Amit Mann breaks down the impact of Jeff Dowtin Jr., Josh Jackson, Christian Koloko and more on the Raptors' comeback win vs. the Celtics.
AMIT MANN: 2 and 0 in the preseason. The Toronto Raptors overcome a 19-point deficit against the Boston Celtics and beat them in overtime, 125-119. Doesn't matter if it's in preseason, regular season, or whatever. It's always fun to beat the Boston Celtics. Am I right?
Let's talk about it. But before we do all that, gotta get you to subscribe to our YouTube channel. It will be here regular season, preseason, postseason, all that. Do it. Press the red button. Give her.
Now this is a second game of preseason. And there's reasons to talk about OG, Pascal, Fred, and so forth. But come on, man. After what we just saw, we gotta talk about the guys who are fighting for roster spots.
Those were the ones who helped the Raptors rally. So we're gonna talk about Jeff Dowtin, Jr. We're gonna talk about Josh Jackson, DJ Wilson, Dalano Banton, Christian Koloko. Let's start right at the top with Jeff Dowtin, Jr.
And, man, this guy, like-- as soon as I saw him in Summer League, I was thinking this guy is really, really good, OK? He is a legit three-level scorer. He can attack the rim. He can hit shots. He can work in the pick and roll.
He can do a lot of different things that a Raptors and other NBA team could probably use. He's that good. He's got a teardrop. He's got a floater. He's got a push shot.
He's got ability to finish around the rim. And he can hit shots when it comes to a catch-and-shoot situation or just working off-ball as a cutter. He could do all of that. And in the first preseason game, I don't know.
I look at it like-- you know how in life sometimes, you want something so badly, and here comes the moment, and you end up being tentative and nervous because you want to do well so badly? That's kind of what I saw from Jeff. But in this game, this was the Jeff Dowtin, Jr., that I was expecting to see.
He was giving Payton Pritchard fits on the defensive end. This is where being 6' 3" versus a person like Payton Pritchard, who's 6' 1" at the point guard position-- Jeff could give some people problems on that end of the court. And then offensively, I mean, he did it all. There's not much more you can really ask from this guy.
He played what, 13 minutes? He had 10 points, five assists, and two rebounds, and no turnovers. This is where the discipline with the ball really was something that stood out to me from everything that we've seen from Jeff from Summer League to now. He is smart with it. He makes good decisions. He makes smart reads with the ball.
And, also, he's very unselfish. This is where the five assists come into play. There are times where he could have taken shots. But he decided, no, I'm gonna pass to Khem Birch in the corner. I'm gonna pass to Josh Jackson, who we're gonna talk about it in a second, to the corner for a corner 3.
And he was the engine of their offense in a lot of cases because he had the ball in his hands, and he was making smart decisions with it. And then, again, I mentioned the pick and roll earlier. That was something that stood out to me in Summer League.
We saw it in this game, all right? Screen navigating, kind of going around the screen, finding his spot in the mid-range to hit shots. He did that. When it comes to getting the defender on his back so he can create that two-on-one situation with a Khem Birch, he did that. When it comes to taking your man in isolation, just getting a bucket, he did that too.
I don't know, man. This is a very talented player. Obviously, he's had a few stops in the NBA so far. And now he really needs to make something happen.
He does have a two-way deal, so he could end up in the 905 for a little while and come up to the Raptors whenever need be. But I'm sure he wants a guaranteed deal, right? This is where the roster competition really comes into play. And who knows what happens, man? But Jeff Dowtin, Jr., he's definitely an NBA player, and I hope things work out for him.
And then we pivot to Josh Jackson. 6' 8" guy comes in with, like, no guarantees of a contract. It's pretty much like, let's just see if we can make something work here. And there's all kinds of pressure on him to perform.
Again, he's had a few stops in the NBA. And now it's like, OK, you're 24, 25 years old. You were a top pick in your draft year. Hmm.
What are you doing now? How are you going to be helping franchises? And I'm sure he's had his internal battles when it comes to how can he be an NBA player, a steady NBA player. What is his role in the NBA?
And he's saying all the right things. After the game, TSN, he was talking to Matt and Jack, and he said this--
I want to show that I can help the team win. I'm going to do everything that I can to be about that. I'm an unselfish player, and I'm always going to give you 110% of what I have. If I come out and give everything that I got, I can live with whatever the results may be.
Sounds like a player who understands the gravity of the situation in front of him, and he wants to ensure that, hey, he proves to at least the Raptors or to another NBA franchise that I can still be that guy. I can fit a role in the NBA.
And, for him, with the Raptors, how does that work? I mean, we're kind of talking, like, is it Josh Jackson, is it DJ Wilson, is it Justin Champagnie for that final roster spot? We haven't seen Justin Champagnie yet. Unfortunately, he's got that hip issue, I believe.
And we're gonna get to DJ Wilson in a second. But for Josh, how does he help the Raptors? Well, he can apply paint pressure. And the Raptors, they need that off their bench. He can do it.
And also he's pretty crafty down there, too. And he showed that against the Boston Celtics. He was getting into the heart of the defense. And, also, he was able to execute as, like, the second side driver.
