KONNICHI-WOZ

New­comer Davis im­presses, but Van­vleet is giv­ing him tough love ... It’s still just the early stages for Rap­tors ... Ujiri has game face on de­spite it be­ing pre-season

Edmonton Sun - - SPORTS - RYAN WOLSTAT’S news and notes on the Rap­tors in Ja­pan rwol­[email protected]­media.com Twit­ter: @wol­stat­sun

TOKYO — The Toronto Rap­tors got an ex­tended look at new­comer Ter­ence Davis in Tues­day’s pre-season opener against Hous­ton.

Davis, who signed with the team af­ter sur­pris­ingly go­ing un­drafted de­spite a tremen­dous pre­draft lead-up of work­outs, was not shy in his de­but.

Af­ter play­ing eight min­utes in the first half as the sec­ond man off of the bench and pick­ing up four as­sists with­out hit­ting a shot, the ex­plo­sive Davis let it fly and fin­ished with eight points on 11 shots (the sec­ond-most at­tempts on the team), five as­sists and three steals.

Though he missed each of his five three-point at­tempts, Davis flashed his ath­leti­cism with a soar­ing one­handed jam that drew oohs and ahhs from the crowd.

With a need at point guard be­hind Kyle Lowry and Fred Van­vleet, the Rap­tors have been get­ting Davis, pri­mar­ily a swing­man in col­lege, to learn a new po­si­tion.

He showed some good vi­sion with the as­sists and only two turnovers and also caught Chris Boucher in stride for what should have been an easy bucket, but Boucher fum­bled the pass.

Van­vleet, who also went un­drafted and opted to sign with the Rap­tors, has taken Davis un­der his wing and is giv­ing him some tough love amidst the sup­port.

“He’s been good. He’s been ag­gres­sive (but) there’s a lot of room for growth,” Van­vleet said when asked by the Toronto Sun about what he has seen from Davis so far.

“He’s got to get a lot bet­ter ob­vi­ously to be able to help this team but you see flashes. You see what he brings to the ta­ble. But he’s kind of in an awk­ward po­si­tion. I know they’re ask­ing him to do some pri­mary ball han­dling which is prob­a­bly not nat­u­ral for him so I think in a more tra­di­tional sec­ond unit with a point guard (on the floor with him) he can play off the ball more,” Van­vleet said.

“But he’s got the right ap­proach. He works and the tal­ent will show when it needs to show he’s got a bright fu­ture and we are all try­ing to help him and speed up his learn­ing curve. He’s got a lot to learn as well but you like what you see from him.”

BACK IN AC­TION

The Rap­tors will ex­per­i­ment a bit in the pre-season in or­der to fig­ure out how ev­ery­body fits in.

“It’s the su­per-early stages, es­pe­cially for us,” Nick Nurse said ear­lier this week.

“We’ve got a lot of new faces and we’re try­ing to de­ter­mine where they are go­ing to slot in, but it’s also good to get our band back to­gether again and get them play­ing as a group.”

In the opener against Hous­ton nearly ev­ery Rap­tor saw some ac­tion, with Cana­di­ans Boucher and Oshae Bris­sett amongst those show­ing in­ter­est­ing flashes.

New­com­ers Stan­ley John­son and Ron­dae Hol­lis-jef­fer­son had rough de­buts.

A LIT­TLE JOKE

Pas­cal Si­akam couldn’t help him­self when a Ja­panese in­ter­viewer asked Van­vleet about his slight stature and how short play­ers in gen­eral can suc­ceed. Si­akam broke out laugh­ing and had to bury his head in his hat while Van­vleet main­tained his com­po­sure and as usual came up with a thought­ful an­swer.

“Why is that so funny?” Van­vleet asked his pal Si­akam be­fore quip­ping, “I wasn’t the short­est player out there tonight.”

Van­vleet said he’s in­ter­ested to see what the NBA’S new height mea­sure­ments re­veal about cer­tain play­ers.

“I’d like to see where I’m ranked with the new mea­sure­ments,” Van­vleet said with a smile. Si­akam asked if he would be listed at 6-foot-2. Van­vleet said sixfeet — and a half. He added smaller play­ers must be re­lent­less, tough and work on their out­side shots.

SEEN AND HEARD

Had to laugh while sit­u­ated at our base­line perch for the game to see Rap­tors pres­i­dent Ma­sai Ujiri in mid-season form chirp­ing a ref­eree about a de­bat­able call in a pre-season game. Ujiri was out­done though by Rock­ets vet­er­ans like Rus­sell West­brook and Tyson Chan­dler, who were trash-talk­ing just about ev­ery­one. To wit, at one point while Davis was at the free-throw line West­brook ut­tered a colour­ful ver­sion of “who the hell are you?” ... Nurse said he brought his gui­tar on the trip. Any gigs in Tokyo? “Noth­ing yet,” Nurse said ... James Har­den ba­si­cally did what­ever he wanted, but OG Anunoby has al­ways given him at least a bit of trou­ble and Si­akam did de­cently when matched up with him too. Van­vleet gave Har­den a taste of his own medicine by burn­ing him off of the drib­ble a cou­ple of times. Har­den was hav­ing fun though. Af­ter a big blocked shot (not ex­actly a main­stay of his game), Har­den sig­nalled first down the other way, NFL style, caus­ing his team­mates to break out in a fit of laugh­ter ... Serge Ibaka has dozens of self-given nick­names but the new one he told us might just be the best: Ma­fuzzy Champ.

We’ve got a lot of new faces and we’re try­ing to de­ter­mine where they are go­ing to slot in, but it’s also good to get our band back to­gether again and get them play­ing as a group. rap­tors coach Nick Nurse

GETTY IMAGES

Rap­tors rookie Ter­ence Davis drives to the bas­ket against Hous­ton Rock­ets’ Ryan An­der­son dur­ing yes­ter­day’s game.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.