The summer time’s come and gone – yay(?), boo(?) – and it was something however restful: fires, floods, and the follies of fandom (I joke with their parity; significantly, fuck Local weather Change).
Us Toronto Raptors people, although, we actually wanted this previous summer time to decompress in spite of everything that 2020-21 guck.
Possibly a few of you probably did.
free company mediocrity;
summer time league splendour;
Raptors Twitter melodrama;
the lack of one Raptor Patriarc
the re-signing of one other Raptor Patriarch;
much-too-early-mid-season hypothesis; and
too many Aperol Spritzes
my emotional portfolio vacillated like a Coinbase account.
For some much-needed private remedy, let’s share 10 issues I dig and don’t dig concerning the Toronto Raptors’ offseason.
1. Residing it up Lengthy
You may’t get mad for groups attempting one thing…something…in a different way.
Every offseason, there’s a piece of the identical uninspiring signings. It’s as if each Normal Supervisor’s conceitedness/ignorance/laziness/optimism has them really believing that this time it’s going to be completely different(!).
We’re not aware of decision-making algorithms, however you watch Tristan Thompson and Moe Harkless go to Sacramento or all the draft class of 2004-09 go to Los Angeles, or Cory Joseph to Detroit, or Ish Smith to Charlotte, or Robin Lopez to Orlando or Torrey Craig to the Pacers, or, like, the Bulls digging deep into the Toronto Raptors bullpen and doing this:
Free agent ahead Stanley Johnson has agreed to a cope with the Chicago Bulls, sources inform @TheAthletic @Stadium.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) September 6, 2021
Matt Thomas has signed with the Chicago Bulls, a league supply tells @spotrac.
— Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA) September 6, 2021
Free agent F Alize Johnson has agreed on a two-year, $3.6M cope with the Chicago Bulls, his agent @GeorgeLangberg tells ESPN. The Bulls had a necessity for energy ahead depth and roster provides some actual alternative for Johnson.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) September 6, 2021
in a matter of three hours and you may’t assist however marvel if Masai Ujiri is the lone human amongst 29 Cylons.
I imply, generally it really works out. Craig went from mid-season low cost to post-season bonus; Jeff Inexperienced [maybe] lastly transitioned from perennial disappointment to playoff lynchpin.
However for probably the most half, veteran presence apart, the upside of these sorts of acquisitions are grim. And I do know there are solely so many “NBA gamers” round to fill out rosters, nevertheless it takes one Playoffs expertise to be reminded of how inconsequential so many of those guys turn into.
In case you’re rounding out a Playoff-destined crew, effective; in any other case, why not get a bit of spicy?
It’s why Toronto’s fringe additions, no less than, provide you with a number of coronary heart flutters. Every, nevertheless unexciting, had been no less than one thing new.
Sure, Sam Dekker, Ishmail Wainright, Isaac Bonga, Justin Champagnie, and Svi Mykhailiuk are objectively worse than the aforementioned free brokers – although their potential for development is far larger – nevertheless it’s much less about particular person tactic and extra about total technique.
They, just like the Scottie Barnes, Dalano Banton, and David Johnson picks and Khem Birch and Gary Trent Jr. re-ups, show Toronto’s new diabolical intentions as an outlier.
Discover the development:
Masai and Bobby have gone full double-baked potato on Size + Power.
BREAKING NEWS: you’ll be able to add the Rubberband Man, Alex Antetokounmpo – 6’8, 214 lbs, and seven’2 wing span – to the listing of lean and lengthy Raptor coaching camp recruits.
David Johnson’s quick however he’s additionally longer than an HBO intro. Svi and GTJ are like two pints of Guinness, stout, however imposing and burlier than most opposing them. The remainder are a bunch of Daddy Lengthy Legs.
The entire roster’s like that. Not a soul surpasses 6’9. Solely Fred VanVleet and Malachi Flynn are small-small; everybody else, Goran Dragić included, has long-ass arms. They’re the NBA web page in The place’s Waldo.
Will all of it work? Relies upon.
They’re, after all, nowhere close to carbon copies of one another. The success of this crew falls squarely on the shoulders of some, notably, on the offensive finish.
