Yuki Togashi Quiet in Dallas Mavericks' Victory over Phoenix Suns

Scott PolacekFeatured ColumnistJuly 18, 2014

LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 16: Yuki Togashi #18 of the Dallas Mavericks talks with Head Coach Kaleb Canales during the game against the Charlotte Hornets at the Samsung NBA Summer League 2014 on July 16, 2014 at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by Jack Arent/NBAE via Getty Images)
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LeBron James may be the best player in the NBA, but how many times has he inspired a crowd to break into a “Toga! Toga! Toga!” chant? 

Yuki Togashi did just that as a member of the Dallas Mavericks NBA Summer League squad in an impressive performance against the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday. However, the fan favorite didn’t make the same type of on-court impression Friday in a victory over the Phoenix Suns.

Togashi finished with four points, three rebounds and three turnovers in just less than 16 minutes of action in an 88-62 Dallas victory. He made both of his two-point field-goal attempts but missed on all four of his shots from behind the arc.

LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 14:  Yuki Togashi #18 of the Dallas Mavericks drives to the basket against Myck Kabongo #3 of the Toronto Raptors during the Samsung NBA Summer League 2014  at the Cox Pavilion on July 14, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada. NOTE TO USER: User
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Togashi never really established himself within the flow of the game and seemed to force the issue a couple of times with the ball, which led to the turnovers. Given the fact that he was a relatively unknown player before summer league began, this was probably the brightest spotlight the Japanese point guard has played under in the U.S.

It wasn’t quite the follow-up effort he was looking for after his performance against Charlotte, when he tallied 12 points in 11 minutes on 5-of-7 shooting from the field and 2-of-2 from behind the three-point line. Still, Togashi didn’t become a fan favorite in Las Vegas just because of one game.

He is 5’7” tall. That’s right, we are talking about an NBA hopeful who is shorter than your average Best Buy cashier.

There have been short basketball players in the past, but it seems like only one or two make meaningful contributions to an NBA team every decade. Spud Webb was the floor general for the Atlanta Hawks in the late ’80s and early ’90s, Muggsy Bogues was the predominant short guy in the league after Webb, and Earl Boykins and Nate Robinson have impressed recently. 

It remains to be seen whether Togashi will add his name to that list in the near future, but some of his highlights in the summer league have been impressive, as Bleacher Report pointed out:

Togashi didn’t receive a Division I scholarship after high school, so he went back to his home country of Japan, where he now plays professionally. He was a critical part of the Akita Northern Happinets’ attack last season and actually led the league with 15.6 points and 7.9 assists per game.

LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 18: Yuki Togashi #18 of the Dallas Mavericks goes up for a shot against the Phoenix Suns on July 18, 2014 at the Cox Pavilion in Las Vegas, Nevada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using
Garrett Ellwood/Getty Images

Togashi would be the second Japanese player in NBA history if he were to make a roster this year.

His high school coach Stu Vetter described Togashi’s game, via Nina Mandell of USA Today’s For The Win:

He’s a pass-first point guard but when he has the opportunity he can shoot the ball … because of his size he creates matchup problems for other teams because he is quick and can shoot the ball and knows how to play. He’s a very smart player.

Sure, Togashi may be 5’7”, but his speed in the open court is incredible. He can push the ball up the floor in a blur and create opportunities for himself and his teammates.

That is exactly what he did against Charlotte, but he was unable to make that type of impact Friday against Phoenix.

Now the question becomes whether this pass-first point guard who can also score and hit from behind the three-point line will crack an NBA rotation. It probably doesn’t help that he was a relative unknown heading to the summer league, and it feels as if he missed a golden opportunity to follow up his breakout game with another solid showing Friday. 

Still, it would be great marketing for any team to bring on someone who has already captured the adoration of fans during the summer league. It would just be easier to pull the trigger if Togashi had more than one formidable showing in Las Vegas.


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