Amit Mann discusses Jeff Dowtin making a case for a roster spot, DJ Wilson breaking out after a quiet Summer League and Christian Koloko intimidating at the rim and finding patience on offence. Subscribe to our YouTube channel for more Raptors content.
AMIT MANN: Raptors beat the Jazz 80-74 in their third Summer League game, moving to 2 and 1. We're going to talk about Jeff Dowtin, who's been unbelievable, DJ Wilson breaking out, along with Christian Koloko, and a little bit more. But first, I got to encourage you to subscribe to our YouTube channel.
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Some Raptors news for you-- Justin Champagnie has been given a two-year, partially guaranteed contract, which is essentially joining DJ Wilson, Armoni Brooks, and Dalano Banton with a prove 'em. Let's see what you could do, and see if you can battle for a roster spot and earn your keep.
Unfortunately for him, he has missed all of Summer League with a left thumb injury. He was really looking forward to showing off what he's done and worked on over the offseason. But he'll have to wait until training camp.
Also probably joining them is Jeff Dowtin, who has-- essentially just throwing his suitcase, throwing everything he owns into this conversation of the final 15 spots on the Toronto Raptors, because he has been sensational during Summer League. Look no further than last night against the Utah Jazz-- 19 points on 8 of 13 shooting, scoring 6 of the final 8 points in clutch time, beating Bruno Caboclo on switches and going at him. Bruno looks so different. It's very strange.
But the guy was, like, calm, cool, collected in those moments. And you just can't teach players to do that. They often have to develop themselves, and earn their time there, and make mistakes. But he's already there at 25 years old.
And he just has so much composure. It was really, really impressive. When you think about what the Raptors needed this offseason, it's probably a lot of rim protection and a bit of guard depth.
And for me, I wanted a person to come in who could penetrate the paint, who could hit shots, and who could dribble the ball. And he hits all of those targets. Obviously, we're looking at Summer League. This is not the NBA.
But his downhill speed is NBA-ready. He's going to be able to get in the paint. And it reminds me of what Shai Gilgeous-Alexander said during Team Canada training camp-- you know the guy, future Raptor, hopefully. He was asked about what's the difference between international game and the NBA game.
He's like, yeah, there are some subtle differences. But in the end, it's all about getting in the paint. That's where you want to go. That's where the bread and butter is made. That's how you get defenses rotating. That's how you make good offense happen.
And for the Raptors, they don't have too many guys right now who can do that. Obviously, there's Pascal Siakam. And we'll see how some guys come back after the offseason after they've had some time to develop their games. But really, he is the only guy who can consistently get in the paint.
And then you think of Dowtin, and he's probably going to be one of their better players right off the bat just in terms of being able to get in the paint. And then defensively, he's 6' 3". He's going to be kind of a big point guard. He could probably do some shooting guard.
And you know what? Because he's that intense on defense, he may be able to guard some small forwards-- not someone like the 6' 8" to 6' 9" guys, but some of these guys are, like, 6' 5", something like that. He could probably guard some of them too because he's that intense on the defensive end.
And he's got unbelievable court sense on both sides of the ball. He is a Raptor through and through. You could use him off the ball. He doesn't need the ball in his hands.
He's already a tremendous 3-point shooter-- 40% from 3 in the G League last year. You could use him off the ball. So when Scottie or Pascal is playing point guard, you could switch it up between those two.
Maybe Dowtin sometimes plays point guard when Fred VanVleet, obviously, is not on the court. He's another option you can use. And you can trust him that if he does not make the shot, he will be able to get in the paint and get the defense rotating. And they just don't have enough players who can do that. And it's something that the Raptors really need to get their half court offense a little bit better.
Right now, they're probably in the middle of the pack. What has to change for them, if they want to get to that next echelon, it's probably being able to get in the paint. And I'm sure Scottie Barnes, I'm sure OG Anunoby, they're going to come back much better. But having someone off your bench who is able to do that-- and I think Dalano Banton, by the way, will also be able to fill that role.
But having as many players as possible who can get in the paint, and finish, and get the defense rotating, and make smart passes, you need all that. And he can do it. So when it comes to the Raptors now, they've got some really difficult decisions to make. Because you've got a lot of players who are vying for very few spots.
But I think with his skills and his talent, he's going to get a serious look for some of those final spots. And at the very least, maybe it's a G League contract. But you also got to think about that he has played really well in Summer League.
