The Fight for Minutes: Sonny Weems Impresses

Stephen BrotherstonAnalyst IOctober 12, 2009

SPOKANE, WA - MARCH 16:  Sonny Weems #13 of Arkansas Razorbacks lays up a shot against Nick Young #1 of the Southern California Trojans during the first round of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Spokane Memorial Arena on March 16, 2007 in Spokane, Washington.  (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

Perhaps the biggest beneficiary of Antoine Wright’s unfortunate incident in the Raven’s gym during training camp has been Sonny Weems.  As Wright sits resting a bruised knee, Weems has been showing that he’s the most deserving shooting guard when it comes to minutes this preseason.

It’s early and Belinelli and DeRozan are looking better every game out.  But Weems came to camp on the mostly likely to be wearing a suit on the 28th list and, as of now, he deserves to be in the rotation.

On cold Canadian Thanksgiving Sunday afternoon, Sonny started off hot again. Going 2-of-3 for four points to go with six rebounds and an assist in just under 10 minutes.  A minute and a half into the game, Sonny grabbed a defensive rebound and took off down the floor slamming the ball home at the other end after taking the bump just before the dunk.

Unfortunately, Sonny's afternoon ended early when he limped off the floor at the 9:47 mark of the first with a jammed big left toe.

At Friday night's game, Sonny had his third double digit scoring effort in three preseason games.  As the starting shooting guard and playing 27 minutes, Weems hit on 5-of-7 shots and added an impressive six assists. 

In the first quarter, Weems showed he’s got even more to his game when he stole the ball and fed an alley oop to DeRozan for the layup.

In the first preseason game in London, it was Weems and Evans who looked alive on the Raptors. (Okay, Bargs got 22 points.)  The kid played with energy while most of the rest of the Raptors looked lost.  It was Weems who finished three inside passes at the rim with smooth precision.

And on Wednesday, it was Sonny Weems who  came through with two highlight reel dunks and a team leading 12 points in a low-scoring game.

Since Sonny didn’t get to play much last season in Denver, it was hard to know what the Raptors had acquired here.  But the early line is Sonny Weems can play.  Hopefully he continues to shine through the rest of the preseason and beyond.

Sonny Weems, the high flying senior from Arkansas is probably best known from the U-Tube video clips of him winning the college slam dunk contest.  And so far this preseason, we’ve been getting some good looks at just how athletic this young man is.

Last year, when Weems arrived at the NBA pre-draft camp, he was measured at 6’4” without shoes and weighed in at 193 lbs. 

Seeing him on the floor beside DeMar DeRozan, who was measured 6′5.5″ without shoes and 211 lbs just a few months ago, it looks like Sonny has grown and put on a few pounds over the past year.  The media guide listing of 6′ 6″ and 203 lbs no longer looks as inflated as one might expect.

And when Sonny talks to the media, he isn’t promising offense (Except for that media day promise of an exciting dunk at the first preseason game—thank you Sonny!), Weems is talking defense.  Sonny says that with his athleticism there is no reason he can’t be an effective defender.  And if he truly wants this, he’s right!

Sonny’s biggest handicap at this point is going to be overcoming the Raptors new draft pick’s need for minutes and Colangelo’s obvious support for Marco Belinelli.  Or maybe it’ll be every time Jay Triano looks down the bench at Weems, the person he’ll see is Joey Graham, his virtual twin!

So far Sonny Weems has been making Raptor fans (and hopefully coaches) forget about the Joey Graham comparisons.  But there is a lot of preseason to go and Sonny has a lot to prove before opening night.

Recently a few Jamario Moon fans have even been making noise that Sonny Weems looks like Moon's replacement.  But as Moon is 29 and never maintained his early success with the Raptors, more should be expected from the virtual rookie Weems.

Good Luck Sonny.

A lot of fans are pulling for you.  Get that big toe healed up and go earn yourself a spot in the Raptors rotation!