Early Preseason Grades for Each of the Toronto Raptors' Rookies
The Toronto Raptors through those three games are 2-1 in the preseason. A win Friday over Detroit 81-75 was a rematch from a game on Wednesday against the Pistons that Raptors lost 101-99 in Auburn Hills. They started the week on Monday with a win over international foe Real Madrid winning 102-95, in front of the hometown crowd on Canadian Thanksgiving Day.
The Raptors did not have Jonas Valanciunas back from his calf injury, suffered prior to start of NBA training camps for their first game. He did play limited minutes in Detroit and was fully cleared for Friday’s return encounter at the ACC, logging the most minutes of the entire roster with just over 29 minutes played.
Terrence Ross has saw time in all three contests, while Quincy Acy has not seen any significant minutes of yet for Dwane Casey’s squad.
So let’s start with Acy. Things did not go his way at Vegas Summer League where he took a hard spill near the start of the Raptors second game in Las Vegas and then was forced to sit out the remainder of the Raptors' schedule.
His minutes in the preseason have been non-existent. In three games, he has seen just 19 seconds against Real Madrid, just 4:04 on the floor in Detroit and DNP-CD in the return encounter at the ACC. He registered a steal and foul on Wednesday. Basically there is just not a lot of info to go on here.
Acy does have a two-year deal with Toronto, so he shouldn’t sweat making the roster. Also, in the opening game, he got to hear the fans request his presence prior to checking in for the final 19 ticks of the clock.
Just like in summer league, where I gave his performance an incomplete rather than a grade, the same applies now. He likely will be doing a lot of sitting and watching, with a few trips to the NBDL this season most likely. The Raptors have a crowded frontcourt that at this point will be tough to crack to find any minutes for him.
The Grade for Acy: Incomplete
Terrence Ross in summer league shot just 37.1 percent from the field and 25 percent from the three point line. He is actually a little below his overall field goal percentage from July, checking in at 36.3 percent. This is in part because of a 1-of-7 performance against the Pistons on Friday.
However, he does seem to have found his range from the NBA three-point line going 4-of-7 (57.1 percent).
In three preseason games, he is averaging about 21 minutes a game at this point. It is probably far too early to worry about the numbers, but it is a reference point of comparison. In terms of the eye test, you should be pleased when watching this guy for the most part.
The thing that will serve Ross well is he does things that DeMar DeRozan doesn’t do, or does as well as him. Those things would be making three pointers and defending his man. These are the skills that will earn him minutes when the regular season rolls around.
The Grade for Ross: B
Raptor fans already had waited over a year to see Jonas Valanciunas suit up for the Raptors, so an extra couple of days was not a big deal. His first act as a Raptor in terms of statistics was a block. He would end up with two in just 13 minutes in his debut against Detroit on Wednesday. What had fans concerned was just two points and zero rebounds.
Your instant Raptor fan overreaction: Some people feared he was going be another Andrea Bargnani in terms of rebounding.
Those people are a lot calmer after an eight-rebound performance in the second meeting on Friday. The Raptors would also throw Jonas into full competition. He started and played 29 minutes, the most of any Raptor. We also got to see some scoring from him with 11 points, going 4-of-7 from the field and a perfect 3-of-3 at the free throw line.
Perhaps the biggest surprise to this point is how fouls have not become an issue for Valanciunas. It was something that personally concerned me and many others I have spoke with about Jonas. So far, the concerns have been unfounded, with just one foul in 13 minutes on Wednesday and three fouls in those 29 minutes on Friday.
Jonas was not at Las Vegas Summer League because he was busy playing for his country at the Olympics in London. Considering that, along with the injury to his calf and the fact this is his first taste of NBA competition, you have to be mildly impressed.
In past articles here for the Bleacher Report, I have cautioned readers that the chances of Jonas being the starter at center on opening night was probably not going to happen. I think the door to that possibility might be open a crack now.
Starting in the preseason doesn’t mean much of anything, but it did give the Raptors a chance to see him play with some of the starters and see how he looked. Most notable in that is Andrea Bargnani. The two make an impressive-looking duo on the floor just by height.
If they can play well together, Jonas may remain with the first unit. The fact he has had no issues with fouls to this point also is a positive in his favor in terms of starting.
The Grade for Valanciunas: B+
There are still four more preseason games to go for the Raptors, which leaves lots of time to change these grades, either up or down. This gives you an idea of where the Raptors three rookies are at to this point. There is a long way still to go.
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