So when the kickout happens, if he's gonna be able to hit some shots from 3, great. He did hit a shot last night against the Celtics. But if he can also get to the rim and finish around the basket with teardrops or floaters or whatever the case may be-- he's showing that he can do a little bit of that.
So let's see what happens with Josh Jackson and the Toronto Raptors. Like I said, he does have a skill set that the Raptors need. But what direction do they want to go with that final roster spot?
That is the question. And at least for Josh, I mean, whatever happens with the Raptors, he's showing that he still belongs in the NBA. And if he's indeed willing to accept a certain role, maybe he can find a spot with the NBA.
Let's switch to DJ Wilson, another player who's vying for one of those last roster spots. And he's got something of a history with the Raptors. They brought him in last season, as we all know. And they've kept him around for a little while. And now, he's in this position where he's trying to get a roster spot.
And it's not guaranteed. It could get guaranteed by opening night if the Raptors so choose to. And last night. I mean, he's not the player that was probably the more noticeable member of that rally. But he got to the free throw line a little bit. And he was able to finish around the basket.
And defensively, this is where he makes his mark with the Raptors. This is why they're so keen on what he offers, is that he's extremely versatile. He can guard on the level. He can guard on the perimeter. He can guard around the rim.
When it comes to drop coverage, he can really navigate that cat and mouse game, and pick and rolls very well. And you know what? Like, his instincts are pretty damn good. Like, they're really on point. He's usually in the right spot on defense.
What is his status with the Toronto Raptors? Great question. It's similar to a Josh Jackson, Justin Champagnie thing. It's like, what do the Raptors want to value?
Is it going to be, like, the best player gets it, right? It could very well be that. But DJ, he's shown that he can be valuable in some ways with the Raptors. And also, he's got a 3-point shot, so you got that versatility there. He's able to stretch the defense. That is a valuable skill.
However, the Raptors-- or you might say they could use some more guard depth. Obviously, they could use a bit more of that. They could use a bit more ball handling. And that's where Josh Jackson could have a leg up. Who knows, man?
But DJ Wilson, I think he's did a good job of showing his value in that Celtics game. Because defensively, filling gaps, being in the right spots, being mobile, being big when he needed to be, being tough, being strong, he did all that.
I'm going to talk about Dalano Banton for just a quick second, only to say that he is making the team. And I think probably most of us thought that with the history that he has with the Raptors. But considering what we've seen from him during Summer League, with Team Canada, to where he is now, and what he's showing in preseason, his progression has been pretty strong.
And you could tell that he really valued what he could do this offseason. He wanted to improve himself. He wanted to get better, and he did. I mean, the drives that he's making towards the rim, how athletic he looks, the way he's turning the corner, and just splitting the defense, and finishing through contact, and just knifing in the lane, and causing havoc-- man, now we're talking, like, how is he going to be able to be impactful with the Raptors in their rotation?
He's probably a player who you could see actually helping them get to the rim a little bit more, and also being a versatile defender. He's strong on the defensive end so far. He's been really active. He's been getting in gaps. He's been using his length and his long arms, his wingspan, to be a real factor on that end.
Sure, it'd be nice to see some more jump shots. That's OK. Hopefully, that comes. He'll get those opportunities to show that off, hopefully. But attacking the gaps, and getting in the lane, and just being big and long and athletic, he's going to get himself some minutes this season.
Finally, on Christian Koloko, the rook, last night, we saw him probably explore his offense more than we've seen in other games, Summer League, and so forth. And he looked really comfortable. He looked very decisive with his movements.
And the other day, during Raptors practice, I saw him working with Jamaal McClure a little bit on finishing through contact and making quick decisions when it comes to what move he wants to do, and how does he want to approach his isolation offense. There was a video I saw of Christian Koloko working with DeAndre Jordan and Thomas Robinson on ChrisJohnsonHoops YouTube channel.
And it was essentially just, like, isolation work and one-on-one work. And I think we're seeing some of his offseason work really come through here. He knows, OK, if I get the ball on the baseline here, maybe it's a floater. If I get the ball on this side of the baseline, based off the space that I have in front of me, maybe it's a short mid-range shot.
OK, now, I get the ball here. I got a bit of a mismatch. Let's do a turnaround hook shot.
After practice the other day, Nick Nurse was asked about Christian Koloko. And he said, I think we're going to be able to use him. And I don't think he was talking about years down the road. I think he was talking about this upcoming season.
Because again, the skills that he has are things that the Raptors just don't have. They were actually able to run some more pick and roll with him. And that's going to help players like Malachi Flynn. It's going to help Pascal Siakam. It's just a different look for their offense.
And because he has, like, that wingspan and this explosion towards the basket, the ability to finish around the rim-- he's working on his touch. And that's only going to get better working with players like Jamaal Magloire and the other coaching staff.
And then defensively for Christian, I think we all know the kind of deal with him, in a good way, is that we know what we're going to get from him. He's going to be sound defensively. He's going to be a shot blocker.
This possession here where he was guarding the perimeter against Malcolm Brogdon was really good. And we're seeing the athleticism that we saw in college, in preseason, and some Rico Hines runs. It's coming through to the NBA.
Well, that's it from me. Follow me on Twitter if you'd like. @Amit_Mann is the Twitter handle. And also, of course, subscribe to our YouTube channel. We'll talk to you soon.