I don't know where my projection is, either.

John Hollinger has started to release his annual Player Cards over at ESPN (Insider Only). These cards are something I look forward to every year, for multiple reasons. For one, he watches a tonne of game tape and, hate him or love him, has appreciable insight into every single NBA player. Additionally, though, there are his Player Efficiency Rating (PER) projections.

While his methodology for projecting PER along a development curve and based on historical data is not as transparent as, say, baseball’s PECOTA projection system, it’s always interesting to look at how his system thinks players will stack up. Keep in mind that his projections are offensive only, and I believe they are not system-dependent (e.g. it would not account for Landry Fields’ shooting mix changing in Toronto), so they are certainly not a Bible for 2012-13 analysis. But they’re interesting nonetheless…and they’re not pretty.

When it comes to the Raptors, the player scouting reports will not be released until Monday, at which point one of us will follow up on those. For now, however, we at least have his PER projections for each player on the roster, as well as his projections for some other so-called “Hollinger Player Stats,” such as True Shooting Percentage (TS%), Rebound Rate (Reb%), and more.

What follows is a look at each Raptor and how Hollinger’s projection system sees them stacking up. If you don’t care for the details as much, scroll to the bottom of this article where I’ve summarized the key notes in a handy chart.

Kyle Lowry
Hollinger pegs Lowry for a slight decline in PER, from 18.89 to 17.79, still good enough for best on the squad. Curiously, the projections see Lowry’s Usage Rate declining, something I can’t see happening as he moves to a team where he’s a greater focus. Elsewhere, the system sees slight declines in TS%, Ast% and Reb%, though none except the TS% change are significant. The system oddly projects Lowry for a 39.8 FG% which has to be about shot selection more than talent, considering he’s a career 78% free-throw shooter and has shot 37% or better from long range the past two years.

Andrea Bargnani
Bargs is tapped for the highest usage rate on the team, though it’s down a tick from his mark the past two seasons. Somehow the system sees him getting a slightly lower percentage of rebounds (as if that’s possible), while seeing negligible decreases in TS% and Ast% as well. I would assume that with Bargs healthy and a (hopefully) more competent offense around him, his efficiency should actually tick back up towards 2008-10 levels, when his TS% was north of 55%.

John Lucas
Yup, our third best player on offense is allegedly our third string point guard. Lucas is projected to dominate the offense when he’s on the floor, using 24% of possessions and pouring in over 20 points per 40 minutes. The rebound and assist rates are low, but he actually doesn’t turn the ball over much, so there’s hope for continued success if his role is similar to the one he had in Chicago.

Ed Davis
If it seems like this system doesn’t project a tonne of change, you’ve got the same feeling I have. The system has basically split Ed’s rookie and sophomore seasons for his 2012-13 projection, anticipating an uptick in rebounds and assists but a further decline in TS%.

Jose Calderon
The system thinks Jose is on the decline, pegging him to fall below the 15.0 approximate league average mark in PER for the first time since his rookie season. The system basically throws its hands up at Jose’s Ast% and assumes it’s not sustainable, while his TS% is also expected to fall as close to 50% as it’s been since his rookie campaign.

DeMar DeRozan
After improvement from Year 1 to 2, DeMar regressed almost all the way to his rookie season last year in terms of PER, so the system lacks confidence in his ability to bounce back too far. They see a slight decline in TS%, Ast%, and Usage, but a slight uptick in Reb%. Somehow the net of those is an uptick in PER, but not even to league average levels. It would be interesting to see how the projections would change if it looked at half-seasons instead of full seasons, given DeMar’s improvement after the All-Star break last season.

Landry Fields
Everyone’s big question about Landry goes unanswered for now, since Hollinger’s method doesn’t project three-point percentage. Instead, it splits Fields’ two seasons and projects the midway point, seeing just a small uptick in TS% (disappointing) met with an uptick in Reb% (encouraging). I’d be interested to see if a change from shooting guard to small forward, in terms of the formulae involved, did much to his projection.

Dominic McGuire
McGuire is known as a defensive specialist, but he’s not a complete zero on offense anymore. He provides an obscene Ast% for a small forward while also chipping in a strong Reb%, showing that, while you don’t want him shooting the ball, he isn’t without value on that end.

Linas Kleiza
Without even looking, you could guess that Linas’ high-volume approach wouldn’t fit well with this kind of projection system. A 41% field-goal percentage is projected, a decreasing TS% accompanies drops in Ast%, Usage, and Reb%, while even more turnovers are anticipated. All of that adds up to give him a PER on par with McGuire, though he takes the complete opposite route to get there.

Aaron Gray
And finally, we find out that Reb% isn’t everything, since Gray ranked fifth in the NBA in rebound rate but still has the lowest projected PER of any Raptor with a projection. A poor TS%, a sky-high turnover rate, and a tiny usage rate all add up to negate the rebounding advantage.

Amir Johnson
I’m not sure why Amir doesn’t have a projection right now. Generally these type of systems like his style of play, though last year was a poor one for him in terms of PER. I’ll update this post once Amir’s mysterious projection is revealed.

Alan Anderson, Terrence Ross, Jonas Valanciunas, Quincy Acy, Jamaal Magloire, Chris Wright, Jerel McNeal
Due to the players being rookies, presumed retired, or pegged for the D-League, there are no projections available.

