Fan Duel Toronto Raptors

Small sample sizes, big opportunities

Don't be tempted by small sample sizes. Be conservative with Barrett, liberal with Barnes.

The Raptors are now 3-1 since the trade, and RJ Barrett just had the third-highest scoring game of his career with 37 points.

Things are looking great, but four games in, a quick note of caution: the sample size still remains tiny.

For bettors, though, small sample sizes spell opportunity. There’s no data point for this current iteration of the Raptors except the last four games.

There’s renewed hope and optimism after the Raptors dominated the Warriors from start to finish, and it’s easy to see trends, but let’s keep in mind what’s sustainable and what isn’t. This can help tease out what’s real and what isn’t.  

Only bet on RJ to have 2+ made threes and 5+ assists through the next three games

After a night when he went 5-for-8 beyond the arc and had six dimes, this might seem like ultra-conservatism.

RJ got over 36 minutes last night, but in the Sacramento game, he barely played the fourth quarter.

He’s only attempted eight 3s in a game twice this season (the last one against the Raptors), and has attempted nine of them once.

Barrett’s three-point makes may not be sustainable over the next three games, but you can expect him to start shooting more 3s – he was averaging 3.7 attempts per game through his first three games as a Raptor. Through the last four games, the Raptors have only attempted 31.5 compared to a season league average of 35.1. 

Last night’s first play was Poeltl setting a screen for Siakam, ghosting one for IQ, and then setting a screen for Barrett to splash one from the wing. On a sideline-out-of-bounds play in the second quarter, Podziemski was so concerned about Poeltl’s backscreen that it gave an open look – albeit very briefly – for RJ to splash another one. His other three makes were all in the first half.

When the Raptors were up 87-68, IQ drove and scored, but he also had Barrett wide open beyond the arc. Had the ball gone into Barrett’s hands, Poeltl would have likely set a screen for him.

So…why does all of this matter?

Because many of Barrett’s three-point looks result from Poeltl setting screens, or, at least, the threat of him setting them – it’s Poeltl’s playmaking that contribute to Barrett’s made 3s. Poeltl sets bigger screens than the bigs with whom Barrett played in New York, and as a result, Barrett’s expected 3-point efficiency has been much higher in Toronto than it was in the Big Apple.

When Poeltl and Barett are both on the floor, the Raptors have scored 54 points in 20.5 minutes. Over the course of the last four games, Poeltl has averaged 4.5 screen assists per game, leading to 10.3 points per game. For comparison, Domantas Sabonis is averaging 5.2 screen assists per game this season, leading to 12.5 points per game. 

And Barrett’s three-point looks are also impacted by Poeltl’s sub. The mere threat of Jontay Porter’s 3-point shooting draws out the defence, and that creates better paint-attacking opportunities. This begets kickout passes for open 3s, meaning more chances for RJ. 

RJ was attempting five 3s per game as a Knick, averaged 1.7 3-point makes, and 2.4 assists per game in New York. As his three-point attempts increase for the Raptors, consistently making two per game across three games is still not easy.

Against the Warriors, the odds for Barrett making 2+ made threes and 2+ assists were +174 (as of Sunday, January 7th 8:40 pm EST) for the Same Game Parlay at FanDuel, which meant you won $17.40 if you bet $10.

The immediate impact of Barrett proving to be a three-point threat is that in the coming games, he’ll have more opportunities to attack the lane and dish out more dimes. The defence will be forced to play up and honestly on him, and that makes driving the lane, which he already does so well, even easier for him.

Last night, in the third frame, he took Podziemski off the dribble and threw a skip pass to Scottie in the wing for an open look, and had two pick-and-roll actions with Poeltl. These were all potential assist-creating opportunities, and Barrett’s transition ball-handling ability also adds another way to get assists.

“He has been getting all the way to the rim on drives. He has been finding tight windows on interior passes. He has been cutting and keeping the chains moving, then transferring those advantages to other players with his passing. Great stuff, and very good complement to Quickley. The two have really done great work together and separately.” 

-on RJ Barett via Louis Zatzman

Bet on 25+ points from Scottie Barnes in the Lakers and Clippers game

Before the trade, this was Scottie.

Last night, all six points – or I should say only six – were scored on Steph Curry. Scottie has 16.5 points per game since the trade, but that’s mostly been due to adjusting to the personnel around him. 

Barnes hasn’t played particularly well (by his standards) since the trade, as he’s been accommodating and shifting his game greatly to get everyone involved. He and Quickley will develop more and more chemistry over time and become better and better.

via Louis Zatzman

Barnes’ drives have been down, and he hasn’t been running as many picks as he was prior to the trade either. He averaged 9.7 drives before the trade, but through the last four games, he’s down to 6.5. While it makes sense that he won’t be doing as much initiation as he might have been with Quickley and Barrett on board, it does feel like he should absorb more possessions going forward. More 1-4 PnR actions with Quickley is inevitable, but PnRs with Barrett could force mismatches depending on who’s defending them and whether Barrett or/and Barnes are making threes while on the court together.

The Raptors are riding high on a 3-1 record, and face the Lakers tomorrow, who just beat the Clippers, 106-103.

Make the Money Line Bet that the Raptors beat the Lakers, lose to the Clippers, and bounce back against Utah.  

While the Lambo may have been parked in the garage the last four games, bettors can count on Scottie to be fully revved up with a souped-up supporting cast when games matter the most. Scottie and the Raptors will face their biggest challenge yet, playing back-to-back against two championship contenders.

As the opposing teams gather more data to prepare for the Raptors, the need for Scottie to show up in big games will increase. He’s had 29 POINTS against the Knicks on December 1st, and 30 against Denver in December – and he imposed his will against the Suns back in November. 

Expect him to shine and dance under Hollywood’s bright lights against some of the league’s best.