Twenty-nine games in the books and ten wins to show for it, not exactly as horrid as ESPN’s prediction of dead last, and not great with a 12th place conference ranking. The caveat in either case is that 4 games separate the 8th seed from the last place team in the conference, and the Raptors are within 2 games of 8 other teams. It’s like the tail end of a train wreck.

Player evaluations at this point:

Andrea Bargnani (34.7 mpg, 21.2 pts, 5.6 reb, 1.7 asts): His most complete season so far, especially when compared to his last two. Chris Bosh’s exit has meant more equitable ball distribution albeit slightly skewed towards Bargnani. The former #1 pick has seized the opportunity and is hoisting 3 more shots a game and has also improved his shot-selection and aggressiveness. His FTA/FGA rate has improved by 8% to 28%, and he’s taking 0.8 less threes a game, which account for only 19% of his shots (compared to 29% last year). Was Bosh’s presence in the paint a deterrent to drive? Possibly, the more likely explanation for this shift in offense is that his role has expanded from a three-point shooter assigned to spread the floor, to a player you go through to create your overall offense. Defensively, he’s still bad and there’s no denying that. Great defensive performances are rare (New Jersey) and something nobody’s quite expecting, but his help defense and lack of ability to discourage would-be drivers continues to be a problem. Despite the many good things he does on offense, his on-off numbers remain shocking: a whopping -16.7 swing per 100 possessions. His TS% has finally returned to what it was his rookie year and he’s got a decent eFG%, so it’s hard to point to his offense being inefficient or in any way detrimental to the team, which leaves his defense as the sole suspect in this ongoing saga. B

Leandro Barbosa (24 mpg, 12.9 ppg, 2.0 apg, .83 spg, 45% FG): With the exception of a few games where his shot has been off, perhaps due to being hampered by injuries, Barbosa has been as advertised. His defense was seen as a cause for concern in the summer, however, that turned out to be a massive exaggeration. He’s been the proverbial spark off the bench and has even been a player who the Raptors have ridden in quite a few games. His effort level doesn’t seem to dip, his active hands and deny positions always seem to cause trouble on inbound passes, and he’s second on the team in steals (Calderon, Weems). When asked to play the true point, Barbosa has fared well showing elements of patience and playmaking that nobody quite expected of him. The question remains that in a rebuilding year, is it wiser to hang on to Barbosa (28 years old) and ride his energy, or do you parlay him into an asset that will be around for when this team hopefully starts contending (2-3 years). Either way, you can’t really go wrong. B+

DeMar DeRozan (31.7 mpg, 12.7 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 45% FG): The word on the street is that DeRozan’s having a poor season and if statistics alone are to be considered, that’s simply not true. His PER36 numbers are almost identical to last year. And therein lies the problem. Maintaining status quo with the 10 extra minutes he’s been awarded this year has to be considered a disappointment, and even if one discards his stagnant statistical figures, it’s his lack of development in key areas that is more concerning. Still plagued by an incongruous jumper and a very limited set of offensive moves, DeRozan’s expected scoring growth and overall impact on the offensive end has been restricted. His lone friend remains the FT line which he usually gets to via a spin move or some other foray into the paint which presents little in the way of a shot opportunity for one of his teammates. His performance on the defensive side of the ball has compounded the negative opinions, a distinct lack of awareness and fundamentals has seen him often become a liability in a position where you simply cannot afford to have a turnstile play 31 minutes a night. We’re still waiting for him to show something that says he’s more than a run-of-the-mill NBA shooting guard. The jury’s still out on that but at least he has time on his side. With only two combined years of NCAA and NBA experience under his belt, DeRozan has a some ways to go before being written off. To be more specific, he also has next year. C

Sonny Weems (27.2 mpg, 11.5 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 0.92 spg): I suppose the warnings signs about his commitment to the cause were there when after the disappointing 104-88 loss to the Bulls last April, Weems started singing. This wasn’t just some plain old loss in January to the Pistons on the road. This was a home defeat to the Bulls which sealed our lottery fate. Then, earlier this year he says:

“I’m trying to be a little calm this year but you have to keep it fun on the court, you can’t be serious all the time,” said Weems. “Even if we’re losing games, you can’t be serious all the time. You can’t have everyone coming in the dressing room frowning, you’ve got to have somebody to lighten it up and that’s what I try to do.”

