OK, here me out on this one. There’s two things the Raptors need to address this off-season: three-point shooting and defense. This has to be done acknowledging that the “window of contention” isn’t coming for another couple years, if it ever does. Defense is too broad of a concept to be addressed by a single signing, but assuming the Raptors address that through someone like Tyson Chandler or some other acquisition via trade, there’s still the issue of three-point shooting.

Only one player shot above 35% last year and that was Jose Calderon (36.5%), everybody else was poor. Bargnani with a career-worst, 34.5%, Barbosa at 33.8%, Kleiza 29.8%, James Johnson shot 24%, DeRozan with a miserable 13.2%, second on the team was the streaky Jerryd Bayless who came in at 34.8%. These are all wing players who are generally responsible for supplying this skill. As a team the Raptors were a league-worst 31.6%. Contrast this with Dallas’ 36.5% three-point shooting last year, and you what comes into view is the obvious but often forgotten concept of floor-spacing, an element which Casey’s movement-heavy offense needs to succeed. With the Raptors unable to make opponents pay for congesting the lane and doubling without fear of penalty, it’s not a shock the Raptors were 21st in offense last season. And remember, offense was supposed to be our strength! That belief was based on the year before when the Raptors had the league’s 5th best offense, and you might not be surprised to hear it was also a year the Raptors shot 37.1% from three – 6th in the league.

Is there correlation between three-point shooting and efficient offense? A quick glance at the numbers say “probably”, but we’ll have Liston look at those in detail another day. In a perfect world, the Raptors wings would all shoot a healthy percentage and Bargnani would supplement the shooting even more, but that isn’t happening. Teams also tend to bring three-point shooters off the bench (James Harden, Jason Terry, J.J Redick etc.) but on the Raptors that role belongs to Leandro Barbosa, who is more inclined to set up the three than make one, although he did make his fair share of big shots last season. Sonny Weems teased early in the season and faded as winter grew stronger, now he’s on his way to Europe.

The question is, should the Raptors import a long-range sniper, and if so, who? The former part of the question is probably more important. Do we need to attempt to win games? Logical answer is no, but even if the season is a purely educational one, shouldn’t we at least study with the right books? Answering in the affirmative, I will suggest the Raptors try to make a play for Arron Afflalo (LA Times profile). For those who haven’t seen him much, here’s a rundown of his game thanks to John Hollinger:

+ Tough, strong defender with outstanding fundamentals, but a limited athlete.

+ Good outside shooter, especially from corners, who has adjusted to pro 3-pointer.

+ Not a quick or elusive dribbler; struggles to create own shot and finish at rim.

Afflalo makes for a decent stopgap because of his defense, but if he’s going to be a viable long-term starter, he has to make a greater impact at the offensive end. Fortunately, there’s a path to doing so that he already embarked upon last season: becoming a 3-point specialist.

Afflalo hit 43.4 percent of his 3s, his second straight season at better than 40 percent. Clearly he can stroke it. The problem is he regularly steps inside the arc — only 43 percent of his shots were 3s. Usually for a specialist with this kind of accuracy, it will be well more than half.

Afflalo isn’t being asked to create shots off the dribble or anything; in fact, he had the fourth-lowest Usage Rate at his position. He’s just choosing to step in off the catch too often, and it’s the wrong choice. He has to be a high-efficiency 3-point sniper in this role. If he’s ducking in to shoot 2s or drive to the basket, he’s not nearly as great a threat.

I liked him in his Detroit days, and now he’s found his niche in the league – defense and three-point shooting. He’s like a younger version of Raja Bell, and a saner version of Ron Artest but at the off-guard. Unlike Julian Wright, his man can’t leave him to double-team the power forward, the center or simply chat up the cute girl sitting courtside, and unlike Weems he’s committed to defense and has honed a valuable offensive skill. At 25, he’s the right age and fits in well with Project Youth. Once Barbosa says his goodbyes next summer (or at the deadline), Afflalo can step in perfectly.

