October 3, 2022

It’s much more exciting than Kevin Durant.

The Summer League is right around the corner – basketball never sleeps, even beyond the rumor mill. There is real hoop to play! The Raptors will face the Philadelphia 76ers on July 9, the Chicago Bulls on July 12, the Utah Jazz on July 13 and the Miami Heat on July 15.

Last year, the Raptors’ Summer League roster included Scottie Barnes, Precious Achiuwa, Justin Champagnie, David Johnson, Yuta Watanabe, Malachi Flynn and Dalano Banton. There are real NBA guys on this thing. Not everyone makes it out of the unadvertised guys, but some of them will. If I had to guess, Champagnie, Johnson and Banton will return. Barring injury, it is very likely that Ron Harper jr. and Christian Koloko will also play. It’s likely some of the other guys will at least play 905 in 2022-23.

There have also been a number of exciting signings in recent days.

Let’s find out who everyone is (really just newcomers, we all know Champagnie, Johnson and Banton).

Ron Harper jr.

Harper was a four-year-old college guard with plenty of size and strength, and he took his 3-point shooting tally to 40% in his senior year. It’s a deadly scorer, much more dependent on strength and footwork than speed or vertical. His strength was scoring in college, averaging 15.8 points per game in his fourth year. He didn’t offer a huge amount of rebounds, assists, or stocks beyond the points. But as a goalscorer, he should project himself well with his artistry and touch. He might struggle to finish around the NBA rim, and he’ll have to prove his defense.

Christian Koloko

It should be a solid rim protector right out of the gate. He’s a true 7-footer in a league where that’s actually quite rare, and he has an extremely solid standing reach of 9-foot-5. He averaged 2.8 blocks per game in his freshman year of college, and that translates pretty quickly. Of course, speed and positioning and all of that will take a long time, and Koloko probably won’t be ready to sustain an NBA defense for quite some time. But he will certainly be able to in the Summer League!

It is also perhaps much more than a simple defense. He has a good shot and shot well from the free throw line, and the Raptors seem to be hoping he will be a 3-point shooter. Which means he will kick them off in the Summer League. He seems to have a few passing chops. The Raptors will likely let him try some wild stuff this summer before letting him season himself with the 905 in the upcoming season.

Ryan Hawkins

Hawkins only spent a year playing small forward for Creighton. He was a 3-point specialist, taking more than half of his shots there and connecting at 35.8%. He’s a better shooter than that percentage suggests – he took hard, deep shots, man. As an 80% free throw shooter, he should also be a solid range shooter in the NBA. The guy is a real shooter. He’s got a good size at 6-foot-7 and a quick release, so he should be able to get noticed at the NBA level. Everything else is a question mark to prove.

Abu Kigab

Kigab is a Sudanese-Canadian winger, and he’s a strong athlete and solid player off the ball. He does a lot of things quite well, including defense, passing, rebounding, etc. But he never assembled the jumper past 30% depth, and his shot looks like it needs some work, aesthetically. He’ll be at his best as a game cutter and connector, but it’s hard to be an optimized off-ball player without adding the jumper. He’ll also have to speed up his decision-making, but he’s a creative player, and that’s valuable.

Jaylen Sims

A shooting guard? I didn’t know these still existed. He’s tall for a non-leading guard at 6-foot-6, and he’s a shrewd scorer. He’s fast and shrewd as a finisher, and he’s shot between 35 and 38 percent from deep in his four years in college. He’s a raw player, and for his tools and craftsmanship, he never became effective anywhere on the pitch after the arc. He likes to get into the mid-range off of pick and roll and dance around a bit. His best skill, however, is reaching the free throw line, and he finished 24th in the nation among guards in free throw attempts per game. If that translates, he might be able to find a place at the NBA level. But it must become more efficient everywhere else.

Alex Barcello

A SHOOTER shooter at 6-foor-2. Dude got between 48 and 42 percent deep in the three years at BYU. He has a super confident and peppy kick. He can release from several different angles and get away with it quickly, so the hope must be that his 3-point frequency can be taken to the next level. He has a lot to improve. He’s not an amazing athlete, and while he has a fancy dribbling package to get into his jumper, that doesn’t translate as well inside the arc. If he can play defense, there will always be room for a shooter of his caliber in the NBA. But the defense is absolutely not acquired.

Trey Porter

The 6ft 11in tall last played in college in 2018-19 but has been dominating Europe for some time. He was the National Basketball MVP in Bulgaria last year for BC Rilski Sportist where he averaged just under 15 points and 10 rebounds per game while shooting 75% from the field. He is a great athlete and a heady cutter. It doesn’t have a lot of reach, but it’s solid to make itself available on the rim. It’s a good lob threat. It’s unclear whether his athleticism – he was dominant in Bulgaria – will move up to the top level, but he’s athletic and heady great, and as long as the finishing remains relevant he should play well this summer.