Team USA’s looking rather unbeatable. LBJ, Deron Williams and Dwight Howard are just too good for anybody and its not a stretch to think that this team can win each game by 25+. Never say never but I don’t think those Argentians can back-cut this team to death like they did against Antonio Davis and Co. a few years back, much better talent and much better coaching. Larry Brown always struck me as more hype than substance and Coach K’s “back to the basics” philosophy is working, at least in the warmups.

As you might imagine there’s very little (zero) Raptor news. Matt Devlin is covering wrestling for NBC in Beijing and in his latest post from a few days back he’s talking about how Russian teams have ‘money to burn’ when it comes to signing players and the weak dollar isn’t helping matters. Basically money talks and European teams have it and should continue to provide the NBA with competition when it comes to signing players. So far we haven’t seen any big names depart to Europe and until that happens nobody’s going to be hitting the panic button and call the NBA anything but the best basketball league in the world. Whoops! Just as I say that ex-Raptor Carlos Arroyo just bolted to the Holy Land.

OK, so I was bored and started digging up some stats from last season and I came up with the following table. They’re mostly taken from Hoops Stats.

Stat Name Stat NBA Rank
PPG 100.18 13th
OPPG 97.28 10th best
RPG 40.07 28th
Record when scoring 100+ 27-17 16th
Record when opponent scores 100+ 7-30 23rd
SPG 6.95 19th
BPG 4.09 25th
APG 23.81 4th
Turnovers 11.69 2nd best (DET)
3-pt shooting 38.9% 3rd best behind NO and Phoenix
FG shooting 46.6% 7th
FT shooting 81.24% 2nd (DAL)
Point Differential +2.9% 13th
Starter PPG 65.5 22nd
Bench PPG 34.6 3rd
Starter RPG 25.7 30th – dead last
Bench RPG 14.3 7th
Record vs. .500+ teams 11-33
Record vs. sub .500 teams 31-12
Best Player Chris Bosh 11th – 24.3 eff

The two things I took from those is 1) our starting 5 struggles to rebound and 2) we can’t beat good teams. Rebounding was and still is a concern, Jermaine O’Neal was brought in to remedy that and there’s no doubt he’s going to help us in the area, but by the same token we also lost a very good defender and a durable rebounder in Rasho Nesterovic. We definitely improved but its hard to say by how much. Point #2 directly hints at our inability to execute in the fourth quarter for whatever reason. No point getting into the specifics of whether Bosh chokes or if its Parker missing shots, Jose stiffening up or Sam failing us, bottom line is its an area where we must improve.

I’m not one to pay too much attention to the 100 point threshold but looking at our record when we concede more than 100 is very shocking. It obviously speaks of a failing defense but also speaks of an offense that can’t stay in “run ‘n gun” games and can’t sustain a high tempo of play for 48 minutes. One of the goals of next year’s Raptors team is to form an identity by adopting a philosophy and sticking to it through thick and thin. Mitchell needs to decide whether we need to get fast break points and gun for a number each game, he needs to set a goal for a PINP number, a goal for PF assists, post-up counts, guard rebounds etc. Hiding weaknesses and taking advantage of strengths sounds like a simple enough concept but putting that into practice is terribly difficult. This team has enough holes and enough strengths to make Mitchell’s job a nightmare next year and it’ll be upto him to establish a framework where we can consistently play to our strengths by doing all the little things necessary to keep everyone involved while being disciplined. It’s a tall task, I hope Sam’s up to it.

Hoops Addict is having a tournament where he’s picking the best garbage man in the league, he asked me to nominate a player from the Raptors and I had to pick Kris Humphries who is currently losing to Reggie Evans and needs your vote. There’s tons of good candidates, definitely worth a read.

Going on vacation soon. It’ll be quiet around here for a couple weeks. Take it easy.

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