[Editor's note: we are developing our own user-friendly guide to these metrics, but in the meantime Basketball-reference.com's glossary will come in handy. As well, some of the links need ESPN Insider access]

This article: “Keeping Score: Viewing the N.B.A. Through a Statistical Lens” couldn’t be more timely. It’s worth a read in order to see why we use these metrics.

Scoring efficiency and offensive production


Most impressive? Sonny Weems and his 60% true shooting percentage. Linas Kleiza, while only playing two games this week, still has a dismal 7.9 PER (see definition here). Yes, Jamario Moon ranks higher. His true shooting percentage is near the bottom on this team and his assist percentage (especially given high usage %) continues to tell us he’s not moving the ball enough. It’s early in the season, but has anyone else noticed we play much stronger as a TEAM with Kleiza out of the lineup? I have no backup for this comment, but I propose a team without an all-star needs rebounding, hustle plays and ball movement in order to be competitive.

Last week, we highlighted our concerns with DeMar DeRozan’s shot selection – largely surrounding taking too many long twos. His true shooting percentage is jumped up to rank 33th out of 69 players at the shooting guard position. Nice progress given a slow start to the season. Much of this is due to the last two games – you cannot ask for better performance (and shot selection) than he had versus two tough teams – Orlando and Miami:

Rebounding, defense and “hands”


Our power forwards are doing an exceptional job on the boards. On the offensive end, Amir Johnson and Reggie Evans rank second and third respectively out of ALL players. These second chance opportunities are one of the key reasons we’re able to hang around at all in recent games.

Amir’s very high turnover rate as of last week and declined dramatically. Jarrett Jack remains the worst out of our active players and has also improved from last week. His TOV% is the 11th worst among guards, but better than Rajon Rondo or Jason Kidd and similar to some guy named Steve Nash.

Lineup of the Week


I mentioned last week that the lineup of: Calderon, Barbosa, Wright, Johnson and Andersen or Bargnani was one to watch out for. This week’s best lineup (since Barbosa was out) looks very similar: Calderon, DeRozan, Wright, Johnson and Bargnani took it to the Magic for two stints totaling +8. Substitute Bargnani for Dorsey (Andersen was sick) and you have another +3 run. Calderon, Wright and Johnson all were around +10 for the game and given my earlier analysis they seem to a combo that you want to keep together. A quick check back to the Charlotte games also shows that the best run had… yes, Calderon, Wright and Johnson on the floor together.

Confirmed or busted?


Comment: Jose Calderon is playing better than Jarrett Jack
Analysis: I have standardized all the statistics to a per 36 minute standard for easier comparisons. Jack has scored more and is more efficient doing so, but Calderon has taken care of the ball better. Their two year adjusted +/- are very close.

I’ll largely call it a tie – and here’s why: Jack has started all games this year and thus has more often faced the opponent’s best PG and lineups. This will obviously have some influence on turnovers.
Verdict? Busted.

Comment: Amir Johnson is much improved after game four and should start over Reggie Evans
Analysis: It’s pretty clear simply by watching the games, but the data is that much more insightful.

It’s certainly a huge change. Also, if we run fouls per 36 minutes for both he recorded 8.9 for the fist four and 6.7 for the last six (still too high, of course). Besides getting to the line 4 times a game (versus zero the first four), he’s shooting an impressive 91.3% from the line versus 63.8% last year. Amir is rebounding at a solid clip (although not as good as Reggie), but adds significantly more than Reggie at the offensive end.
Verdict? Confirmed.

Miscellaneous Notes

  • Wonder why I became an early fan of Julian Wright? His hustle? Of course. His unselfessness? Absolutely. But more importantly, all of these intangibles and commitment to D results in being the highest ranked Raptors for two year adjusted +/-. Wonder some of us are looking for more from Bargnani? Look at who is last.
  • Reggie Evans still leads the entire league in total rebound percentage. Bargnani sadly ranks 144th (with 6’3″ Jarrett Jack barely behind him
  • Kevin Love is now neck and neck with Reggie Evans and an incredible 31 and 31 night
  • The Raptors are 24th in points differential. We are 28th in opponent’s FG percentage. Thankfully, we are #1 in offensive rebounds – it’s the only reason we are staying in some of the games this year.
  • Darko Milicic is the second worst shooting C in the league at 33.1% TS% (players with >10 MPG) and adds 2 turnovers per. Free Darko indeed.

Questions? Submissions for “confirmed or busted”? Email me: [email protected] or find me on Twitter.

Sources: basketball-reference.com, hoopdata.com, espn.com

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