# Thread: Raptors and who should (have been) the teams #1 option

1. ## Raptors and who should (have been) the teams #1 option

When we talk about a players efficiency, a debate often arises discussing a players usage. Usually the debate is, well so and so is only efficient because they don't shoot much, the defense doesn't concentrate on them etc, and the high usage guys are punished by taking shots late in the shot clock.

So I decided (because I'm clearly a loser) to do a little research on efficiency and usage, trying to see if there was much information out there that would provide a correlation. I came across this from the Sloan conference.

One part stood out to me

A player who wants to use an additional 1% of his team’s half-court offensive possessions, will see his overall efficiency drop by .0025 − .006 points per possession. This estimate holds teammates constant
So I decided, why not apply this to the Raptors. Who, given their usage, was the most efficient?

A couple boring notes:

1)I had no interest in going through and trying to calculate the details and subjectivity of a 'half court' offense. I'd assume perimeter players would use more 'non half court' offense because of leak outs, steals, fast breaks etc. But then again, scoring straight off of offensive rebounds may apply, and the Raptors seem to have a couple good floor running bigs. All in all, its way too much work so I ignored it. Given the Raptors played at a slower than average pace, it may be insignificant anyways.

2)i) 0.0025 to 0.006 is quite a range (I know it seems small, but its relatively significant - the top range is almost two and a half times the lower range) But the article also claims perimeter players usage curve (ie. efficiency vs production) is flatter. So I did this 2 ways. I used the average of the given range (0.00425) and I also used the extremes for each type of player (big at 0.006 vs perimeter at 0.0025). This result is much more harsh on the big men (each increase in usage by 1% is a 2.4x drop in efficiency vs a perimeter player) - except Bargnani, who I gave the benifit of the doubt and called a perimeter player.

2)ii) I actually found a couple less reliable sources (not unreliable, just less reliable) that come to a similar conclusion (although theirs wasn't a range, rather it was 0.0025 drop in pts for a 1% increase in usage). So it helps verify this information. However they also found a low correlation between usage and efficiency.

3) I left out the less relevant players (Kleiza, Telfair etc) and players no longer with us (Jose and Ed) *edit I added Jose for part.

4) I'm no statistician, nor am I a doctor (except perhaps of love), so feel free to take what I'm about to write with a grain of salt should you so choose.

Part 1 - the Basics

So lets start with each players usage and pts/possession (PTS/FGA + FTA(0.45) + TOV)

R. Gay 29.1% 0.895
Demar 24.2% 0.946
Andrea 23.8% 0.865
Lowry 20.3% 0.887
Alan A. 23.6% 0.912
Amir J. 16.1% 1.006
T. Ross 19.6% 0.88
Jonas 16.9% 1.017
Fields 12.9% 0.832

for reference an average NBA Player in the 2012/13 season - 20% 0.921

A quick review shows Jonas and Amir are far and away the most efficient scorers, they are however lower usage players. Demar is an above average scorer on and above average usage. Poor Landry....

*Note: I thought its worth noting that using the above pts/possession to judge scoring efficiency is perhaps slightly unfair to Lowry. It includes TOVs, and since there is a correlation between assists and turnovers, and PGs tend to pass more (and Lowry's assist% was significantly higher than anyone else), Lowry's #s will reflect alot more passes that lead to turnovers than scoring possessions that lead to turnovers than anyone else on the team.

Part 2 - the Meat

Lets get down to the nitty gritty shall we. What I did was estimate a teams #1 option would have a usage of around 30%. Honestly the %number is irrevelant, but it seemed relatively common. I then subtracted a players usage, multiplied that difference by the weighting (0.0025 or 0.006 and 0.00425), then subtracted that result from their average pts/possession. In the end we have 2 results - 1) pts/possession given the usage change of bigs vs perimeter players 2) pts/possession given average usage change

R. Gay 0.893 - 0.891
Demar 0.931 - 0.921
Andrea 0.850 - 0.839
Lowry 0.863 - 0.846
Alan A. 0.896 - 0.885
Amir J. 0.923 - 0.947
T. Ross 0.854 - 0.836
Jonas 0.939 - 0.961
Fields 0.789 - 0.759

Quick review shows us Jonas comes out as the 'theoretical should have been #1 option' under both variables (I should note, the opposite of the assist% that applies to Lowry may apply to Jonas. His low assist% means less passing and therefore he was likely to turnover the ball less on non-scoring possessions). Demar is #2 if we apply a difference in usage cost to bigs vs perimeter players, Amir is #2 if we use average.