Defensively, although, having spiderman after spiderman after spiderman at your disposal certainly helps. Passing and driving lanes alike will probably be crowded and short-lived. We noticed the Summer season League Raps harangue unsuspecting guards with some full-court swarms. This poor dude acquired it from each Scottie and Dalano.
— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) August 8, 2021
– @DALANOBANTON pic.twitter.com/zrUqcTlo36
— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) August 8, 2021
I’d lovvveee to see a few of that end-to-end Bench Mob brutality this season. At finest, they’ll power turnovers; at worst, they’ll exhaust depth charts. Chaos is my sort of bball.
Additionally they now have an arsenal of vast receivers, which, for a crew the place the half-court shouldn’t be so vundabar an expertise, is kind of vital. Power misses at one finish and dash all the way down to the opposite. It’s not a very a confirmed Playoff components, however one step at a time we could?
No matter success – prepared your self for a measured quantity – we’ll discover each tranquillity and thrill in cheering for a crew that’s taking a transparent and novel method to the sport. As a loyal zealot to the 7-Seconds-or-Much less-Steve-Nash-Suns method of basketball, I can attest to the enjoyable in experimentation and innovation!
Final 12 months was the other. We had been mired in a sludgy transition between the Champions and Subsequent Gen eras; the glass ceiling was suffocatingly low and predictable – although I remained futilely hopeful!
This 12 months received’t be any much less difficult: it’s going to be ugly and awkward because the new-look Raptors uncover themselves.
On rebuilding the Raptors:
“We’re a younger crew, however there isn’t any deficit in management. You recognize, Fred [VanVleet] is an unbelievable chief. That is what everyone goes to see now….We’re not a crew of ‘now’. There are going to be rising pains. ”
— Entrance Burner (@FrontBurnerCBC) September 8, 2021
And that’s precisely how Masai needs it to be.
2. Lengthy-Time period Masaigning
On that word, buckle up of us.
New: Masai Ujiri re-signs with Toronto https://t.co/kaxQOV72ty
— Raptors Republic (@raptorsrepublic) August 5, 2021
Masai is right here for the lengthy haul. Bobby Webster is right here for the lengthy haul. Nick Nurse is, in all probability, right here for the lengthy haul.
So should you don’t like what we acquired, you’re shit outta luck.
Masai’s the grasp of this league now. There’s really no denying it.
He’s out-maneuvered most of his contemporaries and, repeatedly, excelled in practically all the things he’s got down to do.
However he’s no cutthroat, as many on this line of labor change into. He’s loyal (more often than not), compassionate, and an unwavering chief who transcends effectively past the NBA.
We really feel all of that watching the fervour (and vulgarity) in his press conferences and we see all of that what he’s performed not only for this crew, however for the NBA, and for basketball in the entire of Africa.
Previous to his re-signing, I mentioned to a pal that I might not be shocked if he went abroad into footy or into one thing completely unrelated to sports activities. Lo’ and behold, it was reported that NBA groups weren’t the one skilled franchises pursuing Masai.
Regardless of the prospect for larger fame and alternative, he selected Toronto.
We’re fortunate to have him.
3. Shedding Lowry
That is no place to eulogize our indomitable chief.
Oren Weisfeld already did.
Samesies with Manny Rao.
All I’ll say is I’m going to overlook when a dumbass foul is named by Tony Brothers and I’m yelling on the TV asking rhetorically in my underwear how issss THAT a foul? solely to look over within the nook of the display screen and see #7 already along with his fingers out pleading to the opposite two refs, with these ingratiating, pursed lips to the one aspect of his mouth, as he advocates convincingly for the make-up name he is aware of he’s going to get one or two performs later.
My stomach lurches pondering that’s gone.
It’s going to be rattling exhausting to observe subsequent season with out the fees, the last-stand put up defence, that easy two-handed Tyrannosaurus-arm passes completely lofted to a cherry-picker operating down courtroom, and the well timed threes or boulder-chasing-Indiana-Jones drives to the tin.
He made the grit and meticulousness of the sport wonderful.
I’m going to overlook that.
I’m going to overlook him.
4. Shedding Lowry (with returns)
On the flip aspect – my how these first three subjects so properly lead as much as the fourth – Masai nonetheless acquired worth for Kyle’s departure.
