Great Post! Thank you for your hard work.
I agree with you with a couple minor differences in opinion not worth hashing out. Your post does raise a slightly tangential issue though. If our starters get 28-36 minutes each while healthy (minus JV of course). We're talking about 12-20 minutes for the second unit players. That worries me a bit, especially with regards to 3 players.
1) Calderon - 10.5 M to play minimal minutes. The more he plays, the less Lowry plays, and I don't want to see another Jack/Calderon or Ford/Calderon dilemma. I can't see either playing SG, and if they do, that's even less minutes for ...
2) Ross - I understand he's a rookie and doesn't "deserve" minutes especially when the Raps want to win games. That said, ~15 min for a lottery pick is not the best development strategy. Especially when BC has to decide on DD's future with the franchise; thus, needing a good evaluation of Ross and DD.
3) Ed Davis - How is he going to get minutes? (barring injuries) Again, we're trying to win games, so he's not going to get consistent C minutes especially after struggling to guard PFs last year. The less he plays, the less he develops and the less his trade value.
We're also not talking about AJ getting 6M to squeeze in minutes with JV/Gray.
Or LK getting 4.6 M to squeeze in minutes between a congested SF/PF (if DD plays shares SF minutes)
Depth is great because all teams have injuries and players need rest but it can also backfire for some player's value and development.
We have a good bench but that means very little because they are the bench. You look at bench as something important when you're going deep into the playoffs and need a player to be able to step up in a pinch, or that one guy that has a career game that pushes you forward to the next series. What this thread proves is that in that situation, we have a good chance of winning.
Unfortunately for us, teams with good players have starters that usually play more than 70% of the minutes in a game. Which means that 70% of the time we are at a severe disadvantage.
Let's compare the first two guys off the bench for our team (Amir Johnson and Jose Calderon) against all the other teams:
Atlanta: Zaza Pachulia, Lou Williams
Draw. I'd rather have Lou Williams coming off the bench than Jose to be honest, and Amir is slightly better than Zaza.
Boston: Jason Terry, Jeff Green
Boston wins this in a landslide. Both those guys would be starters on our team.
Brooklyn: Reggie Evans, Josh Childress
Brooklyn is actually quite terrible. I give this one to the Raptors.
Charlotte: Ben Gordon, Brendan Haywood
These guys have been good once. If Gordon can rekindle his Chicago days then they are better. Right now it's a tie.
Chicago*: Taj Gibson, Marquis Teague
Don't know enough about Teague. I pick Toronto.
Cleveland: Daniel Gibson, Kelenna Azubuike
Detroit: Austin Daye, Jonas Jerebko
Indiana: Tyler Hansbrough, DJ Augustin
I say tie. Augustin can run the offense but PG isn't asked to do much on that team. Hansbrough is underrated.
Miami: Ray Allen, Udonis Haslem
Not even close.. Miami.
Milwaukee: Ersan Ilyasova, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute
Another two guys who would likely start for us. Milwaukee.
New York: Jason Kidd, Marcus Camby
I think Kidd will take over the starting job at some point. I pick the Knicks though I can see this being controversial.
Orlando: JJ Reddick, Al Harrington (Orlando)
It's close but I give it to Orlando. Harrington is much, much better than Amir.
Philadelphia: Thaddeus Young, Nick Young (Philly)
Young is a starter, I give it to Philly.
Washington: Jordan Crawford, ???
Terrible. Pick Toronto.
Looking 2-deep, we're 5-6-3. Not as impressive.
Nice re-evaluation of the material e. I like Matt's original post, but I like your re-look.
I agree that the bench will be a strength and advantage for the Raptors this season. It reminds me a lot of the 2006-2007 season, when the Raptors suprisingly won the division, before losing to NJ in the playoffs.
That season I remember watching the games and just hoping that the starters (Bosh, Ford, Rasho, Parker, Garbo) could keep it close, so that the bench (Calderon, Bargnani, MoP, Graham, Humphries) could turn the tide and give the Raptors the lead by the midway point of the 2nd quarter. All I remember is a much younger/healthier Calderon getting by backup PGs and constantly slashing to the basket for easy layups or passes to the corner, either for an open 3 or to work the ball around to the top of the key for an open 3 (Bargnani, MoP), with Humphries crashing the offensive glass.
I really think that this year's 2nd unit can bring the same advantage to the 2012-2013 Raptors.
I assume that the starters will be Valanciunas, Bargnani, Fields, DeRozan and Lowry. I also expect Gray to get time with the starters, when Valanciunas gets into foul trouble or is overmatched.
That leaves the primary 2nd unit to be Amir, Davis, Kleiza, Ross and Calderon. I really think this lineup is well balanced and much better overall than most other 2nd units in the league. Calderon will make this unit better offensively than the sum of the parts, by bringing a calming influence and ball distribution. Amir and Davis can run the P&R and will be asked to clean the boards. Kleiza can either post-up against less physical SFs, or can play on the perimeter. Ross can play on the perimieter and will be asked to provide athleticism and penetration, as the unit's primary scorer. Calderon also adds an outside shot to his veteran repetoire, which will be enough to outclass most backup PGs in the league.
