Quick one for a Saturday which starts with a violent story. Some guy from ESPN came to my house, took a battering ram to my door, held my baby hostage, put a gun to my head, and asked me to answer some questions about the Miami Heat. I thought about it hard but finally did it. It’s published in this big article on ESPN, I tried to be brief and courteous but my disdain for this enterprise is evident in my answers.

Here’s a question I found myself pondering this Saturday morning: Which Raptors is likely to finish Top 10 in any NBA statistical category?

Scoring: Andrea Bargnani played 35 minutes last year and it’s hard to see him going too many minutes past that total, if he even gets that next year. In those minutes, he averaged 17.2 points with a PER48 of 23.5 which was 42nd in the NBA. Minutes aren’t Bargnani’s problems, it’s shot-selection and shot-attempts, the former is poor and the latter just about right. Assuming he takes 5 more shots next year, and his percentages hold steady, he’ll roughly average 23.21 points a game. That would rank him 7th in the league, making him our best shot to crack the top ten. I suppose DeMar DeRozan deserves a mention too, but unless the NBA talent collectively went down to summer-league levels, that ain’t happening.

Rebounding: Amir Johnson was 28th in the league with 13.0 rebounds PER48, he’s got a chance to crack the top ten if he has another career-year and nets around 10 rebounds a game. Last year’s 10th spot belonged to Al Horford with 9.9, and considering Johnson is liable to get a lot of tip-ins, he could make it. Extrapolating his performance to 36 minutes, you would get 9.8 rebs – it’s going to be awfully close.

Steals: In Barbosa’s last healthy year in Phoenix (2008-09), he averaged 2.31 steals PER48, which was good for 12th in the league. That year he played 24.4 minutes, and that sounds about what he might play next year, except that he’s two years older so it’s unlikely that he’ll surpass his steal total from that year. Assuming he finds his form and manages to play 36 minutes, based on his last healthy year he’d be at 1.7 steals. Good enough for 8th place, but if he can play 36 minutes of point, I can pitch a perfect game.

Assists: If Jose Calderon remains the starting point guard for the Raptors, he could easily crack the top 10, if not top 5 in assists. In the last four years, he’s been 6th, 4th, 5th and 8th in PER48 assists, and 28th, 5th, 6th, and 23rd in assists per game. For him it’s a question of getting playing time, in the first of those years he was primarily a backup and hence the 28th place ranking. Last year he had injury issues but still managed to get in the top ten in PER48. Jose would definitely be affected by Bosh’s departure, but I believe there are still enough options for him to get a high number. Another thing which hurt Calderon last year was the lack of a designated three-point shooter, he tends to get a good chunk of his assists by hitting a shooter just as they’re getting open on the wing and last year we didn’t have anyone like that.

Blocks: As mentioned in yesterday’s post, Amir Johnson could have a chance at it. His PER36 is 1.6 which would rank him 13th

Other categories to consider: FTs, 3-pointers, Fouls, Minutes, Turnovers, Double-Doubles.

Today is a big day, first TFC game and will get to see Thierry Henry.

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