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Thread: Starting 5 food for thought

  1. #1
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    Default Starting 5 food for thought

    If there's one thing I’m looking forward to on the Raptors this season, it's got to be the starting lineup of Lowry-DeRozan-Gay-Johnson-Valanciunas. After all the dust settled from injuries and the Gay trade, this lineup got a decent run of play towards the end of the season--and performed excellently. In 343 minutes together, this lineup was one of the top-performing lineups in the entire league! They shot much better than their opponent, with a group TS% of 56.7 vs. 48.5 for the other team. That's a very nice differential. With those 343 minutes, an offseason and a training camp under their belt, I'm eager to see what this group can do. However, there are some questions about this unit. Namely, how will JV get shots? Last year it was fine cause he was a rookie, but this year people will want him to be featured prominently in the offense. Is this feasible with two shot-happy wings and a (by nature) shot-first point guard? Well, let’s see how they did it this year (stats from nbawowy.com):

    I took a look at the usage rates (USG) of all 5 players in their minutes together, and found an interesting pattern. Here are the usage rates when playing together, with their season averages in brackets:

    Lowry: 14.4 (20.4)
    DeRozan: 29.2 (24.5)
    Gay: 26.4 (29.3)
    Johnson: 14.2 (16.9)
    Valanciunas: 17.1 (18.1)

    Rather strange, right? So Rudy, JV and Amir’s USG went slightly down playing in this unit. Makes sense: if you’re playing with starters you’re probably going to shoot and handle the ball a little less than when you’re playing with bench guys.

    But Lowry and DeRozan’s patterns are wonky. Kyle took a massive hit in usage, which I think is clear evidence of Dwane Casey harassing him to become a pass-first PG towards the end of the season. DeRozan, on the other hand, had his usage increase with this lineup! He was featured more prominently than Rudy Gay, the star of the team! Here are the FGA data:

    Lowry: 73
    DeRozan: 172
    Gay: 153
    Johnson: 80
    Valanciunas: 83

    172!?!? That’s massive!. That’s more than double everyone else’s total besides Rudy. So here’s the question: why was DeRozan all of a sudden taking more shots with this unit, and where was he taking those shots from? The answer is shockingly clear: long two’s. Here are the numbers of 2pt FGA from 16 ft and beyond for this unit:

    Lowry: 9
    DeRozan: 78
    Gay: 28
    Johnson: 21
    Valanciunas: 8

    Yeah, I know. 78. That’s 45% of DeRozan’s shots on this unit coming from 16-23 ft. DeRozan shot more long two’s than Lowry shot field goals. Now, DeRozan shoots a lot of those in general (39% of his shots, which was among the highest rates in the league), but it’s still a very large number.

    So back to Valanciunas: will he be able to get shots? I think the answer is yes, but it is contingent on DeRozan not taking an ungodly amount of shots. Specifically, if DeRozan could shoot fewer long two’s that’d be splendid. Ideally I’d like to see Lowry’s USG jump up a bit cause he’s a competent scorer, and to have him not shoot is a bit of a waste. Johnson’s USG of 14.2 is low as it is, so I think at the very least that should stay put. I do love a little AJ though and would love to see his leaning jump hook thing featured more, but that’s not urgent. Rudy’s USG should also stay the same, as he’s the star player. With a few minor adjustments, I think he will be more efficient this year, and deserving of the number one role. JV’s USG has to go up though, and that leaves only DeRozan to take from. But I think that’s doable: take DeRozan down ~5% and that’s still a rate of 23%, right around his career average. Here are the USG rates I think should be featured come November:

    Lowry: 17
    DeRozan: 24
    Gay: 26
    Johnson: 14.3
    Valanciunas: 20

    This sums to 101.3, which was the total for the group this past season.

    Discuss.
    Last edited by Buyckshot; Mon Sep 23rd, 2013 at 03:55 PM.

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    Casey's offensive schemes are terrible. He needs to diversify the offense. A wing-heavy offense is not okay when it's all long-two's and missed threes.

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    Raptors Republic Superstar Rapstor4Life's Avatar
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    Casey's ast are all offensive minded right? hopefully he just preaches the defense first and leaves the O to them.

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    Not a ton of news here, but an interesting way to express what others have said. And a reasonable conclusion. Good post.