When the Raps go to a tighter rotation I expect Ross (wing), Calderon (guard) and Amir (big) to get the most playing time (ie: 8 man rotation).
I think this relates to the general idea of the thread.Quote:
JS: With Lowry and John Lucas III joining Jose Calderon on the roster, point guard appears to now be a position of strength for the Raptors. Can you describe just how advantageous that is for this team?
AR: We had this conversation a few months ago, there is a clear, discernible difference when you’re looking at NBA players between having to go against starters all the time and guys that play against reserves. This shows up very easily when you’re comparing two different players if one of them is a starter playing 35 minutes per game, another guy is a reserve playing 22 minutes a game, the reserve is going against a very different caliber of opponent than the starters.
That gets into this notion that if you can sustain a level of play into the reserves, you get an even bigger advantage. So when teams are playing us, they’re never going to get a ‘backup point guard’. You’re going to get 48 minutes of quality point guard play. So when they bring in their backups and maybe have a drop off in quality, we should be in a position to take advantage of that because we will always have a good point guard on the floor.
Hopefully the Raps can compete with most starting lineups (specifically on defense playing within Casey's system) and destroy their benches (on both ends).
However, in the regular season, even the really good teams see their 9th-10th man playing upwards of 20 minutes per night:
Spurs - Matt Bonner - 10th man - 20.4mpg
Bulls - Taj Gibson - 9th man - 20.4mpg
HEAT - Mike Miller - 9th man - 19.3mpg
Celtics - Chris Wilcox - 9th man - 17.2mpg
OKC - Daequan Cook - 9th man - 17.4mpg
LAL - Troy Murphy - 9th man - 16.2mpg
Given the Raptors have been a lottery team for the last couple of years (*EDIT* lol - and by couple I mean 4 *face palm*), just making the playoffs - even to be swept - is a step in the right direction for me.... especially considering the flexibility to be opportunistic should the possibility arise is present.
I do think the Raptors depth will be a benefit this year in the regular season. I think it could be enough to make the difference between a lottery pick going to Houston and the Raptors making the playoffs.
Looking at our best 12 IMO: Ranking in order.
Bargnani, Lowry, Calderon, Derozan, Fields, Valanciunas, Ross, Kleiza, Amir, Lucas, Davis, Anderson. *Next 4* Gray, Mcguire, Acy, Magloire.
I wouldn't be too afraid or worried of throwing Davis, Anderson, or Lucas on a random in-game rotation.
Exp: *Lucas*, Derozan, Kleiza, Bargnani, Gray. Or a Lowry, Ross, Fields, *Davis*, Valanciunas, and so forth.
The team is very deep, and our starters other than Bargnani and Lowry may not be as talented as the best teams in the league, but or bench is supreme to others.
The the one who re-evaluated the Calderon and Amir vs. Other teams' best two off the bench. You have to realize that Calderon is a top 15 POINT GUARD, a point guard league. While a lot of their bench players aren't top 15 position wise.
Check out the ESPN Depth Chart. This chart does not include Aaron Gray yet though...
Though I can't see us making the playoffs (you need about 38 wins), if we did make them make the playoffs the sweep is inevitable.
Finished 7th in the conference (step up from 10th the year before)
1st overrall ranked defense in the league that year
Coach - Larry Brown. A highly respected defensive oriented coach
Tyson Chandler age 27
Raymond Felton age 25
Gerald Wallace age 27
Stephen Jackson age 31
Boris Diaw age 27
Tyrus Thomas age 23
Gerald Henderson age 22
Theo Ratliff age 36
DJ Augustin age 22
Nazr Mohammed 32
A hard working, defense oriented team on the rise. A combination of youth and veterans, potential and experience - swept in the playoffs, end up 10th in the league the following year, then is blown up and becomes the worst team in NBA history a year after that.
Now Charlotte may in some ways be extreme (a clear attempt tear apart the team and tank last year), but the story isn't unique. A team moving into the playoffs is a team on the rise until its a team taking a face plant into the ceiling they created. Either no stud (or perhaps the belief that they have potential studs on their team) or believing they can build that ultra rare Detroit Pistons like 'perfect' team.
A team isn't likely to jump from near the bottom to a contender over night, and I don't think too many expect that. But that step into the playoffs is just as likely to be that step into the teams ceiling or on to the treadmill of mediocrity without a very high level of talent on the team.
The biggest difference between that Charlotte team and the current Raptors team is the relative age difference. Most of the players who propelled the Bobcats were in their relative primes (Jackson, Wallace, Chandler, Felton, etc.). There was no reason to think that they would ever improve on their 7th place finish without bringing in new talent.
