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Patrick McCaw, An Attempt at Optimism

I’m too often a fool when it comes to keeping perspective in regards to a player’s potential.  Show me a workout video of a non-shooter draining buckets and I want to believe.  Let me witness a big dribbling around an open floor, with a quick(ish) crossover leading to an open dunk in the lane and I risk falling in love.  I know it’s stupid, and a workout does not equate to skills that can be displayed in a game, but I still buy in far too often.

The fact is I want to believe.  Particularly when it comes to a player on a team I love.  I want desperately to see something to hope in.  I think this comes from my years spent cheering for losers.  When there is little to be happy about in your present fandom you want to hope for what one day could be.

Despite the Raptors being a largely competent and respectable franchise for the last several years and currently having the most talented roster in franchise history with a legitimate star player in Kawhi Leonard, I still find myself trapped in this bubble of wondering what could be.

I find myself still watching the likes of OG Anunoby or Chris Boucher, while celebrating the incredible climb by Pascal Siakam into the All Star discussion.  This type of stuff feeds my soul.  Letting my eyes follow what could be the future of the team to find the moments to hope in.

And yet my current interest seemingly lies in Patrick McCaw, a strangely intriguing player for someone with almost no statistical evidence to support their cause.

Through 5 games and 44 minutes played in Toronto his stat line shows a player that is entirely undeserving of further opportunity.  Malachi Richardson should be ahead of him based on what we’ve seen, and it’s not hard to argue based on stats that Lorenzo Brown had a far more positive impact on the Raptors than what we’ve seen from McCaw.

In his time in Toronto Patrick (it feels really weird to call him by just his first name…he’s a last name or both names type of person) has averaged 8.8 minutes per game, 0.4 points, 2.2 rebounds, 1 assist, 0.6 steals, 1 turnover, and has shot 16.7 percent from the field.

Things aren’t much prettier if you look at his advanced stats, with a team worst defensive rating of 115.1 and an offensive rating of 100.00 that puts him above only Malachi Richardson (90.5), the artist formerly playing as Lorenzo Brown (92.1), Greg “Incapable of Dunking” Monroe, Jordan “2-Way” Loyd, and C.J. “Cursed” Miles.

All-in-all this adds up to a Net Rating of -15.1, which would make him unplayable even on the worst teams.

So why am I intrigued by him?  Part of his is likely the blind hope that we discussed at the get go.  I recognize this weekness as I currently adore all Raptors that aren’t Greg.  Yes, even C.J.  He keeps a place in my heart.

Beyond the blind hope though there are little glimpses of a player within the rubble.  For starters, the vast majority of McCaw’s minutes have come with neither Lowry or Kawhi on the floor, a situation that has caused numerous problems throughout the season for seemingly every Raptor and particularly with the absence of Jonas Valanciunas.  So I’ll use this as an excuse, seeing as how he’s played a total of 7 minutes with Lowry, 1 minute with Kawhi, and a total of 0 minutes with the two together.

The real reason though for the optimism I am trying to cultivate within myself are the occasional glimpses we get of a young player who is still learning to use his length has a weapon.  For every play that he seems lost there is a good read with the ball (I’ve been pleasantly surprised by his passing acumen) or a defensive possession that he impacts on or off the ball.  McCaw has raw tools that the Raptors are hoping they can build upon with the recent development success they have experienced as a franchise (ex. See Siakam, Pascal).

When Toronto signed him through the end of the season there was a lot of speculation that McCaw could be a cheaper Norman Powell if the Raptors were to explore the trade market in hopes of saving some money.  With Norm returning to form, and the more I have seen from McCaw, the less I think this is true.  If anything, and I recognize this could sound plenty stupid, but McCaw to me seems more likely to be a replacement/insurance for Delon Wright.

It’s important to note here that I’m not advocating for Delon to be traded or to let him walk during free agency, but the reality is that both are a possibility.  Delon is in the final year of his contract before entering restricted free agency this summer, and despite the Raptors having three capable-to-great point guard options there are still teams that have managed to have no one to run their offence.

McCaw, entering free agency himself this summer after signing a deal with Toronto through the end of the season, does not have nearly the same ball handling skills as Delon in regards to being used to run a team’s offence, but Delon himself has most often been used as a secondary creator beside Lowry or Fred.

Almost all of Patrick’s (still weird) stats have to be taken with a grain of salt due to the small sample, but if we are paying attention to the negative stats previously mentioned we can give equal recognition to the positive stats as well.  Lowry is currently leading the Raptors with an Assist Ratio (percentage of a team’s possessions that end with an assist) of 37.9, with McCaw currently second (yes, with a very small sample) at 31.3.

We have also seen McCaw show great signs on defence with a steal percentage of 30.0, just behind Kawhi at 32.3 (for reference, Lorenzo Brown has a team best 32.4), and a willingness to battle on the boards shown by a rebounding percentage of 31.4.  Only Valanciunas (40.4 percent) and Monroe (39.2 percent) are ahead of McCaw in regards to attacking the glass.

At best, in a small sample size we can see a mixed bag in regards to Patrick McCaw’s time with the Raptors.  My hope is that we can continue to see small glimpses of what he could become as the season moves forward, with the possibility of him appearing with the Raptors905 now that Toronto is back to near full health (only Jonas is missing, but he’s close to a return).

He will need to gain confidence and capability with his shooting, but there is enough to find optimism when it comes to McCaw.  Or perhaps this is just foolish rambling from a desperately hopeful individual…

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