The problem is that last season he started every game for Denver and would expect a starting role wherever he goes. He’s also stated that he would like to return to the Nuggets, where he has received a $2.9M qualifying offer. Instead of deluding ourselves that James Johnson is a possible answer at small forward, what about going for Afflalo as the two guard, and moving DeRozan to the three? DeRozan can’t get much worse defensively so I don’t buy the argument that his defense will suffer at the small forward spot. Here’s an interesting tidbit from his pre-draft camp which I think still holds true: as athletic as he may be, his agility is poor and no matter where you play him, he’ll make the same defensive concessions:

DeRozan had shockingly poor numbers in the agility and sprint tests for a guy who is supposed to be a “raw athlete” who plays above the rim. Harden scored better than DeRozan in the standing vertical, and had a longer wingspan and standing reach, despite being about an inch and a half shorter.

The agility and sprint scores for DeRozan were below the average for shooting guard prospects. Given that DeRozan’s status in the top-10 hinges on his athletic ability, one has to suspect that he might fall down a few draft boards, especially since he is coming out as a freshman. Also, one has to be concerned about his defense when his agility score is much worse than Harden, especially with Harden being considered the smarter player.

So, if moving DeRozan over to the three is a wash defensively, you can now make a case that his offense will suffer due to being guarded by taller defenders. Sure, I’ll give you that, but if DeRozan is the star that we’re expecting him to be, the least he should be able to do is score regardless of wing position. And it’s not unreasonable to imagine that DeRozan, once he establishes himself, will face the opposition’s best defender every night. In that case, his position is moot.

You want to shore up the defense? Do it by plugging the holes on the perimeter and install a big who can rotate. Then you get to mess around with all the zone combinations you want knowing you have rebounding guards and a frontline which likes to hit the glass. On the other end, spread out the defense and let the one-on-one players like DeRozan (not there yet, but will be), Bargnani and Davis see what they can do. Throw in a little motion-offense with a pinch of a three-point threat, a scoring punch off the bench, and now you have a team instead of a bunch of a guys looking to get theirs.


  • http://twitter.com/Tortacular Ryan Scott

    It’s an interesting idea on the offensive end.  The dude can really shoot it.  But the idea of he or DD trying to guard threes is kind of scary. 

  • ezz_bee

    I wouldn’t be upset if it happened, but I probably wouldn’t pull the trigger on the trade personally. I think demar is going to step up his 3pt % quite a bit this off season. Not saying we still don’t need a 3pt shooter at sf but I don’t think derozen is the answer.

  • C.d.G.

    I thought (according with so many Raps fans) that Demar was our appointed star and greatest player.
    Now, I suddenly discover:
    – his defence is poor
    – his 3 points shooting is the poorest
    – he’s not even a great athlete!!
    On what kind of ground are our great fans stating that he is the cornerstone on which we’ll build the future team???

    • SteveB

      Because he is not a “white lazy European” player. For Raptor fans “Young Gunz” ( one solid, one bench and one D-league player ) are the future.

    • Nilanka15

      DeRozan’s young, and is clearly still improving as a player.  You’re just upset at all the Bargnani hate lately, and fail to see that these two players are justifiably judged differently. 

      If in 3 years DeRozan is still a sieve on defense, you’ll hear the same Bargnani-bashers spewing their venom towards DeRozan.

      • BCGheradiniJayGots2Go!!!

        IF AB gets 5 years (as per BC) then DD gets at least 7 since he was drafted 9th not 1st overall.lol

        Some people are just mad because the 7’1 250 pound Andrea Bargnani aka King Barg’s aka The Pope aka No Star is a lazy moo’fer who is crying that he’s a PF not a Center when he’s not even a PF either as much as he floats on the perimeter he’s a 7’1 SG- point blank.

    • Statement

      I’m just gonna say right now that I don’t  like Demar’s game, but am willing to give him time to improve.

      Defensively, he HAS to improve…whether it’s beyond his physical limitations to do so, I don’t know.

      Also, he HAS to bulk up…too often he gets rag-dolled around when going to the rim and doesn’t have the strength to finish.

      Also, he has to be willing to mix it up for rebounds.  He’s a pretty crappy rebounder.

      4th….he could be a solid starter, but he surely isn’t an all-star (IMHO). 

