Interesting Numbers at the Quarter-Way Point

14 mins read

I have absolutely no interest in writing about the Raptors right now. If I did, I would write a Choose Your Own Adventure style column, or a Mad Libs column, similar to the following:

“__(curse word) __ (curse word) ___(curse word) Jay Triano ___ (curse word) defense ________ (curse word) polar bears ________ (curse word) OLIVER MILLER!!!”

And I’m sure everyone reading this has already wrote, spoke, or thought that sequence multiple times in the last few weeks. So instead, I’ve decided to put in just slightly more effort than the Raptors on the defensive end and offer a player-by-player First Quarter Bitch SlapEvaluation. Enjoy, and step back from that ledge, my friend.

Chris Bosh
Level of Failing: Exonerated by comparison
Key Number: 25.93
What It Is: His Player Efficiency Rating, good for 7th in the NBA
Why I Hate Him: Because two weeks ago that read “2nd in the NBA,” and because the further this team spirals, the more likely it is he’ll leave town. Hey, I know the field is split on paying Bosh maximum money, expecially given the team’s struggles and his own sub-par defense, but the guy has been the 7th most efficient offensive player in the league (and that includes the stink bomb he dropped in Georgia). Being the best player on a struggling team has never been more of a backhanded compliment.

Andrea Bargnani
Level of Failing: Not as high as previous seasons
Key Number: 7/10
What It Is: The number of “Best Five” combinations Bargnani appears in, including all of the top five.
Why I Hate Him: Even with all of his improvements, he’s still not a superstar on offense (17.61 PER, still pretty nice), and even with that he’s an “even” player in terms of plus/minus because his defense is fairly porous and the rest of the team appears to, well, suck. That said, his “Hollinger Stats” (True Shooting %, Rebounding Rate, PER) are all at career-high levels.

Jose Calderon
Level of Failing: Annoying
Key Number: -5.4
What It Is: His PER differential according to, meaning despite his above-average PER of 17.3, he is still, as Dave Feschuk put it, “turning every opposing point guard into Steve Nash.”
Why I Hate Him: Because I could beat him off the dribble. Seriously, I’m not ready to throw one of my favorite players under the bus this early, but his offensive efficiency has slipped a bit (18.80 PER to 16.21), making his obvious defensive shortcomings even more frustrating.

Hedo Turkoglu
Level of Failing: $10M
Key Number: 10.6
What It Is: Field goal attempts per game, his lowest amount since 2003-04 and 25% less than last year.
Why I Hate Him: His usage on the offensive end might not be his own fault, but he has been fairly passive at times. His PER is also below league average for the second year in a row (13.67). It doesn’t seem as if his offensive skills have deteriorated much, as his shooting percentages are up from last year and his rebounding rate has only slightly decreased. Strangely enough, his PER is a +2.0, meaning he’s done a decent job against opposing small forwards…though this seems like a potential mathematical error. Regardless, $10M for slightly below average offense and a passive manner on the floor? Yikes. Somehow, still, the Raptors have been better with him on the floor, but it’s probably because he’s always playing with the best Raptors (?? I don’t know, this confounded me).

Jarrett Jack
Level of Failing: Jeff Jarrett
Key Number: 12.4
What It Is: His Points Per Game over the last eight, after averaging just 6.2 in the first twelve
Why I Hate Him: Because there hasn’t been a statistical improvement over last year’s point guard rotation (Calderon-Ukic-WoSo). While some of this can be levied on Jose, Jack was just awful for the first dozen games. Lately, he’s been more aggressive and the results are apparent in the box score. Still, and my apologies to the dead horse I’m beating, his defense has been at times insufferable. He’s played just over half of his minutes at PG, where he has held opponents to a phenomenal 10.5 PER, but he’s played the rest at SG, where he’s essentially turning opposing players into Manu Ginobili with a PER of 21.5. But hey, at least someone is finally speaking up on this team!

DeMar DeRozan
Level of Failing: Rookie T-Mac
Key Number: 7.0-4.2-1.5 on 45% shooting
What It Is: T-Mac’s numbers as a rookie (since that’s the rose-colored comparison, right?) compared to DeRozan’s 7.2-2.8-0.8 on 44% shooting.
Why I Hate Him: The Raptors have been worse with DeRozan on the floor (-6.1 points) than off (-2.1 points) but I think a lot of this has to do with the awfulness of the starting unit as a whole in the third quarter. DeRozan very clearly needs to be coming off the bench, and the reasons are threefold: to get some defense into the starting unit; to allow DeRozan to develop some offense (and get touches!) against players who aren’t the best in the league at their positions, and; both of those reasons again, since players are out producing him at SG (18.3 to 12.3 PER advantage) and SF (29.9 to 11.9 PER advantage….seriously…I actually can not believe this). The kid needs some help…he’s got big time potential but has been put into a pretty poor situation in terms of usage.

