We made it through the long-preseason.
We made it through the long-preseason.

I thought with pre-season having wrapped up it would be a good time to quickly look back at some of the items we’ve been discussing and reflect on them as we head into the season opener on Wednesday.

Preseason – Does it Mean Anything?
A 6-1 record is nothing to sneeze it, especially when it’s accompanied by a top-5 offensive efficiency just a year after being 29th in the stat. The defense wasn’t quite where coach Dwane Casey wants it, but the offense was on point. In addition, newcomers Kyle Lowry and Jonas Valanciunas seem to have acclimated themselves well, though Terrence Ross and Landry Fields have been a bit slower to come around and get comfortable in their roles.

I wrote an article for Hoop Data yesterday (I’ll hyperlink when it’s up Monday) that outlines whether or not we should put much stock in the preseason. The answer is yes, a little bit, as very few teams in recent years have been this successful in the preseason without seeing resultant gains in the regular season.

DeMar DeRozan Shooting Patterns
Originally this article was going to be strictly about DeRozan’s shooting habits in the preseason, which appear, to my eye (note: I only saw four of the seven games) to be more what we’re hoping for, with a continued focus on attacking the rim. As it is, only one of the seven preseason games have shot charts available for them, so this is damn near impossible to do (play by play results don’t always show shot distances). So, I’m left to simply use free throw attempts as a gauge.

And it’s impressive. Last year, DeMar averaged 5.3 free throw attempts per game in 35 minutes, or 5.45 per 36 minutes. He also averaged 14.3 field goal attempts, meaning he took 0.37 free throws for every field goal. In the preseason those rates improved to 5.7 attempts per game in just 26 minutes, good for a rate of 7.9 attempts per 36 minutes, or a 45% increase in free throw attempt frequency. That’s the same rate as LeBron last year, as a reference point. He shot just under 11 field goals per contest, meaning he took 0.53 free throws for every field goal, a 43% improvement.

So yes, DeMar has been shooting from the field a bit more but also from the line a lot more, which is a huge positive. I wish I could break down where those other shots were coming from in terms of at the rim (good), mid-range (less good), or long-twos (bad), but I can’t.

Jonas Valanciunas – Saviour
The Lethaluanian has been a treat to watch so far, and great to listen to off the floor based on sound bites and media reports. It’s a nice sign that he’s so eager to learn and please, and I highly recommend anyone who hasn’t seen it check out Eric Koreen’s recent profile on him and Holly MacKenzie’s earlier profile on him. Those are must-reads for Raptor fans.

In terms of numbers, Jonas fared well in his 23 minutes of action a night. Valanciunas posted 6.8 rebounds per game, two of those on the offensive glass, while adding 8.3 points a night on 48.5% shooting. Perhaps more importantly, he took 3.8 trips to the line per game and converted at a 78.3% clip, a great sign early for the young stud. He also led all rookies with 1.8 blocks per game, though he was also third with 2.7 turnovers, showing he’s still a bit green. The biggest positive might be that he averaged just 3.3 fouls in 23.3 minutes, meaning that given an anticipated workload of 25 minutes a night, he shouldn’t find himself in foul trouble all too often (sometimes, sure).

Overall, he certainly passes the eye test. He dives and cuts hard, sets strong screens, and seems to have an IQ at both ends of the floor that is rare for a big at his age. He has strong blocking instincts and a good work ethic for rebounds, and there have been multiple times where his presence as a dive-man has disrupted defenses and led to scoring opportunities for teammates. He’s going to be a very good player eventually, and I’m sticking by my prediction that the Rookie of the Year voting will end up Davis-Lillard-Jonas with the latter two tied (random, I know).

Amir’s Jumper: Wet
Oh yeah, it’s wet alright. Amir shot 61.4% for the preseason, and while some of those were in close, he also stepped out almost as far as the three-point line on occasion. Those aren’t the shots you want from the offense, but the fact that they’re falling when he takes them is a positive.

Kyle Lowry
As I said before, this guy is a pleasure to watch. Can’t wait to see him when real games are on the line.

