10 things from Raptors-Spurs (Summer League)

Chris Boucher is the Raptors' best player at Summer League. (Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports)
Chris Boucher is the Raptors' best player at Summer League. (Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports)

Here’s 10 takeaways from the Toronto Raptors’ 93-90 loss to the San Antonio Spurs in Las Vegas Summer League.

One — The Raptors lack talent, but they don’t quit. Toronto fell behind 26 points to San Antonio before launching a furious 31-8 comeback to end the game. Jordan Loyd had a decent look to force overtime off a creative set in which Chris Boucher and Loyd cut one after the other from the top of the key down to the corner to create an open three that rimmed out. Still, you certainly can’t knock the hustle.

Two — Toronto’s comeback was made possible by the coaching staff, who played in a 2-3 zone for most of the fourth quarter that completely stymied the Spurs. Stationing Boucher and his seven-foot wingspan in the middle of the floor disrupted most of San Antonio’s side-to-side ball movement, and the Raptors were able to consistently generate easy baskets off turnovers. Nick Nurse isn’t calling the shots, but it’s clear that his innovative spirit is rubbing off on his assistants. If the Raptors can go box-and-one in the Finals, they can definitely run zone in summer league.

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Three — Boucher is undoubtedly the best player on the squad. The 26-year-old is a game-changer with his hustle and athleticism, and he will become an NBA-level contributor so long as he bulks up and finds some consistency on his jumper. Boucher is even showing growth in his ball-handling and his ability to move without the ball, but those are mostly ancillary skills. Boucher’s fearlessness and aggression will carry him far, but he does need to also pick his spots better.

Four — Loyd asserted himself more in Game 2 as compared to Game 1, which is a good thing for the Raptors. The reality is that Toronto just doesn’t have other capable playmakers on the roster, so it’s on Loyd to take over and create. Loyd wasn’t particularly efficient — he shot 8-of-24 from the floor with three turnovers — but he’s lively off the dribble and he usually gets separation, which elevates him from the pack.

Five — This was a better showing from Dewan Hernandez, who understandably seems a step slow in his first taste of competitive basketball since 2018. Hernandez’s reads are poor — he takes contested shots when he should pass — but the outline of an NBA player is there. Hernandez is quick changing ends of the floor, he’s solidly built and stands 6-foot-10, and he has just enough touch around the rim to maybe develop into a hustle big off the bench. For the 59th pick, that’s all you can really hope for.

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Six — Malcolm Miller has mostly been a disappointment through two games. It’s one thing to miss shots, but it’s another to be completely invisible. At 26 years of age, Miller should really have more tools in his game than simply spotting up, but he just seems to be strictly limited. In theory, there’s still a chance for Miller to develop into a 3-and-D player, but he’s not excelling in any area of the game.

Seven — It would be helpful for everyone involved if the Raptors had a decent floor general. Toronto’s offence just lacks structure as it’s running the same few high pick-and-roll actions every trip down the floor. Contrast that to the Spurs, who created open looks with cuts out of the post, much like how their big league club operates. The Raptors do manage to create decent looks after timeouts, but it quickly unravels into a pick-up game.

Eight — It’s strange that Sagaba Konate has yet to see any burn through the first two games. Konate was one of the Raptors’ first signings after the 22-year-old went undrafted, and it appeared to be a shrewd pickup. Konate was one of the most prolific shot blockers in NCAA history, and he was also decent from deep. Given that the Raptors are extending time to throwaway players, they might as well give Konate a chance. He’s truly an electric defender.

Nine — Once again, the Raptors had a handful of big league players in attendance between Norman Powell, OG Anunoby, Eric Moreland, and Pat McCaw. Most of them are in Vegas or scattered throughout California for workouts in the summer time, and it’s a good look for the organization that they’re showing support to the next generation.

Ten — Powell, who is clearly still riding the high of being crowned champion, was interviewed during the broadcast about Kawhi Leonard’s exit. He wished Leonard well and respected the decision, but also threw in a dig at his fellow San Diego resident. “I can’t wait to guard him. I’ve already talked to him about it, how I’m going to lock him up, and having fun with it. I’m excited,” Powell said.

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