The Toronto Raptors played their first exhibition game in months in a much-anticipated preseason matchup against Domantas Sabonis and the Sacramento Kings. Much was expected of Darko Rajakovic after replacing Nick Nurse, and he did not disappoint at all.
The Raptors took down the Kings 111-99 in a game that was not as close as the scoreline would indicate. With a nice 69 points in the first half, the starters were flawlessly executing Rajakovic’s free-flowing offense. An astonishing 18 of the team’s first 23 made shots were assisted.
Even though Rajakovic is an offensive-minded coach, he managed to keep a very strong Sacramento offense in check. This Raptors team has had to put up with a lot of negativity in the last few months, but the skies have cleared for the time being. It’s hard to see this game as any except a fabulous victory.
While it is just a preseason game, and we likely haven’t seen the most complex sets from Rajakovic on offense or the Kings on defense, Raptors fans should be flying high after seeing all the positivity on the floor. These three takes were true against Sacramento, and they could hold firm in the regular season.
3 bold takes after the Toronto Raptors beat Kings in preseason opener.
3. Sixth Man Gary Trent Jr. is here to stay permanently
The Raptors decided to run a more traditional lineup in the early stages of the preseason, putting Dennis Schroder with the starters and moving Trent to the bench. If the Raptors play even half this well in the regular season, Trent could end up in the Sixth Man of the Year hunt.
Trent led all Raptors scorers with 22 points in 21 minutes, making seven of his 12 shots and three of his six 3-point attempts. What stood out was his aggressiveness, as Trent was willing to go to the rim, create for himself in isolation, and keep the ball moving.
The Toronto Raptors could unleash Gary Trent Jr. on the bench.
Rather than competing with four other ball-needy scorers in the starting lineup, Trent can be empowered to be the leading scorer on a bench that is still working on sorting themselves out. In this role, Trent’s ability to get buckets has really started to shine.
On top of the fact that he has shown more of the lightning-quick short-area quickness that made him a tremendous scorer, his defensive energy and playmaking appear to have transferred over after Nurse left. Trent, at his best, could be a weapon that helps Rajakovic’s offense take flight. Now, how about he gets an extension?