Terrence Ross
He hasn’t been great, struggling with his shot and finding his role to some degree. He has looked good in the open court, and his jumper is fundamentally strong so his poor shooting may be a result of a small sample size and some rookie jitters more than any fatal flaw. He’ll be in tough for any bulky chunk of minutes early on, but the best way for him to carve out a spot in Casey’s rotation will be for him to work his ass off at the defensive end and disrupt other wing players with his length and athleticism. Hopefully he was watching closely against Trick or Treat Tony in Memphis.

Landry Field’s Shot
We’ve all been wondering if Field’s silky rookie three-point jumper would return this year or if we’d be subjected to his awful sophomore stroke. Well, there’s no answer yet, as he only fired up eight attempts in the preseason, hitting one. If he’s only going to take one a game to provide the perceived threat of floor spacing, then he doesn’t need to hit that many. But so far in his career he’s averaged north of two attempts a game, so we need to see 33% of them fall to be comfortable. Unfortunately, he also shot just 46% on two-point field goals, which is well below his career mark of 54%. Again, small sample sizes are at play here with just 39 attempts, and his defense and off-ball offense have been great.

Jamaal Magloire, Peace Out
Magloire has been released and will likely join the coaching staff in a Boogie Williams-ish role as a coach and practice body. May your All Star recognition rest in peace now that “centers” don’t have to be shoehorned onto the ballot.

What have been your key positive and negative takeaways from the preseason? Are you a believer in 38-wins and/or a chance at the 8th seed? Is Dwane Casey right to give Ed and Ross both minutes to further prove themselves, or should he let them earn it in practice and keep a tight rotation early on? Should I troll everyone with some outlandish Bargnani and DeRozan comments right here?

  • where’s the boss

    Trolling everyone not required, that trolling word thinning out fast. But nothing on bargnani? Where’s arsenalist? 

    • BlakeMurphy

      He didn’t really have much going on this preseason, right? Pretty standard preseason for him.

      • Mike, Prague

         Hey there, kinda irrelevant question. Where do you get all these stats from? Basketball statistics is something that highly interests me and I would like to  know where’s the cookie jar. Thx ahead of time.

        • BlakeMurphy

          Which stats in particular? All of the ones in this article are standard boxscore stats (in the DD section I just made those calculations myself), but if you’re referring to stats I use in general, 82games.com hoopdata.com and basketball-reference.com are all good resources to start.

  • Jepeers90

    Raps still need to play d if they want a playoff birth. I’m as big as a fan you’ll get but they are still the worst team in the Atlantic division

    • alexaussie

      I agree that we are the 5th best in the Atlantic but that’s more indicative of how strong the division is now. It’s not the Titanic anymore.

  • JHP

    From what I can tell they are better then last year.  Of course better then last year may not mean much in the East.  I find it interesting that they have say 10 solid players but no star in waitng.  So they will probably surprise a few teams but struggle with Miami , Boston and of course the Lakers.  I’m thinking a good year is 36/37 wins.  Hopefully they can be over .500 at home and entertain the fans.

  • KJ-B

    The biggest thing I take from the pre-season is that this version of the Raptors enjoys sharing the rock!  It’s fun to see players setting screens and clearing space and getting into rebounding position, outletting the ball into a break..in other words, it’s been a great training camp of the return to hoops fundamentals.

    Conversely,  I’m looking to see who are the true gamers–guys who play well under the lights–I put Fields, Ed Davis,  maybe Ross in that category as guys who will play much better when the games actually count.  I feel like Ross will be the biggest surprise of the guys who got the least burn–when he looks at the box score, he’ll know it’s time.

    On the other side of the coin, guys like Amir Johnson, Jonas Valunciunas will be probably the same with fewer peaks and valleys–however I do expect JVal to come on closer to or after the All Star break after it all sinks in being on this side of the pond, living his dream…

    Well the bench is the bench and all that JLucas love is great but TRoss won’t be rotting on the pine after being a #8 pick–unless Jose gets shipped expect less Lucas–Quincy Acy: I literally have no idea…won’t get opportunity w/out an injury of some kind.

