games, though the Raptors had hoped otherwise.
Disappointment aside, Summer League is a valuable time for a team trying to rise out of obscurity like the Raptors. Here’s a quick look into who will be suiting up in Las Vegas as well as what to look out for.
Toronto Raptors Summer League Schedule
Friday, July 13 at 6:00 PM: Raptors vs. Houston Rockets
Sunday, July 15 at 6:30 PM: Raptors vs. Miami Heat
Monday, July 16 at 6:30 PM: Raptors vs. Dallas Mavericks
Wednesday, July 18 at 10:00 PM: Raptors vs. Sacramento Kings
Thursday, July 19 at 8:30 PM: Raptors vs. New York Knicks
*All game times are in EST
Quincy Acy, PF, Baylor (2012 37th Overall Pick)
The Nitty Gritty: 6'8", 225 pounds
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 29.7 minutes, 12.0 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.8 blocks, 0.9 steals, 57.5 FG%
Forecast: A Jack-of-all-trades but master of none, Acy is that typical undersized power forward that will try to make it in the league by playing above his size.
Unlike those typical undersized power forwards however, Acy is an athletic dynamo that had dunks account for almost 40 percent of his field goals as a senior, and has a variety of moves in the post to make his way to the rack.
Acy's athleticism and 7' 3" wingspan will make for a monster at the rim, which means he's likely to make the 15-man roster and compete for playing time as a backup big man.
Bobby Brown, PG, EWE Baskets Oldenburg (Germany)
The Nitty Gritty: 6'2", 175 pounds
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 33.3 minutes, 16.9 points, 4.7 assists, 50.8 FG%, 78.7 FT%
Forecast: Brown was with the Raptors for Summer League 2010, and returns after having spent the past two years playing in Europe.
The Cal-State Fullerton legend is a scoring point guard that excels in driving to the rim. He played two seasons with four teams in the NBA a couple of years ago, but headed overseas after a disappointing stint with the Clippers.
Brown will use the Summer League to see if he can compete against NBA-level talent, but is likely to receive limited time in favor of Ben Uzoh and Tu Holloway and will most likely return to find another team in Europe for the fall.
Rodney Carney, SG/SF, Liaoning Dinosaurs (China)
The Nitty Gritty: 6'7", 205 pounds
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 31.4 minutes, 21.9 points, 4.3 rebounds, 1.2 blocks, 1.1 steals, 55.5 FG%, 80.0% FT
Forecast: Carney's struggles with his shooting were part of the reason he washed out of the NBA and went to China in 2010-11. The sixteenth pick overall in the 2006 draft, Carney still has the athleticism and jumping ability to make a mark in the league.
Expect Carney to get minutes at the small forward spot for Toronto this summer, and don't be surprised if he steps up with the opportunity to make it back into the NBA on the line for him.
Carney also can make his mark with defense, so look for him to be tasked to an opponent's toughest scorer during Summer League games that are heavily guard and scoring-focused.
Ed Davis, PF, Toronto Raptors (2 Seasons in NBA)
The Nitty Gritty: 6'10", 225 pounds
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 23.2 minutes, 6.3 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1.0 blocks, 51.3 FG%, 67.0 FT%
Forecast: The Raptors' lottery pick in 2010, Davis will be looking to use the Summer League as a springboard to beating Amir Johnson for the starting job.
Davis has frustrated Raptors fans for both of his two years. The potential is oozing, but fans are still waiting for it to fully materialize. He's a great rebounder and shot-blocker, but has limited range and needs to bulk up more to be better able to play inside. Although more playing time couldn't hurt.
Davis should be one of the more dominant players on the Raptors roster in Las Vegas, and the hope is that he'll gain confidence that will carry over into preseason practice. Johnson has a better scoring game, but the Raptors need an aggressive, athletic man down low to supplement Andrea Bargnani and will be looking to Davis to fill the void.
