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Some observations from the Raptors’ pre-season

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All 5 pre-season tune-ups are within the books and there’s a full week to prepare for the season opener. What’s a workforce to do?

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The straightforward reply to that’s create familiarity and luxury with each other and fine-tune belongings you’ve been engaged on.

However in 5 video games the Raptors have given us a glimpse of what they’re, what they aren’t and what they are often.

So with out additional ado, a breakdown of what we discovered concerning the Raptors throughout this pre-season and what to anticipate going ahead.
1. We don’t have to fret about Scottie Barnes

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The basketball universe, at the very least the Twitter portion of it, went into excessive nervousness mode the second commissioner Adam Silver introduced Scottie Barnes and never Jalen Suggs could be the Raptors choice at No. 4 on draft night time.

Suggs, the Gonzaga standout, was considered as a no brainer in some circles as soon as Cade Cunningham, Jalen Inexperienced and Evan Mobley had been off the board.

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Not for the Raptors who got here away in awe of Barnes mixture of skillset, character and a wins-before-everything method to the sport.

Barnes has not disillusioned. By means of 5 video games he has enthusiastically taken on each problem from guarding Jayson Tatum or Bradley Beal or no matter celebrity the Raptors have requested of him whereas scoring, distributing and principally creating at a stage not often seen by a rookie.

Barnes goes to have his struggles as each participant does sooner or later in that first yr of studying the league, however in just a few quick weeks he has proven such an array of ways in which he can affect the sport that he’s nearly hunch proof, that means if his shot (which nonetheless wants work however is under no circumstances damaged) isn’t falling for just a few video games he can all the time flip to his well-above common passing sport to make his offensive contribution. And even when all of the offence he can affect dips at one time, he can nonetheless be a plus supply on the defensive finish.

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Barnes has a love for the sport that’s ever-present. No battle goes to take that away from him.

Suggs might or might not rating extra factors in his rookie yr than Barnes, however the Raptors imagine their choice would be the higher play long run.

Barnes, by 5 video games, has given them no cause to doubt that.

AT WORST CENTRE WON’T BE THE TURNSTILE IT WAS A YEAR AGO

Aron Baynes and Alex Len weren’t the reply and that was clear very early, though personally the Baynes falloff stays considerably puzzling. Chris Boucher gave it a valiant effort nevertheless it wasn’t honest to ask him to battle and scrap with guys 50 kilos heavier than him.

Ultimately Khem Birch and Freddie Gillespie arrived and the place solidified a bit of.

Now it’s Birch and sophomore NBA huge man Valuable Achiuwa dealing with the duties.

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Birch is simply again from a bout with COVID and nonetheless discovering his stamina and his rhythm however the man proved a yr in the past that even a bit of under-sized on some nights, he’s powerful sufficient and savvy sufficient to supply that final line of defence to the basket and chip in often on the offensive finish.

Achiuwa is the rationale for optimism. He’s simply beginning to scratch the floor of what he’ll turn out to be within the NBA. Not a 7-footer like some groups make use of, however at 6-foot-9 with a mixture of velocity and deal with that the majority centres can’t match greater than makes up for these few inches. Achiuwa isn’t any shrinking violet both with the physique to battle with the largest bigs after which use his personal distinctive ability set (for an enormous) to win the battle outright. Briefly, the Raptors are a lot improved on the place.

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OG ANUNOBY ISN’T GETTING THE APPRECIATION HE DESERVES OUTSIDE HIS OWN LOCKER ROOM

Anunoby has lengthy been a man the Raptors might rely on to lockdown an opposing scorer and principally take him out of the equation. If he isn’t initially suffocating his matchup, he’s carrying him right down to the purpose that he gained’t be an element in a while. However that has been the case for some time now.

This yr, although, Anunoby is trying greater than ever like a man with the flexibility to affect the sport from an offensive standpoint nearly as a lot as he does defensively. His deal with is tighter, his three-point shot, which was already a serious piece of the Raptors offence, appears to be like much more reliable, and his forays to the basket are smoother and rather more assured. With out Siakam round for everything of the pre-season, Anunoby has had extra alternative than ever to good all of those parts of his sport and has regarded comfy doing so. When Siakam returns, the alternatives would possibly dwindle a bit of, however hopefully not an excessive amount of. Anunoby has been that good.

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AND THEN THERE ARE THESE OBSERVATIONS

Not that it ought to shock anybody, however level guard is in good palms with Fred VanVleet, Goran Dragic, and Malachi Flynn. Kyle Lowry won’t ever be forgotten in these elements, however VanVleet is the simple easy transition whereas Dragic’s presence offsets the lack of expertise and Flynn has proven a doggedness by this pre-season that’s going to serve him effectively going ahead … Gary Trent Jr. is greater than only a shooter … Svi Mykhailiuk is searching for a house and he might have discovered one in Toronto. One other good shooter who doesn’t get credit score for the opposite issues he does on the courtroom … Justin Champagnie in all probability spends as a lot time or extra with the Raptors than he does with the G-League workforce. A two-way contract will restrict, at the very least initially, how a lot time he can spend with the Raptors however we’re keen to guess he’ll max that out primarily based on his early displaying and the impressions he has made on the those that matter … Dalano Banton isn’t right here as a result of he’s native and the optics look good. The Rexdale native has earned all of the reward he’s obtained and should shock some with the alternatives he will get when the lights come on for actual … Yuta Watanabe will look again on his summer season with the Nationwide workforce in Japan and be endlessly grateful. He’s a way more assured and effectively rounded participant due to that have of being a No. 1 choice … Going to essentially miss Freddie Gillespie who, in very quick order, proved to be an distinctive human being and a pleasure to be round. Hope he catches on someplace else however given the Raptors wants and the choices at hand, we are able to’t argue with the choice to waive him.

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