[Editor’s note: defintions for these metrics can be found here.]

Kleiza’s goin’ tease ya

So what do we do with a problem like Kleiza? His PER rating is a team low 10.4. His true shooting percentage? Essentially a team low as well (besides Evans, who rarely shoots). The team’s overall offensive rating when he’s on the floor? Guess what, a team low.

When I’ve pitched for more Julian Wright playing time instead of Kleiza, a few journalists and other bloggers (all of whom opinions I respect) note “but Julian Wright is limited offensively”. And Kleiza is putting up big numbers with reasonable efficiency?! Not by any stretch. A commenter yesterday said “Wright cannot score (3.4 ppg)”. Well, Kleiza does score because he jacks up a lot of shots. Wright could absolutely score the whopping 11.6 ppg that Kleiza does if he chose to force many of 10.6 attempts per game (at 49.0% eFG vs Wright at 52.7%) that Kleiza does. (Guess what? If you only attempt 3.0 per game as you’re nailed to the bench – and pass a lot when you’re out there, you may not score a lot).

Consider the following:

  • Kleiza has only recorded more than 2 assists in 4 games so far this year.
  • He has the lowest Assist % on the team (besides Davis) despite a high usage percentage.
  • His Assist % is ranked 55th out of 58 small forwards. Julian Wright is ranked second.
  • His True Shooting percentage is ranked 45th out of 58 small forwards.

But here’s the deal. We owe Kleiza $18.8 million over 4 years. We only owe Julian Wright $2.8 million this year. Hey, if you want to win more games, play more Wright. But realistically we have to find a way to utilize Kleiza, whether its to help this team now, 2 years from now or improve his trade value.

So, how could we do this? Currently, and you don’t need numbers to conclude this, Kleiza takes/forces way too many 3s and long 2s – often early in the shot clock. And he’s not very efficient at them:

Over 51% of his shots are long 2s or 3s. And his eFG% is poor for both those distances.
But wait. Kleiza is a SF who’s 6’8″ and apparently 245 lbs. Solid, very solid for a SF. He’s can be a scappy rebounder (top 5 for SF in defensive rebounding). And he is very efficient in close (66.3% – among the best on the team) and mid range twos (58.1%).

Also consider Andrea Bargnani takes almost two-thirds (66.3% to be exact) of his shots beyond 10 feet. And our PFs are generally high pick and roll players and offensive rebounders. But not strong low post players. Where am I going? It seems to me that Kleiza would ideally be best on the low post against (often) smaller small forwards. Double teamed? Kick it out to Calderon or Bargnani – or baseline to a cutting and dunking Johnson. No double team? Back him down and take that short hook in the middle. Johnson will be ready in case you miss.

I’m not your ideal “X and Os” guy, so I welcome your input. But setting up plays for Kleiza down low seems like it would improve the offense overall. He would likely get better shots against smaller SFs, pass more and generally provide more flow to the offense. His current “I have no issues shooting with 19 seconds on the shot clock with a hand in my face and no rebounders” does not help the team. With Bargnani’s unique skill set (which does not often see him post up down low), this seems like a good solution.

[Addendum (1/16 9:20pm): Unfortunately Synergy Sports (a site which monitors possession data) was down earlier. Fortunately, its now up and (thankfully!) provides support for our idea. Kleiza is ranked 242nd in points per possession (PPP). On Isolation plays he shoots 31.0%, Spot-Up he shoots 34.1% and Post-Up? You guessed it: a very healthy 54.5%. His Post-Up PPP is ranked 36th. (Transistion plays, as you may expect, is his highest FG% at 62.5%) Source: mysynergysports.com]

Sound off below!

Lineup of the Week

Best lineup? This kills me. Against DET, I said “finally we see Wright and Johnson on the floor together!”. You all know my Adjusted +/- biases and how Amir and Julian top that list.
So surprise!! THEY WERE +13 WHEN ON THE FLOOR TOGETHER in limited minutes. Yes, we should never take a single game and make conclusions, but we see from the two year numbers that it just may make sense to play them more.