But with the Raptors, if they were to make the playoffs this year, I'm sure Lowry, DeRozan, Fields, and Valanciunas (all young, unproven players) would be doing a lot of the heavy lifting. And with none of them in their primes yet, it isn't far-fetched to assume their games will improve following this season.
I agree that we're still lacking the "elite" talent to take the big step forward, but based on the young roster, it's easy to see this team improving internally compared to the aging Bobcats of 2009-10.
Add in the fact that Larry Brown has historically been viewed as a coach who doesn't work well with young players, and it becomes clear(er) why the Bobcats weren't able to maintain their growth by relying on their younger players moving forward.
I'm not saying that making the playoffs is a sure bet sign of continued improvement. Nothing is guaranteed in pro sports. Injuries happen, chemistry doesn't develop, egos clash, etc. But for now anyways, it seems like we're pointed in the right direction.
But that Bobcats team wasn't exactly much older than the Raps are now. The majority of the (key) players on this Raps team is what 26 and younger(?) Team age (excluding guys who likely won't play much - Anderson, Magloire, Lucas) will be approx 26 this year (?) While the majority of that Bobcats team was 27 and younger (which is pretty was the average age of that team (again excluding rarely used players) and the average age of the league aswell I think) Felton was in his 4th year, Henderson a rookie, Augustine 2nd year, Thomas 4th year, Brown a rookie. Bobcats were a bit older than Toronto will be this year, but its not like they were the Dallas Mavericks or Boston Celtics either. And I can tell you, rightly or wrongly, Bobcats fans were real high on those guys potential at that point to.
Brown did have a reputation of being a coach who didn't want to play young guys - but can we say that Casey is unequivantley different? He already stated this past offseason he wanted veterans, Colangelo said two young bigs was enough for him, and guys like Ed and Alabi didn't exactly rack up minutes last year (even while the team was well out of a playoff opportunity and minutes were freely available due to injuries). Bayless was only a starter during Jose's injuries. Butler was starting over James Johnson for quite some time, and even after that Alan Anderson was. Raps were around middle of the pack age wise, but their weighted age (ie. minutes played) moved them into 11th oldest in the league (ie. they played older not younger). The years before in Dallas he worked with a very old veteran team. Not saying Casey won't play young guys (he is in some ways obligated to regardless because of the build of this team) but I can say nothing over the past year has convinced me that Casey will be prone towards 'developing' youth (yes I dislike that buzzphrase but I can't think of a better word off hand).
But anyways, the real difference between 2009/10 OKC - 2006/7 Raptors (another example that we can all more easily relate to) - 2009/10 Bobcats is the difference between:
Durant - Bosh - Wallace
Westbrook - Ford - Felton
Green - Parker - Jackson
Looking at the Raptors 'big 3' (using that term loosely ofcourse) I think Bargnani - Lowry - Derozan stacks up alot closer to the middle or right of that list than the left.
Thats why I'm not convinced a step forward (ie. into or near the playoffs) is necessarily a step in the 'right' direction. As opposed to the step before two steps backwards or the step onto the treadmill.
Personally what I see as a much more important step is not where the Raptors finish (although extremely low or high in the standings would be significant, but I don't think realistic)... but what Bargnani, Demar, Val and Ross end up doing. (and to a lesser degree Lowry - not because he is less important, but rather I think more reliable)
Bulls, April 12, 28:33, 6th in mins played
Houston, April 22, 27:12, 5th in mins played
Cleveland, Feb 17, 26:10, 6th in mins played
Detroit, Jan 25, 25:54, 6th in mins played
Washington, Apr 21, 25:37, 5th in mins played
New Jersey, Apr 16, 25:30, 4th in mins played
Detroit, Apr 8, 24:21, 6th in mins played
Cleveland, Feb 7, 23:55, 6th in mins played
Portland, Mar 1, 23:37, 7th in mins played
Boston, Apr 24, 23:34, 6th in mins played
Since he only appeared in 39 games last year, already you see that 25% of his 2011-2012 season he was Miami's 6th.
I'm not going to list out all the games of the remaining players but here are the results:
Bonner's top 10 games, averaged 4th most minutes.
Gibson's top 10 games, averaged 3rd most minutes. Definitely not a 9th man.
Wilcox's top 10 games, averaged 5th most minutes.
Cook's top 10 games, averaged 4th most minutes.
Murphy's top 10 games, averaged 5th most minutes.
So what you're looking at is even though over the season they had the 9th or 10th most minutes, they were called upon to be their teams' 6th man (or 3rd or 4th in some cases). This means that these good teams are still using a rotation of 6 or 7 guys in the regular season just like playoffs, the difference is that they have a stable of studs from which to choose from.
The Raptors have gone away from the stop-gap free agent signings that plagued the Bosh-era Raptors, have shed all their bad contracts (ie: Turkoglu) and have made lottery picks for 4 straight years that were widely regarded as BPA type picks (DeRozan, Davis, Valanciunas and Ross). It seems to me like BC is doing everything possible to build a solid, much improved team. I'm not sure how that can't be perceived as anything but a step forward.