    • BCGheradiniJayGots2Go!!!

      DD, not a great athlete?

      What are you smoking on- Primo pasta joints?

      You win the ‘I’m stuck on stupid’ badge for today- enjoy & congrats.lmfao

    • FAQ

      With all of Demar’s shortcomings, maybe we should trade him along with Bargs and Jose too.

    • YeDig

      dude’s 21.

  • Shan1180

    lol look at paul pierce in the pic guarding derozan

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_GHAC3DK7BH5HCIBFB4PNDEXECI Tom

      look at shaqs fat bald dumb ass face. lol

  • Theswirsky

    I like the idea of Afflalo… but I think it means one of him or Derozan coming off the bench.

    Can we really picture Derozan trying to guard Lebron, Carmelo, Wallace, Gay, Durant, Deng, Marion, Artest, etc?  I don’t.  While his apparent lack of ‘agility’ may be a weakness at the 2 spot (and I don’t think thats his problem on D so much as his lack of experience)… his lack of size and strength is going to get him eaten alive at the 3.  Maybe a few years down the road it will be a better position for him…. but right now I do see the D getting worse.

    Ofcourse offensively Derozan may makes sense at the 3, but then why not stick with Johnson or Wright?  Their biggest weakness is an inability to shot, the same as Derozan… at least they have the size to defend and ball handling/passing skills that Derozan does not.

    Derozan NEEDS to add more range to his game to suppliment his offense (and better ball handling skills)… but then live by attacking the rim and getting to the line.  If he can’t be atleast a threat to hit a 3 (somewhere atleast around 30%ish) he may need to become a well used bench guy (picture Ronnie Brewer).

    Thankfully these are things that, historically, have been shown can be improved on

  • Balls of Steel

    I prefer to get a three that can shoot the 3-rock off the bench as Kleiza heals: Reggie Williams.

    • http://profiles.google.com/ebrian Brian Y

      LOL!  Again with Reggie Williams.  Does the madness ever stop?  Hahaha..

  • golden

    I don’t want to bash on Demar, because he exhibits exactly the type of hard work and team oriented qualities that you want to see.  But his defence has been truly dreadful so far – right up (down) there with Bargnani and Calderon, and possibly even worse than Jose.  He’s gotten a huge free pass so far, but this year under Casey there should be no slack given, since there was a built-in excuse for everybody’s poor D under Triano.  

    • BCGheradiniJayGots2Go!!!

      Hasn’t Jay aka ‘No Accountabilty’ been running the show the past 2 3/4 seasons post Sam?

      Jay doesn’t require defense ie Rap’s worst defensive team in NBA 2 years running, it’s the no defense baskeball culture currently instilled in the TDot & represented by the 2 current longest tenured Raptor players under BC- Jose & Andrea.

      DD has all the physical tools to be a solid defender in the NBA as a SG.

      • Cro

        Exactly, plus he has the mental desire to want to play defence which lazy Bargnani doesn’t have.

    • jlongs

      I agree. DeMar is right up there as worst defenders on the team. But I’m not quite sure yet whether that’s because he’s not agile enough to go around screens, not strong enough to fight through them, not able to predict what his man is trying to do, not experienced enough, or just doesn’t have high enough basketball IQ.

      I expect significant improvement defensively (from DeMar) this season, specially under Dwane Casey.

  • Bearvon

    I’ve been a huge AA fan for awhile now, so I’d love to make a run at him, however I would throw a ton of our free agent money at him in hopes that he would be our “6th man”.

    I’m also curious as to why no one mentions bending over backwards to trade for Batum? He’s young, plays a position that we are sorely lacking, plays great d, and can shoot the 3. Plus he’s been cast aside to the bench in favor of Wallace.

    I wonder if there is a package not including demar (and maybe not Ed) that could net us Batum in return?

    • ak

      batum is great man. i am there with you on that one.

  • hateslosing

    While I like Affalo and wouldn’t have a problem picking him up, I think it would mean moving DD out. He is a two and his main advantage offensively is going to come from the the fact that he is taller and will eventually be stronder than opposing two’s. You move him to the three and it’s at best a defensive wash and he loses all of his advantages on offense. I’d rather stick with him and see if he can add the three this season but there are worse things than trading him for another good prospect. I’d prefer to try to get a guy like Dorell Wright (free agen in 2013, maybe we could trade for him) who is a good defender and a good shooter to play beside DD than move DD and have to find a good three.