Much like DeRozan, the expectations for Weems were high given his showing the previous season. A strong jumper, excellent in transition, great athleticism, guaranteed playing time and a contract year appeared to be the perfect ingredients for a year that might earn him a big cheque. Unfortunately, his motor is defective and he zones in and out of possessions – both offensive and defensive. I can even understand taking a defensive possession off, but this guy even appears lazy when he has the ball in his hands, that’s got to be a first! Check the PER36 comparison with DeRozan and there’s not much to pick from, except that he’s three years older and should be a helluva lot more motivated to carve his spot on next year’s roster. So far, though, it’s all been selfish offense and bad defense. C-

Linas Kleiza (24.7 mpg, 11.2 ppg, 4.6 rpg): The post from a couple days ago talked about his numbers on and off the bench and alluded to his slow start to the season being possibly caused by injury. Perhaps trying to justify his contract or maybe simply over-confident from his success in Turkey, Kleiza tried to do too much in the first quarter of the season by venturing into unknown territory. Dribble-drives with a guard swiping at the ball isn’t his thing, nor is anything more than three dribbles on a post-up, you can just forget about a re-post. Now that he’s had a chance to reflect from the bench, he’s returned to the lineup with a surety about his game that’s been missing all season. You’re not seeing many of those unheralded moves that could only work in an international game, he’s doing what he does well: mixing it up with catch-and-shoots, rebounding, straight-line drives and using his bulk at the three in his favor. He poses a slight problem because he’s only shooting 32% three (2 points below his career average), and that’s an area we hoped that he might improve in, especially given the 25th place accuracy ranking for the Raptors. Defensively, he’s been poor in help situations and as an individual defender, nothing that should come as a surprise. Have to say that overall Kleiza’s been pretty much what a reasonable man would have expected. B-

Reggie Evans (27.3 mpg, 4.0 ppg, 12.1rpg): Raptors were 6-9 before he got hurt and 4-10 since. It’s not a massive difference, but a difference nonetheless. Evans needs to be credited for injecting a sense of enthusiasm and work-ethic into the team as it got out of the gates. The impact his performances have had on the team cannot be discounted and he deserves full credit for the improved overall effort coming from the Raptors this year. Since his injury, the Raptors haven’t exactly lost too many games for lack of rebounding, their average differential since his injury is -0.4. You get a feel that his presence on the bench alone lights a spark on the team. And that whole “rebound thief” theory? Well, he is collecting 35.1% of all defensive rebounds, that shatters any of his previous marks, but he’s getting them because they’re there to get and he’s the first one at it. That’s how rebounding works. A-

Part II has Calderon, Johnson, Bayless, Davis, Wright and Dorsey.

  • kaine

    Bargs should get an A. he is the foundation of the team and the main reason for much of our victory.

    DD should get a D.
    he’s got at least another year, but he must understand that he need to raise his level.

    the bench is the best teacher

    • Statement

      “he is the foundation of the team ”

      Maybe that’s why we suck so much ass.

      As for grades, maybe Bargs should get an A for “A”llergic to defense.

      That’s about it.

      Trade Bargs.

      • John_P

        Actually we suck ass because of the “young ones”. He gets an A because he’s the best player on this team by a country mile.

        • Statement

          He’s the most offensively versatile player on the team.

          But, as most people seem to forget, there are TWO sides on the basketball court. Anything good he does on one side is more than cancelled out by how historically god-awful he is on the other side.

          • jimmie

            People don’t forget. They just run their balance sheet differently.

          • John_P

            And you have the statistical data to prove this (that everything he does good offensively is cancelled out) or are you just talking out of your ass like everyone else likes to bash him?

            • Theswirsky

              Are you joking? There is a ton of it.

            • Statement


  • JoePanini

    Weems should get a D

  • Ruuuuuuuuuu

    nice writeup Arse.

    Grades are relative, so I’ll just say: no one should get a higher grade than Reggie Evans. He did everything you could expect of him and more.

    Rebounded at a crazy rate (was like top 2-3 in the league).
    Was a key part of big wins (he drove Dwight mad in the ORL game – which was the biggest win of the season)
    Generally set the tone for the Raps to be one of the best offensive rebounding teams
    Provided leadership (he was the one that called and took charge of a team meeting to get everyone back on track)

    He even got injured at the right time, just when Davis was coming back (what a team player!!)

    So yeah no one has produced on the court AND provided the intangibles like Evans has this season

    • Ruuuuuuuuuu

      just want to add:

      the other players who have generally played “well” this season: AJ, Bargs, Barbosa, Calderon….none of them have excelled at their job AND provided that intangible leadership like Evans has this season

    • cesco

      Andrea provides intangible leadership when he is scoring well , in such occasions the ball movement is much better . Of the 10 games the Raps won , Andrea has scored 20 points or more on 9 occasions and scored 18 on the other one . A better ball movement means better chances of winning . He has not reached the stage yet were he can do it every game like an LBJ . If that stage arrives , he is the new franchise.

