Statophile, Volume 5

Are our wings allergic to passing? Is our three point defending or shooting more of an issue? Is Bargnani an all-star? Why didn’t Kleiza’s international success translate over to this season?

[Editor’s note: defintions for these metrics can be found here. As well, some of the links need ESPN Insider access]

Scoring efficiency and offensive production

A couple issues are emerging: 1) our wings are all below the True Shooting Percentage averages for SG (54.7%) and SF (53.6%) and 2) the lack of ball movement from the wings (yes, they are obviously related). Simply put, our wings force too many shots (more below).

It’s still early, but Jerryd Bayless is rolling (despite a tougher night against Indy) – TS% of 57.3%, a robust AST% of 28.2% (Jarrett who?!) and a very high ORtg. Linas Kleiza still brings up the rear with a poor 8.8 PER. Amir Johnson is second (first for players >15 mpg) out of all power forwards in the league for true shooting percentage. Amir was solid on the week, shooting 24 for 27 (65%) in the last four games along with 4 offensive rebounds per.

Rebounding, defense and “hands”

Another sad stat? Our wings cannot rebound worth a lick (psst, Jerryd Bayless is doubling your rebounding production Mr. DeRozan and Mr. Weems). Last week we mentioned the tough situation of having Reggie Evans (when healthy) or Amir Johnson in there to help offset this rebounding deficiency (though it doesn’t really work that way), but they both have their limits on the offensive end. Yet if you take them out, you’re left with a big defensive and rebounding void. Andrea Bargnani continues to be a liability – he’s the third worst Center in the league for Defensive Rebound Percentage.

Chris Black at T. Jose Calderford cursed Bargnani by calling him all-star calibre (he subsequently had two very rough games). He used the same data to what I presented last week, but highlighted an unique angle, which showed that Bargnani was in an elite group. What I believe is missing: just because you hit 1 mid and long two pointer a game, doesn’t necessarily make you “tough to guard”.

He also highlights that this is an “evolution of his scoring” which is an error I believe – taking less threes for more mid and long jumpers hurts your effectiveness, not helps. The numbers are clear – why would you want to produce ~40% eFG% from 10 to 23 feet, when you deliver 53.3% beyond the arc? Its about being a triple threat and shooting with effectiveness. I do think that Chris may be ultimately correct – all-stars are often picked on offensive production and few other centers are putting up Bargnani’s overall numbers.

Players like Durant, Bryant and Nash either get to the line much more often and/or pass much more often than Bargnani. Tough to guard = true triple threat. Ideally, you have a good 3 point shooter that can also drive and draw fouls – while looking for teammates on double teams. That’s tough to guard. It’s a rare combination and Bargnani does not yet have all those tools.

Last week, I mentioned I would personally like to see more minutes for Julian Wright in a defensive role. I’m not talking much more than perhaps 10 minutes a game, but he has too many DNP-CD during many games we desperately need defensive help on the floor. Not much changed this week (he did get a little burn in Indy last night), but you have to think Jay Triano is looking at it since his wings are not performing. Speaking of which…

Please pass (the) wings

The black hole that occurs when we deliver the ball to one of our wings has to be corrected. The ball just never comes back out. How bad is it? Here’s a summary from the Knicks game?

And last night wasn’t any better – they were 15 for 45 (33.3%) combined… with TEN turnovers versus only FIVE assists. Overall, DeRozan, Barbosa and Weems are ranked 41st, 49th and 60th respectively in Assist/Turnover ratio for shooting guards (yes, Weems has played a fair bit of time at SF, but ESPN has him listed among the SGs). Weems is 11th among qualified SGs in turnovers per 48 minutes. In the last six games, Weems has shot 24 for 67 (35.8%). Kleiza is 5th for SF in terms of highest turnovers per 48 minutes.

Looking at net production by position over at 82games.com it becomes quite clear that the wing position is our largest issue. You see a significant assist and FG% deficit at both the SG and SF positions.

In my screen of Small Forwards over at hoopdata.com, Linas Kleiza ranks dead last in assist percentage. Let’s get over the “but he had such a great FIBA tournament” comments. My view was similar to this – when you score against weak competition, it doesn’t mean much. Play against very weak defenders and your numbers look great. Play against one decent defensive team, the USA, and he scored 4 points.

We are in the bottom third of the league in raw assists per game as well as assist percentage. Perhaps this is okay if you have a couple “go to” shot creators, but we do not have any. Thus, ball movement is paramount with this club. Not passing the ball? You’re on the pine. If Kevin Durant can get benched and learn from it, so can Weems, DeRozan, and Kleiza. “If you don’t play hard, you don’t play for the (Raptors)” would be welcomed here. Am I a bit harsh? Well, the numbers speak volumes. And I believe that young men like DeRozan and Weems need this discipline now if they want to continue in this league for a long time.

Desperate from Deep

Long time fan Mike from Montreal emailed Zarar asking why no one is highlighting the Raptors offensive 3pt shooting woes. Defense has been the focus on Raptors’ fans attention over the last few games, but what about the offense?

Well, as you might expect, its not good. In fact, we’re fourth from last beyond the arc at 31.9% (Kings being last at 31.1%).

Removing Jack and Andersen makes it look a little better, however its hard to believe Bayless will keep his current pace up throughout the year. The largest problems are Barbosa and Kleiza, who have issues with passing the basketball. They have taken over 1/3 of our 3 pointers (100 shots) despite only shooting 27% (eFG of 40.5%).

We also allow the 5th highest opponent 3pt FG% at 38.8%. The league average is 36.0%. And our differential (our 3pt FG% versus what we give up) is -6.9%. We also allow 2 more attempts than we get in a game (double whammy). A simple way of looking at this is our opponents score 19.5 pts per game from 3s whereas we score 14.1 – a differential of 5.4 pts. This is why we need so many offensive boards just to hang around in games. Solutions? Not many. Stojakovic will help some for sure. Otherwise, Triano needs to work with Keiza and Barbosa to get the ball back to Bargnani and/or Calderon for a more effective shot… or they don’t play. On defense, its about fighting through screens and just overall effort by our players to close out.

Lineups of the Week

Best lineup? Again the lineup data continues to be tough to analyze, especially with so many combinations due to several injuries and well as the trade. However, our starting lineup is working with Calderon and Johnson in it, including two runs combined for +20 against OKC (in ~12 minutes). Calderon was superb with 12 assists in those 12 minutes. Worst lineup? Bayless, Barbosa, Wright, Kleiza, and Bargnani gave up the big run to Indiana. They were -11 in 5 minutes from the end of the 1st through the start of the second. Bargnani had zero points and zero rebounds through this stretch. You’re just not going to see any ball movement in this lineup and defensively its weak.

Man to man

Teaser Who would you rather have on your team? This is a timely comparison.

Questions? Email me: [email protected] or find me on Twitter.

Sources: basketball-reference.com, hoopdata.com, 82games.com, espn.com

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