Andrea was used despite the hell and highwater that existed.

Poor Landry. Poor, poor Landry......

Part 3 - Conclusion

So the title may be a bit deceptive. I did try and esitmate who the teams #1 should have been, but I also don't think its a perfect representation. But it does perhaps give us an idea of who should have been (or should be in the future) used more often, and who should have been (or should be in the future) used less often.

- The Raptors didn't use their REAL big men enough. They were 2 of the lowest usage players, yet 2 of the most efficient. If the theory above is true, an increase in usage would still keep them as 2 of the more efficient scorers on the team.

- Demar came out as the biggest suprise to me. He had above average efficiency to start, and would in theory maintain an average to above average scoring rate if used like a #1.

- Rudy Gay was used way to much. Hopefully his eye surgery changes things. But given the \$s he's getting.....

- I think fans have been a bit unfair to Anderson. He doesn't come out as an attractive 'scorer', but given the other options available to the team, he probably shot roughly as much as he should have. That ofcourse assumes a team that was trying to win now

- did anyone check to make sure Fields' arm wasn't amputated during surgery?

- Ross was definetely not 'NBA ready'

- Lowry is probably unfairly punished in the analysis, but at the same time he's got a job to do regardless. So I decided to run Jose's numbers (while on the Raptors), and he blew Lowry out of the water. To be fair he was ahead of everyone when we factor in position at 0.975 (this despite the potential disadvantage in this analysis of being a PG - although that itself may be because he is so good at passing without turning over the ball) and only 2nd behind Jonas when just using an average factor (0.954).

I think this verifies some previously held beliefs.

1)This organization, under Colangelo, has valued shot taking over efficiency. There is a pretty consistent relationship between high usage players on this team and lower efficiency results. Lets hope this changes with new management.

2) Just because a player is a low usage player, it shouldn't be assumed that he wouldn't be a high efficiency player if used more. An increase in usage may lead to a decrease in efficiency, but that doesn't mean that player isn't a potentially better choice to use (vs the league or teammates)

3) Give Jonas the ball!!

I also need to show some humility and give Demar credit. This analysis definetely goes against my belief that Demar is an inefficient chucker. His usage may be above average, but he is at the very least relatively efficient at it.

Final disclaimer: I'm not claiming this is perfect. Its only 2012/13 data, doesn't factor in injuries, and there are probably numerous variables that could be considered. I'm also not going guarantee I did everything accurately, or even interpretted it accurately for that matter, but I feel rather confident about the results.

2. Good work. For me, it confirms a few subjective observations many of us have made:

- both JV and Amir are under-utilized (something that drove me nuts this year);
- Gay was over-utilized;
- Lowry is not the player he was hyped to be coming into Toronto;
- Derozan is a very difficult player to evaluate....

3. I'm surprised Fields' numbers are so high.....good post though.

4. Fine analysis. I had applauded the Lowry deal when made and of course disappointed with his performance last year. Recognizing it was a different team, any chance you have his numbers for his last season in Houston? Was there a drop-off? He did have some injury issues and questions about fitness here.

5. *Slow Clap*

Fantastic breakdown Craiger. Appreciate the effort!

As for Lowry, I still think we haven't seen his best stuff .. if you'll recall he started the season last year ON FIRE, before going down with an early season injury, which thus caused him to be massively out of shape .. Having seen a few pictures of Lowry this summer, he's trimmed down pretty significantly. Should make a huge difference in his game.

6. Bendit wrote:
Fine analysis. I had applauded the Lowry deal when made and of course disappointed with his performance last year. Recognizing it was a different team, any chance you have his numbers for his last season in Houston? Was there a drop-off? He did have some injury issues and questions about fitness here.
There is definetely a drop off. In Houston, using what I did above he had a usage adjusted pts/possession of 0.899 and 0.885

7. joey_hesketh wrote:
*Slow Clap*

Fantastic breakdown Craiger. Appreciate the effort!

