Nick Nurse would be in one of those massive summer workouts, maybe around the Summer League season, or after that in California, Nevada, or Florida, where a variety of NBA players and those looking for work would be doing. everything possible.

He would notice Svi Mykhailiuk from time to time, see how hard he was working, how varied his game was than many had thought, and he stayed with him.

When he got the chance to have the 24-year-old forward pick the Raptors, Nurse immediately thought it was a solid idea.

“I always liked him a little bit … in the little bursts that you can see him play in the last two years,” the coach said of the Ukrainian Mykhailiuk, who has played with the Los Angeles Lakers, Detroit Pistons and Oklahoma City Thunder in three seasons of the NBA. “He looked really good against us when he was with (Oklahoma City) at the end of the year.

“I’ve seen him a bit in summers a bit and he’s a hard worker.”

Mykhailiuk has shown earlier in the preseason that Nurse’s assessment is correct and that it could be a bit more than advertised.

His reputation when he signed a two-year offseason contract was primarily as a marksman. But in three games, he has shown knack for putting the ball on the ground, moves well on the weak side to cut through the back door and has been among the most pleasant surprises for Toronto, which fell 113-111 by decision to the Los Angeles. Celtics in Boston. Saturday night

“He’s kind of a playmaker, not just a shooter,” Nurse said of the six-foot-seven swingman. “He touches paint a lot, which is good, and it flies off those screens.”

Mykhailiuk’s game has added an unexpectedly interesting angle for figuring out the Raptors’ rotation, at least to start the season.

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If he can keep up, attack and create as well as shoot, he will probably give Gary Trent Jr. a chance to play.

Trent, who made his second preseason appearance Saturday after missing the opening game, is a good shooter and scorer, but his ability to create with the ball needs to improve. If Mykhailiuk keeps getting into the paint, that could give him a long-term advantage.

Nurse scrutinized both of them in Saturday’s game, each providing the kind of offense the Raptors are going to need from them.

Trent, who scored 14 points in 24 minutes, made a pair of nifty cuts down the line to finish off Scottie Barnes’ passing baskets in the first half, and Mykhailiuk hit a pair of 3-pointers on a 12-point outing. and got into the paint with the ball.

Whether they can give Nurse the kind of defensive presence he demands remains to be seen, but with Toronto’s offense largely in progress, their scoring will keep them high in the rotation.

“I think you have Goran (Dragic), Freddy (VanVleet), Malachi (Flynn) playing in the same position; you have Gary and Svi who are very similar, ”Nurse said after the game. “I’m playing Goran right now to play Freddy for a while. I think Gary is one of eight guys who could be starters at times as well. It could be offensive from the bench, whatever. Gary is getting better defensively, that’s what worries me right now. “

It was because of the legitimate opportunity to play that Mykhailiuk decided to sign with Toronto after some offseason interest from the Lakers and Portland Trail Blazers.

“I heard a lot of good things about the organization and the people who work here, the front office staff, the coaches, the players… I feel like he fit in very well,” he said earlier at camp.

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“I met the coach, I think, last summer and I felt he liked me as a player. And me coming here, I feel like it fit in very well. “

The only one who is undeniable right now is Barnes with the Raptors. The rookie started the night defending Boston star Jayson Tatum and burned out multiple times, but still posted solid numbers. Barnes finished with nine points, nine assists and six rebounds in 30 minutes.

VanVleet led Toronto with 22 points and OG Anunoby had 17. Tatum had 20 for Boston.

The Raptors will finish the home portion of the preseason on Monday against Houston with no limits on crowd size at Scotiabank Arena, the first time since February 2020 that they will have a chance to sell.

“I think everyone around us is excited about the electricity that the crowds bring from our homes. And obviously at capacity, it’s always a special place to play, maybe a little more special since the absence, ”Nurse said before Saturday’s game. “And energy, we certainly benefit and we need it and all that. So yes, this is very good news. “


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