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We always talk about how the Raptors shoot too many jumpers and how it ends up costing games because over the long run they’re a losing proposition. I did some casual research on 82games.com and checked out the percentages of jumpers and “close” shots that every team shoots. It’s no surprise that 72% of our field goal attempts are jumpers (league worst) while the majority of the teams are in the 60-67% range. Only 27% of our shots are classified as being “close” while most teams are over 35%. Now factor in that we shoot 45.7% from the field which is good for a 14th place ranking and you can see why we average 97.56 points per game which ranks 21st in the NBA. In plain English: We take too many jumpers but aren’t good enough shooters to get away with doing so.

Despite our low offensive ranks, scoring doesn’t appear to be a problem until of course we need someone to step up in crunch time. The first Raptor to be found in fourth quarter scoring leaders is Bosh and he’s at #21. It also shouldn’t be surprising that players perceived to be clutch are at the top of this list: Kobe Bryant, Dwayne Wade, Lebron James, Danny Granger, Brandon Roy, Devon Harris and Chris Paul. Notice that all are wing players which furthers the theory that if your team’s going to have a clutch performer it’s almost always going to have to be a wing player. Bosh happens to be the first PF/C to be on that list.

Tallying up fourth quarter scoring numbers can be a bad indicator of measuring clutchness because of the garbage-time factor and that’s why there’s a “clutch” stat which specifically focuses on 4th quarter and overtime situations with less than 5 minutes left and neither team ahead by more than 5 points. Once again Bryant, James and Wade lead this list and the first Raptor to be found on it is Bosh who is 28th and is the second PF/C to be on there (Nowtizki is 7th). Even Orlando who happens to have Dwight Howard doesn’t rely on their star player in those situations, the first Magic player on there is Jameer Neslon.

This begs the question of whether we are expecting too much of Chris Bosh in clutch situations? His nerves do tend to get rattled late on in games but we’re asking him to do something that no other team is asking their big man to do – go one-on-one in crunch time and carry this team on his back. Either our coaching staff has to implement a system which allows for greater wing production in the fourth quarter or we need to replace our wings. Status quo will get us nowhere.

Let’s look at our quarter-by-quarter scoring differential ranks:

1st 2nd 3rd 4th
Differential -0.2 -1.6 -1.1 -0.7
Rank 16th 27th 21st 23rd

There’s nothing much to be drawn from here except that we’re anemic in basically every quarter except the first where we are passable. As I’ve said countless times in my post-game reports, conditioning is a big factor here. Our best starts are usually high-energy ones where we score quickly in our offense, play hard defense but only for about 7 or so minutes after which we start to relapse. I don’t have the fourth quarter scoring numbers but the differential and league ranks tell you that we’re terrible in 2nd and 4th quarters which is when conditioning is most tested.

Depth is another issue that often comes up when talking Raptors ball. We knew coming into this season that we were about as deep as Jerry Springer’s final thought but only when you look at the sheer numbers does one realize how poor we’ve been. Our bench ranks 27th in overall +/- which is a stat that carries more weight than individual +/- and we happen to be 26th in bench scoring per 100 possessions. The latter stat isn’t as worrying because we have a fairly tight rotation and have the 25th most utilized bench in the league. One can argue that the lack of a deeper rotation which forces our starters to play the 6th most minutes combined with the seeming lack of conditioning is the reason why we struggle late in halves.

Moving along. Let me ask you a question. What position do you think the Raptors have had the most advantage at this season? Take a moment…..If you said Bosh, you’re wrong. 82Games.com ranks the most effective position based on PER and our biggest advantage has been at the center spot. Yes, the O’Neal/Bargnani combo (mostly Bargnani) are ranked the 10th best center tandem. To get a better idea of this stat notice how SF on Cleveland is ranked #1 (Lebron) and C on Orlando is also #1 (Howard). So of all the early criticism Bargnani and O’Neal received, they are statistically our best advantage. I think this is a testament to Bargnani’s transformation from VL to GOAT more than anything else. Update: I hear that Bargnani plays most of his minutes at the PF so there goes that.

Yet another criticism of our star is that he doesn’t tend to show up against the good teams. Luckily for us 82Games.com keeps track of how a player is performing against good, average and poor teams. Here’s how Bosh and ranks: He averages 20.6 points against good teams (14th in the league), 24.3 points against average teams (7th) and 23.5 points against poor teams (11th). Since we don’t want to compare him to guards, let’s compare the league ranks to another big man seen in the top of this table, Nowitzki. Dirk is 7th, 4th and 7th in the three categories, respectively. The fluctuation in scoring is not as dramatic as Bosh’s who clearly excels against lower average to lower quality opponents than the good ones. Dirk on the other hand has the same relative league rank when playing good and poor teams.

It must be pointed out that Bosh remains the only PF/C other than the anomaly that is Dirk to appear in these kinds of statistics.

They also rank the most effective 5-man units based on differential and you have to scroll all the way down to #89 to find the first Raptors unit (Calderon-Parker-Moon-Bosh-O’Neal). On an interesting note, the opening-day starting five of Calderon-Bosh-Bargnani-O’Neal-Parker are 5th worst of all the lineups in the league!

What do you think?

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