Title: Raptors squander chance at championship and other notes from Summer League
Date: July 16, 2017
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic Toronto, I wrapped up the Raptors’ performance at Summer League and checked in on the progress of their young pieces.
There’s something to be said for synergy, I suppose. After a terrific “regular season” portion of Las Vegas Summer League, where the Raptors went 3-0 and earned the tournament’s top overall seed, the playoff portion of the event was far less inspiring, including a summer-ending loss to, you guessed it, the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Among a handful of presumed favourites to make a title run – the third consecutive year in which that had been the case – the Vegas Raptors wanted to be crowned champions. The players talked about it. Pascal Siakam wanted to follow his D-League Finals MVP with a Most Valuable Player nod here, Fred VanVleet joked he “wouldn’t be mad” if he could hold that honour over Norman Powell (who had been in Vegas in each of the last two summers), and the organization felt strongly that continued success at the team level for their player development program was meaningful.
“We’re playing to win this tournament,” co-coach Jama Mahlalela had said after the team’s 3-0 start. “Winning is your best learning. Finding a way to win the basketball game, that’s the goal of the game, so the more you practice that ultimate goal, the better you’re gonna be.
“I think in this tournament, it’s also about building confidence. And for Fred and for Jak and Pascal, to go out here and have a really good tournament and win a bunch of games kind of really builds their confidence as they go into our season.”