(Extra on Goran the Incorrigible later).
I’m speaking Treasured Achiuwa right here (additionally examine the video by the RR crew on Treasured).
There would be the kvetchers who lament what we may have had on the commerce deadline final 12 months – and I hear your grumbles loud and clear – however it’s what it’s. Moreover, Achiuwa is a beautiful second place within the magnificence contest.
This 12 months, his second within the NBA, we’re going to largely see the fundamentals: the fast-break dunks, the emphatic put-back crams, the lobs and collect-pivot-and-lay-up off decide and rolls, the high-motor depth, and, hopefully, the odd look-over-at-your-pal-with-surprised-eyes creation.
Nothing to precisely write residence about, however (A) his mixture of dimension, athleticism, and motor was one thing Toronto desperately wanted final 12 months and is much more than what Khem Birch brings; and (B) his upside.
In Miami – no complaints from me – you bought a number of this, and I anticipate extra of the identical this 12 months:
Recall final 12 months’s woes – should you can bear it. That screener was both Aron Baynes (no extra mockery, he’s an ideal Gent and with a career-jeopardizing damage in the meanwhile) who lacked the flexibility or Chris Boucher who lacked the body. Now, with Treasured, Pascal, Malachi, and Freddy have a man with the fingers, the [some] footwork, and the hops to supply a wide range of rolling options.
What he doesn’t present, that Chris and, to a sliver of a level, Aron offered was the decide and pop. Treasured made solely 4 jumpers past 10 ft all 12 months and so they weren’t all that fairly.
There may be some skeleton of a kind there, and he has the arrogance to strive it, which, as we all know with the Ben Simmons drama, means one thing. That was final 12 months, anyhow.
To date, within the Olympics and Summer season League, Treasured has begun to use the gifted house detached defenders present him by capturing when open or using some ball-handling when that room contracts.
That sort of half-court aggression alongside along with his newfound curiosity in pushin’ coast-to-coast – one thing Nurse inspired Khem Birch to additionally do final season – means we’re speaking greater than only a P&R lob risk.
Finally, Treasured confirmed offensive development this summer time, which is all you need to see from a younger participant becoming a member of THE developmental crew of the NBA and who has this sort of relationship with Masaister Splinter.
Treasured' first phrases to Masai: "Lastly."
Masai's first phrases to Treasured: "You're mine now."#Raptors #WeTheNorth
— Lukas Weese (@Weesesports) August 18, 2021
Then, after all, there’s the defence. All of us noticed the block Treasured had on Kevin Durant this summer time. No? Please, take pleasure in.
It’s one play, however, once more, that’s the place his potential and flexibility is so delectably refreshing for Toronto. His lateral quickness, verticality, and power is the precise spell I used to be attempting to solid final 12 months in conjuring a hybrid Raptors centre like Qyborn reanimating The Mountain. I wished to name it La Boucharon. Alas, Bulk Barn was outta figwort.
I’ll prevent the evaluation, however suffice it to say, Treasured’ athleticism interprets defensively. In case you saved watching the Olympics, you’d see him change on to and stick with guards effortlessly. His low centre of gravity and strong body additionally makes up for his peak disparity; don’t overlook he likes to vault over for the odd help-side smash.
He overplays and over-anticipates at instances, as many keen, younger athletic bigs are likely to do, however with expertise and steering, these errors will reduce over time.
5. Toronto’s Personal
There’s an honest documentary produced by LeBron James and…sure, Drake…referred to as The Carter Impact on Netflix outlining the affect Vince Carter had on basketball tradition in Toronto, and, to a point, Canada at giant. (I’d argue Steve Nash had simply as profound affect, however, hey, let’s give one to Drake, we could?).
The purpose is, and, perhaps what we generally overlook, is how a lot of a sociological impact skilled sports activities can have on future generations. The expertise inflow within the WNBA and its continued development and success is not any higher an indication of what publicity to youthful people can do for a sport.
Heck, we noticed 19-year-old tennis prodigy, Leylah Fernandez, attribute inspiration to Steve Nash for her sudden rise on the US Open. There’s NO QUESTION that the success of gamers like Leylah and Bianca Andreescu can have main future implications for tennis in Canada.
