Amit Mann discusses Jeff Dowtin's impressive play in Summer League, how effective Christian Koloko could be on the Raptors next season, Dalano Banton's 3-point shooting and Ron Harper Jr.'s slow start. Subscribe to our YouTube channel for more Raptors content
AMIT MANN: The Raptors fall 93-83 in their second Summer League game. Let's look at what Christian Koloko did, and let's also give some shine to Jeff Dowtin because he's been balling. But first, do subscribe to our YouTube channel for all your Raptors news and analysis. We'll be here all offseason, all next season, so press the red button. Wherever it is, press it.
So let's start with Christian Koloko, the second-rounder, and again, I continue to be impressed by his rim presence. He really does deter drivers with his length and his size and his verticality. He really does take away the airspace around the rim, and he times his blocks exceptionally well for someone at such an early part of his NBA career.
And he communicates quite a bit, and that is not something that all players do, especially coming out of college. And even players in the NBA now, they don't communicate. They don't really relish that role as being that last line of defense. But he was doing that in Arizona, and it seems like he's gonna be doing it again in the NBA.
And that's a great thing to see, something that usually you got to mature in to, but he's doing it at this point. And you start thinking about what his role could be with the Toronto Raptors. In last season, they finished ninth in defensive rating, some ups and downs, some players coming in and players coming out, injuries and so forth, but they ended up being ninth.
Obviously a Nick Nurse team wants to be higher. They want to be in that top 5. And what are they missing? It's probably, you know, a rim presence, a shot blocker, and that's why I thought a player like JaVale McGee could actually be interesting for the Raptors, because they don't need too much on the defensive end. They just need someone that is going to be able to deter shots around the rim once, you know, players are able to get in the lane.
And Christian Koloko now, how effective does he need to be on the defensive end for Toronto to be, like, an actual positive when he's on the court? It's actually not much, and considering how smart he is already on the defensive end, they just need him to be sound, fundamentally sound, and to be extremely vertical, use his size in situations where they need him to, because they're going to continue to switch. They're going to continue ascent to recover. They're going to continue to clog up lanes.
But when players do get in the paint, he just has to be fundamentally sound, positionally sound, and be a reliable player back there, and that makes me think that, OK, so maybe he could actually play, you know, 10 to 15 minutes next season, because he's already so good at this point. Offensively versus the Bulls, it did get a little ugly at times for Christian, and that's OK. It's not a big deal, but the fact of the matter is that it didn't always look pretty.
The Bulls were a pretty good defensive team. They got into the Raptors, and they got into Christian's space. And some of his jumpers looked a little bit rushed. He didn't really seem like he wanted to shoot. Then he shot, and then it didn't really go all that well.
And then when it came to his post-ups-- definitely rushed, deer in headlights, wasn't really sure what he wanted to do. His footwork was a bit off, and he just didn't seem comfortable in his space. And that's all OK. The 3-pointer did look good, though. That's an awesome thing to see.
But this is the reason why, you know, the 905, is gonna be very beneficial for him, because he can go down there and polish up his offensive game with the Raptors, whatever admittance he does get, because I imagine he's going to be up and down quite a bit. He's gonna be more of a rim runner, a person who's gonna be at the dunker spot. But with the 905, he can actually go down there and polish up his game, get comfortable, find ways to be a pick-and-pop big and to hit shots in the mid-range, and also to, you know, drive to the bucket and dunk or find different ways to score around the basket.
That's gonna be on the menu for him in the 905, and that's gonna be really beneficial for him. He probably should, you know, add 10 to 15 pounds of muscle. Right now, 6' 5", six, seven guards are able to push him off, and that's not how it should be.
He's way too big for that. Probably in these next six to eight weeks before training camp, he'll be working in the weight room. You don't have a lot of time during the season to put on weight, so this is his window to do that.
And I'm sure he's gonna learn a lot from these few games here. He's gonna use that to propel himself and get ready for training camp. So all good for him, man. Good stuff so far.
