Liston on Raptors: Is one lead better than two?

November 23, 2012, 8:53 PM blogger Tom Liston goes inside the numbers to bring you a closer look at how the Raptors have been performing this season.

1. Calderon in charge

Just to rile up a fresh point-guard controversy (joking), Jose Calderon apparently really likes starting.

In six starts, he’s averaged 11.9 assists, 12.9 point per game while shooting a hot 55.2 per cent from deep.

Having said that, Kyle Lowry is no slouch as a starter, with the league’s fourth best PER so far (yes, five games is the world’s smallest sample size, but it’s what we have).

Given Lowry is a much better defender, it will be his job to lose. However, the Raptors have an abundance of riches at the point, which was obviously key while Lowry was injured.

2. Defensive struggles

One of more striking metrics so far this year is the team’s regression on defense. The Raptors have fallen tumbled from 14th in defensive rating to 25th.

The defensive lapses are more frequent this season and have been never more apparent than Philadelphia’s 18-4 late fourth quarter run on Tuesday.

The Raptors employed a two-point-guard lineup with Lowry and Calderon while also keeping Jonas Valanciunas on the bench, despite being effective and having zero personal fouls.

Andrea Bargnani, Jose Calderon and Demar DeRozan are poor defenders overall and the two-point-guard lineup allowed for even further mismatches on the defensive end. The 76ers had an effective FG percentage of 60 percent in the fourth quarter ncluding 12 points inside of three feet.

This year, the Raptors are second worst in the NBA in free-throw attempts to field-goal-attempts allowed ratio — meaning they are often putting opponents on the line. With the league-average free-throw percentage being 75 per cent, this is less than ideal.

3. Bargnani not Bene

Bargnani is off to a very slow start and his numbers are at or near career lows. He can be a unique asset as great-shooting big men are a rare breed. However, if Bargnani is not shooting well, his deficiencies are even more glaring.

What is quite troubling is Bargnani ranks 12th on his team for defensive rebounding percentage which is a stat which tells you what percentage of rebounds a player collects while on the floor. Even Lowry, at six-feet tall, sits at 18.0 percent which is well ahead of Bargnani’s12.8 percent.

So far this year, he ranks dead last in total rebound percentage of all players seven-foot tall and above.

As concerning, he ranks 17th out of 20 of all (minimum 60 minutes played) seven footers and taller in effective field goal percentage at only 43.4 per cent.

What about block percentage? No surprise as he’s dead last again at 1.6 percent.


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