  • FAQ

    I’m surprised with this bunch of blue-collar players attempting to jell into a functioning team.  There doesn’t appear to be any bloated egos, just a bunch or role players.  Casey will be challenged to identify and play the hot players … regardless of who starts.

    Come to think of it, the ‘starters’ don’t seem to do good in the first quarter.  Wonder why?!

    • hater

      do u like posting the same dumb shit over and over you turrets syndrome prick?

      • Destro

        smh @ turrets

        • hater

          stfu fag


      Would you cut it out with the blue collar stuff?! : )

      Detroit Bad Boyz were blue collar, every time you say that Chuck D rolls in his grave.

  • pran

    just a correction terrence ross isn’t going to bother anyone with his length. The guy has alligator arms……..   

    this sounds like a puff piece.

    • BlakeMurphy

      He’s 6’6″ and has a 6’7″-1/4 wingspan. He’s not Ibaka but they’re not alligator arms.

      • pran

        It’s still terrible for his height, beal who is 3 inches shorter has a larger wingspan than him. jeremy lamb is a freak but it’s worth mentioning that at an inch shorter than ross he has a 6’11 wing span. 


        I really liked what I saw from him in the intrasquad scrimmage however, I just think it is a disadvantadge of his……

        • http://profile.yahoo.com/PLSEA7SEL5KM2YHY3JWZACTI6I keith warren

          Did you also notice his hand size? His reach is normal for his height but he has big hands which is very valuable in the NBA! All I remember is Kwame Brown drafted #1 overall and couldn’t catch a ball to save his life because of his small hands.

          Edit: also, his reach is 8’4.5”. That is a long reach. He may not be long reaching off to the side but he can reach upwards for rbs or blocks. Add in his smooth jumping and he could surprise some people, hence why he is a decent rebounder for a guard and will probably get more blocks than steals throughout his career. Its not terrible, just not an advantage.

          • pran

            good point about his hands/reach which I did not consider.

  • j bean

    Only one team has ever had 6 wins in preseason and never made the playoffs. 
    Chicago could be worse than projected even after the return of Rose. Who knows if he’ll ever be the same. That could be one opening the Raptors could take advantage of. There are a few other teams that could struggle more than is expected. The Knicks and Boston come to mind. One thing I loved about the Raptors this preseason is their play in the last five minutes. They surprised me, especially getting to the line and knocking them down.
    The first 20 games looks tough but if the Raps are taken lightly and they are in the game down the stretch they’ll cause problems for some some favored teams.

    • Joshua Sinclair

      I agree regarding Chi town. I mean they completely overhauled their bench, are without their star and Deng has some serious mileage. I also am starting to think the Nets are super overrated and totally defenceless, the Knicks are antique and Amar’e is already out. Philly is the 4th big question mark. Bynum, Bynum, Bynum. They have to change up their whole approach to accomadate a guy who’ll be lucky to play 65-70 games and who doesn’t D up or play well with others when the going gets tough. Turner is still jekyl and hyde while Jrue has a lot to prove. 

      ATL, well I just hate Atlanta anyway and want Al Horford traded to a team with a fanbase that deserves him. That being said I think they’ll be pretty decent. It’s still MIA/BOS/ATL/IND but after that? 

      • Lamb

        FYI, Philly also won 6 games in the preseason without Bynum.

      • Jamshid

        1) MIA
        2) BOS
        3) NJ
        4) IND
        5) NY
        6) ATL
        7) PHI
        8) CHI

        • Lorenzo

          You think Brooklyn is going to have a better record than the Pacers??!

          • Jamshid

            I think it is a toss up. I am not sold on Indiana being as great as everyone think.

            • Nilanka15

              Pacers have at least proven that they can be a top team in the East with the same core players from last year. 

              Brooklyn has done no such thing, and most of Williams, Johnson, Lopez and Wallace have never played together.

            • http://profile.yahoo.com/PLSEA7SEL5KM2YHY3JWZACTI6I keith warren

               No way is NJ up there. Lopez gets hurt all the time. Wallace has never been a valuable contributor on a decent team. Anytime he is good, the team sucks! Joe Johnson is washed up for what he even was, barely anything. Deron is the only decent player IMO! Celtics are the obvious best team in the division, but then I think it goes 76ers, Raps, Nets then the Knicks. Amare is done and Carmelo is fading fast. Don’t see it now that the division has gotten tougher.

