10 things I saw from Raptors-Timberwolves (8/7/2017; LVSL)

  1. The downside of summer league … is all the players that don’t necessarily matter. With all due respect to everyone involved, but nobody on the opposing roster will make an impact for the Timberwolves next season. They had no roster players on the floor and it showed. The Raptors easily outclassed them.
  2. The upside of summer league … is the opportunity to watch minor players play major roles, case in point with Pascal Siakam. He’s been given the freedom to play his full game, and he’s by far the Raptors’ most intriguing player on the SL roster.
  3. Offensive talent: I had no idea that Siakam could handle and attack off-the-dribble. He’s crossing over bigs, exploding into the lane, he even ran pick-and-roll with Jakob Poeltl for the and-1 finish. Siakam also showed 3-point range by splitting a pair of pick-and-pop threes. I’m really excited for this development it feels like found money.
  4. Defensive versatility: The Raptors had Siakam switch on ball screens, blowing up dribble hand-offs, and letting Siakam hold his own against perimeter players. Siakam showed great footwork and agility to stay in front of his man and contain penetration.
  5. Wise words: NBA TV reporter Ros Gold-Onwude passed along some thoughts from 905 coach Jerry Stackhouse. Stack called Siakam the best defender on the Raptors’ roster, and made a brilliant point that Siakam’s high motor often hides his skills on offense. There’s more that meets the eye.
  6. Lowry lite: There’s so much in Fred VanVleet’s game that reminds me of a young Kyle Lowry. FVV comes off the high screen, and without size nor burst, FVV is somehow able to get to the basket to create his own shot or find his rolling big. FVV does the same thing Lowry does by disarming his defender by leaning into the body, then using either hand to flip a layup on the rim. FVV also digs in on defense and fights with bigs for rebounds and loose balls.
  7. Another solid game … from Poeltl. His statline (15 points, 6–8 FG, 10 rebounds, plus-22) is almost identical from the first game. Poeltl was stuck shepherding the second unit of randoms, which hurt his numbers, but Poeltl was consistently in the right spots on both sides of the floor, finishes efficiently around the rim from the roller and dunker spots, and he even tried a corner three that he bricked. Solid.
  8. Bonded for life: One of the cutest moments tonight was when Poeltl made a dribble move into a post-up, then scored to put the Raptors up 81–60 in the fourth. It was a completely meaningless bucket but there was Siakam, his fellow rookie, jumping off the bench to cheer wildly and wave his towel.
  9. This DeMarre trade is … crazy expensive, but at least it opens up money to re-sign Norman Powell next summer. I’ll have more thoughts on it during the podcast.
  10. Shouts to Canada’s Wonderland for employing world-class keepers.