Three Thoughts: Anunoby's Handles, Powell's shooting, Game Ready
The Toronto Raptors will try to wrap up their scrimmage schedule with a perfect 3-0 record when they take on the Phoenix Suns this afternoon at 3 p.m. ET.
The first two scrimmages so far have highlighted just how talented the Raptors' bench is. Toronto's second unit led the charge in both games, pulling away from the Houston Rockets and Portland Trail Blazers in the second half to clinch victory.
As the Raptors get set for their final scrimmage here are three things to watch for:
1. OG Anunoby's handles
OG Anunoby's improved handles and playmaking ability were on full display during Sunday's scrimmage against the Trail Blazers.
It's something the Raptors' 23-year-old wing said he spent the COVID-19 break working on.
"As soon as we got back in the gym during the quarantine period I was working on it every day and feeling better about it every day," Anunoby said Monday. "I know there is still a long way to go. So I’m not like satisfied, I can do more. So I am going to keep working to do more."
Ultimately, it will come down to repetition for Anunoby, according to Nurse. Every opportunity to try to penetrate the defense and create either for himself or others is a learning experience and a scrimmage game is an ideal place to work on those new moves.
2. Norman Powell's shooting
Raptors' guard Norman Powell is 7-for-21 from the field and 1-for-10 from 3-point range in the first two scrimmage games.
This is not a cause for concern right now, but it's something to monitor if his shooting slump continues to linger into the seeding games and eventually the playoffs.
"I'm a little surprised that his shots haven't been falling because he's looked so good and in kind of the individual work, the player development, the small group work, really [his] shooting numbers are extremely high," Nurse said Monday. "So, [I'm] a little concerned, I think his mechanics are great and he is a great shooter and he's got a lot of confidence, I think for him it is probably a little bit of a conditioning thing, so we'll get him right.
"I'm sure he'll start making them. We need his vault up ability and he was really, really good this season, like, really good. And just a couple of those go, in and build on it, get some confidence, he'll make a bunch of them, he’ll get back to scoring here pretty soon I'm sure."
Considering Powell has one of the best True Shooting percentages in the NBA, there's little doubt he'll be able to get back on track before it causes the Raptors any real concerns.
3. Game Ready
Considering this is the Raptors' last scrimmage game, the team ideally wants to conclude the scrimmage ready for the return of the regular season against the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday.
Nurse will continue to manage everyone's minutes while keeping everyone fresh for the regular season and ultimately the playoffs.
"I feel like we’re okay," Nurse said Monday. "I think there’s plenty to improve on conditioning-wise and you know, extended minutes wise but I think I’m pretty happy now.
"The guys have showed some really good stretches of defense, I think the offense will continue to come, we’ll game-plan a little better for that, etc. I think the shots will start falling a little bit more as we get our legs underneath us."
After leaving Sunday's scrimmage early with a left knee injury, Fred VanVleet said he is feeling fine.
"I feel good. I feel good in practice, I feel good when I'm working out, I feel good in the scrimmages," VanVleet said. "It's gonna take time. I spoke about this a little bit earlier. We haven't had our full team pretty much all year and now in this position playing a whole entire new game of basketball with a new team, trying to figure everything out. I'll be ready when I'm needed, and I think we still have to mesh our roles again and find our chemistry again and find out who's gonna be shooting where and where guys are gonna be."