Any wonder why I’ve pitched for more PT for both Wright (this year) and Johnson (last year)? They make a positive impact while on the floor that’s rarely measured by their PPG.

“Another hard working effort from him tonight.” // “Other thing that hit me: he has become a lot less vocal and a lot more workmanlike. Love it.” – Altraps on Amir Johnson from the last two Roll Calls.

“(He) had his stamp on the game with some hard nosed defence,..” // “he did one thing tonight that always wins my appreciation: he tried to motivate his troops. More than once he could be heard trying to wake his guys up defensively and two times specifically it seemed to translate into some good things happening. Worth its weight in gold.” – Altraps on Julian Wright from the last two Roll Calls.

This is what I believe happens. You see your leaders (Andrea Bargnani and DeMar DeRozan) not giving their full effort on defense and rebounding and its hard to get inspired yourself. Your own teammates aren’t helping and its frustrating. Its more difficult to return the “favour”. Enter Johnson and Wright. There is not a rebound that they don’t go after. They are looking to pass to their teammates. They are helping at every opportunity (no stat records this). They set the best picks (yet another stat that’s not recorded, but key). They take charges. This is infectious.

This is why they lead their team in adjusted +/-. They make a difference. This is why they should both play as much as possible if we want to win more.

The bad news… and the good.

First, it may come as no surprise that recent losses and an upcoming tough road trip means the playoffs are a long shot. How long? Justin Kubatko from Basketball-Reference.com (winner of TrueHoop Stat Geek Smackdown in both 2007 and 2008 – better than an Oscar in my mind) calculates we have a 0.3% chance of making the playoffs. I hope that helps convince everyone that this is a year to focus on a high pick – not make the “big” trade (Peja, TPE, etc) for slightly above average players with longer term and expensive deals.
The good news? At current pace, we have a 7.2% chance of the #1 draft pick.

The Numbers

Scoring efficiency and offensive production

Rebounding, defense and two year Adjusted +/-

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

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

  • Theswirsky

    yes question…. do you email this stuff to Triano/Colangelo/MLSE? Because you should… and spam them. Then show up at games with hard copies. Snail mail it to their wives with a note that says more wins = more dollars = more stuff for them to buy.

    Create a fund to put these on posters outside the ACC. Sneak into the MLSE offices and drop them on their desks.

    Not that is really necessary as alot of this is obvious… but still its nice to have some evidence to back up what we see.

    • Ruuuuuuuuuu

      haha….you forgot the kids

      buy them ice cream cones and tell them to deliver this package to their parents

  • WhatWhat

    The starting lineup should be Bayless/DD/Wright/Amir/Bargs. Should be.

    • LinuxFTW

      Replace Bayless with Calderon and I like it.

      • WhatWhat

        Since the Jack trade, the team (once middling) has slipped about 10 spots to 27th on defense. Do I really need to outline how serious that is?

        “But Bayless can’t run an offense.”
        Bullshit. And who gives a fuck about the offense right now, we’re on pace to become the worse defensive team in the league again. When he was starting, he was scoring at an efficient enough rate to justify any “chucking.” And that’s why Wright is in that lineup: To provide ball distribution and defend. But on OFFENSE replacing my conceived lineup with Calderon would have 3 really low usage players, putting even more pressure on Bargs and DD to carry the scoring load.

        Bleh (I’m in a bad mood.)…What I’m trying to say is that if we give Bayless the minutes, he’ll produce and learn. (And, again we have nothing to lose by playing him.) And we don’t really have anything to lose. We need defense badly, far exceeding the need for more offense, and Bayless is a far better defender than Calderon.

