PACE: #12 95.6
OFFENSE: #21 103.1
DEFENSE: #30 109.8
In the Chris Bosh era, the Raptors were always a mediocre defensive team, but at least they had some offensive talent and they were one of the most efficient teams on the offensive end. In the first season post-Bosh, the Raptors continued being a terrible defensive team, but this time they were atrocious on the offense as well and the outcome was obvious: they were the 2nd worst team in the East.
Former Head Coach Jay Triano managed the “feat” of leading the worst defensive team in the league in back-to-back seasons (defensive efficiency ranks: 09-10 #30 110.2, 10-11 #30 109.8) and the fact is that the Raptors couldn’t defend anybody:
#25 Defensive Rebounding% w/72% #27 eFG% Allowed w/52.24% #26 FTrate allowed w/32.6% #27 Fast Break Points allowed per game w/16.7ppg #30 Points in the paint allowed per game w/47.4ppg
We are talking about a team being on the “wrong top 5” in every single defensive metric ranking! Their opponents knew that the Raptors were soft down low and they really pounded them inside, as 36.1% of the Raptors opponents shots were at the rim – a league high! Reggie Evans was the only player who brought some toughness to the frontcourt and with him healthy early on the season and grabbing 11.7 rebounds per game, the Raptors had a mediocre but decent 6-10 record. However when Evans got injured, the Raptors completely fell apart in the defensive end.
Andrea Bargnani was the Raptors best offensive player, but his horrible defense and rebounding skills were too poor to be compensated by his offensive skills. Without a rebounding monster on his side, it was quite easy to score against the Raptors. Both Amir Johnson and Ed Davis are relatively undersized and more importantly, they aren’t good defensive players, so the Raptors frontcourt was constantly abused in almost every single game.
For this season, the Raptors have a new head coach in Dwayne Casey – a former Dallas assistant coach. Casey has been an assistant coach for 14 seasons (11 in Seattle and the last 3 in Dallas). In those 14 years, his teams have been ranked in the top 10 defensively five times: his first four years in Seattle and in the past season in Dallas. Asking Casey to turn the Raptors into a top 10 defensive team with the current roster is simply impossible, but we should expect some improvement on the defensive end. Truth must be told, it won’t be hard to do better than in the past two seasons, considering they were the worst defensive team in the last two years.
On the offensive end, the Raptors stopped being a good offensive team to become a below average offensive team. In the last season with Bosh still in Toronto, the Raptors were the 6th most effective team offensively, however last season they were the 9th least effective offensive team in the league! Nevertheless, Toronto was a good team in terms of scoring in transition by averaging 18.0 fast break points per game – the 2nd best mark in the league! They were also the 3rd best team in points in the paint per game with 41.5 ppg, but they were far from being an effective team near the basket!
Note that 34.4% of the Raptors FGA’s were at the rim, but they were just 25th in converting those shots with 61.4%! Despite the lack of efficiency near the basket, the team’s biggest problem was really on their perimeter. Their record of consecutive games with at least one three-point shot made came to an end and that wasn’t a surprise at all considering the fact that the Raptors were the worst team in the league in terms of 3PTS% with just 31.6%!
However, Dwayne Casey has some quality on the roster to work and turn the Raptors into a respectable offensive team once again. Jose Calderon is still one of the best Point Guard managers of the game. He makes the right decisions almost all the time and his A/TO ratio was the 2nd best in the league, with only CP3 doing better than him. DeMar DeRozan emerged as an offensive player, as his 17.2 ppg while shooting 46.7% from the field made him the most effective player on the roster and with him being just 22-years old, DeRozan can become an emerging star in the league.
The main issue of this team continues to be Andrea Bargnani. He is a skilled offensive player and a tough matchup for any defense due to his size and shooting range, however his presence on the court requires a frontcourt player that has to compensate Bargnani’s lack of defensive skills and rebounding ability. The Raptors drafted big men Jonas Valanciunas, he will most likely stay overseas for one more season, so Casey will have to find a way to protect the paint without the young Lithuanian.
Suddenly, the Raptors are involved in a potential good division with the Celtics, the Knicks, the Nets and the Sixers, so the task won’t be easy for Dwayne Casey. In fact, Casey will have to perform a miracle in order to make the Raptors competitive, especially with a short training camp hurting a team who needs time to perform all the changes that they really need to make.