The Toronto Raptors had an impressive showing in Las Vegas for this year’s NBA MGM Resorts Summer League, winning three of their four games and remaining competitive in their lone loss. The goal of each year’s summer league tournament isn’t necessarily to win though, it’s to develop the squad and learn about your young players potential in both the immediate and distant future.
In this article, we will examine the biggest takeaways from the Raptors four summer league games and their impacts on the season to come, as well as for the franchise as a whole moving forward.
Scottie Barnes will take some development, but he has the potential to be a star
The box scores were a bit up and down over the course of the past week, but 4th overall selection Scottie Barnes showed flashes of brilliance in Vegas.
There will never be questions about Barnes’ athleticism and energy, and those intangibles have carried over to summer league, seamlessly transitioning to the style of play the Raptors want to play. One of the main reasons the front office chose Barnes over Jalen Suggs was the fit with the culture and playing style of Toronto, and so it’s great to see that the Florida State product seemed to be fitting in nicely.
Barnes had already proven in three games to be the guy the Raptors thought they were getting, but the 23-point performance in the fourth game against Charlotte should really excite Toronto fans more than anything. Barnes was dominant and helped the Raptors in a comeback win, making clutch plays and smart decisions with the ball down the stretch.
Praise aside, there are still inconsistencies to be addressed. Right from draft day Masai Ujiri, Bobby Webster and company knew that Barnes’ biggest weakness was shooting, and the shooting percentages were very inconsistent over the course of the summer league. The defensive play has impressed though, and he has shown an ability to set up teammates and rebound the basketball efficiently as well.
If the Raptors can address the inconsistent shooting (which admittedly, the NBA sample size is near non-existent), Barnes has a chance to be a major difference maker for this organization going forward and could be a name that Raptors fans will cherish for a very long time.
Hometown kid Dalano Banton has shown flashes of NBA-ready game
Second round selection Dalano Banton impressed in his first few games for the most part, including a 12-point 10-rebound double-double against the Warriors this past Wednesday.
Banton provides size, skill, and a dynamic offensive game that can create its own looks while distributing to teammates whenever possible.
Specifically in the first game, Banton was having issues holding on to the basketball, finishing with 5 turnovers, but he calmed that down in the subsequent games and showed an impressive control of the ball with a few flashy passes to boot.
Much like Scottie Barnes, Dalano’s biggest weakness is his shot, and if that can be fixed his ceiling dramatically rises. Obviously, he doesn’t have the same natural talent as Barnes, but Banton is still on track to crack the NBA roster, after signing a 2-year partially guaranteed deal, get some minutes when needed, and has the potential to blossom into an everyday player someday if he can put all the pieces together.
Precious Achiuwa looks like he can be special
Precious Achiuwa came over to Toronto from the Kyle Lowry sign-and-trade deal with the Miami Heat, and was very impressive in his three summer league outings.
The Nigerian forward got some additional experience playing with his national team in the Tokyo Olympics this summer, and he’s looking like he’ll be able to take a big jump this season in Toronto; with the opportunity for minutes definitely looking like they will be there for him.
Achiuwa is athletic, has a solid all-around game and could be a difference maker in small-ball situations, which is a type of lineup Toronto will likely run frequently given the current make-up of the roster. Achiuwa could be played at Centre despite only being 6’8, and could be a part of a lineup that could confuse and strangle teams with its defensive identity and intensity.
It’s early in his Toronto tenure, but grab your Precious Achiuwa stock early as he looks to be setting himself up for a great debut season north of the border.
Malachi Flynn is continuing to grow at a rapid pace
The latest undersized point guard to flourish in the Raptors system; Malachi Flynn dominated in this year’s summer league, occasionally looking like he was at too high of a skill level to even be on the floor.
Flynn had an impressive rookie campaign last season, and it looks as if he’s poised to push his progression even further for 2021-2022, as his game seems to be maturing and the number of minutes he will receive will certainly increase after the departure of Lowry.
Flynn could likely be one of the Raptors to watch for the future, and so it’s a positive sign that he looked as comfortable as he did in Vegas; serving in a sort of leadership role that will be important for his development as a young player.
Time will tell, but Ishmail Wainright could be a name to watch
Ishmail Wainright was signed by the Raptors as a free agent after going undrafted out of Baylor University, and he put on a show in his second summer league game for Toronto against Houston.
Wainright scored a game-high 20 points in the victory on an impressive 7/12 shooting line. The forward shot the ball well from beyond the arc and grabbed 7 rebounds in what was an all-around dominant performance.
Despite his poor shooting effort in the team’s final game, Wainright can certainly ball and could flourish in the Raptors system with the proper development, but it’s a little early to tell what kind of impact he will have on the roster in the near future.
The Raptors are struggling to shoot the basketball
It’s admittedly a little bit early to put too much stock into this take, but the Raptors struggled with their shooting percentages in this year’s summer league.
Toronto shot 38.75% from the field and 25% from deep through their four games of action, two numbers that aren’t very flattering to say the least.
Of course, the Raptors are without their big-name players and so you can’t read too deeply into these numbers if at all, but the team struggled shooting the basketball last season as well, and the percentages are going to have to be much higher if they hope to have any chance of making the playoffs in a competitive eastern conference this season.