If you’re not a fan of Hollinger’s projections, Basketball Prospectus also releases their SCHOENE projections sometime in September, though these are also behind a pay wall.

Once Hollinger releases his player cards on Monday, I’ll be back with more analysis. Until then, follow me on Twitter.

  • K.J.P

    Presumed retired, LOL. They got that right.

    • arsenalist

      I didn’t even know that was a type of status.  It’s basically saying, “Haven’t heard about that guy in a while, can’t be bothered to look it up so I’m just guessing he’s done”.

      • 2damkule

        they need a stat that encompasses how much more an active player contributed to his teams success vs. a retired player.  we could name it after magloire (‘MOIRE’?? a bizzarro take on baseball’s WAR?), since he’s worth about the same as a retired player.  it would be nice if he was known for something other than being (one of) the worst allstar selections in history…although this isn’t exactly a step up from that distinction.


        • http://www.blakemurphy.com/ Blake Murphy

          I made up the “presumed retired” distinction FYI. Don’t want to mis-attribute that to ESPN/Hollinger.

          • arsenalist

            The Raptors signed him.  He’s actually under contract with the Raptors.  Of course, doesn’t change the fact that he’s retired.

          • CJT

            Good to hear that this was a Blake Murphy original. It would have been the one and only thing Hollinger has written that I thought was kinda clever.

  • CJT

    Hey, I just wanted to say thanks to Arse and Blake and all the guys for doing their best to keep us entertained during the long summer months.  But I will be so happy when they either win or they don’t, players make shots or they don’t, etc. etc. etc.  Enough of the projected opinions already, let’s play some ball.

    • Nilanka15

      Here, here!

      • TheR3dMenace


  • cesco

    The big weakness of Hollinger stats is that he cannot estimate the production of Jonas and TRoss . They could be duds or be among the top rookies ( as we hope) . Why should Davis rebounds per 40 min. go up if he plays with Gray or Jonas on the second unit , just an example .

    • arsenalist

      One of the other weaknesses of Hollinger stats are that they’re produced by Hollinger.

      • Lorenzo

        Give this man the rap of the day !

  • FAQ

    Does Hollinger assume that (a) the Raptors are declining on their own, or, (b) the rest of the NBA will depress the Raptors?

     Maybe it’s because the Rap  players are stagnant due to a collective depression playing on the Raps… a guaranteed losing team.

    Of course, this is not a happy surprise.  Can Casey and staff help everybody to improve by playing better defense which will arouse an effective offence?

    • cesco

      Once a troll always a troll .

      • FAQ

        Only a true ‘troll’ will accuse others of being a troll … because they can’t discuss nor counter the uncomfortable message.


      He’s just looking at it as another chemistry deficient/dysfunctional BC team/mangerie of journeymen and wannabes. Historically, this holds.

      The players alone have so many question marks, they should be wearing green Riddler jumpsuits as the Toronto Riddlers.  Unless one of these guys quickly emerges as team alpha leader…*cough KL..cough*.. AND the rest follows, we’re looking at another nightly YMCA freestyle “Imma get mine, son” filled season. 

      And are you thinking this group is capable of effectively playing both sides of the ball for 48 min? NBA min? I really don’t see one guy making that happen. Casey is going to need a Matrix brain uploader and a small miracle.

      • cesco

        FAQ and FLUX , the pseudo ‘realist’ duo here at RR . Without them this
        blog could be renamed ” Fools Republic ” . It is ‘menagerie’ not
        ‘mangerie’ , do not try to use complicated words like that in describing your favorite team . ‘chemistry deficient’ , hopefully they do not bring guns into the locker room to resolve their differences . ‘dysfunctional’ because they are not guaranteed a playoff spot like Miami , a fan of whom you should become .

        • FLUXLAND

          Cesco, I think you are the last one that should be pointing out spelling mistakes.

          Btw, it’s favourite here in Canada, not favorite.

        • FAQ

          Jeez… all I’m saying is that all is not well in Raptorland after Hollinger’s dismal PER assessments indicating nobody can ‘step up’ due to limited and plateaued talent.  Surely that is a valid conclusion even though you may want to denigrate Hollinger.

          BTW… “mangerie” is a Quebec-French word that is a bastardization of “menagerie”.  Quebec French is commonly called “joual” … or pejoratively, “horse” French… fyi.

          • p00ka

            Mangerie is not “a Quebec-French word that is a bastardization of
            “menagerie””, but a common french word in both Quebec and France for
            “eatery”, as in restaurant, so cool it on the pompous French lessons,
            when you know not of what you speak. He was guilty of a typo,,,, fyi.

      • p00ka

        hahahahahaha, always good for a laugh when the board’s most notorious disgruntled, dysfunctional wannabe comes back to label guys collecting NBA paychecks as wannabes. Feeling better now?

        • FLUXLAND

          Collecting cheques is ALL they are doing, thus wannabes.

          How’s Poof anyway?  Funny, you only pop up when FAQ or I post.  

          • FAQ

            Who do you think the first Raptor to ask to be traded will be… Demar?

          • p00ka

            Not true, but you’re just so fun :)