  • Mediumcore

    I like Afflalo’s game, and if we could get him on the cheap then sure, but as in most cases the Raptor’s usually have to pay above average salary to bring players to Toronto. He’s sort of a fringe starter to me that requires a specific system and has to play with good players to excel. The same with Tyson Chandler. He looked good playing next to CP3 in New Orleans and next to Kidd, Dirk and company in Dallas, but under acheived every where else. Afflalo and Chandler are players that accent good teams, but on teams that don’t have great talent they are expected to stand out which isn’t realistic.
    I’d pass on both these guys, and build through the draft. Save the cap space for when we’re ready to compete and there is an actual home run option on the market.

  • Dobsully

    Your article misses the reason why our offense dropped.
    Chris Bosh.
    It had nothing to do with the 3 pt. shot.
    He helped spread the floor because he was double teamed.
    He had a inside game and a mid range game.

    I could see you this writing an article after losing a great 3 pt shooter and our offense drops.
    But when we loss Chris Bosh and our offense drops, then you say it’s because
    of our 3 pt shooting.  
    Well, one must question the way you analyze the game.

    • Theswirsky

      using that argument one could also say that the reason the offense dropped off was because Hedo is gone…

      • Nilanka15

        I kinda agree with Dobsully.  It’s a lot easier to hit 3 pointers when they’re wide open looks.  And it’s a lot easier to get wide open looks when you have a player who consistently demands double-teams.  Since Bosh left, we haven’t had such a player.  So it makes sense that everyone’s 3pt % was down last year.

        It’s isn’t the only reason why we shot so poorly last year, but it is a significant factor nonetheless.

        • BCGheradiniJayGots2Go!!!

          AB was getting doubled up alot last season.

          • Nilanka15

            Yeah, but he wasn’t the greatest at reading double-teams and making the right passes.

            • BCGheradiniJayGots2Go!!!


              Yet still the Rap’s were missing wide open 3s all season long- especially Jose, who shied away from shooting open jumpers to the detriment of the Rap’s offense by not being a threat to score the ball (Jay even had to tell Jose via the media to shoot more) even though he built a few houses (Brick Houses) last season around the NBA and in the TDot.

    • arsenalist

      Bosh probably had a lot to do with it, but don’t harp on that.  This piece is just suggesting an FA signing that:

      1. Fits into future plans (young player).
      2. Solves three-point shooting need (shot 40+)
      3. Does what Casey likes (plays defense)

      • Raptoronto

        Although Dubsully has a good point.  If, say, you were to add a FA Center who can attract attention to the interior on O and deter interior penetration, it would elevate the games of every single player on both sides of the court, which would be far more valuable but no so easy to find.

      • Dobsully

        Not only do you need strong inside presence but also players who can penetrate. 
        When Dallas was having problems with their offense against the Heat they started
        their back up guard who could penetrate.
        Terry also can penetrate while shoot the 3.

    • Bendit

      Not entirely true or a small part at best. Bosh was not a good passer out of the double team. In fact a constant complaint was he kept the ball too long and if he did pass it was with very little time on the clock necessitating a hurried shot.

      • Dobsully

        Bosh might not have been the best passer but he scored points.
        And the fact that our 3 pt % has dropped says he helped spread the floor
        and his team mates had better looks.

    • Ajgale

      Bosh wasn’t doubled teamed last year…if anything teams learned they could bring it late and he would hold the ball and NOT pass out of it. 
      It was infuriating.

      • Theswirsky


        I always hear people talk about Bosh (and this year Bargnani) getting ‘double teamed’ when in reality it rarely happened.  Someone stepping in to help when their teammates man is beat does not constitute a double team.  If it does, Bayless got double teamed all season.

  • Malefax

    Talking yourself into playing DeRozan at the 3 is wishful thinking. It might help us get a high draft pick next year. I’m not super concerned about draft combine stats. With experience, DeRozan can learn to be a better defender at the two. But he isn’t cut out to guard offensive 3’s in this league.