        • Daniel

          The drop in defense has nothing to do with Jack/Bayless – it has everything to do with Reggie’s injury. Jack/Bayless have worse DRtg than Calderon. For better or worse, Calderon has the second best DRtg among starters. Watching the games showed me the same thing: Jack/Bayless were/are atrocious in defense.
          I’ll say only one more thing: in today’s NBA PG’s are 90% offensive weapons. I can explain this in a lot of words however I’m sure people who watched basketball in the last 30 years understand this statement. In any case, the only net positive PER in our team is at PG position. Our wings, especially DeRozan, are the biggest problem in defense. We don’t get routinely killed by opposing PG’s or opposing bigs: we get killed by the opposing wings. DeRozan is a much worse defender than Calderon this year: it is as simple as that.

        • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_47IOUM3SOHK4X4RXCB7NEXOFWM John N

          Bayless has the worst defensive number along with DeRozan !

  • Ruuuuuuuuuuu

    It sucks that Raps have to play Kleiza due to his contract….especially since there was no pressure to go out and sign him like that.

    Even if he wanted him so badly, why not a 1-2 yr contract? Its not like kleiza had leverage. Why not more of a hustle/glue guy (which JW turned out to be) since the team is already filled with scorers?

    I never liked this signing. And please dont give me “he played good at the WC”. There are plenty of good players not in the NBA, but BC misjudged how he would fit on the Raps.


      “but BC misjudged how he would fit on the Raps.”

      BC has done this on every team he has assemled. It’s what forces him to play guys ,who don’t deserve it , heavy minutes while the coach has zero control over the linups – ( and like you said ) BC has to showcase the product in order to justify the huge contracts and marketing campaigns.

      BC doesn’t put together basketball teams, just individuals/outfits that entertain with their “potential”. I also don’t think there is any “misjudgement” – this is just BC practicing his ABC method.

      • Ruuuuuuuuu

        Well I’ve noticed one of BC’s best strenghts is to unload a guy after he is not working….all the way back to Fred Jones

        There was no reason to create this problem for himself though

        Anway lets see what he does with Kleiza

        He better get rid of him somehow, there’s no way the Raps can sit through 4 years of chucking

        • FLUXLAND

          You know what gets to me… all these guys sign up to get a fat ass contract from BC and then when there’s a “fitting in” problem, it’s trade time… and suddenly BC is a magician for getting rid of guys. So, like you said, WHO THE EFF created the problem to start with? Why should I give a guy credit for cleaning up his mess? (when in most cases he just creates another mess)

      • Theswirsky

        I find it hard to believe that BC didn’t put together guys who fit together on the Suns. I believe he had put together guys on the Raps initially who fit together, but were pulled apart due to injuries. (now whether that would have lasted or not without injuries is definetely questionable)

        I know you are not a BC fan Flux, and thats fine…. but I think saying he misjudged how players would fit on every team he has assembled is a bit of an overstatement.

        This team right now… no doubt. Atleast he seems unwilling to give up on whats not working.

        • FLUXLAND

          Do me (yourself) a favour. Look at all the teams he’s put together… look at some of the transactions, look at some of the stuff that was going on when he took over from the old man. Ask yourself why some of those transactions happened or look for articles from those times. If you dig deep you will find nothing but a lot of “misjudgments” and drama as far as what players fit well together. I think my new nickname for him will be Chemical BC.

          Also, take a look at how his PHX teams have the same statistical make up as his TO teams.. atrocious rebounding and defensive teams.

          I’m telling you.. take Nash out of the equation and you got nothing. Not a damn thing.

          You maybe right.. it may be an overstatement, but why the constant shuffling of players? Why have ZERO BC TO teams shown any semblance of chemistry? Why do people leave here talking about how something is wrong with the organization? Chemical BC, baby – that’s why.

          • sleepz

            Just to add briefly to the Colangelo analysis, did anyone cathc him on the Piston broadcast the other night?

            He looks slightly more withered by my eyes but he mentioned the many ‘assets’ the Raptors possess in a rebuilding year commnenting that the large TPE from the Bosh exemption is still available to improve the team…..although “they might not use it”.