Canada was a hockey/lacrosse nation. However basketball’s placing up a struggle. The Canadian content material proper now could be outta management with its golden technology of NBA expertise cresting. But, it looks like Canada’s finest remains to be to return.
With Toronto drafting Dalano Banton forty sixth total within the 2021 NBA draft, he turns into the primary Toronto native to be drafted by the Raptors. And, whereas the sport of basketball already thrives in Toronto and, actually, the nation, having a neighborhood from the center of the town will solely additional the generational shifts in the direction of the sport.
Years from now we might have to check The Banton Impact and see how transformative an affect his success had for Canada and the sport of basketball.
6. The Feelings: “ROARRRRRR”
Give me this sort of depth ALL FRIGGIN’ DAY.
Peeps [and listen] to him after the block too. Like it.
.@ScottBarnes561: @malachiflynn: pic.twitter.com/n668rvtXIC
— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) August 13, 2021
It’s uncommon to see such spirit in a regular-season recreation – until you’re a cranky-pants like DeMarcus Cousins or a cussed know-it-all like Draymond Inexperienced – not to mention Summer season League!
And, then, you get this cute stuff on the backend. I imply it doesn’t actually get any higher than this.
Vegas warmth is not any joke pic.twitter.com/xenl2MzmlS
— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) August 8, 2021
Media’s having a feeding frenzy and so they need to.
Scottie’s neither fiend nor cherub. He’s an empath with supreme emotional intelligence, in accordance with Eric Koreen of The Athletic, who profiled Scottie final week. That explains the on-court depth and off-court lightheartedness. He will get when and the right way to act.
Exhibit A: Scottie’s barely been a Raptor for greater than two months and he’s already acquired a The Participant’s Tribune article effusing his love for the T-dot. It takes athletes years to ingratiate themselves with a metropolis and its followers. It’s taken Scottie all of some months and some paragraphs:
Exhibit B: Just like the Arsenalist mentioned a pair weeks again, this sort of depth is contagious; it’s the lifeblood of robust crew morale and profitable roster growth. When a lottery decide is unabashedly bellowing on the courtroom days into his nascent NBA profession, you recognize you’ve one thing particular.
7. The Feelings: *tear*
Take your VR goggles off for a second. We’re about to get actual.
"I do it for my children"
– @Wainright24 pic.twitter.com/LnajMrb8Dw
— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) August 13, 2021
We overlook how a lot of a goddamn grind this recreation is. So many sacrifice a lot simply to even get a sniff of a crumb of an opportunity of taking part in within the W/NBA.
We frequently overlook the humanity behind the participant and the psychological and bodily toll demanded of them. To the fan, gamers are an enter and their statistics and crew report an output. We speak about much less productive gamers disparagingly saying “they stink” or no matter. It’s totally inhumane to take action and flawed anyway.
They don’t stink. We’re simply spoiled by seeing W/NBA superstars on a nightly foundation. However they’re the very, only a few. We also needs to honour the very, very many who face the every day wrestle and by no means make it.
Ish reminds us that this simply may solely be a recreation to us, nevertheless it’s a life and a ardour for them. One during which there’s no assure of something in return.
Respect to that.
8. The Rancour for Goran
I don’t get it.
I do know the Raptors’ historical past with Goran Dragić is a bit…violent.
And I do know he’s $19.4 million this 12 months.
And I do know he, supposedly, doesn’t even need to be in Toronto.
However all that apart, we’d like Goran Dragić.
Guard depth is gaunt. We’re piling a load of hopes and goals on the shoulders of Malachi Flynn. With Dragić, Nurse has somebody to show to in these inevitable moments the place younger Malachi is in over his head.
He’s additionally interchangeable. Like in Miami, Dragić can take command of the offence when wanted or reliably spot-up when superfluous. Making him bluetoothable to any of FVV, GTJ, or Flynn.
Dragić’s manufacturing has been down during the last two years (he averaged roughly 14 factors a recreation and 4 assists on 55% true capturing), but when there’s any juice left he can get you a bucket in iso in a squeeze – one thing Toronto is loath to need to do.
He’s pesky and that’s annoying when your enemy, however much-loved when your ally (wait until you need to watch Lowry weasel his method into each name this season for Miami – you’ll be torn).
