The Toronto Raptors Summer League team is full of talent for the future. As much as Raptors fans may hate the idea of a rebuild, there are tons of exciting young players for the franchise to build around. Fans know about the core pieces like OG Anunoby, Fred VanVleet, and Pascal Siakam. Let’s look instead at some of the Raptors in the Las Vegas Summer League that fans should pay attention to.
Scottie Barnes, Forward
The fourth overall pick is out to prove some doubters wrong. Many Raptors fans were upset at the pick of Barnes over Jalen Suggs who went fifth to the Orlando Magic. The fit of Barnes in the Raptors forward rotation is a puzzle for some, considering he has a similar skillset to Anunoby and Siakam.
Let’s start with the good so far. Barnes brings energy to the court that pumps up his teammates. He’s a hustle player who plays with heart and all those other cliches that coaches love. Barnes has stuffed the stat sheets with hustle stats, averaging 7.0 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game. In the most recent game against Houston, Barnes electrified with five blocks. He’s slowly but surely endearing himself to Raptors fans with quality performances on defense.
There are also some areas of the game where Barnes has to grow. His enthusiasm sometimes has him going too fast on the offensive end, leading to rushed shots or poor lane choices. Barnes is averaging 13 points per game, but his efficiency isn’t there yet. 33% from the field and 25% from deep isn’t going to cut it. If Barnes doesn’t learn when to turn his game speed up and when to let it come to him, he’s going to keep making poor offensive decisions that hurt the team.
Malachi Flynn, Guard
Flynn, the second-year guard who got lots of opportunities near the end of his rookie year, is shining in the Summer League. With Kyle Lowry now in Miami, Flynn is projected to take a large chunk of minutes at the point for the Raptors. If he can build on his performance through three games, the Raptors have a solid floor general in the wings.
Through three games Flynn is the team’s leading scorer. He’s averaging 17.3 points on 41% from the field and a scorching 45% from three. Flynn has proven to be a bucket, but to get to the next level as a point guard he’s going to need to increase his distribution. He’s averaging only 1.7 assists per game and 2.7 turnovers in 29 minutes a game. VanVleet exists as an off-ball playmaker, but Flynn will need to seriously pump up his assist numbers to take his next steps. As he gets more experience the game should slow down for Flynn and he’ll be able to find teammates for open shots. You have to believe the coaches are wanting him to work on his vision in the remaining Summer League games.
Precious Achiuwa, Center/Forward
The real centerpiece of the Toronto Raptors deal that sent Lowry to Miami (all offense to Goran Dragic) Achiuwa is fresh off of the Olympics with Nigeria. Only suiting up in the last two games, Achiuwa has proven himself to be a force down low. Take that with a grain of salt as he’s matching up against smaller players who are fresh out of college. It still has been impressive to see him get to the basket and operate on the low block.
Achiuwa has a positive plus/minus in both the loss to Golden State and the win against Houston. He’s averaging 16 points on 61.9% shooting and seems to only take quality looks. Achiuwa has helped anchor defensive rotations as well, contesting shots and boxing out down low. The next steps for him will be carving out a spot in the proper rotation of the Toronto Raptors, trying to impress enough with his defensive acumen to take minutes away from Khem Birch and Chris Boucher.