Yeah, that happened last time.

Yeah, that happened last time.

The Raptors continue their road trip by heading into Salt Lake City to face the Jazz tonight.

Normally, this is where there would be some input from a fellow True Hoop Network site to give us some insight on the Jazz, but we weren’t able to work that out this time around. Instead, I’ll do something different just to get you all riled up.

Blind Taste Test – Raptor Bigs

I’ve included a plethora of different statistics here so that, no matter your preference, you can draw a relatively similar conclusion. Obviously the MPG category gives it away here, but if you ignore that, which two bigs would you want to play and why? I think it’s pretty damn obvious, but let’s have a look.

Basic Stats – Player B had the best True Shooting Percentage, the best Rebound Rate, and the best Player Efficiency Rating. Player C is the worst of the four bigs in each of those categories. So when it comes to scoring and rebounding, Player B is the team’s best big so far, while Player C is the worst. Players A and D are very similar and relatively average. In terms of opponent PER, Player C comes out the strongest, while Players A and B are weaker despite being the best shot-blockers.

Complex Stats – Using Offensive Rating, Defensive Rating, and Adjusted Statistical Plus-Minus (which I love in huge samples since it controls for quality of teammates, quality of competition and more, but is still relatively fickle this early in the season), we see a similar picture. Player B has been the team’s best contributor on both ends of the floor. Player D has been of equal value defensively and still a net positive on offense. Player C has been atrocious on both ends, while Player A has been a slight negative at both ends.

Fancy Pants Stats – Using Net Rating (NBA Advanced Stats) when On versus Off the court, we see that Player D has had the biggest positive impact on the team, while Player A has had the worst (I accidentally highlighted the wrong cells here). Players B and C have had relatively little impact on the team’s overall performance. Using ASPM, however, Player B again rockets to the top while Player C is the worst. Using Simple Rating (82Games), again we see Player D being a huge positive, Player A being a negative, and Players B and C being of no impact. Finally, based on Win Shares per 48 Minutes (B-Ref), Players B and D have been the best, Player a is pretty decent, and Player C should be in the D-League.

The Reveal
A: Jonas Valanciunas
B: Ed Davis
C: Andrea Bargnani
D: Amir Johnson

So why is it that the two players with the most consistently positive scores have the fewest minutes? Because of a contract and a perceived need to have Bargnani in the game, of course. You can justify Jonas’ minutes since he is a rookie learning on the fly who needs time to develop, but for the other three the bizarre inverse relationship between performance and minutes is sickening.

The Solution?
To send Jonas to the bench for Amir, of course! At least, so the team thinks. Really, you could have argued switching both starters for both bench players. And while Davis has been the best big in my opinion, there’s certainly a statistical base to justify Amir’s promotion, while anecdotally he also complements Bargnani very well throughout their time together.

Out of curiosity, I pulled NBA Advanced Stats lineup data to see how the different pairs of bigs have performed together. Perhaps Jonas and Ed are playing well as a pair, as are Amir and Andrea, justifying this switch since Dwane Casey tends to roll out subs together?

Alas, that is the case to some degree. In fact, the team has only played well when Bargnani’s on the floor if Amir accompanies him, while Bargs combinations with Davis and Jonas have been net negatives for the team. However, Ed and Jonas have appeared to be horrible complementary pieces. If we could look at ASPM data for lineups, we might see a different picture, since you’ll recall that Amir scored very highly using NBA’s advanced stats, which these are based on. Regardless, we can at least see that the team may be thinking “Hey, Andrea plays better with Amir, maybe we can get him going.”

Whether or not you should have to get a $10M “star” player going with lineup shifts is an entirely different philosophical discussion.

Alas, there is also a game tonight.

Tale of the Tape
Offensive Rating: Utah 104.8 (11th), Toronto 102.8 (19th)
Defensive Rating: Utah 106.4 (21st), Toronto 108.1 (25th)
Pace: Toronto 92.0 (16th), Utah 91.4 (21st)
Strength: Utah O-Reb (4th), Toronto Ball Control (3rd)
Utah D-Reb (27th), Toronto Defensive 3FG% (26th)

Last time around the Raptors went to Triple Overtime with the Jazz only to lose in the end. Hopefully they are kind enough to end it in regulation with a fourth quarter buzzer beater this time around.

No positional breakdown today, my apologies. I’m a little tied up.

Important News
Derrick Favors, Mo Williams and Al Jefferson are all game-time decisions. Obviously there would be huge implications from any of them missing time, though in our reality right now that probably just means it would be Enes Kanter and Earl Watson crushing our spirits instead of Jefferson or Williams.

The Pick
Being “negative” in Raptor-land now means picking narrow losses instead of blowout losses. With that in Mind, I’ll go Jazz by 2 on a game-winning shot by Gordon Hayward, making you all sing CARRY ON MY HAYWARD SON on loop in your heads for the weekend.