As for Lowry, I still think we haven't seen his best stuff .. if you'll recall he started the season last year ON FIRE, before going down with an early season injury, which thus caused him to be massively out of shape .. Having seen a few pictures of Lowry this summer, he's trimmed down pretty significantly. Should make a huge difference in his game.
I was actually really suprised when I saw Lowry's results, I assumed he would be one of the higher players on the list (injured/out of shape or not). But I think him being a PG, and therefore more likely to control and pass the ball, and as such more likely to turnover the ball, plays a role in there at least vs the other players on the team.

(PGs tend to have a higher number of TOVs per game than any other position.)

8. wowzer that is an amazing amount of time and effort that Craiger put into that..... it does help to highlite some of the observations some of us fans were touting ...... count me in the driven nuts by lack of JV+Amir together as well as wondering why the obvious 5 man unit wasn't so obvious to the coach......grrrrrr

Rudy i think is getting a bit of a bad rap since it seemed to me he was more than willing to be a team player but a good portion of the time they were simply out of synch. his 3 assists per game speaks to his passing abilities and i can recall several occasions as the boys were headed to break and he'd be pointing out something to Jonas in particular where he was expecting him to go zig and he went zag. i thought the nights he was off he was willing to defer also but again he'd end up with the ball in his hands late in the clock and no choice but to hoist one up. he was asked to play the 4 and at no time in his grizzly career had he done that that i'm aware of so he was in uncharted territory at times and i thought looked a little lost in those times

Lowry seemed much better at the end of the season when he was allowed to free wheel more so i think there is some hope for a better full season for him coming up

Demar is tough to evaluate but i thought he looked pretty good in our best 5 man combo and he and Rudy were popping off 40 points together a good portion of the time

for me it's not about the individual numbers but it's how you combine and utilize the talent on hand so i'm hoping like crazy that
Casey gets away from the mish mash of a bazillion lineups and rolls with what is the obvious best 5 provided Ujiri doesn't blow it all up that is ;-)

9. Elkabong wrote:
Rudy i think is getting a bit of a bad rap since it seemed to me he was more than willing to be a team player but a good portion of the time they were simply out of synch. his 3 assists per game speaks to his passing abilities and i can recall several occasions as the boys were headed to break and he'd be pointing out something to Jonas in particular where he was expecting him to go zig and he went zag. i thought the nights he was off he was willing to defer also but again he'd end up with the ball in his hands late in the clock and no choice but to hoist one up. he was asked to play the 4 and at no time in his grizzly career had he done that that i'm aware of so he was in uncharted territory at times and i thought looked a little lost in those times
His three assists a game doesn't say anything good about his passing ability or willingness to pass. And that had nothing to do with the 'context'. If you take the guys at the sf position, and look at their passing rate, he isn't very high. In fact, the league average Assist Rate for those guys is 15.06 and Gay is at 11.63, just above ... Rudy Gay from Memphis. Source

10. Soft Euro wrote:
His three assists a game doesn't say anything good about his passing ability or willingness to pass. And that had nothing to do with the 'context'. If you take the guys at the sf position, and look at their passing rate, he isn't very high. In fact, the league average Assist Rate for those guys is 15.06 and Gay is at 11.63, just above ... Rudy Gay from Memphis. Source
Gay has always had a particularly difficult time making passes in traffic. It isn't one of his skills.

11. I think this is a great analysis. The only issue I have is that all the other variables that come into play when comparing what did happen to what might happen if another player was the focal point of a team's offense, overwhelm the actual reality of the stats being compared and extrapolated from.

In order for 'Player X' to get significantly more touches on a consistent basis (ie: become the focal point offensively), the team would need to completely change their offensive gameplan. Doing so would also cause opposing teams to change the way they gameplan defensively against both your team and 'Player X' specifically. The entire dynamic of the offensive execution and how each player is defended would change.