        • KJ-B

          Knicks find a way to lose where most teams find W’s…

        • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_XHJKFMCGSMBEQGBRKJVLKUGSEQ john g

           ATL sucks. With no Joe Johnson, who is going to score the ball?

          • Brian B

             Al Horford
            Josh Smith
            Kyle Korver
            Anthony Morrow (pure shooter)
            Louis Williams

            without Joe J sucking up possessions, they will be a more varied, thus more dangerous team. danger though runs both ways.

            • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_XHJKFMCGSMBEQGBRKJVLKUGSEQ john g

              LOL really thats what is going to replace a 20 plus scorer. Who is going to get Kyle Korver and Morrow the ball. They are spot up shooters. You think them running around the court will get them open shots. And Lou Williams is just a JR Smith put in a smaller body, low % shooter. Josh Smith can’t create his own offense, he is just a athletic freak who can block shots. I think going to Horford in the post is your best option but that ain’t looking promising. They are going through a rebuilding phase, that is why they traded Joe Johnson for practically nothing, because they want to start over.

              • Brian B

                 funny, cause every columnist I read, plus mine own eyes, say that Josh Smith is a unique combination of creator and garbage guy- a really potent offensive threat restrained by IsoJoe. and Louis Williams had a better PER than DeRozan, Fields et al . As a drive & dish guy, he can score or create for others. Granted, either Harris or Teague must perform. But a healthy Horford alone is such a huge plus over the scraps who filled in last season that he alone could be the difference maker.

        • Danielscott677

          I think N.Y at 5 is generous

    • Jamshid

      I can not wait for the season to start. I am tired of speculations and … We need to see the real games and what this team’s record will be in the first 20 games …

      • Jerry Garcia

        So lets start with boolichous win on All Saints Eve…..

  • Jomill

    whats whith the wing span love ?   Sure its great for rebounding but its not so great for ball handling skills, basics physics tells you less control witha longer leaver.  Rebounding isn’t always in the reach

    • Theswirsky

      importance of wing span is reach.  Which impacts defending, rebounding, and shooting

      • Jerry.K

        Like Hasheem Thabeet and his 7’6 wingspan. It’s allowed him to become such a dominant player. Or Javale McGee….Yes it is wingspan that impacts defending, rebounding and shooting….not skills or smarts.

        • Theswirsky

          who said anything about wingspan making you dominant or great? 

      • p00ka

        And the importance of wingspan in the grand scheme of things b-ball is near the bottom. Skills and b-ball IQ will trump wingspan on any court, any day of the year. Lowry is a good shooter and among the top in the league for his position at defending and rebounding, but we should be talking about his wingspan? That’s the point made above: why the fn love for wingspan in talking about T Ross? Aren’t there bigger issues to discuss, like his shooting, defense, etc.? “wingspan”, lol

        • http://profile.yahoo.com/PLSEA7SEL5KM2YHY3JWZACTI6I keith warren

           Wing span helps but is not the end all, be all of handy physical traits. Michael Jordan is 6’6” with 6’9” wingspan. Kobe is supposedly 6’6” with 6’11” wingspan. But then you look at Iverson and Sefolosha and they both were/are good defenders and they don’t have long arms (couldn’t find the stats yet). I think activity and IQ does play a much larger role.

          I think it does help having big hands though and Ross has the biggest hands of all the SG from this draft. Small hands can’t control the ball well. I used Kwame Brown as an example earlier in a post. Jordan had huge hands that he could control the ball with when he was moving so fast!

        • pran

          um, better at disrupting passing lanes, easier to get a hand up in a defenders face, and offensively being able to finish plays further away from the rim than someone with shorter arms. I really don’t think it’s at the bottom of the list…..    