Tu Holloway, PG, Xavier (Undrafted Free Agent)
The Nitty-Gritty: 6'0", 187 pounds
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 36.7 minutes, 17.5 points, 4.9 assists, 1.5 steals, 42.9 FG%, 34.6 3PT FG%, 86.2 FT%
The Forecast: Maybe it was because of his involvement in and during the aftermath of a massive brawl against Cincinnati in the non-conference slate, but Holloway dropped from a preseason first-round pick to being undrafted in June.
Luckily, he arrived on a roster without a glut of guard talent, which means he'll have an opportunity to make his way into the NBA as a third-stringer.
Holloway was a prime-time scorer in college, whether it was jump shots or driving off the dribble. He's small, but feisty in his aggressive defense as well.
Holloway will need to be more of a point guard than a scorer to make it to opening night, but don't be shocked to see him light it up in Vegas in order to make an impression (in case things don't work out in Toronto.) As long as he doesn't look to avenge Xavier's loss to Baylor in the Sweet 16 last March by posterizing his own teammate in Acy, that is.
Daniel Orton, C, Orlando Magic (2 Seasons in NBA)
The Nitty-Gritty: 6'10", 255 pounds
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 11.7 minutes, 2.8 points, 2.4 rebounds, 0.6 blocks, 56.7 FG%, 44.0 FT%
Forecast: Many questioned why a backup from Kentucky that averaged 3.4 points and 3.3 rebounds in one season decided to declare for the NBA Draft. More questioned the Orlando Magic for taking him in the first round. Now, nobody questions his status as a disappointment that never earned much time on the court.
Part of the reason Orton gets another shot is that Raptors head coach Dwane Casey went to as well as coached Kentucky. A bigger reason is that, luckily for Daniel, NBA teams foam at the mouth when they see a big man that doesn't hobble running down the court.
With a solid performance, hopefully marked by a quick barrage of blocked shots and Orton bulldozing to the rim, the former Wildcat has a decent shot to replace Solomon Alabi in the "tall and sad-looking guy at the end of the bench" role.
Trent Plaisted, C, Aliağa Petkim (Turkey)
The Nitty-Gritty: 6'11", 220 pounds
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 17.7 minutes, 6.9 points, 4.2 rebounds, 53.9 FG%, 46.7 FT%
Forecast: Plaisted's passport must be colorful, because he's bounced all across Europe after not quite making it onto an NBA roster after being drafted in the second round by the then-Supersonics in 2008.
He has post moves and is a skilled big guy, but his defense is suspect and he got thrown around down low during his previous experiences playing against NBA players in Summer Leagues. Maybe he still has his hops from college?
More power to him for showing up I guess, but expect to see him around if you're visiting Europe this winter.
Terrence Ross, SG, Washington (2012 8th Overall Pick)
The Nitty Gritty: 6'7", 197 pounds
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 31.1 minutes, 16.4 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1.3 steals, 0.9 blocks, 45.7 FG%, 37.1 3PT%
Forecast: The Raptors' first-round pick in the draft, Ross signed his deal on Tuesday and will be the most scrutinized Raptor on the court throughout the entire week.
Some considered Ross a reach at eight overall, but tonight's game will be the first of his opportunities to show that his doubters, not the Raptors, are foolish in their predictions.
Ross jumps out of the gym with his athletic abilities, which combined with his long-range shooting abilities makes his potential off-the-charts. Considering his size for the position as well as his NBA-level defensive abilities, he could and should start as a rookie (though this depends on if Landry Fields comes to Toronto).
The top-ten pick has the most talent of anyone on the Vegas roster, so anything short of looking like a star (albeit against fringe competition) will be considered a disappointment.
Terrell Stoglin, SG, Maryland (Undrafted Free Agent)
The Nitty-Gritty: 6'1", 185 pounds
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 32.7 minutes, 21.6 points, 1.9 assists, 0.7 steals, 41.3 FG%, 38.4 3PT%, 78.7 FT%
Forecast: Stoglin emerged as one of the ACC's top scorers last season, but it all spiraled downward quickly after the season ended. Stoglin was suspended for the 2012-13 season after violating the school's student-athlete code of conduct, and decided to enter the NBA Draft rather than transfer or wait out the suspension.
