Let’s do the math here: The Toronto Raptors and Charlotte Hornets combined for 57 fouls, 47 turnovers and almost 150 minutes of pre-season basketball, with 34 different players seeing the ground.
It was not “art”, as Serge Ibaka, who was not forgotten, could be said, but it was a game and the Raptors won 112 to 109 to improve to 2 to 0 in the exhibition game – both victories in Charlotte against the Hornets.
The Raptors’ last exhibition game is Friday in Tampa against the Miami Heat, before the regular season starts December 23 against the San Antonio Spurs. That’s all to expect, but for now, we have lessons:
1. Will this season see a “crowd of banks” returning to Toronto?
If you are a non-beginner designed with the Raptors, this may be the season for you, in a somewhat backward way.
Three seasons ago, then Raptors’ assistant coach, Nick Nurse, would retain the second and third units for what was effectively a second workout after Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, Ibaka and the veterans showered and returned home after the first workout. . It was a pivotal moment for the franchise, as then-technical Dwane Casey used Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet as the basic pieces of what became known as “bank mob” – an agitated group that commanded the second opposition units and was a huge factor in the Raptors team’s 59-win season.
That formula went out the window in 2018-19 when Kawhi Leonard and Marc Gasol joined the club and the rotation became heavier, although those shiny rings seem to suggest that it worked well. Last season, injuries prevented a stable rotation. But with a deep bench, a season of 72 packed games, a short training camp and a short off-season, Nurse has signaled that he is open to returning to a somewhat defined second unit.
“I think you’re in the middle of a load conditioning thing where you don’t go too far with a lot of guys yet,” he said, explaining why he didn’t plan to rely too much on his beginners over the course of three games of display or even more. “I would say that this is likely to lead to slightly deeper rotations earlier this year. I just don’t see how to go to Game 1 and push someone up in a few minutes. I think it is a change in the thinking process, but that is exactly what we are understanding. “
It doesn’t matter that this team of Raptors is becoming exceptionally deep. Even with Lowry staying home in Tampa and Patrick McCaw growing slowly after knee surgery out of season, it looked like there was always another body the nurse could turn to. The challenge for him will be to find out who, among a wide range of options, he will hold regular positions in addition to the six or seven best rotating players. That said, the guys have to act.
“It’s always good to have competition, I think,” he said. “Again, you have heard me talking for a few days about wanting to meet some guys you can count on every night, but I didn’t feel that about Matt [Thomas] and Chris [Boucher] and Terence [Davis] in the first part, they did not have very good passages. “
The nurse opened the door to stable papers outside the bank, but he is not revealing those minutes.
2. Flynn seems an obstacle to becoming a regular season contributor
Keeping this theme, newcomer Malachi Flynn (17 points out of 12 shots) impressed again and is looking like a block to gain steady minutes as the second unit’s guard and, who knows, maybe slide up the roster to play alongside VanVleet and Lowry in groups of small balls.
For the second game in a row, the Raptors game got excited when he took control of the attack. Before long, in the second half, he hurried to interrupt a completely open triple in Charlotte in the transition; played a perfect lob for an OG Anunoby cut for a dunk; dropped an open three; and overtook the entire Hornets squad for a lay-up.
What will be interesting is who can get the minutes of the other wing.
Davis was supposed to have an advantage there, but he looked very good in the first game of the preseason and was totally shaken on Monday night with a few quick turns and a rush at the start of the game. Thomas was brilliant in the first game, but he wasn’t a factor (1 out of 5) in the second. But also looking for minutes will be DeAndre ‘Bembry and Paul Watson, while Norm Powell will also have minutes with that group. It will be crowded and probably very competitive.
Davis (14 points, three assists) found his legs in the second half, exhibiting the elite athletic explosion that sets him apart while making beautiful passes for his teammates and moving forward with some confidence and showing some chemistry with Flynn. Meanwhile, Bembry showed great promise as an active cutter and high-energy defender. The nurse will have a lot of choice.