            Might not use it? Wasn’t this the guy holding this TPE up like a trophy in the off-season claiming how it was going to be used to improve the ball club?lol At least he had the sense to acknowledge that the team is lacking an all-star talent (surprise, surprise) but his tune changes whenever convenient and no one holds his feet to the fire as they should.

            When will this guys reign end? It’s bordering on comical now. He’s like the plague.

            • FLUXLAND

              BC’s the right man for the job, this is a match made in heaven front office wise (including Triano); look:

              RAPTORS THROUGH 41 GAMES

              2010-11 13-27
              2009-10 21-20
              2008-09 16-25
              2007-08 22-19
              2006-07 19-22
              pre BC (Before Chemist) era:
              2005-06 14-27
              2004-05 17-24
              2003-04 20-21
              2002-03 10-31
              2001-02 24-17
              2000-01 22-19
              1999-00 22-19
              1998-99 12-13
              1997-98 08-33
              1996-97 14-27
              1995-96 12-29

            • slaw

              To paraphrase Reagan: Ask yourself, are the Raps better off now than they were 5 seasons ago? People always claim you can’t fire him cause the Raps couldn’t get anyone better. Really? What, the next guy is going to miss the playoffs 60% of the time? Constantly turn over the roster? Make terrible trades and free agent signings? Oh noes! That would horrible!

              I saw some post (either on here or another website) bragging that BC was better than David Kahn. That’s the standard now? Gimme a break. There must be an assistant GM out there looking for a chance. It can’t be any worse for the Raps.

              • Kelsie Mcpherson

                No GM can produce shiny medicore results like BC. No booooooody!

          • Theswirsky

            “take Nash out of the equation and you got nothing”

            ofcourse you don’t. he is/was the superstar, 2 time MVP of the team. Take Kobe, Lebron, D-12, Chris Paul, Deron Williams etc. out of any equation you got nothing aswell on any team. Fact is he recognized the importance of Nash to his plan and went out of his way to obtain him in FA. Barbossa, Bell, Diaw were all great fits for his plan. Joe Johnson would have been to had it not been for the forseeable contract issue. Stoudamire was a perfect compliment for Nash.

            So while he has been here I’m no gonna argue he hasn’t made mistakes, and is still making some of the same mistakes. But to say he has done this on every team… not at all. On this team… I won’t argue over that.

            • FLUXLAND

              Talk to me about all those year before Nash? Are you even old enough to remember?

              • Theswirsky

                I’m sorry did you not say “every team he has assemled”….

                …. flux don’t even get me started on age. Want to talk business again lol…..

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_47IOUM3SOHK4X4RXCB7NEXOFWM John N

      Kleiza is currently not hitting his shots, and is playing thru knee and achilles soreness, he has played better at times, but has been very incoinsistent. There is no reason if healthy and used correctley ( as Tom noted, is one example) that he will not be effective.
      Right now there is DeRozan, Kleiza, and Wright at the wing able to play, and as noted Wright can play D, but is unable to score outside of 5 ft at the rim.

  • Balls of Steel

    Seriously man, you gotta crunch numbers for these coaches. They’re soooo clueless!!!

  • hateslosing

    If this a year that our win loss record doesn’t matter than I am fine with Kleiza seeing minutes. To me it is clear who Julian Wright is: he plays defense and he hustles. These are great qualities and he is a guy they should try to hang on to as a back up 3. I don’t think we’ve really figured out who Klieza is yet. Offensively he can score in a variety of ways using both his size and his skill. He is an ok passer when he wants to be and is a good rebounder from small forward. The thing is, what role can he play? To me, getting an answer to that question is a good reason to give him minutes. Is he good enough to be a point forward kind of guy? Is his post up game good enough to make him the focal point of an offense, or of a second unit?