  • Destro

    Would anybody care to revise there opinion on the Landry Fields signing ? Now is your chance ? I called it from DAY ONE a mitigated disaster and with the regular season coming up in 3 days,is it fair to say this already looks like another in the long list of stupid BC signings…Whats worse is this faggot landry will start half of the raptor games just to justify the signing….Dude has looked every bit as pathetic so far as i thought he would be…..GET IN HERE you BC minions and pieces of shit…

    He shouldnt even be starting truth be told…..TERRIBLE signing ! 

    • CJT

      You are a twat, trying to use words like mitigate.  Which means to lessen or soften.  You can’t even be a dick properly.  You are an UNMITIGATED loser.  Look it up next time. 

      • Destro

        Look at this faggot crying about vocab and grammar and has THEE NERVE to call someone ELSE a loser…..yea thats right you lil piece of shit dont comment on the message because you have nothing to contribute but sidebar faggotry…

        The signing was a mitigated disaster like your reply…

        • CJT

          Stick to words you know like “the” and “it”  Maybe go back and get your highschool diploma.

    • Nilanka15

      I was hoping Colangelo would rescind the offer, but Fields is still a better option to start compared to Kleiza or Anderson.

      What I don’t understand is that when it comes to Bargnani, you de-value his scoring, and point out the many holes in his defence and rebounding (which I completely agree with).

      But when it comes to Fields, you inexplicably flip the script, and over-value Fields lack of scoring, while ignoring his strong wing defence and rebounding.

      • Destro

        Is Fields better than James Johnson tho ?

        • Nilanka15

          Johnson was much more talented, but it didn’t necessarily help the team in any way.  He didn’t really understand how to play within his self.

          Fields’ shot has looked ugly so far, but he’s still found ways to contribute.  He understands his role, and plays relatively mistake free.

          • Destro

            Johnson gives you more and at half the price of what were paying Fields…

      • Destro

        Hows that flippin the script ? I expect a front count big to rebound more than a SF and i put more of an importance and emphasis on that…

        Its more important for bargs to be a good rebounder on this team than a 6th man playing HALF his mins whos a 4
        seriously breh ?

        lol @ his strong wing defense….

        • Nilanka15

          I understand the difference between bigs and wings, but it’s still important that wings contribute in rebounding and defense.

          Fields is definitely struggling offensively so far, but I think he’s our best wing defender (next to McGuire who won’t see the floor too often).

          Just saying he’s not as much of a waste as your making him out to be.

          • Destro

            based on what ive seen last year and this pre season,that contract is a mess and were getting an inferior player to one we just gave away to Sacramento and decided to double his pay rate….(shrugs)

            • Nilanka15

              I agree on the contract.  I don’t buy for a second that Colangelo was interested in Fields outside of the Nash fiasco.

    • Herman

      he should be on that train with calderon, them two gotss to go

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/PLSEA7SEL5KM2YHY3JWZACTI6I keith warren

       You are very quick to decide things Destro. Already claiming Drummond an all-star and Ross a bust! Now you say Fields is a mitigated disaster when the season hasn’t even started. Give it at least till the All-Star break before you give up. Or go find another team to criticize so we can enjoy this team without you!

      • Destro

        Observations breh –
        Drummond has looked good in pre-season
        Fields has looks terrible
        Ross hasnt been impressive

        • http://profile.yahoo.com/PLSEA7SEL5KM2YHY3JWZACTI6I keith warren

          Pre-season is the operative word! I have seen some real scrubs look good during the pre-season and some players not look good at all in the pre-season and they turned out fine. Kobe Bryant did absolutely nothing till Shaq came over and he looked not very impressive. I think he turned out quite well, don’t you? Ross is certainly not Kobe but I am pretty sure Drummond won’t be Shaq either! Just sayin its a long time still to come before any of what you said will happen. Drummond does have his issues, trust me. You just are not seeing them right now.

          and Fields will have his value, how much is still to be seen. Just sometimes its not all stats that makes a valuable player. Sometimes experience and team work go a long way.

  • BlakeMurphy

    Here’s the link to that preseason piece I mentioned – http://www.hoopdata.com/blogengine/post/2012/10/29/Does-Preseason-Matter.aspx