      • cesco

        Perhaps B+ for both Reggie and Andrea woulld be fairer .

        • Ruuuuuuuuuu

          hmmm, I wouldn’t go crazy if Bargs had the same grade as Reggie, but IMO Reggie just surpased all expectations for me.

          So I think it should go:
          Reggie – then AJ, Bargs, Barbosa, Calderon close behind.

          If Reggie has A-, I probably would’ve given Bargs a B+ but whatever, I dont want to start nitpicking on B/B+ etc..

      • Jackie Moon

        So Kevin Martin, Gilbert Arenas and Iverson type players provide leadership because they are scoring? I know you said intangible leadership, but a leader brings it game in, game out. Look at the leader/glue guys around the league. They are not always the team leader in points.

        • sleepz

          In fact, you would think that leadership (by play on the court) would probably be more considerable and resonate with the team if it was on the defensive end, which typically seperates the good teams from the bad.

          Reggie isn’t a great defender but he got after it constantly before getting injured. Andrea’s effort on the defensive end of the court is abysmal.

          I think these grades are bang on.

          • cesco

            If Andrea defense is abysmal , how abysmal was Bosh defense last year since this year defense has improved over last year , statistically speaking. All the starters this year were with the team last year , just to say . The only one that was not there last year is Kleiza and he has started only a few games.

            • Theswirsky

              A few things here…

              how bad or good Bosh’s D is completely irrelevant to anything. (And all the starters were with the team last year, but not all starters started. Only Bargs and Derozan on a regular basis.)

              this team is giving up a higher fg% than any year in the last 5. So I wouldn’t say this teams D is better than last year. In fact every year Bargs plays a bigger role (more minutes more usage) other teams fg% increases.

              Saying Andrea leads through scoring is such a ridiculous statement. Weems leads through energy… means the same and is just as accurate.

              • Statement

                No use arguing with the Andrea fans, they are who they are.

                • John_P

                  The same can be said with those who bash him.

                • Statement

                  You mean people who attempt to use objective statistical evidence to prove their points, as opposed to “YAY POINTS!!!””

  • Hmk

    Very generous. … very. If you’re going to assign grades they have to stand for something. Obviously A-D are passing grades and E or F is a failure. So what is the standard that constitutes a pass? Some possible candidates:
    1. able to get a job somewhere in the league,
    2. likely to be resigned by your team at or better than existing salary if he suddenly became a FA,
    3. improvement over last year,
    4. achieving or exceeding expectations.

    I think 2 is a good one. As for A-D, perhaps that is simply an overall comparison to others who play the same position.

    My 2 cents are that Weems just makes a D rather than an F because of his low salary. Keliza is a D (injuries, poor defence, inconsistency, shot selection, no rebounding). Derozan is a D if C is average. Barbosa is a B. Bargnani a B (A on offence and D or F on defence). Evans a D (A for rebounds but what about zero scoring, average defence and very injury-prone).

    • Ruuuuuuuu

      The problem I see with using #2 as a criteria is that signing them “at or better existing salary” is pretty biased against vertern guys

      The guy Im touting as the highest grade (Reggie) would get a low grade, but Weems would get a high grade mainly because he is still on his rookie contract

      Even a guy like Ray Allen (first guy I could think off)….he would kind of be a failure over the last two seasons because you would not sign him to 20 mil or whatever he is getting

      • Hmk

        You make a good point – I agree. So what’s left is #1 I suppose. So I would propose that first you posit an average team and consider what the player’s status would be on an average team with balance. An F would be someone who would not make the cut. A D is end of bench. C is rotation. B is starter or 6th man. A is all star.

        So a title contender would probably have a couple of As; 3-4 Bs the rest Cs and maybe a D. Bottom dwellers would likely have no As; maybe a couple of Bs and the rest divided equally between Cs, Ds and Fs.

  • Jfosho

    kinda underappreciating Derozen. If he gets to the line and fills the lane hes playing to his potential. Agreed everything else needs improvement, but i think the kid is a c+ even. Keiza until last week was a huge dissapointment!, Was an F but now a D. Weems, dude hit it on the mark, looks dissinterested not filled with the necessary passion for atleast someone in his position. If Im GM I look for more talent at the end of the season, and I dont take a chance on Weems (unless its a one year). I expect more from the Raps. I hope Andrea keeps pushing himself, His size and ability make him a monster, but just keep pushing. I actually want to see Andrea become more Lean and Mean! Make him an athlete! One.