There is no doubt the man can score from anywhere on the court. But beyond his blaring off-court red flags (engaging in a Twitter war with your coach never solves anything), Stoglin's main impediment to his success in the NBA is that he is undersized.
He can put the ball on the floor and create shots for himself, but will too often be overwhelmed by more athletic and physical NBA defenders. Stoglin has the talent, but it looks like he is a candidate to take his attitude and his game overseas.
Blake Schilb, SF, Élan Chalon (France)
The Nitty-Gritty: 6'7", 220 pounds
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 29.6 minutes, 16.6 points, 4.8 assists, 1.2 steals, 51.3 FG%, 93.0 FT%, 33.3 3PT%
Forecast: After going undrafted out of college in 2007, Schilb took his fame overseas and has become a star in the French League. Loyola (IL)'s all-time leader in made three-pointers, Schilb has deep range and has earned his keep as a deadly shooter (though his three-point percentage has steadily decreased his last three seasons).
The Raptors drafted a tall winger that shoots in Ross and long-range shooting is not one of the Raptors' dire needs right now. Schilb is probably enjoying the chance to be back in the States, but could put on a shooting clinic or two if he heats up at the right time.
Ben Uzoh, PG, Toronto Raptors (2 Seasons in NBA)
Signed by the Raptors out of the Tulsa 66ers of the D-League last spring, Uzoh played 16 games for Toronto and even had a triple-double. Despite his solid numbers, Uzoh is once again scrapping for his NBA life and will likely need to outplay Holloway to stick around for 2012-13.
Uzoh uses his size to his advantage, being a physical defender as well as a superb rebounder at the point guard spot. Offense is not his forte, but third-string point guards are as such for a reason.
I wouldn’t want to go back to Tulsa after experiencing the NBA life in Toronto, and I’m sure Uzoh feels the same way and will try to make every play he can in order to hang on.
Main Storyline to Watch
Ben Uzoh played well at the end of last season when he was brought in to replaced injured guard Jerryd Bayless.
Bayless is gone, but Kyle Lowry has been brought in to start at point guard. 2011-12 starter Jose Calderon or a free agent signing is likely to fill the backup spot, but the third point guard on the roster will likely be decided partially-based on Summer League performances.
Uzoh faces a dogfight from Tu Holloway for that coveted roster spot. Uzoh is a traditional point guard in the sense that he has a pass-first mentally. Also, he brings size and defending ability to the table, which could be a skill that earns him minutes beyond mop-up duty.
On the other hand, Holloway is a jump shooter that loves nothing more than powering his way into the lane for a high-percentage shot. His point guard abilities however, leave something to be desired.
Considering how Ross, Acy, and Davis are locks for the team while the others are long shots, this point guard duel between contrasting styles will be exciting to watch as the two battle for a spot at the end of the bench. Hey, I never said this battle might heavily affect the on-court 2012-13 Toronto Raptors.
Also Keep an Eye on the Washouts
Both Orton and Carney had the talent and potential to make them first-round picks, but both only lasted a couple of years before their NBA dreams were over. Until now.
Carney played in 2010-11 while Orton played last year, so the two are not exactly foreign to NBA GMs and scouts. Earning a roster spot though, takes more than just a mirage of a five-game performance in the Vegas heat.
Orton is not even 22 years old, so I expect a team in need of depth to give him a one-year deal. His performance in Vegas could accelerate the process and perhaps give him more time to acclimate to a new coaching staff and teammates in order to succeed on the court in 2012-13.
If Carney can show that he still has his top-flight athletic and defending abilities, then he might be brought in by a team needing help on the wing.
The Summer League is a time of hope. Young rookies want to prove that the team that drafted them was right. Young NBA players like Davis want to gain the valuable experience and keep their games polished during the summer. Finally, D-Leaguers and players plying their craft overseas want a chance to show how they might, just maybe, have the ability and confidence to earn a coveted spot among 300 lucky men on an NBA roster. The NBA Summer League ladies and gentleman: where far-fetched dreams just may come true.