Thoughts on Raptors-Lakers:
- Really impressed by DeMarre Carroll’s playmaking ability. He took it to the rack a few times and even ran a few pick-and-rolls. Didn’t get to see much of that in Atlanta.
- Another excellent game from Kyle Lowry. He’s so much quicker than he was last season, and he’s consistently getting penetration and drawing extra defenders, which is opening up easy passes for his bigs inside.
- Lowry’s jumpshot looks good too. So much lift on his shot.
- I need to get on Lowry’s training regiment. Been trying to shed the freshman 15 for five years now.
- DeMar DeRozan continues to struggle. He finished 1-of-7 from the floor and was noticeably frustrated. Lots of forced shots, he looked awkward on his drives, and save for one nice PnR set up, DeRozan was mostly a huge minus on offense. Not sure what’s wrong.
- Cory Joseph was amazing. Consistently got to the basket, played excellent defense against a tricky assignment in Lou Williams, and even knocked down a wide-open trey. He’ll be counted upon to steady a second unit that has looked very strong so far.
- Anthony Bennett doing positive things makes me very happy. I’m rooting for the kid, because oh what a story it would be if he could turn it around.
- The Lakers are very trash, but they’ll be worth watching. Julius Randle has that mean streak about his game and he’s a tough combo of size, quickness, and strength.
- Kobe Bryant looks really old. He can’t get any separation whatsoever.
- Patrick Patterson is really struggling to contribute. He’s not getting good looks on offense, but that’s because he’s mostly paired up with DeRozan on some truly ugly PnR sets.
- On defense, Patterson is moving his feet nicely which is useful against smallball fours, but he needs to rebound better. Otherwise, Luis Scola’s ancient ass might steal his minutes.
- Based on the minute patterns through three preseason games, it looks like the Raptors will certainly still feature two distinct starting and bench units. That worries me because the bench, on paper, shouldn’t be able to function as an offensive unit. However, they’ve looked strong thus far, with Joseph and Scola pairing well as a high-IQ two man game. Throw in the emergence of Terrence Ross as someone who can create points off turnovers, and hey, maybe it can work? (I doubt it.)
- James Johnson continues to not receive any meaningful playing time or sets called for him on offense. It’s fairly evident that he’ll be the third-string power forward, and he looks very much out of place when he plays as a four. He doesn’t quite know when to roll, he’s lost on their high HORNs play and he just doesn’t look comfortable.
- It’s going to be a rough year for Swaggy P. The Lakers clearly want him gone and Williams is much better.