    • voy

      weems not playing to his ability is actually hurting him more than the team. team is not going anywhere this year, anyway. gives the raps an opp to sign the guy for 2 or 3 years for dirt cheap. hopefully he capitalizes on his talents/athleticism. if not, he fills a roster spot for peanuts that would ordinarily be alloted to a guy with maybe 1/2 of his Sonny’s althleticism.

      Still, a shame that Sonny didn’t keep the ball rolling from last year. Majority of the season left to hopefully straighten himself out.

  • Ryan

    Without looking at stats, I do believe that Calderon is averaging 1.2 or 1.3 steals per game, above both of Barbosa and Weems. Unless you were referring to just the Raptors on Part I?

    • arsenalist

      You are correct!

  • KJ-B

    Uhmmm… Are there any coaching grades, I’d give Triano a solid D- …

    • Bendit

      Apologies did not notice your post

  • Bendit

    Hope you have Triano and BC graded too.

    • Statement

      Triano = not good (C)

      B.C. = Straight up F. They should invent the “G” grade for B.C. because he is awful.

      I repeat, the Raptors have a higher salary than the Heat.

      That is laughable.

      • WJF

        Except that the Raptors have 20 MILLION coming off the books this year and Miami has nothing.

  • sangaman

    Im a little puzzled by these on-off stats, If they are team numbers then they are meaningless or nearly so as a measure on individual performance. What would be needed is man on man numbers . A good defender on a poor team for example.

    • Theswirsky

      they aren’t meaningless they just have to be applied properly.

      Bargs has the worst on/off stats of the ENTIRE team. Thats the troubling part.

  • sangaman

    Good comment on Reggie. he provides intangibles that stats dont measure.

  • golden

    Kleiza’s grade is waaayy too generous. Until his last 3 games or so, he was pretty much a lock to be in the running for ‘Under the Bus’ every single game. That is, when he wasn’t injured. How the heck do you get anything higher than a C- for that expectation of performance? Short memory. Weems should be a D, tops, especially considering the opportunity he was given.

  • Daniel

    Well, there are two sides of the ball so I’ll play along:

    Offence: A-
    Defence: D

    Offence: B-
    Defence: C

    Offence: C-
    Defence: D

    Offence: D
    Defence: C-

    Offence: C
    Defence: C

    Offence: D
    Defence: B

  • Bo4

    A = Player belongs in the NBA and has the talent to be in the rotation of a successful playoff team. Nobody.
    B = Player belongs in the NBA but only has the talent to be in the rotation of a non-playoff team. Andrea, Reggie, Amir, José, Ed, Leandro, Jerryd, DeMar, Sonny, Linas, Peja.
    C = Player barely belongs in the NBA. Julian, Joey
    D = Player doesn’t belong in the NBA. Soloman

  • Ruuuuuuuu

    Nawww man, not only would Barbosa be in a rotation, he could be the 6th man/combo guard on a lot of the top ball clubs right now….which is pretty crazy because that is the role he plays on the Raps! thats why I’ve been saying, he’s too good for this team haha

    Look at Boston for example, he’d be an upgrade over nate/delonte…he’d actually make the celtics more of a powerhouse

    • Bo4

      Ruuuuuuuuuu, I was expecting a reaction about Andrea, who is so far ahead of all the other Raptors in talent that it makes me nervous. If he played D the way he plays O, he’d be a legit all-star. You might be right about Leandro, though. I’m amazed that he isn’t starting for us, actually.

      • Ruuuuuuuuu

        Bargs IMO is having a good season because he is showing he is still improving (hasn’t hit his celing yet). But in all fairness you would have to say that on a top team, he’d be coming off the bench right now

        Yeah man there’s really not many players on bottom feeders who would be doing the exact same thing on a championship contender (ie. like Barbosa). Usually you’ll have a guy starting who would come off the bench on Lakers/Celtics, or you’ll have a rotation guy who would just add extra depth on those team. Barbosa should be doing exactly what he is doing on the Raps, but for a championship contender…..crazy

        • Bo4

          I think that Andrea would be on the bench on the Lakers team and on the Celtics team. D matters to them. That’s why they were in the finals.

          • Hmk

            On the bench yeah, but definitely in the rotation. Their overall D affords them the luxury of giving him the minutes needed to get them some extra points causing nightmares to other team’s second units.

            • Bo4

              I think he’d not take well to such a roll. He doesn’t here!