Nonetheless you feeeeel about him, Dragić’s additionally a official winner and chief. His fledgling years had been beneath the tutelage of Skipper Nash and he’s paid that mentorship ahead to guys like Kendrick Nunn, Tyler Herro, and Duncan Robinson.
He seems to be doing the identical in Toronto too.
Scottie Barnes on IG Reside strolling the streets of T.O. With Sam Dekker, Freddie Gillespie, Ish Wainwright….and Goran Dragic lol pic.twitter.com/qTy4S0zqkg
— OG's Scarf (@OGsHeadband1) September 15, 2021
He and his [non-biological] lil’ bro, Luka Dončić, additionally led the very small nation of Slovenia to its first worldwide championship, profitable the 2017 EURO Cup, and, in 2020, he, alongside Jimmy Buckets and Bam Adebayo, dragged the Miami Warmth to the NBA Finals.
If there’s any juice left, Dragić will probably be a welcomed complement to the Toronto Raptors core. If not, a $20 million expiring isn’t the worst factor for Masai to have come commerce deadline.
9. Driving the Hype Cycle
You recognize Adam Silver and his henchmen are profitable the North American Sports activities Wars when, on the peak of the NBA offseason, I’m nonetheless scraping HoopsHype like a Cambridge Analytica AI-bot.
Fortunately, there are many pick-up movies to fulfill my quench for NBA content material.
They’ve a little bit of a reality-TV-meets-professional-sports-feel the place you get to (A) see which gamers run collectively (I prefer to attempt to piece collectively the inter-relational dynamics of who will get invited and why); (B) examine what they’re carrying (Hoodie Melo and sweatpants FVV come to thoughts – wait till you see Andre Drummond’s tight look); and, (C) scout gamers.
The runs are much more tantalizing while you get to preview your franchise’s Crown Jewel. Scottie Barnes ran with some NBA notables the opposite day and, mannnn, did it get me hyped.
Earlier than I gush over Scottie’s pick-up play, a word on hype. The Hype Cycle – as seen beneath within the very skilled graph – describes the irrationality of fandom.
I’m positive you’re conversant in the curler coaster trip. First, we get method too excited a couple of prospect; then, after a number of crud video games, we remorse our silly optimism; till lastly, as soon as time and knowledge sober us up, we attain a pleasant steadiness of average expectations.
As you’ll be able to see, I’m ascending the height of inflated expectations proper now. The highlights beneath are simply extra sweet to my Scottie Barnes hype-erglycemia (see what I did there?).
Within the montage, Scottie locks up Donovan Mitchell and Tim Hardaway Jr. on the perimeter, denies a number of dudes driving to the rim, and our bodies up Andre Drummond within the put up. On the different finish, he’s much less commanding however finds methods to contribute by rolling on P&R’s, discovering house close to the rim, ripping swift passes, filling lanes in transition, and grabbing O-rebs.
I do know it’s simply an 8-minute clip of a collection of pick-up video games, however let me take pleasure in my voyage by the Hype Cycle. Okayyyy!?
Am I to crash? Inevitably. You’re more likely to discover me someday in March trudging by the trough of disillusionment as Scottie endures his rookie hiccups. However till that day is nigh, I shall trip that candy, candy excessive of anticipation.
Just a bit public relations materials right here to finish.
In case you like what you hear otherwise you’re masochistic and benefit from the distress of hating what you hear, you’ll be pleased to know that I’m becoming a member of Sahal Abdi and Oren Weisfeld on The Rap Up this coming season. After e’ry Raptors recreation we’ll provide the breakdowns, the shakedowns, and the takedowns (undecided what any of that basically means) and who is aware of what else…
Additionally, I not too long ago joined Jamal Hinds, Zarar Siddiqi, Kristian Cuaresma and Manny Rao on Mac’s podcast, Runnin’ Off The Display, final Thursday to draft our All-Time Raptors groups. Let’s simply say, my crew wouldn’t be an pleasurable expertise for followers longing for a high-flying affair – simply the best way I prefer it.
Maintain an eye fixed out for that video on Tuesday.
Tip Adon Moss
10 Issues I Dig and Don’t Dig concerning the Toronto Raptors’ Offseason originated on Raptors Republic.