The Toronto Raptors have been eliminated from the NBA Summer League tournament in the quarterfinals after a valiant comeback bid, but ultimately falling by a score of 103-98 to the Phoenix Suns. Jonas Valanciunas sat out the final game in order to rest before joining the Lithuanian national team.
Winning or losing with regards to the summer league is evidently irrelevant, despite how exciting it was to see the Raptors in the playoffs. Yes, that was a joke.
What really counts is the performance of the Raptors roster players – this is something we will definitely take a look at.
Jonas Valanciunas – A+
Valanciunas received some serious spotlight after absolutely dominating the summer league. The Raps would have had a chance to win the tournament if he continued to play, but regardless, he finally started to get some well-deserved recognition. You expect the young stud to dominate this tournament, and chatter by many analysts including ESPN have started to dub JV the MVP of the summer league.
He used his added weight to bully his opponents in the paint, dunk on people, and dominate the glass.
The bottom line is this: Valanciunas annihilated his competition, however we expected this. And for you non-Raptors fan readers, take notice because this kid is going to be an absolute stud.
Quincy Acy – A-
Acy has been tasked to learn to guard smaller, quicker defenders and play the small forward position. While I’m still not convinced Acy can be used there on a permanent basis, a match-up/situation type hybrid forward may be Acy’s role going forward.
With regards to his summer league play, I was pleasantly surprised. His energy, hustle, and heart were there as usual however the different was the polished offensive game. His jumpshot was much improved, his post moves looked nice, and he even hit a few threes. He play fairly dominant as well, clearly differentiating himself from the other summer leaguers (D-league, European, undrafted players etc).
Oh, and he had this absolutely filthy putback. Watch it. Clearly, Acy is looking like a second round pick actually worth keeping
Dwight Buycks – B+
We didn’t get to see as much of Buycks as he was signed while the Summer League was in full stride, however he was very solid. His crafty moves and soft stroke have proven his offensive ability, yet he never really showed off a fantastic play-making side of his game. Mind you, most of his teammates weren’t exactly NBA caliber players, however he’s clearly a scoring-first point guard.
Buycks will be the third-string point guard, and having someone that can come in and provide a scoring punch in that role is ideal. He can obviously play, and I’m glad the Raptors gave him a shot. Expect him to make some noise when given a chance.
Terrence Ross – C-
Ross was very, very disappointing. He wasn’t awful, but the fact that a second-rounder and an undrafted player dominated far more than him is somewhat concerning. He should have dominated the Summer Leaguers, but Ross wasn’t demanding the ball, didn’t show any significant offensive improvements, and was, for the most part underwhelming.
I’ve been pulling for Ross in hope that he will emerge as a solid 6th man for this team, however he definitely didn’t show it. His limited ball-handing skills were a problem as he tried to attack the rim quite often and never settled for jumpers (his strong suit) which could have been part of the reason for his ineffectiveness. Maybe he was trying something new but Ross needs to define and understand his role, and come through. Hopefully this upcoming season is a different story.
The rest of the Raptors squad comprised of journeymen trying to earn a roster spot, and only one other player caught my eye. Chris Wright will likely be considered for a roster spot as Ujiri emphasized how having a young player with upside is much more valuable off the bench than let’s say, Quentin Richardson. It’s quite possible that Wright will be joining the Raptors this fall, but that’s something to be determined by the front office in the upcoming weeks.