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    DeRozan also shot 46.7% from the field and 53.4% TS after the trade... which was a relatively significant increase in efficiency.

    Not saying I advocate DeRozan having a near 30% usage rate, but his efficiency justified him shooting that much on our team.

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    Quote Xixak wrote: View Post
    DeRozan also shot 46.7% from the field and 53.4% TS after the trade... which was a relatively significant increase in efficiency.

    Not saying I advocate DeRozan having a near 30% usage rate, but his efficiency justified him shooting that much on our team.
    He did shoot better after the trade. Furthermore, he shot even better (56.5 TS%) when Gay was on the court, hinting at the role Rudy plays in elevating DeRozan's game.

    I agree, it's not the end of the world if he's shooting decently. I just don't want to bump anyone else down. As efficient as he was (53.5 TS%) with this lineup, that mark is still the lowest of the 5. For reference, Rudy had a 56.4 TS% with this lineup

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    Raptors Republic Starter S.R.'s Avatar
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    Anywhere to find out at what point in the shot clock those shots came? It's probably only a small percentage, but Gay and DD end up with long two's (and a lower FG% on these shots) because the ball gets hot potatoed into their hands in the dying seconds of a failed offensive set. Those guys hoist far more "God save us" Hail Mary's with 0 seconds left than Amir or Jonas ever will.

    Overall, the offense SHOULD be more effective and more varied this year. Gay came onboard halfway through the season and all their sets involving him were learned on the fly. The offense should be tailored for this personnel from the ground-up this season.

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    Here's an idea; bring Derozan off the bench to balance out the scoring. Start a wing player who can sink a three pointer in his place. This creates more spacing on the floor, and it frees up more possessions for Lowry and Valanciunas.

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    Quote ddaylewis wrote: View Post
    Here's an idea; bring Derozan off the bench to balance out the scoring. Start a wing player who can sink a three pointer in his place. This creates more spacing on the floor, and it frees up more possessions for Lowry and Valanciunas.
    If Fields can hit a three again or Ross ever lives up to his billing, this is a very worthwhile consideration.
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    Raptors Republic All-Star JimiCliff's Avatar
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    Quote Xixak wrote: View Post
    DeRozan also shot 46.7% from the field and 53.4% TS after the trade... which was a relatively significant increase in efficiency.

    Not saying I advocate DeRozan having a near 30% usage rate, but his efficiency justified him shooting that much on our team.
    Yep. This is what happens when you start being guarded by a team's weaker wing defender.

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    Quote Xixak wrote: View Post
    DeRozan also shot 46.7% from the field and 53.4% TS after the trade... which was a relatively significant increase in efficiency.

    Not saying I advocate DeRozan having a near 30% usage rate, but his efficiency justified him shooting that much on our team.
    Quote JimiCliff wrote: View Post
    Yep. This is what happens when you start being guarded by a team's weaker wing defender.
    good points, and also this: when you're hitting shots, be it a historically high-efficiency look or not, you keep taking them. Derozan was dealing with a lot of players sagging off to compensate for Rudy and, towards the end of the season, JV. That's the impact a big man can have even if he's not extremely high-usage. Starting off a few more possessions/game with Val could be huge for the whole team, not just Val. Double that for Lowry since he'll be the only 3-point threat in the starting 5.... I believe that, at best, Derozan won't be any better than slightly below than average
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    Quote Matt52 wrote: View Post
    If Fields can hit a three again or Ross ever lives up to his billing, this is a very worthwhile consideration.
    I'd be impressed if Fields can hit a free throw again, let alone a trey.

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    Quote ddaylewis wrote: View Post
    Casey's offensive schemes are terrible. He needs to diversify the offense. A wing-heavy offense is not okay when it's all long-two's and missed threes.
    I remember when we first brought in Casey he mentioned that his offense is basically run it through your best player, think Dirk. But, unfortunately neither Gay or Derozan are Dirk and we need to move the ball around (think Miami and San Antonio).
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    Quote Raptorsss wrote: View Post
    I remember when we first brought in Casey he mentioned that his offense is basically run it through your best player, think Dirk. But, unfortunately neither Gay or Derozan are Dirk and we need to move the ball around (think Miami and San Antonio).
    Hence the Bargnani "come hell or high water" remark was so laughable.
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