Title: Raptors Report: Finding meaning and scouting takeaways from 3 scrimmages
Date: July 29, 2020
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic Toronto, I broke down some of my biggest takeaways from the Raptors’ three pre-relaunch scrimmages.
Scrimmages, like preseason games before them, are a matter of perspective. How teams or players are evaluated — if they are at all — largely depends on what you’re looking for. My line of thinking with exhibitions and, to a lesser degree, Summer League games, has always been that they are unrepresentative samples. That doesn’t mean they’re not useful.
Over the Toronto Raptors’ three tune-ups, we’ve watched the fidelity of our sample erode because of inconsistent effort levels on both sides, conditioning limitations, lineups that won’t be used when games actually matter and players in roles they won’t be used in often. What that requires is a distancing from results. It wasn’t worrisome that Norman Powell wasn’t hitting shots over the first two games because he was getting the type of shots he’s hit all year, then he hit them in the third game. Even over an 82-game season, process — the way by which players and teams go about achieving results, which themselves are often subject to variance — rules. Yes, results determine who makes the playoffs and who plays whom and who gets paid what down the line, but for established teams like the Raptors, you’re hunting for changes in process and skill set that can be extrapolated to games where they’ll be measured most.
The same goes for these exhibitions. I was looking for material changes in a player’s approach or skills that would (or at least could) fundamentally change his utility in the postseason. That coach Nick Nurse was, by his own admission, not experimenting a great deal at either end of the floor beyond some trapping further dilutes our takeaways. Still, there were 136 minutes of basketball, and within those were some important developments. You may be out of mileage for talk of the process, so consider this our search for the meaning in the makeup of the Raptors’ three scrimmages.