Many of the Toronto Raptors players were at the recently ended Rico Hines runs. This makes sense as Rico Hines has been hired as an assistant coach for the Raptors. Still it was nice to see so many raptors players go down and compete against NBA star players. And you know what? Most of the Raptor players who went down, seemed to have improved on their game. This bodes well for training camp and the upcoming season. Even Paul George mentioned that he expected the Raptors to start hot. Hopefully, that is true but we’ll wait and see. But there is a lot to be encouraged about from what I watched. Here are five observations that really caught my eye.
Toronto Raptors – Rico Hines Runs, My 5 Observations
Pascal Siakam Looking to Take Another Step – In all of the YouTube highlights of the Rico Hines runs, there was only one player who was in all of them. Yes, Pascal Siakam! Even though he trains with Rico Hines, it was still impressive for him to play in every run. It did not matter whom he was playing against, he was usually one of the top players playing that day. He showed his versatility in scoring from inside out, passing and playing good defense. Pascal Siakam is looking to make another jump in his game and he is working hard to do so. From what I saw, I think he will.
Chris Boucher Picking Up From Last Season – Chris Boucher played great during these runs. He looked bigger but more importantly he played big. Last year, Boucher realized that if he outhustled other players and did the dirty work, he would greatly help his team. As a result, he had a breakout season. So far during these runs, he looks even better. He’s rebounding, blocking shots and hitting the open three. There was one line up where he and Koloko played on the front line and they were contesting everything and their length was really bothering opponents. He is ready for the upcoming season.
Koloko is Improving Quickly – Christian Koloko seems to have improved since summer league. During the runs, he protected the rim, blocked shots and switched out and defended smaller players. However, what really caught my eye was how the Raptors were using him in the pick and roll. Fred Van Fleet in particular was working with Koloko in the pick and roll and was making some nice passes to Koloko at the rim. It looked good and it was hard for the defense to stop it. Also, his teammates were throwing passes at the rim for him to dunk it and that was effective as well. Koloko is looking like that he wants to play regular minutes this year. If he keeps this up through training camp, he will.
Gary Trent’s Shooting looks Lethal – In some of the earlier runs, Trent’s shooting was inconsistent. He then took a couple of runs off to work on it. He then came back and his shot looked smooth like butter. He was swishing three after three and for long stretches he could not miss. He was also playing good defense with staying in front of his man and getting some steals.
Scottie Barnes’ Shooting is showing improvement – Barnes with his 10 pounds of added muscle, was looking like He-Man out there. His extra size was helping him on defense and offense as it allowed him to absorb contact. His defense is also improving as he had a few good moments defending James Harden and Paul George one on one. However, his shooting is the greatest reason for optimism. He was hitting open threes and jumpers at a good rate. This is encouraging because this was during live game action. We have seen clips of Scottie Barnes hitting three’s in an open gym earlier in the summer. However, it was nice to see that his shooting has translated to in game situations. If he shooting holds through training camp and this season, look for a big year for Scottie.
One of my favorite YouTube clips of the runs was where the Raptors starters played the Raptors bench. Talk about competitive! They went at each other an it was great to see. It was pretty physical in parts but it really brought the best in them. If the Raptors keep this momentum going into training camp, training camp will be one of the most competitive ever! That is good news as this means the Raptors should be ready to surprise the NBA once again. The Raptors have been putting in the work this summer. I can’t wait to see the fruits of their labour. Only a few more weeks until training camp!
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