Amir and JV got a lot of highly efficient looks because they were so low on the Raptors' offensive priority, usually getting garbage baskets from broken plays. The Raptors offensive plan (assuming DC actually had one) revolved around ball domination by Lowry, Gay and DeRozan, who took the bulk of the team's shots. Defenses were designed to prevent penetration and limit ball movement off kickouts, leaving those 3 with many ISO's and long 2's. If DC implemented a new offensive plan revolving around Amir and JV, they would be defended much more aggressively, including the way the opposition defended P&R's, for example. To say that Amir & JV should have simply taken more high-efficiency shots is a case of oversimplification (as Craiger did elude to).

12. slaw wrote:
Gay has always had a particularly difficult time making passes in traffic. It isn't one of his skills.
isn't the idea to pass when the guys open or just breaking into the clear? i was just making a general observation and it sure looked to me that he's a pretty decent and willing passer as opposed to over utilized,ball hoggin',volume shooter that some seem to see.i thought his basketball IQ seemed to be above average and given more than 33 games with a set unit i suspect he'd look much better and make others around him better but i gots nothing scientific to back that up with

13. CalgaryRapsFan wrote:
I think this is a great analysis. The only issue I have is that all the other variables that come into play when comparing what did happen to what might happen if another player was the focal point of a team's offense, overwhelm the actual reality of the stats being compared and extrapolated from.

In order for 'Player X' to get significantly more touches on a consistent basis (ie: become the focal point offensively), the team would need to completely change their offensive gameplan. Doing so would also cause opposing teams to change the way they gameplan defensively against both your team and 'Player X' specifically. The entire dynamic of the offensive execution and how each player is defended would change.

Amir and JV got a lot of highly efficient looks because they were so low on the Raptors' offensive priority, usually getting garbage baskets from broken plays. The Raptors offensive plan (assuming DC actually had one) revolved around ball domination by Lowry, Gay and DeRozan, who took the bulk of the team's shots. Defenses were designed to prevent penetration and limit ball movement off kickouts, leaving those 3 with many ISO's and long 2's. If DC implemented a new offensive plan revolving around Amir and JV, they would be defended much more aggressively, including the way the opposition defended P&R's, for example. To say that Amir & JV should have simply taken more high-efficiency shots is a case of oversimplification (as Craiger did elude to).
yes there is nuttin like a 2foot put back to make your shooting percentages better! the thing is why not use it more? we are never gonna be the Heat but we can be closer to the Pacers who make out quite well using a missed shot as there best offensive play

14. CalgaryRapsFan wrote:
I think this is a great analysis. The only issue I have is that all the other variables that come into play when comparing what did happen to what might happen if another player was the focal point of a team's offense, overwhelm the actual reality of the stats being compared and extrapolated from.

In order for 'Player X' to get significantly more touches on a consistent basis (ie: become the focal point offensively), the team would need to completely change their offensive gameplan. Doing so would also cause opposing teams to change the way they gameplan defensively against both your team and 'Player X' specifically. The entire dynamic of the offensive execution and how each player is defended would change.

Amir and JV got a lot of highly efficient looks because they were so low on the Raptors' offensive priority, usually getting garbage baskets from broken plays. The Raptors offensive plan (assuming DC actually had one) revolved around ball domination by Lowry, Gay and DeRozan, who took the bulk of the team's shots. Defenses were designed to prevent penetration and limit ball movement off kickouts, leaving those 3 with many ISO's and long 2's. If DC implemented a new offensive plan revolving around Amir and JV, they would be defended much more aggressively, including the way the opposition defended P&R's, for example. To say that Amir & JV should have simply taken more high-efficiency shots is a case of oversimplification (as Craiger did elude to).
I think this is, atleast to some degree, baked into the equation. The increase in usage means a drop in efficiency not just because a player simply takes more shots, but because of the quality of shots they are offered drop.

15. This is an AMAZING POST! And it's posts like these that keep me coming back to RR (sorry tenforthewin).

I think there are a couple of ways this analysis to be used to provide more insight, if I can easily get a hold of the raw data (usage % and ppp) I'm going to try a couple of things as well.

16. So in second conclusion - not enough usage of efficient players on the roster .
How this needs to be changed and if it will be changed? We should see this season