Really quick on Dalano-- 3 of 5 from 3, which is great to see. Sure, one of them was a bank. But, I mean, the bank was open so you roll with it. It's all good.
Other one was coming off a screen, another one in transition-- those two kinds of shots were things that we didn't really see from any bench player for the Raptors, at least in terms of rotation minutes, and it's going to be a way that Dalano can separate himself from the rest of the pack. However, you know, it's still a little bit up and down when it comes to his decision making.
An example would be, late in the second quarter, Dalano was driving. There was a wide open Ron Harper Jr. along the wing, and he just didn't find him. And then Dalano went to three defenders, and he missed. And that was that.
But then, you know, you go to the third quarter, and then, again Delano's driving to the basket. And he unleashes this, like, left-handed missile to Ron Harper on the wing, and he hits the shot. This is the Dalano Banton experience. He's gonna get there, enjoy the ups and downs. This is the time for him to make those mistakes.
Speaking of Ron Harper, Jr., he's been a little bit quiet so far in Summer League, and that's all right. I think there's still a lot there, and I think the Raptors are certainly keen on what he's gonna to be able to offer someday. Earl Watson has already said that in some intrasquad games before Summer League, he was, like, the best player on the court. Or Monte Brooks-- same deal, saying that he is exceptionally good at scoring and he's got a lot of talent and a lot of upside.
So give him some time, especially now with Justin Champagnie unable to compete in Summer League with a thumb injury. And I'll bank on him having at least one or two games where he really stands out. It's coming.
All right, let's talk a little bit about Jeff Dowtin, who's been really impressive so far in Summer League. He played with three different teams last season. We're talking the Golden State Warriors, the Milwaukee Bucks, and the Orlando Magic. In the G League, 14-- 17.7 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 6.2 assists, and 43% from three on four attempts, including a 33-point performance against the Raptors 905. I wonder where the Raptors got the idea to bring him on their summer league team.
Nick Nurse has said that he is a person they are strongly evaluating, and I think, for most of us, we didn't know too much about Jeff, heading into Summer League. But then he's starting. And we see him play for a little bit, and it becomes a lot more clear because this guy can play, man.
He's got that downhill speed, a tight handle. He mixes in runners in the lane, which all guards need in the NBA. And also, he mixed in this really nifty left-handed scoop shot, which was Steve Nash-esque. Not a bad player to learn from, and you can see that he's a really "high basketball IQ" player by the way that he's able to react to defenses, because he's comfortable in his game and he thinks that, you know, if they do this, I'm gonna do that.
And that really does show in the way that he interprets pick-and-rolls. He does a great job of getting the defender on his back and creating those small windows for two-on-ones. And then he'll dump it off to his big, or he'll find him for a lob.
Or you know what? Maybe he'll just finish by himself. He can do that. He can finish around the rim, and he's done a pretty good job of that so far in summer league.
And he did have this really crafty sidestep into a mid-range pull-up. Love that shot. Through two games, he's averaging 14 points on 60% shooting, 11 total assists, and one turnover. And in that Bulls game where the Raptors did kind of get blown out-- although they only lost by 10, technically-- he was the only player of the seven who played 17-plus minutes to be a positive player, a plus-4.
He plays with pace in the half court, and obviously with Nick Nurse. Next-action basketball, that's really important. He has that vision passing. He reads plays before they even happen.
And the Jazz game today, do take a look at what he does off-ball. I find that he's often telling players where to go. He's a four-year college player, and often those players are a little bit more mature. And you can see it in his game, and he's definitely been in the lab trying to improve himself and get that NBA guaranteed contract that I'm sure many are vying for.
And with the way Nick Nurse and Earl Watson are talking about him, I think he has put himself into that conversation. If the Raptors don't keep him around, someone is going to sign him.
My name's Amit Mann. You can follow me on Twitter at @amit_mann. Once again, subscribe to our channel. If you do enjoy these videos, let us know in the comments. All right, take it easy.