    Klieza has seemed to suck this season but he has an excellent skill set that could be very valuable if we can figure out how to use him.

    • Theswirsky

      There is no shortage of guys in this league with excellent skill sets, potential and/or versatility. But definetely a shortage of guys who actually turn these talents into effective production.

      So far Kleiza has only shown to be another one of those guys that would be great ‘if only…….’

      Plenty of people have been given an opportunity this year, except the ones who have earned it the most (Wright and Dorsey).

  • Raptorsss

    Kleiza needs to make his wide open threes with consistency. It’s his shooting and nothing else.

    • Theswirsky

      rebounding check
      post up game check

      shooting, defense, control…. not so much.

  • Pesterm1

    The way i see it with Jwright and Amir, we have found two very solid backup Sf and PF that are very defensive minded.

  • Employee

    One thing I think we forget about scoring efficiency is that guys like Amir and Julian are not going to be the first option to score (and are often the last option). I’m not the happiest guy with Kleiza either but it’s a lot easier to make shots when the defense isn’t worried about you and you don’t get as many attempts.
    If it’s the bottom of the shot clock and a one on one situation I would much rather the ball be in Kleiza or Bargs hands than Wright and Amir.

    • Raptoronto

      Kleiza biggest issue is that the spacing on the floor is terrible due to the lack of shooters on this team. He’s one of our better creators (or a least he is expected to be) on this team but he doesn’t get the seams he likes to work in due to the spacing issue and he’s not quick enough to create them himself. It why it’s difficult to access players in a vacuum…one’s performance affects the other. Once the players around Kleiza get better he will too (likely expontially).

      • http://twitter.com/Liston Tom Liston

        Isn’t that true of everyone on this team (and the league?): “Once the players around (Player X) get better, he will too” It’s relative and compared to others on this team he doesn’t pass often, forces often and therefore does not have a positive impact on the offense.

        Though I believe with changes he may be able to…

    • http://twitter.com/Liston Tom Liston

      All good points. My main focus to what may make Kleiza more efficient (and the offense in general) and I agree its not like just simply giving Amir and Julian more shots is the answer.
      However, improved ball movement will lead to less forced shots overall – something we need to see from Kleiza.

  • voy

    the argument “juju should not see many minutes because he is limited offensively” is a ridiculous one, in my opinion.

    Not all 5 starters are gonna be good across the board. When has this become the expectation? You’re gonna need guys to fill certain roles to complete a well-rounded team. I guess, in an ideal world it would be awesome if all 5 starters would be above average scorers, rebounders and defenders. However, its not often your best scorer is a lockdown defender, or your best defender can create his own offence, efficiently, etc etc…

    Lastly, about Kleiza: in my opinion, he’d be an ok piece coming off the bench and getting matched-up against smaller SF or slower pf. I dont think he can compete consistently againt front line sf or pf. Asking him to do so is foolhardy.

    • Employee

      I agree with ur argument that we don’t need 5 great scorers, but it would be nice if we could put 3 good scorers on at once.

      • Mediumcore

        I wonder if that is why Julian doesn’t get the minutes everyone wants to see him have. Since none of our PF’s cannot score and when Andrea is out neither can our Centre’s. So if you put in a SF that can’t score as well, then it really hampers our offense. The Dino’s need to have guys that can score at that position in order to balance out the lack of scoring from our bigs minus Andrea. Only reason I could come of with for Triano not giving Julian more minutes.

        • http://twitter.com/Liston Tom Liston

          Sample sizes are very limited, but if you look at the lineups with Calderon and Bargnani with Wright and Johnson (or Davis), the offensive numbers are very good:
          (Again, limited data, but worth exploring over time)

          • Mediumcore

            Small sample size indeed, but contradicts the only reasoning I had to why Triano refuses to play him. Back to being utterly confused as to why.

  • Sixcubed

    Decent analysis but statistics don’t always tell the whole story. You also cannot just mine for statistics that show Kleiza sucks essentially. The PER is a wholesome stat but you need to realize that Kleiza played injured earlier in the year.