Another team is going to see that. And they may give him a contract. So how much do they value what he brings? How much do they think that they need his skill set off the bench? That is a question.
All right, moving on to DJ Wilson, who had himself a breakout game-- he had been kind of quiet so far. It seemed like he had, like, butter hand syndrome because he just could not catch the ball-- a lot of fumbling and bumbling. But also got to keep in mind that this is his first five-on-five action since last season.
If you recall, he was on some 10-days with the Toronto Raptors. He had a knee injury. Then his season's over. And they were so keen on him, they like what he brings so much, and he's such an instant fit with his skill set that they have now signed him to a contract. And again, as I said earlier, he's joining a few other players on partially guaranteed contracts.
On defense, he's very good at tracking the ball in drop coverage. And he's very aware of his surrounding, which is obviously very useful as a anchor big man, in some ways. Sometimes, he's going to play four. Other times, he's going to play five, even in Summer League right now. Because of Koloko, he's playing four.
But he's aware. He knows what's happening around him-- a great skill. And he can probably guard a little bit on the perimeter. Not everyone-- he got beat a couple of times last night, maybe with some quicker guards. But he can do it against some small forwards and so forth. And you can trust him out there not to make many mistakes.
And then offensively, the Raptors love to play transition. He can beat other bigs down the court. He can handle the ball enough to be able to get the ball across half court.
And then in the half court, the pick and roll-- he can slip. He can pop. He can dive. He can do all of that. Obviously, there's some varying abilities within all those.
The 3-point shot is obviously the biggest difference maker for him when it compares to the other Raptors bigs. And that's something that he really does have to nail down. He's been typically around league average to below league average, or a little bit below from the 3-point line.
If he's able to sure that up, he really does separate himself from a lot of different players, and he gives the Raptors spacing. That's what they need. Y'all know Pascal, OG, Scottie, they all need space to operate. And that has not been available this offseason. I'm sure a lot of players will come back with better 3-point shots. And he would be a person who can come off the bench, provide the spacing.
And you know what? He does have a little bit of a mid-range game, too, from the free throw line extended. He loves that spot. And he showed that off again last night against the Utah Jazz.
And another unique ability that he has is that he's able to post up pretty well against smaller players-- maybe not like-sized players as much because the size and weight mismatch isn't really there. But when it comes to smaller players, and that could happen in the NBA in switches-- we know how important switching is in the NBA. And if teams want to challenge him to score on, like, some 6' 5", some 6' 6", some 6' 7" players, he could do it. He has, like, this really nice fadeaway shot. You could put him out there, and maybe he's able to help you in some way.
Wrapping it up with our rookie, Christian Koloko. And yesterday, the video that I did, I was talking about his NBA readiness. And there were some people who were challenging how ready he is for the NBA right now.
And I want to show you this clip. Because I'm telling you, there is no one on the Raptors right now who can do this. So you see here-- look at Jared Butler. He's underneath the basket.
He's got a layup. And he turns it down because Koloko is near him. The Raptors don't have anyone that can do this. His mere presence was enough to make this man turn down a layup.
His combination of mobility and activity and speed is really rare. And the Raptors don't need him to be Rudy Gobert, where the Utah Jazz were just funneling players to Rudy Gobert. They need him just to be solid. They need him to be long, intimidating, and make drivers hesitate in his minutes when he's on the court, to make people think about his presence, and to worry about what he's able to do. Because he's so long, so active, he gets to balls that not all players can get to.
And on offense against the Jazz, he only had 5 points. But he had this nice little post move. Check this out.
Raptors offense gives him some space. He's patient. He keeps moving. Good turn, soft touch.
Also, he had this nice pass on the roll. As I said yesterday, he has to put on a few pounds. Right now, he's around 230. He gets to 245, then a person like Bruno Caboclo will be no problem for him. And then maybe he's able to go at 6' 11" players, seven-foot players.
But right now, he's nailing the fundamentals. And that is a really good start for him. He's got the jumper. He's got the soft touch. It's just a matter of putting it together, and he will do that over time.
The Raptors join a flurry of teams at 2 and 1 in Summer League. If they want a chance at the playoffs, they got to win against the Miami Heat. Enjoy that game.
My name's Amit Mann. Follow me on Twitter, @Amit_Mann. And we will talk to you soon. Subscribe, too. Subscribe.