Houston, we have a problem. It’s the offence. All of it. Toronto’s offence has become one where one guy tries to basically do it all by himself most of the time. Maybe, occasionally, a two-man game gets going, but getting three, four or even five involved? Not happening.
The result is a ton of missed shots. A lot of turnovers, a lot of forces, a lot of bad looks. Are the Raptors actually running an offence right now, or are they just doing a lot of freelancing? As I’ve said before, I don’t like the Rudy Gay/DeMar DeRozan pairing because if they are your top offensive threats (or even #1 and #3), your offence is not going to be efficient. DeRozan’s shot selection is not good. Part of that is because he can’t hit threes consistently, but part of that is because he settles too much. Gay settles too and while he’s a better shooter, he’s not a premier shooter. You can get away with one guy like that carrying an offence, but not two. Eventually, either DeRozan gets moved or the Raptors will continue to make life far tougher than it needs to be.
Other problems with the offence include: Not enough pick and roll action; Too much Amir Johnson handling the ball; Nobody finding Jonas Valanciunas when he’s wide open rolling to the hoop, or when he’s established position down low. But those are mostly minor things. The major issue, is where the shots are coming from. Again, Toronto is making life hard on itself by taking inefficient shots or by forcing tough shots. Grantland’s Zach Lowe wrote a great piece today on how the Rockets have figured it out by doing what the stats tell them to do: Take smart shots. Valuable shots, ones that give you the best chance of winning games. Those would be threes, shots at the rim and free throws. Of course, it helps having a guy as good as James Harden at getting to the line and scoring in an efficient manner (as good as Rudy Gay is, he isn’t really close to Harden), but it’s more than that. It’s mindset as well.
- This goes back to the offence, but the decision-making was terrible. It was playground-esque at times (six assists, 12 turnovers in the first half). They watch enough tape to know a good shot vs. a bad shot and a force vs. a good take, but keep doing the same thing regardless.
- Wizards look much-improved. Wall gets guys going and Beal is improving rapidly. Not sure letting Emeka Okafor shoot the ball 10+ times is a recipe for success. He should be a last resort on offence. Nene trying also helps. He doesn’t always look like he’s interested in playing, but when Nene wants to, he’s solid.
- Speaking of trying: Andrea Bargnani tried. So that’s a start. That’s all people are asking for at this point. Even if his shot wasn’t falling, he still played hard and was one of the few Raptors to make smart decisions re: shot selection.
- Again, it’s time to get Valanciunas more involved. He’s been quite good, particularly on offence, of late. He should also be more involved at home, where his stats are much better and where he gets the crowd reacting to him in a very positive way.
- Here’s a second unit that makes a lot of sense:
Sebastian Telfair running the show (once he picks up all of the plays), a lot of the time playing pick-and-roll with Bargnani, which should get him going.
John Lucas or Terrence Ross playing the 2 (depending on matchups) providing outside shooting and some scoring punch.
Landry Fields at the 3, giving the offence good movement, the defence a capable guy and providing the rebounding presence that Bargnani doesn’t.
Andrea Bargnani at the 4 and as the featured offensive player with a lot of pick-and-pops.
Amir Johnson at the 5. Solid last line of defence. Has played well with Bargnani in the past (Valanciunas and Bargnani should never see the court together, don’t work defensively).
That would allow the Raptors to be pretty potent against other bench units, and would give guys like Gay and DeRozan extra rest, which could help them be more aggressive on offence and better on defence (particularly DeRozan).
I know Alan Anderson provides defence, but his offence is just too inconsistent and too iso-based to work with the other players.