Improved Rebounding & Defense for the Raptors

For the benefit of Raptors fans everywhere …

Sam Mitchell speaks on the FAN590 [Fri Sep 12 2008]

… about the arrival of Jermaine O’Neal, the play of Chris Bosh & Jose Calderon at the Olympics, the quality of his wardrobe, the expected improvement of Andrea Bargnani, what builds good character, which players are going to get the most playing time this season and at what positions, plus what’s needed for the Raptors to advance in the NBA Playoffs.

Pay particular attention to the final half of the interview … from the 7:15 mark on …

“We’ve got to rebound the basketball. I think we’ve proven, since I’ve been here, that we’ve been able to score the basketball fairly well … but our Defense & Rebounding, it starts with the Defense and you finish it off [on the] on the Defensive Boards. We got to play D and Rebound the basketball … you’re not going to win, you’re not going to win … being 29th in the league in Rebounding.”

and, then, what he has to say in his closing comments:

“We’re not going to change a lot of things. A lot of the stuff we run Chris & Jermaine can do. We run a lot of Double-High Post-ups, which is great for those guys … and the difference is … you know, also … we can put both Chris and Jermaine down on that Low Post, at times, [and] and command the basketball … we’re excited with the team, I like our basketball team, on paper … if we can stay healthy … but, again, it’s all going to be decided once we get on the floor.”

It is going to be a most interesting season in Raptorville.

Advertisements

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

8 Responses to “Improved Rebounding & Defense for the Raptors”

  1. Dave Says:

    Sam is a bit off on his stats.

    The Raptors ranked 20-22 (appearantly I can’t count today) in rebounding. Not 29th. Sam needs to stop using individual totals and use percentages/differentials. His perception is off because of the Raps slow tempo.

    As for defensive rebounding they ranked 4th best in the entire NBA, defensive rebounding wasn’t a flaw during the regular season. It only became a problem in the playoffs when Rasho/Moon’s minutes were slashed (offensive issues) and when the perimeter players couldn’t stop penetration and left the bigs in no-mans land trying to do two jobs at once … when the Raps ranked 11th out of the 16 teams. Defensive rebounding problems in the playoffs stemmed from perimeter D and offensive deficiencies.

    ——————-

    Khandor, what’s you thoughts on minutes for the four big men on the Raptors for the upcoming season?

    Do you think Humphries could see his minutes slashed? Say Bargnani plays strong, do you think the Raps would go with just three big men in their primary rotation? Let Bargnani play close to 30 minutes like he was as a rook before getting injured with Bosh and Jermaine playing 35 minutes or thereabouts. Jermaine then effectively just replacing Rasho/Humphries (21+13 minutes) rebounding?

    Or do you see Humphries as someone who will be seen as key player off the bench and a lock for a spot in the rotation? Someone who plays 8-12 minutes or so every night.

  2. khandor Says:

    Dave,

    I, too, use a different set of Rebounding criteria to rank the 30 teams in the NBA than Sam Mitchell.

    http://www.nba.com/statistics/sortable_team_statistics/sortable2.html?cnf=1&prd=1#top [click on RPG/Diff]

    Toronto ranked #22 in the League last season, and … more/MOST importantly … was #15 of the 16 teams that made the Playoffs.

    ===============================

    To say that Toronto’s rebounding problems were ONLY significant in the Playoffs … is to miss the point about one of the most important things which separates the good teams … from the REST, in the NBA, i.e. the ability to REBOUND against the other good teams in the League.

    ===============================

    In general, I do NOT engage in predicting what it is Sam Mitchell might actual do [or not] with his team. 🙂

    Instead, I try to restrict my comments to something along these lines:

    From my POV, a top notch NBA coach … would use Kris Humphries as a key member of the Raptors rotation this year, as a constant every night, coming off the bench as the Raptors’ 4th Big … in a SUPPORT role for Bosh, O’Neal or Bargnani.

    With Bosh … Hump SHOULD be the Scorer.
    With O’Neal … Hump SHOULD be the REBOUNDER.
    With Bargnani … Hump SHOULD be the REBOUNDER.

    If Hump plays within THIS role, Jermaine O’Neal will NOT be asked to play 35 min/night … which, in turn, SHOULD hopefully allow JO to make it through the regular season injury-free.

    If the Raptors shift Parker to the back-up PG spot, play J-Moon as the OG … AND … give J-Graham significant minutes at the SF position … they SHOULD then be able to improve their team rebounding numbers overall by picking up a substantial number of boards from the #2, #3 & #1 positions on their team … to compensate for the loss of Rasho Nesterovic, and the increased PT they will be giving to both Il Mago & Jason Kapono, in comparison to last year’s line-up.

    IMO … adding Jermaine O’Neal to this year’s line-up … by itself … will NOT be sufficient to improve the Raptors’ inept performance on the BOARDS and on the Defensive end of the floor last season, in comparison to the other top teams in the NBA [i.e. LA Lakers, Detroit, Boston, New Orleans, San Antonio, Houston, Utah, Cleveland, Dallas, Orlando, Phoenix, Philadelphia, LA Clippers, Washington, Denver, Chicago, etc.].

  3. Dave Says:

    Correction on my previous comment:

    15th out of 16 in the playoffs … Hmmm … yeah I was looking at the wrong line. I thought that looked peculiar when I was writing 11/16.