    Afflalo is a nice player. But he wouldn’t work well with DeRozan.

  • Nine New Faces

    Whenever the next draft happens, it’s going to be stacked with PFs and SFs. Since they’re good at PF, they’ll be looking to take a SF and they’ll have some solid options, likely all better than playing DeRozan at the 3.

    I’d seriously consider that trade if the upcoming draft was weak, but I’d rather have one of Harrison Barnes, Quincy Miller and Micheal Gilchrist. Or even potentially Perry Jones or Anthony Davis as 3/4 combo guys like Odom or Josh Smith. I like all those guys better than Afflalo.

    • BCGheradiniJayGots2Go!!!

      & PGs too (Kabongo, Teague, Wroten, Siva)

  • Mediumcore

    The only reason I would consider moving DD to the 3 is because he doesn’t have the shooting ability or handles of a 2. If you’re not bringing in a guy that can do those two things as well as create his own play (Igoudala) then I wouldn’t consider moving Demar to the 3.

  • BCGheradiniJayGots2Go!!!

    DD is a SG not a SF- point blank!!

    Ex Miami Heat and current UFA SF James Jones would be a nice pick up for the Rap’s better than AA (who would most likely want to start at SG in the TDot) in my mind as Jones is a legit 3 man who can hit 3s & D up plus DD can stay at SG where he belongs.

    Tayshaun Prince anyone?

  • planetmars

    A SF that can shoot the 3 and play D?  How about Shane Battier who’s
    also a FA?   He’s not young (32 right now) but would be a great mentor and provide veteran leadership that the Raptors are lacking.  He can help teach Demar how to play D.  I’m not sure if he’d want to play for a lottery bound team or not, but I’d over pay for him.

  • Vincent

    I don’t think James Johnson is a lost cause.  He is gritty, he understands what it takes to be a stopper on D.  In fact, he relishes the tough match-ups.  He approaches it much like a UFC fight(he has cage experience).  He studies his apponents and attacks their weaknesses.  He also has versatility in the O.  He can push the break, he’s a decent passer and can score off ISO. If Afflalo can learn to shoot 3’s, why not JJ. 

    • Raptoronto

      And if rumors are true that he lost 20 pounds (my biggest concern) he may indeed be much improved simply with his quickness and speed…if his skills also improved, he could be an interesting player to watch this season.

      • Nilanka15

        Agreed.  I’m looking forward to seeing improvement from a lot of the young players:
        – DeRozan: 3pt range, handles, ISO shot creation, defense
        – Bayless: 3pt %, higher assists, lower turnovers, passing ability, on-court leadership
        – J.Johnson: 3pt range, shot selection, defense
        – Amir: lowered foul rate, 1-2 offensive “go to” moves
        – Alabi: improvement in all aspects

        • Bendit

          We should cut Alabi some slack. His guru Thorpe said his problem last season was due to the knee procedure he had preseason (which I hadnt heard of).

        • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/HISQFQ4AGC6OW77MXASZH4A4QI dchoubak

          I think for Alabi it’s not so much improvement in everything, but just some PT

    • ak

      um, i read somewhere during the predraft interviews he had a black belt in karate or something. in north america it usually means u can do splits and scream a lot.

  • raptorsmastermind

    Just bring in a guy like batum… from portland he does EVERYTHING that the raptor fans and coach are looking for. good three point shooter, very strong defender, he is tremendously long, solid rebounder and can play the 3 or the 2, even perhaps the 4. By the way, Portland has the deepest team in the league when it comes to wing players in Roy, Fernandez, Wallace, Matthews, Batum. So why wouldnt they consider a trade for Batum? The Raptors can not involve DD or Ed in the package though. Instead Barbosa and Amir… what do you guys think?

    • Nilanka15

      Fernandez is with Dallas.

    • ak

      salary considerations apart i would totally pick batum over dd.
      maybe grass is greener on the other side, but i just feel like years of playing under mcmillan made him play defence the right way. the thing derozan never forced to do with raptors.