3. The opportunity exists for Boucher – he just needs to take advantage of it
Initially, it will probably be Chris Boucher’s chance to lose. The Montreal native has been rewarded with a $ 13.5 million two-year off-season deal (no second-year warranty, however) and is expected to play as an up-five with a unit that is likely to play small and very fast .
“I feel like we are younger, we can play fast. Even during the training camp you can see that we are trying to play fast, “he said.” Even if we are learning, the ball moves, we have good snipers – Matt, TD, Malachi.
“It’s a really great group of guys who want to work hard and the pace is different and that gives you a different dynamic than that of beginners. I think for us, it’s just a matter of maintaining the lead or increasing the lead and just play I think in basketball, most of the time, when you get off the bench, that’s what you should do: bring energy and play hard and I think we have a good group of guys who can do that. ”
A challenge for Boucher will be to stay on the ground. He has been a defender of the foul during his first two seasons in Toronto – averaging 5.3 for 36 minutes. He had three quick rebounds in 14 minutes and missed two goals – although he managed eight rebounds. The hope is that Boucher is more than just an energy player with a stable role.
“I think it’s my third year here, so you can see that a lot of things are happening naturally. Knowing the parts. Knowing the sets. What we are doing in defense. You kind of become a leader outside the bank, ”said Boucher before the game. “Helps a lot. I think, you know, trying to keep building for the past two years. I think I have improved every year. And the board gave me a contract and they believe me. It definitely helps to increase my confidence and also makes me want to do more just to show that it was not a lost cause. “
4. So far, Bembry is living up to his reputation
If there was a Raptor who did himself a favor on Monday night, it was Bembry, who arrived as a free agent from Atlanta with the reputation of a versatile defender with some ball skills and showed in various settings that he is determined to win a role.
The Raptors scored +17 in their 16 minutes as he seemed to be in the right place at the right time to keep his moves on the attack or eliminate them on defense.
“He was a great man; He was great. He was kind of in the role of Pat McCaw today, ”said VanVleet, who was brilliant at 23 points in 22 minutes in 9 of 12 shots, with four assists and three steals. “Just taking the pressure off. These guys were coming in full court, and he was the top scorer in college. I remember him leaving the same way [draft] and DeAndre has great ball skills – he can put him on the ground, he can kick. And he can play make and then there’s a rhythm, I think. I have studied his game, I think he knows my game. And then we just had a natural rhythm out there, and I was able to find him and he found me.
“But just having an extra guy there who can bring it up and start the attack and get us off the ball is sometimes great, alongside his defensive pressure. His length, his rebound. I thought he was very, very, very, good tonight, and I hope you know that we can build this from now on. “
Bembry is eager to continue: “I always brought an advantage to the game and just hunger. I think it’s the beginning, ”he said. “And then I can score from one to three, I can play from one to three, I can get into the painting, make some moves in the painting. Obviously, I’m even better at shooting, I can shoot some three sometimes too. So I’m everywhere and I think these guys like me to fly around like that and I think it just helps us. “
5. Ball still has question marks around him, but his move to change the game is undeniable
Flynn is not the only impressive newbie shipowner in Charlotte.
The Hornets have called LaMelo Ball in third overall and hope the 19-year-old can eventually provide one of the NBA’s softest franchises with an identity that goes beyond Michael Jordan’s less-than-stellar track record as owner.
Based on initial returns, it may not take that long. There will be question marks about your pitch and if your education as a famous Insta younger brother from one of the most unconventional basketball families will somehow hinder your professional progress, but there is no doubt about one thing: the boy can absolutely pass the ball and plays with a kind of fluid ease that flows to everyone on the ground with him.
“My first impressions were that he is very good, right?” The nurse said, offering her assessment report. “He certainly has a sense of the game and a unique passing element in his game that forces the transition. He really goes ahead, even when there is nothing there, he is often going forward because it is kind of his mentality. This puts your defense under a little pressure to come back. “
He seemed to put the ball in position for his teammates to score each time he touched it and that he only had two assists in 20 minutes can reflect more on the Hornets than he does. It just seems like a matter of time before he finishes starting and squeezing out any juice that may be from a very dry team.