So I went the the Raptors - Knicks game last night, which was the first home preseason game of the season. How excited was I? Not much, its preseason, I didn't exactly expect mid-April intensity from the players. However, I was interested to see the new makeup of the Raptors, and see if I could get an idea of what Sam Mitchell is thinking about the overall rotation.
3 Things I liked:
1. Jamario Moon looks like he found a jump shot over the summer. Is he the next Jesus Shuttlesworth? Obviously not, but it does look like he will make teams pay for giving him an open look. He is still active defensively and was pretty disruptive. He even had a monster block on Nate Robinson.
2. Andrea Bargnani finally discovered the weight room. I had heard rumours of a more buffed up Andrea being seen around the ACC, but I was extremely skeptical. However, I must say that I was impressed last night. Now, he isn't exactly a chisled Adonis, BUT he is noticabley bigger (and hopefully stronger). Shocking fact of the night, he was actively looking to mix it up on the block on offense. He even showed the ability to get off his shot with a couple of decent post moves. He missed a few gimmes after making a move, but they could have easily fallen as well. Overall I was satisfied that Andrea looks like he actually worked on his game this summer rather than working on his faux hawk. As a bonus, he even he a couple of 3's and grabbed a board in traffic!
3. Roko Ukic looks like he is going to be a player. He was all over the court yesterday, playing some 1, and a lot of 2. I will say this, he is not afraid to take it to the hoop. I didn't think he'd be smooth, but he looks comfortable out there. Mitchell is definitely using Ukic as more of a 2 guard right now, which makes sense. It seems to be easing him into the game, and all he has to do is worry about creating something for himself, and maybe dish of the help comes (he had a rather nifty dribble drive bounce pass to Hump, who promptly missed the layup). His defense has the biggest surprise though. He didn't let Jamal Crawford light him up, and he seems to have the size to be a decent defender. Early returns on this guy are positive, but I am taking a wait and see attitude.
3 Things that I Hated:
1. Hump. What can I say, I thought that his new hairdo would mark give him some sense. I was wrong. He was an offensive black hole. If anyone passed him the ball, that was it, he was putting the shot up. It frustrated the hell out of me because the Raps bench needed to work on their offensive sets. With 2 Scoops Hump out there, that wasn't possible. 20 footer from the elbow? Hump. Triple pump fake fadaway? Hump. Sufficent to say, I was not impressed.
2. Jamario Moon will never take it to the hoop. I don't think its in his DNA. I just doesn't seem like driving is something that enters his head when he gets the ball. Was it a prodcut of the Knicks giving him the jumper? Maybe, but there is still a shocking lack of aggression on his part.
3. The driving Jason Kapono. You know what I think when I see Jason Kapono driving? That's another 3 pt shot he ISN'T TAKING!!!!! He took 2 treys in the game, both were so pretty, and hit nothing but net. When he drove? Hilarity ensued.
All in all it was a solid preseason effort that ended in a W. 2-0, let's hope we keep seeing more improvement.