Amir Johnson; Jonas Valanciunas;

A little while ago I looked at how the Raptors used the pick ‘n roll/man in a very limited manner despite there being some evidence that it was a play that yielded positive results. Now that the greatest addition-by-subtraction trade in the history of the NBA has been executed, let’s take a look at what subtracting the black hole from the lineup has meant for the pick ‘n roll.

Here’s how the Raptors fared when that article was written, and how they’ve done in the four games following the trade – these are all numbers from mySynergySports.com:

Rate Executed Success Rate
PnR Man – Before 4.50% 43.60%
PnR Man – at Lakers 4.70% 75.00%
PnR Man – vs Spurs 4.90% 40.00%
PnR Man – vs Sixers 7.40% 37.50%
PnR Man – at Bulls 11.90% 66.70%

The biggest thing to note here is the jump in running that play in the Sixers and Bulls games, the two games where Greivis Vasquez got minutes. The Raptors chose to pass the ball back to the screener on 7.4% and 11.9% against the Sixers and Bulls, respectively. That’s a considerable increase over the 4.5% that they were doing before, and this number will steadily rise until it aligns with the forms of Amir Johnson and Jonas Valanciunas – two guys who live off of this play.

What’s not measured in these statistics are the intangible effects of ball movement, and the feeling on the court that your presence is valued rather than being reduced to a spectator.

Taking this a step further, let’s look at how the Raptors are faring in assists, and how the two beneficiaries of the pick ‘n roll/man are doing post and pre-trade. These are from NBA.com:

Pre-Trade Post-Trade
Team Assists 17.3 23
Valanciunas Usage Rate 17.70% 19%
Valanciunas Net Rating -4.1 -0.2
Johnson Usage Rate 15.50% 21.40%
Johnson Net Rating 1.6 20.4
Ross Usage Rate 15.70% 23.50%
Ross TS% 52.30% 55.10%
Ross eFG% 49.50% 54%

The table speaks for itself as the team’s ball-distribution has been phenomenal and Valanciunas and Johnson are more involved in the Raptors offense. With DeMar DeRozan being the constant threat in the Raptors offense, this new dimension of play being brought forth by Johnson and Valanciunas gives the Raptors a distinctly different look.

Terrence Ross is another man seeing an increase in minutes and production since the Gay trade:

Pre-Trade Post-Trade
Ross Minutes 18.4 31.1
Ross 3PT% 34% 45.5%
Ross Usage Rate 15.70% 23.50%
Ross TS% 52.30% 55.10%
Ross eFG% 49.50% 54%

Suddenly, he doesn’t look like a terrible player because he’s getting cleaner, in-rhythm looks within the offense and doesn’t have to look over his shoulder for the hook. Whether this is sustainable we’ll see soon enough, but at least the negative effects of the congestive play appear to have disappeared momentarily. If Ross does struggle again it’ll be for reasons of skill, not for lack of a framework to operate under. Having said that, I do hope that Casey continues to manage his minutes/role well.

My feelings on this season have been summed up perfectly by Garrett’s latest post and I continue to hope for the playoffs. One of the mods here probably deleted the comments from the Chicago Reaction and Recap posts, but I do believe that the phrase “tanking mangina” is the single greatest thing this site has ever produced. Thank you, to whoever came up with that.

Sign up for the 3-on-3 – we still got spots available for individuals and teams.