Statistical analysis is often overused in professional sports, after all, the mantra has always been you can tell far more about a player by watching him in action than you can by combing through and extrapolating numbers to your liking.
But it has become increasingly clear in recent years that stats can be a very valuable scouting tool.
Overachieving teams like the Houston Rockets, Oklahoma City Thunder and perennially-contending San Antonio Spurs and Dallas Mavericks are among the most stats-invested clubs in the NBA.
Meanwhile, the Raptors have been less reliant on number-crunching than most outfits. The team finally beefed up its statistical analysis department prior to the 2009/10 season by hiring consultant Alex Rucker and a partner.
The stats the duo would have turned up must have been horrifying for Colangelo and his staff.
For much of the season, the Raptors were on pace to become the worst defensive team since 1977/78, when a stat called defensive rating which measures points allowed per 100 possessions was first kept.
The Raptors finished the year with a defensive rating of 111.3, not historically bad, but still, the worst in the league by almost three full points.
Most alarmingly, is the aforementioned discrepancy of Bosh playing with the likes of Amir Johnson and Rasho Nesterovic, vs. Bosh with Bargnani.
Toronto’s defensive rating slumped to 115.1 with Bosh and Bargnani on the floor together last season vs. the 106.52 measured when Bosh played with someone other than Bargnani in the middle. A year earlier, the difference was a Bosh-Bargnani defensive rating of 113.38 vs. the 106.52 of Bosh without Bargnani.
Over the past three years total, Bosh-Bargnani struggled to a terrible 112.89 DR. Bosh alone was a solid 104.96 (2009/10 league average was 107.6) while Bargnani without Bosh was a still poor 111.69 DR.
For the most part, the players who pepper free-agent camps are a few years removed from their draft year and still holding on to the NBA dream, despite growing evidence that it might not be a wise career path.
For every Jamario Moon, who the Raptors eventually signed after an impressive display at a 2007 camp, there are far more players who will quietly move on to the next camp. If they are lucky, they will get an invitation to a summer league team. And that is hardly a ticket to an NBA contract.
It takes the right attitude to live that life.
“It’s definitely difficult and a stressful situation, going year to year and not knowing exactly what you’ll be doing,” guard Jaycee Carroll, who spent last year playing in Spain, said. “In the long run, it’s a dream come true.
“[As a kid] I would have killed for an opportunity to be up with an NBA team, and to have an opportunity to make their roster. I think more than anything, it’s just a lot of fun.”
Fun is a strange word to describe two-a-day scrimmages with your livelihood on the line. But Carroll has gotten used to the life.
Over the past two years, he estimates he has visited 17 or 18 NBA teams. “Pretty much, if I’m invited, I say yes.”
He has his reasons, despite having a guaranteed contract waiting for him back in Spain. No American basketball player dreams of winning the Euroleague. Plus, he knows the European pit stop can work. He has seen several American-born pros, such as Matt Bonner and Anthony Parker, go to Europe before returning to the NBA.
“That kind of thing keeps you going,” Carroll said. “Every once in a while, you’ll see a guy who has been in Europe for a couple of years, and all of the sudden he pops up on TV and he’s playing in the NBA.”
“I’m not the type that is going to do it just for the finances,” Stoudamire added, talking about a hypothetical career in Europe. “I have too much love for the game and too much respect.”
If the Raptors select a guard in the draft Carlos Boozer will be available as the Jazz already have Paul Milsaap and don’t wan to pay two power forwards big money. He would replace Bosh and you could probably still afford Camby too. Also available would be Drew Gooden although Boozer I think is the better player scoring and defending and rebounding are his strengths. Another interesting option and only because there are not many options for guards in the draft or during free agency is one of Memphis’ two free agent point guards Marcus Williams formerly of New Jersey or Jamaal Tinsley. Marcus Williams has a bit of a reputation as a slacker but showed promise behind Kidd in New Jersey. Otherwise, Tinsley who has been much maligned and injury prone is a guy that can run an offense and produce. Both are risks but then again Turkoglu was supposed to be a sure thing last summer!!!!
Chris Bosh joins the Wheelhouse to discuss this year’s free-agent market. (Video)
According to Kenny Roda, on radio pre-game show ESPN’s Rick Bucher said the Cleveland Cavaliers have contacted the Toronto Raptors to see what it would take to get Chris Bosh in a sign and trade. The Cavaliers were not on the list Bosh transmitted to Bryan Colangelo.
Thursday the workouts were headlined by Kentucky’s Patrick Patterson and Eric Bledsoe, as well as Fresno State’s Paul George and Kansas guard Xavier Henry.
All seemed to impress the Raptor brass. We only saw a bit of the workout, as usual and George and Henry getting banged up during the 3-on-3 left us with very little on-court stuff to analyze.
In the brief action I saw, George was able to break down Henry and take it to the rack, though he couldn’t finish. That at least showed me some ball-handling ability, which is the main knock on George.
Patterson looked very smooth. He’s going to be solid and dependable, like Udonis Haslem. He was nailing his jumpers.
Bledsoe looked very quick, Jim Kelly actually said he is quicker than Avery Bradley. Bledsoe said he is trying to slow down a bit on the court in order to cut down on his high turnover rate.
This draft is also unique because of the role it plays in this summer’s free agency.
Teams looking to please their superstar free agents-to-be before July 1 see the draft as one of the final opportunities to add an attractive piece and prove that the organization is headed in the right direction. The Cleveland Cavaliers are desperately trying to move into the first round and the Toronto Raptors are looking to acquire an additional first round pick so that they can say, "Look we made the necessary moves to draft this young talented player, surrounding you with talent isn’t an issue!" before laughing nervously and wiping the sweat off of their forehead.
On the other hand, this is a chance for potential suitors to improve their roster and pitch. Teams like the New York Knicks, whose roster was depleted to ensure that they’ll be players this summer, see the importance in this draft. Not only is this a cheap way to improve their team, it’s a way to make the roster more attractive and keep up with the already young and high picking New Jersey Nets and Chicago Bulls.
- Steve Nash in Toronto is a distinct possibility
- Raptors Republic Draft Party at Sports Centre Cafe