Banton, Brooks shine & Koloko shows potential in Raptors Summer League win

Amit Mann discusses what Dalano Banton, Armoni Brooks and Christian Koloko showed in the Raptors' first Summer League game vs. the 76ers.

Video Transcript

AMIT MANN: The Raptors win game one of their summer league, 97-77 against the 76ers. Let's look at some of the notable players from the game-- Christian Koloko, Armoni Brooks, and Dalano Banton. But first, if you are enjoying this content, please do subscribe to the channel. We're going to be here all off-season, all next season, giving you all kinds of Raptors analysis. So do tune in, stay here, stay locked in.

All right, let's start with Christian Koloko. And I just wanted to see him do exactly what he was doing in college and do it in the NBA. The Raptors wanted to see his rim protection. They wanted to see his footwork. They wanted to see him running. They want to see him be very active.

And he did all of that. You can see the tools for him to be an elite rim protector one day. He's great in drop coverage, that cat and mouse game where you can't get too far away from your defender but also, you have to be close to the ball handler. He did a great job of that, and he blocked some shots into oblivion in that kind of coverage.

He had six fouls, and you're allowed 10 in Summer League. I'm not sure if you care about fouls. But me, personally, for Christian Koloko, I could not care less and nor does Nick Nurse. He joined the broadcast. And he was asked about Christian Koloko. And he said, hey, I told him to keep on swinging. Keep on trying to block absolutely everything that you're capable of doing, all right?

This guy has a 7' 5" wingspan. He's mobile. He's active. He's going to detract so many shots. He just has to test his limits, get comfortable, and see what you're capable of. And I think he did that in game 1, and I want to see more of it.

Offensively, he showed that he could be a good screener. He can be an active rim runner. And also, he can be a release valve underneath the basket in the dunker spot. He was setting multiple screens on possessions, and he was making good contact. And then he was bursting towards the rim. And he was even able to get a few lobs out of it.

That is a great niche for Christian Koloko at this point of his NBA career. He's not going to be asked to do too much offensively. But that alone is going to be really effective at the NBA level.

And Koloko himself said that he could pass the ball a little bit. That was a big part of the Arizona offense. They asked their bigs to be a facilitator and to be a DHO threat. And he was able to do a little bit of that. I think he showed that he's got some passing chops. Some quick decisions were made on his part.

And as he continues to hone those skills, along with being a diving threat, along with being a pick and pop threat, which he showed that he can do a little bit-- the footwork was good on a few of those shots. Earl Watson, Nick Nurse both said that he can shoot those shots.

And Koloko also said he's taking a thousand shots a day, or at least he was heading into Summer League. He's working on all this stuff. And when you put this whole package together, it's going to make for a really interesting prospect as he continues to grow into his offensive game.

All right. Now, Dalano Banton, who is going into more of a leadership role on this Summer League team. And his first half wasn't great. We could see he was prone to some of the things that he's been critiqued about. There was a lot of turnovers. He was thinking a little bit too fast, as he would, because he is so fast at his size. It's a rare combination.

Second half comes around, he gets a little bit more patient. He's finding his stride a little bit more. He's doing more straight line drives. And in pick and rolls, he's getting to the rim. He's diving towards the basket. And the 76ers had a lot of trouble keeping up with him.

And then, when he got to the rim, nine free throw attempts. He's going in with his shoulder. And he's going into defenders. And they can't stop him from doing that. He's got some potential as a player who can get to the free throw line. I think he's going to be able to translate that skill set to the NBA level. At 6' 8", with that speed, again, it's a rare combination. He just has to hone in on being a good decision-maker.

And also, with the decision-making, he's got to be able to take that pull-up shot. A few cases where it led to turnovers where he just wasn't comfortable taking that shot from around the free throw line, extended 76ers, were playing a lot of drop coverage. That shot was available for him, but he wasn't comfortable taking it. He's got to take it with confidence. And hopefully, those balls go in.

But hey, I mean, the shot does look much better. The motion is better. Everything's a lot smoother. He's a bit more patient with his shot, and his follow-through is really good. I think that 3-point shot that he said he has and that he's been working on is here to stay.

And if he's able to put some of this together in Summer League and also in training camp and preseason, a reliable catch-and-shoot player, a player who can be a secondary ball handler and attack closeouts and get to the free throw line and just run in transition and make some good decisions.

This is a really interesting bench piece for the Raptors, depending on what they do in free agency, of course. Because there are some things up in the air that we're not really sure what they're going to be doing.

All right, so Armoni Brooks. And I said during a preview of Summer League that he has to get his Lou Williams on. And guess what? He did-- five threes, including a Lou Williams-esque pull-up from deep to pair with 25 points. I really liked his activity off the ball and being an off-ball threat. He plays so low to the ground, so he's able to vault up really quickly. And he's always going to be a threat like that.

In transition, he was decisive. When the opportunity was there, he took it, and he finished. When it wasn't there, he kicked it out. He picked his spots really well. And then, in pick and roll, his timing, his patience was really good. He waited for the contact with the screener. He got through.

He was taking some really good, positive angles towards the basket to create some advantages for the Raptors on offense. And then he was able to hit some floaters, which is integral for any player who's around 6' 3", 6' 5". There are too many giant players in the NBA. A floater is necessary. And he showed he's got it.

And on defense, he already showed last season he can be pretty positionally sound. He kind of knows the Raptor system now. But I want see more pressure. That wingspan of his is going to be helpful. And he's going to be able to guard up, probably guard down a little bit in some situations, if he's able to bring the intensity and physicality in some of those matchups, but a very versatile guard.

And I think in game 1, he kept his game very simple, and he was a star in his role. And he scored 20-plus points while doing it. That's a great sign for the Raptors.

You can see it, whether it's with the Raptors or with any other NBA team, a catch and shoot guy, a person who can work in transition, who can make good decisions, who can move off the ball a little bit. Those are all skills that are necessary for Armoni Brooks to be a great scorer and also have a long career in the NBA.

I mentioned Lou Williams. Lou was an unreal shot creator and facilitator and isolation scorer. I'm not sure if Armoni Brooks has that level. But he's showing signs of being a really effective player off the bench. And I think it's going to be-- it bodes well for him this season, next season, and whatever role he is going to have. He is an NBA player.

All right, so that was a look at Summer League game 1. We didn't look at everyone, but those were some of the stars from that first game. And we'll look at some more players as we go forward here. A great start for the Toronto Raptors. Again, if you like the content, subscribe. We'll talk to you soon.

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