Archive for October, 2014

Conclusions from a One-Game Sample

Posted in NBA on October 30th, 2014 by andrew – Be the first to comment
Not letting the money go to his head. Source: cbssports.com

Not letting the money go to his head. Source: cbssports.com

Thank God regular season hoops is back. If anything can cool the anticipation for the regular campaign, it’s the pre-season. “Going through the motions” – pre-season are you.

Last night Raptors fans came out not only to the arena, but filled Maple Leafs Square as if the playoffs were still on. Not much had changed for fans, and not much has seemed to change for the players. While I’m not a fan of drawing conclusions from a one game sample, the following are safe to bank on.

Kyle Lowry is not letting the new contract get to his head.

In the second quarter Toronto fell into jumper-happy mode. While the shots weren’t terrible, the Raps simply were not taking it to the basket.

Cue Kyle.

Lowry made a couple of strong drives to the basket, absorbing, nay, inviting┬ácontact, and finishing or making the right pass. Terrence Ross was the beneficiary of a number of open looks courtesy of Lowry. Jonas Valanciunas was getting his required touches in the post. And Demar DeRozan was doing whatever he wants (more on that later). By the start of the fourth quarter, when the lead was built up to double digits, Lowry had 10 assists and zero turnovers. He also finished with six rebounds, including three on the offensive end. Lowry was a bull all night – indicative of money (four years, $48M) not compromising effort.

Amir Johnson will be wonderful, until he gets hurt.

Amir’s touch around the rim cannot be understated. It is not easy to post up Al Horford, and finish in traffic after an offensive rebound. But without fail, Johnson gets that righty hook shot that either goes straight in, or touches the rim five times before gently rolling through. Johnson was 7 of 15 from the field, five of those field goals coming within nine feet.

Problem is he’s going to roll his ankle five times during the season. So that sucks.

DeMar DeRozan is good, but still doesn’t get it

The effort is unquestioned. He also made a number of positive contributions, including a career-high 11 rebounds, six steals (huge for someone who we’ve known to be a subpar defender), and 10 free throws attempted. But damn that shot selection hasn’t improved in the slightest.

There should be a drinking game for every time DeRozan kills his dribble from 20 feet out, up-fakes, then shoots anyway. Also he consistently gets caught up in trying to finish impossible shots after making a pretty move to get to the hoop.

The shot chart is ugly. 4 of 16 from the field – including 1 for 8 from 16 feet and beyond. And the baskets he made in the paint were mostly off transition, not in the half court. I can’t fathom that Dwane Casey or someone on this coaching staff doesn’t discourage these shots, but the fact that the Raps run pin-down after pin-down to get DeRozan these looks (ie the very first possession of the season) must mean I’m wrong.

 

I guess Raptors fans have to take the good with the bad with DeMar, and just know that the net is slightly positive. He gets to the free throw line, does a decent job of creating his own shot – something the Raptors lack – and it appears his teammates like him. If he can continue to defend at a reasonable level I can stomach him playing all those minutes (he averaged 38.2 last year).

Other trends will develop as the season continues. But the above can be counted on to play out the same way all year.