Three quick ones:

More on the “no easy baskets” philosophy

We touched on this topic before, however I believe its worth revisiting. As per our previous post “Stats, Lies and Eyes“, statistics often help highlight what our “eyes” miss, but they can sometimes be deceiving as well. I believe the Raptors’ lowest FG% for “points in the paint” stat (which is quoted often) is one of those.

Why? Well the “no easy baskets” philosophy has its drawbacks. It usually equates to more fouls. And the Raptors have the second highest Free Throw rate in the league (second to GSW, who hacked Dwight Howard alone 39 times in ONE game.)

The challenge is this: the Raptors’ differential from the league average ultimately means they allow 1.07 less field goals from “at rim” out to 9 feet. So we’ll call this two points.

However, the Raptors 35.1 FTR translates to 27.8 opponent FT attempts per game, where they are shooting ~75%. The Raptors give their opponents ~6 more trips to the line on average, which translates to ~4.5 more points. However, obviously all the “extra fouls” may not be in the paint – but we know many of them are likely to be. To be very conservative, let us chop that difference in half.

This would still suggest giving up a marginally more points than you are “preventing” by way of lower field goal percentage. However, this does not even consider the early foul trouble several of your players (mainly bigs) are likely to get into as a result of this philosophy. This impact should not be understanded.

Why do I point it out? Its something to watch closely. Swapping out a lower FG% in the paint with a higher foul rate is not necessarily a good trade off. We need to believe Coach Casey will eventually get players to a lower foul rate as they “learn the system” and adjust and/or alter and affect more shoots to drive down the field goal percentage further. The final benefit *could* be a bit more intimation – which could see a team pull up a few more times for mid to long 2s. Regardless, its something to watch closely.

DeRozan under Duress

Another interesting data point came up a few days ago that also needs some context:

Our own James Herbert was quick to put this data needed to be put in context:

James watched each clip and I trust his “eyes” as much as anyone’s (with some work, I could likely get the exact data, but its “mail it in Friday” here at Statophile given an insane work week)

What I did do was hike over to 82games.com, to do a quick comparison: DeRozan does get a decent percentage of shots off (14% to be exact) with little time on the clock, where he shoots 25% (not overly shocking given many are desperation shots and defenses can key in on him – especially with Bargnani out). Overall, the Raptors take 45% of their shots with 8 seconds or less on the clock (15% with 4 or less). Compare this to a high octane and otherwise offensively gifted Oklahoma Thunder team who takes only 37% of their shots with 8 seconds or left (12% with 4 or less). When you gamble a little less for steals, generally slow the pace and do not have as many offensive weapons, your field goal percentages can suffer.

Lovin’ Lin


There is a famous expression: “even a broken clock is right twice a day”

The trick in this business to highlight the few times you were right and hopefully readers forget the many times you weren’t.

With that in mind, I saw a comment posted in the last few days here (forget the post) something along the lines of “no one saw Jeremy Lin’s potential so I don’t see why we can get upset the Raptors missed signing him”. Thankfully a few people emailed and tweeted that they remember I was vocal about signing him as a backup PG. And I did find some proof: “Jeremy Lin generally held his own against John Wall … I don’t see him as a starter, but could be a very good backup in this league. High basketball IQ (did I mention he went to Harvard?), hustle, makes good decisions, a competitor.”

Sure I didn’t see him doing what he has of late (chances are he’ll probably regress a bit as teams scout him better). But I sure thought he was worth a minimum salary bet! Not only did the stats geek in me appreciate he was the first player in Ivy league history to record at least 1,450 points (1,483), 450 rebounds (487), 400 assists (406) and 200 steals (225), but it was obvious to my “eyes” that he had a competitive fire in him that was not appreciated.

He reminded me of the classic “Moneyball” scenario: he didn’t fit the “mold” the scouts are used to and thus overlooked.

Here’s the game I attended. While I generally wouldn’t conclude much based on one game, the fire he came out with against the #1 pick was nothing short of impressive.

Questions? Arsenalist introduced a forum thread dedicated to “Statophile Q&A”. If you prefer to send questions privately, you’re welcome to email me at tomliston [at] gmail [dot] com or find me on Twitter (@Liston).