  • Mark

    Getting a RFA to sign an offer sheet with Toronto would be a tall task.  Expecting Denver not to match is foolish.  This is a pipe dream.  Why not make an offer for Gasol as well…same chance of him ending up in Toronto. 

  • GermanWunderkind

    This team needs:
    1) to trade AB
    2) to play with the young gunz (in the D-League)

    • BCGheradiniJayGots2Go!!!

      According to Galletti, Andrea Bargnani is the second most overpaid player in the league. Nestled between Michael Redd and Yao Ming, Bargnani’s wins produced value is -6 according to the study, worst in the NBA. The next worse  wins produced value is Darko Milicic’s at -2.8. What’s more?Each of the top seven players on the overpaid list outside of Bargnani were seriously injured or traded during the season.Think about that: Redd played 134 minutes this season while Yao logged 91 minutes. Bargnani? A cool 2,353 minutes. Too cool for his own good, apparently. *END

      • Dogshit

        kevin love was #1 on the underpaid list with a +26 wins produced but didn’t the timberwolves win 17 games all season?

        • Guy

          Lol nice username

        • Theswirsky

          they also had numerous negative WP players. 

      • GermanWunderkind

        You allways forget that Bargs must play with the worst team ever. People like DD which cannot shot, cannot pass the ball and have NO basketball iq.
        But for you it is easily to blame AB. Compare Dallas with the Raps, do you think Dirk would have won something with this team. Yes, sure.. lol

        • BCGheradiniJayGots2Go!!!

          BC, Gheradini & Jay have coddled Bargnani aka Bargenstein into a lethargic 7’1 250 pound PF (I’m not a Center) 5 years after the fact of his arrival in the TDot as a 5 year project- I call BullChit on Andrea.

          As well, BC is currently (has been since CB left) building the team around AB- fact!

          Did you know that Ed had more total rebounds than Barg’s while playing around half the total game minutes as Bargnani did on the season? Wow!

          Also, Bargnani had ONLY 2 double doubles on the whole season with 1 coming in a triple OT game against the lowly Nets in London while Ed had a team high 12 & Amir had 11 double doubles respectively. 

          Bargnani is a lazy piece of sh*t- point blank, Dirk & he shouldn’t even be mentioned in the same paragraph!!

          Fyi- you can’t compare the Rap’s current situation with Dallas other than BC has helped out the Mav’s moreso than the Rap’s but you can say that about BC & the Heat as well.lol

        • RapsM

          You think Dallas would’ve won with Bargnani?

  • WhataboutBargs

    nick young

    • ak

       nick young is just what this team needs, another all offence player.

  • Bigbalboski79

    afflalo is a nice player. great D, doesnt need the ball to be effective.  does one thing well that nobody on the raps , ‘sides bargs does: shoot the three.  but DD is no 3.

    wilson chandler is a much better idea. his qualifier is only slightly higher at $3.1m (to AA’s $2.9m).

    WC is a natural three:  6’8″ 230. with a good all around game.

    • Nilanka15

      With DeRozan already in the mix, and the jury still out on J.Johnson, Wilson Chandler seems like a good target for this team.

  • “Clement” Li

    ah good anarogy!

  • Edgar

    25 years old is a peak player with a bit of room to grow, not a guy who has leaps and bounds of potential…

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/HISQFQ4AGC6OW77MXASZH4A4QI dchoubak

    Personally, I would be over the moon if we were able to get Afflalo. He’s been a player since his days at UCLA and he’s only gotten better. We could use a little Ben Howland in our team.

  • Lawdoggie79

    Why don’t we see what kliza can do this year since he’s already signed paid and here. He can shoot and he likes to get rough. This year is gonna be another $#!t show so why send money we don’t have to when we can draft for position again like we did in this draft. AA is good but he’s not gonna win us any games!

  • Senlezayiflamak
  • ilmago

    I hope this is a joke. Afflalo would come for about 5 Mil an year and we already have DD in his role. Does he make us better? Maybe a little. Does he give us a playoff spot? NO WAY. Does he eat the cap space we could use in the future for some better FA? YEP. We already have the roster full of role player…please, not another one.