    I agree that Kleiza needs to be better utilized in the post. I also think Kleiza would do himself a favor by dropping some weight to better play the SF position in the NBA and not a PF in the Euroleague.

    Julian Wright is really overrated. Another problem with statistics and especially the +/- is worthless. Raptors starters rarely have a + considering their playing against other team starters. The Raptors do have a decent bench so they look better in the +/1 category. Also about Wright is the reality that he comes in to defend back up players. Sometimes he defends guys like Lebron, but by the time he’s in the game the Raptors are usually losing by double digits and elite athletes are less motivated to play. Yes his offense is awful but his defense is overrated to. I think that if he started he would be exposed.

    • http://twitter.com/Liston Tom Liston

      I would emphasize the difference between “basic” +/- and “adjusted” +/- .
      Your comments relate to basic +/- and I agree there – as I pointed out in this:

      Adjusted +/- (which I quote) attempts to adjust for the factors you mention.

      • cesco

        The ‘adjusted’ +/- are ‘attempting’ to give a better picture of a player worth when in fact , at least in the case of the Raps , it indicate that the second unit in the past two years has performed better against the other teams second unit than the first unit has against the other teams first unit . For that reason +/- stats as applied to individual players are flawed . If Amir keep playing on the first unit long enough , his +/- stats will be going south.

        • http://twitter.com/Liston Tom Liston

          Starters that work hard on both ends of the court have positive adjusted +/- despite being on poor teams. A few examples: Varejao (+7.49), Bogut (+6.43), Brewer (+5.35), M Gasol (+5.19), G Wallace (+5.45), Griffin (+4.91), Lowry (+4.82), Gay (+4.31), Young (+3.73) [not strtg this yr], Hayes, (+2.82), Hibbert (+1.42), Love etc…

          You’ll see some common elements with these players: most have a lot of pride in defending and rebounding as well as being reasonably efficient scorers. A few of our starters are not good defenders and/or rebounders and hence it shows up in their adjusted +/-. (I.e. even against average players they tend to have a negative impact on defense).

          No measure is perfect, but this one *generally* gives a good indication of contribution. As always, its good to look at other data (and your own eyes) to confirm who’s making a contribution at both ends that has the largest impact on wins.

          • cesco

            Tom , Varejao 2 years adjusted +/- is +7.49 , 1 year adjusted +/- is -0.01 . Guess what happened to Cleveland between last year and this year . If you can solve that mystery you will understand these stats are meaningless as a true value of a player to his team . It all depend on the quality of the UNIT you play mostly with . Think about it .

            • http://twitter.com/Liston Tom Liston

              I have and I don’t think we will likely agree on this topic.
              There are often a few outliers, especially with 1 year data (and Varejeo has been out with injury). Take him out and look at the others. As well, you can see players playing with good players (Arroyo) have negative values. (also, see R Jefferson, J Green, A Jefferson, Bell etc.) **I acknowledge its by no means perfect though.** No metric is.

  • Joey_to7


  • Daniel

    Tom, we are at mid-season. I suggest to have a post comparing the efficiency numbers at the end of last season to the mid-season numbers. This way we can have a good picture of where everybody is at.

  • steve

    Stats don’t win games.

    • Theswirsky

      unfortunately they do… as everything that happens is a measurable statistic. Some more easily measured than others.

      putting more points on the board than your opponent wins games. Points are a stat. Stops are a stat. Assists are a stat. Rebounds are a stat. Turnovers, steals…. etc etc etc. And thats just at its most basic level.

      So yes, stats do win you games.

    • http://twitter.com/Liston Tom Liston

      Points scored (a stat) minus points allowed (a stat) = wins (if positive) or losses (if negative).
      Please buy a shirt: http://www.zazzle.com/statistics_statistician_humor_tshirt-235519265035816465