  • KJ-B

    Honestly, the drama off the court with this year’s Raps is more intriguing than the game on the court thus far…it might however shed some light into rotations because those boys in Utah can rebound–let’s see if -7 gets the nod in the 4th quarter if he’s scoring because that’s about all he’s motivated to do…

    As per Casey, when is he gonna have a bust a vein moment in the huddle and shout at -7 or whomever instead of his endless coddling–such an assistant coach that guy…

    • KJ-B

      Enes Kanter–THAT GUY would look GREAT in a Raps uniform…3 way trade with LA/UTAH perhaps???

  • cesco

    im not the brightest fan here, but it sounds like you’re saying bargnani sucks a bag of dicks. That can’t be right…..

    • Destro

      Nah hes been stinkin it up this season but the spacing he provides has allowed others to get there game off and helped propel us to a 4-15 record…so i say keep throwing him out for spacing it seems to be working…

      • Jose

        That’s what I thought too. Why change something that works? The record proves it. :)

  • Jmramos

    We need Ed davis more minutes…its more active and he is showing some acttitude….so…. Ed and Jonas 

  • Scottbbaird

    The most frustrating thing about the Raptor bigs is that they hover between the ft line and the three point line. On no other squad do you see the guards consistently deeper in the paint than the bigs. This terrible spacing leads to Amir Johnson threes, and must be stopped. Whatever happened to throwing it in the post and playing inside-out? Our guards can’t create for themselves, so make them catch-and-shoot players. Plus Ed and JVal both show promise posting up.

    Win – Win.

  • RaptorFan

    As many fans on here (the non-biased ones)….. #FreeEDDavis

    He passes the eye test and now we finally have data to back it up…… he’s clearly the better BIG we have but yet he’s constantly getting benched to coddle Bargnani! 

    How people could be shocked that we’re losing close games is beyond me……you have to play your better players in this league.  You won’t win playing POLITICS in basketball Casey!

    • Destro

      We need spacing to close these games out breh…

      and our 38 % shooting 7 footer does that….nvmd the 13/10 and 20 PER (Top 40)

      spacing is what we need and AB provides that with his 32 % 3 pt shooting clip…Why argue with what works I mean like Casey said come hell or high water even if were literally drowning 11 games under .500 we got to go with whats working…

      Thanks coach ! 

      • RaptorFan

        SARCASM at its BEST! Rap of the day. Even Destro came around…


        Btw Raps just lost by 32 to Utah

        Thanks Coach!

  • Agunn

    in 1995 Toronto announced its getting a new nba team…….. were still waiting

    • Nilanka


  • Destro

    I expect Ed Davis to play a solid game and get yanked in the 4th for an undeserving pos…

  • p00ka

    Comparing stats playing mostly against starters vs stats playing mostly against backups is valid for drawing conclusions of who is the better player? I like the improvements ED is showing, but do you see how he does when he’s in against starters, at both ends? There’s plenty of valid criticism of Bargs, but IMO, comparing these stats are a case of cheap manipulation of stats to say anything you want to, but then, blind stats ain’t my thing at any time.

    • pran

      you cannot use the eye test as an argument. Bargnani looks MUCH worse than ed rebounding, efficiency wise, shot selection, passing…playing help defense. and the team ALWAYS makes a run when bargnani is on the bench.

      • p00ka

        “the team ALWAYS makes a run when bargnani is on the bench”

        Since that’s simply not true, what’s your opinion worth? If ED is so much better (certainly is rebounding, but a Reggie only gets you spot duty in the NBA), and you want to use stats to prove it, tell me what ED’s stats are playing against starters, and how the opposition bigs do when he is. Otherwise you’re using stats to compare apples to oranges.

        • Destro

          Why is THAT the criteria when the sample size is so ridiculously small ? How about you draw simply on the obvious hes playing better and deserves that opportunity…

  • Ppellico

    OK…just one point and then will return to my cave and let the nonesense continue.

    You have another big available…duh!
    So Gray doesn’t deserve yet again any existence. He is slooow.
    We here it over and over and over again.
    So he sits.
    Guess what? Raps SUCK at defense. Instead we get a new offensive option of Amir. You have got to fucking be kidding me.
    THIS is the NEW Rap look for the NBA?
    And here he doesn’t even get a chance to have a chance
    graY PLAYS DEFENSE as if he has balls!.
    Why not include his stats from last year if your requirement for this is THIS year’s play time?
    And is it a punishment that Casey not plaing you is held against you?

    Well…then hold the losing shitty record and shit defense against everybody who is playing.
    Don’t just punish Gray for non play time…really put the record on the backs of those playing.

    As for Amir…this is a funny thing, fandom…you go from dog to started just because you have a Jonas in front of you.
    Has everybody forgotten the REALL AMIR? The Amir that dissapeared last year and had been showing up every 4th game this year??
    WHAT happened to the doghouse AMIR FROM LAST SEASON?????
    When did he get a free pass from the big hose to stardom????


  • Destro

    I see what the Jazz were doing with Milsap lol
    I would continue to do it all night until he ridculously stops overcommitting…

  • FAQ

    Everybody is thrashing and trashing and traumatizing over the ridiculous Raptors… now that reality has sunk in … just wait.