Marco Belinelli
Level of Failing: Not quite Devean George
Key Number: 117.9
What It Is: The team’s offensive efficiency rating with Marco on the floor, compared to it’s 116.9 defensive efficiency rating with him on the floor. There is just a lot of scoring when he’s out there.
Why I Hate Him: He’s actually been a positive, bringing some excitement and a 42.6% three-point mark. Lather, rinse, repeat about the defense and the softness, but at least he brings some intensity on offense and is fun to watch. He’d be an interesting fit in the starting lineup since the Calderon-Belinelli-Turkoglu-Bargnani-Bosh combination has been highly effective (83.3% win probability, 133.0 points per 100 possessions).

Amir Johnson
Level of Failing: N/A
Key Number: -7.1
What It Is: The Raptors net points per 100 possessions when he’s on the floor, making him, surprisingly, only a middle-class Raptor in that sense (but a disclaimer: this stat also claims Kevin Durant hurts his team….bull ISH, man).
Why I Hate Him: Amir has been the most pleasant surprise for the Raps this year. Whether it’s his near-league-best 64.1% shooting percentage (if he qualified), his 15.48 PER, his exemplary 17.1 Rebound Rate, or the fact that he constantly appears to be the only Raptor trying, Amir has been the man. At just 22, Amir still has some upside despite being a 5th-year veteran…it will be unfortunate if his minutes get crunched further when Reggie Evans returns (17.1 per game right now), since Amir can’t really play the three.

Antoine Wright
Level of Failing: Epic
Key Number: 3.11
What It Is: His PER, making him the worst offensive player in the NBA!!
Why I Hate Him: He’s always been far below average offensively (career high PER is 8.63) but this is ludicrous. Additionally, his defense has only been ‘alright,’ as he’s surrendered PERs of 18.6 and 16.9 to SGs and SFs, respectively. His net PER is close to the worst in the league, almost by default since the next worst offensive player (Mo-Pete!) has two full PER points on him. I am astounded by how bad the numbers are…28% shooting. Twenty Eight Percent Shooting. If I was an I-Chat person, I’d type “/wrists” (slash wrists) every time he touches the ball. Hey, remember when I thought he should be in the starting lineup for his D? I actually still think that, primarily for DeRozan reasons, but this certainly makes me look stubborn and stupid.

Sonny Weems
Level of Failing: Third Graham Triplet
Key Number: 127.8
What It Is: Opponents points per 100 possessions when he’s on the floor…every night is like Wednesday night!
Why I Hate Him: Only POB has a worse “simple rating” and that’s in 15 minutes of play. Weems plays a lot of grabage time, but he has also been given some early-game run against more athletic opponents. He hasn’t earned it, apparently, shooting just 37% and missing all four of his threes. He brings some entertainment value and I don’t think he’s been as bad as the numbers suggest, but you can’t will away a -18.9 net points per 100 posessions when he’s on the floor. I wish you could.

Rasho Nesterovic
Level of Failing: Anti-Rasho
Key Number: 21.89
What It Is: His PER, are you f’ing serious? 18.3-and-10.5 per-40 rates and 60% shooting will do that for you.
Why I Hate Him: He is a new kind of slow, called Rasho-slow or Rashlow, but there is nothing else to hate. He’s held opposing centers to an 8.7 PER, giving him one of the most favorable PER gaps in the league. While he probably can’t be trusted to play 20 minutes a night at this point, by comparison he deserves to be playing 48. Despite his awesome sample-size-and-match-up-inflated numbers, the team is still far worse when he’s on the floor, suggesting opposing players can fill it up due to the absence of help defense, and the fact that the Raptors essentially play with four men and a screen on offense. (But let’s give it up for Rasho and that PER.)

Patrick O’Bryant, Pops Mensah-Bonsu
Level of Failing: DNQ
Key Number: 58
What It Is: Their combined minutes total.
Why I Hate Him: I’m not going to condemn the end-of-the-bench guys, though O’Bryant, based on “simple rating,” has been the team’s worst player…for 15 minutes.

Reggie Evans
Level of Failing: Reggie Evans-sized
Key Number: 0
What It Is: Minutes Played
Why I Hate Him: Please come back…and kick EVERYBODY’s ass in practice.

Look, I know I was picking and choosing stats, and some players maybe haven’t been as good or bad as I made it out…but I needed to vent, and looking at the numbers closely really did make me want to puke. Trash the piece if you must, but I’m sure a good chunk of you would rather trash the team. And, please, allow me a disclaimer: I don’t think this is an awful team. Awful defensively, yes, but this is still a playoff team just going through a really really tough stretch.

Now that it’s all over with, head here for help.

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