Article Written by Rodrigo Albizurez (@Unclerodzy)
Hey Raptors fans, these are my takeaways of what I liked, kinda liked, and didn’t like from Friday’s Raptors game vs. Melbourne United. Enjoy!
Offensive Rebounding - The Raptors were an absolute beast on the offensive boards Friday at Scotiabank Arena (the name still doesn’t feel right eh?). They have been crashing the boards hard all preseason, which is an absolute positive because offensive rebounds are all about hustle, in my opinion. If they can continue to hit the offensive glass all season, they are going to create a lot of open looks from 3 or easy buckets around the hoop.
Stormin’ Norman’s Shot Selection - Norman Powell was an absolute delight to watch. I know they played Melbourne United, but Norm played very efficiently. His shot selection was on point, strictly because he didn’t try to force his game; he let it come to him. He passed up an open shot for an emphatic dunk or dished it to a wide open teammate after bringing help defenders his way. An overall dynamic game for the kid from San Diego.
Ma Fuzzy’s Grooving Play- Serge Ibaka has been consistent all preseason and he was steady again Friday for the Raptors. Again, it’s just preseason, but it’s great to see him play consistent and not forcing his game. He was able to get some buckets down low in the paint and also knock down some jumpers from outside. Last year, he would go on hot streaks that would knock your socks off but then he would go on cold streaks that felt like a 6 month dry spell. If he’s able bring the same level of consistency that he brought Friday into the regular season, then the Raps are going to be a next level team.
On the Fence
Headband Pascal’s Aggressiveness – Alright, I knew I was going to get some hate on this selection, so hit me up on my mentions on Twitter if you disagree. Let me explain why Pascal is in my “On the Fence” section. P Skills was an absolute menace Friday for the Raptors. From hitting the offensive and defensive glass, hitting open jimmies from the 3 point arc, to slashing to the basket with reckless abandonment. Hell, I’m sure he even helped the water boy out! Yes, his game was on point, but am I absolutely sold on his controlled aggressive play? Not yet. Siakam has a tendency to play a little wild at times, much like he did in Utah. Looking for fouls instead of settling for the easy turnaround in the paint, or stopping to find an open shooter from the outside. I absolutely love that he can take the ball up the court because that opens up so many more plays/sets for Nick Nurse’s offence, but he needs to pick and choose when to be controlled or when to turn on the jets. These are senses that he will develop over the season, and there will be growing pains at first. But the reward will outweigh the pains once he fully kicks those senses into high gear.
Norman’s Performance – Again, I bring up Norman Powell because since last year he’s been part of a story of 2 heads. On the one hand, his performance Friday was lights out and it brings tears to Raptors’ faithful eyes. Then on the other hand, for the next two games he can go MIA and bring another type of tears to Raptors’ faithful eyes. So am I absolutely sold on Norman’s performance? Yes, but am I sold that he can bring that type of smart shot selection and aggressive play into every game during the regular season? No. I believe that he can bring that type of play into every game he enters, but he needs to prove that early in the season or he will be engulfed into the Raptors bench yet again. It all comes down to getting early season minutes, and honestly just staying healthy through the entire year (knock on wood).
Delontino’s Wit on the court- Delon Wright is a lot of fun to watch when he’s moving and grooving on the court. Friday was a perfect example of how to play the point guard position in the NBA. He was pushing the ball up the court, which led to open jump shots for his companions, and it also led to open shots for young himself due to his teammates drawing help defenders and looking for him from the 3 point arc. Wright was able to knock down his shots because he didn’t hesitate. Last year was a different story because more often than not, he would pass up an open 3 and force his game in the paint. Delon still takes some tough layups in the paint which lead to turnovers or poorly missed lay ups. That’s why I’m on the fence with the young guard. But if he can consistently take open 3’s and limit the tough layups, he’ll get over the fence.
The Amount of Fouls Given – The Raptors are notorious for racking up fouls during games. It was a little different Friday because a lot of their fouls were early in the game and in garbage time which don’t really matter. For the most part, they played great defense during this game which resulted in less fouls called during the ideal times of the game. But if they can clean up their early fouls by setting the defensive tone and less reaching, they will be alright. The only reason I call it ugly is because it was ugly during the Utah game and it was ugly all of last year. It’s going to continue to be ugly until they full commit to playing lockdown defence without relying on last second swipes as the opposing player blows by their lazy run-outs.
Raptors Fans on Twitter- I was able to hit Twitter before the game and see who was starting for the Raptors. I noticed that my sister replied to a fan’s tweet by stating that Kawhi Leonard, Kyle Lowry, CJ miles and Fred Vanfleet weren’t going to play because they were resting. My initial reaction was, “Man that makes a lot of sense”. Other Raptors fans reactions were the complete opposite. They were upset that those guys needed rest and they weren’t going to suit up against a team from Australia.
First off, give your head a shake if you were one of those fans that reacted this way. Second of all, it’s a team from AUSTRALIA! Those guys weren’t needed out there and this game was meant for the guys who needed the reps to get ready for the regular season. If Nick Nurse could have rested his whole roster for this game, then I bet he would have done that. You’ll most likely see the starting unit play more minutes during the Nets preseason game on October 10th because that’ll be a good warmup before the regular season. Don’t worry Raptors fans, you’ll see the guys who rested a lot during the regular season (knock on wood). Don’t be that guy or girl that complains about a preseason game. Sit back and enjoy the young cats out their balling for a spot on the roster!
These are strictly my opinions and if you have any comments or inquires then hit the comment button or mention me on Twitter, @unclerodzy!
Follow South of the 6ix on Twitter (@SouthOfThe6ix)