    Okay so I couldn’t count or read this morning. Should have noticed it was too early to be typing something when I couldn’t count back to 22nd.

    —————————-

    I see Jermaine adding to the Raptors rebounding (not hugely, but somewhat) because he’ll play more minutes than Rasho and because he won’t get dropped when the Raptors (1) play against quick/perimeter bigs, and/or (2) struggling offensively. Jermaine minutes will be larger and more consistent. It’ll be interesting to see if he can spend more energy on the backboards this coming season than in recent years (like he did when he first joined Indy), which again would improve the rebounding.

    So I think there’s some improvement there. Anyway, that’s why I asked on Humphries because Humphries being a regular in the rotation could make my previous statement true (benefits) if he’s there … or false (Jermaine insignificant rebounding addition) if not in the rotation.

    —————-

    I think the rebounding difficulties against Orlando give a poor picture of the actual situation. The Raptors rotation was altered by a very unusual opponent and several of their problems came from their perimeter defense allowing penetration.

    Limit that penetration and the Raptors rebounding problems shrink hugely. I think the bigger issue here is improving the perimeter defense which in turn will have a positive effect on the defensive rebounding, rather than focusing on the rebounding end of the scale. The lack of perimeter defense caused the problems in that series, if they did even a mediocre job the picture would look very different.

    Play a team where Rasho can play 25 minutes (like Detroit or pretty much any other team in the East) and again the problem shrinks, which is a matchup problem. Something unusual and relatively unique to Orlando. This has been largely solved by the Jermaine acquisition.

  4. greg Says:

    I think Humphries should be in the rotation. His energy and his not afraid to go inside and play defense and rebound would help a great deal. You do not win in this league shotting outside all of the time. Defense and Rebounding, Rebounding and more Rebounding is the order of the day. We all know scoring is not problem for this team but unless the other areas are covered they are going nowhere.

  5. khandor Says:

    Dave,

    It’s not that I disagree with the notion that the Raptors’ perimeter defense from last season needs to get better, in a meaningful way.

    I agree with this assessment.

    What I disagree with is the notion that the Raptors inability to Rebound effectively against Orlando was somehow limited to the specific match-ups inolved in that one series.

    When I reviewed the Raptors play last season, I recall their team struggling mightily in rebounding situations against the top quality teams in the NBA throughout the regular season [for further reference, check their W-L record vs the other 15 playoff teams, and their Rebounding Differential in those games].

    Orlando just happened to be one of these other top notch Rebounding Differential teams … like Boston, Detroit, Cleveland, Philadelphia, & Washington, in the East … AND … New Orleans, Houston, Utah, San Antonio, LA [Lakers] & Dallas, in the West.

    [in this instance, I haven’t taken the time to double-check my numbers … but that’s my overall impression from last season]

  6. khandor Says:

    greg,

    I agree.

    The teams which advance in the playoffs … almost without exception … are those with a positive Rebounding Differential vs their opponents.

    [in general, only if the rebounds are approximately even … does the emphasis in a specific series match-up then shift to other important areas of the game, e.g. defensive & offensive execution]

  7. Dave Says:

    Just to be clear I do believe the Raptors have rebounding issues and serious ones. You don’t finish 22nd in the league and not have rebounding problems. I just think the Orlando series is a completely inaccurate view of the severity of those problems, and that severity was caused primarily by their poor perimeter defense and secondarily by their struggling offense (which took their rebounders off the floor).

  8. khandor Says:

    Dave,

    Whereas I believe the Orlando series is representative of the struggles the Raptors have, in general, against a solid rebounding NBA team.

    ==========================

    From my POV …

    the Raptors rebounding issues center upon (i) what specific players they are choosing to use, in the situations they are choosing to use them … and, in contrast, which players they are choosing NOT to use in those same situations; and, secondly, (ii) the make-up of their playing roster to begin with and exactly where the EMPHASIS is being placed amongst the three main phases of the game, i.e. Rebounding, Defense & Offense.

    For example, take a player like Joey Graham … whose individual game stats project out in the following way, when he’s allowed to play the #3 position:

    Player Floor Time Stats by Position
    Position Min Net Pts Off Def Net48 W L Win%
    SF 2% +20 105.0 93.3 11.7 12 5 70%

    Player 48-Minute Production by Position
    Position FGA eFG% FTA iFG Reb Ast T/O Blk PF Pts PER*
    SF 17.2 0.516 3.9 35% 9.4 3.9 2.8 0.0 2.8 21.1 16.7

    Opponent Counterpart 48-Minute Production
    Position FGA eFG% FTA iFG Reb Ast T/O Blk PF Pts PER*
    SF 12.8 0.500 11.1 26% 5.6 3.3 3.3 0.0 3.3 21.1 14.1

    Net 48-Minute Production by Position
    Position FGA eFG% FTA iFG Reb Ast T/O Blk PF Pts PER*
    SF +4.4 +0.016 -7.2 +9% +3.9 +0.6 +0.6 +0.0 +0.6 +0.0 +2.6

    and a player like Jamario Moon, when he’s allowed to play the #2 position:

    Player Floor Time Stats by Position
    Position Min Net Pts Off Def Net48 W L Win%
    SG 0% +8 130.4 86.9 43.5 2 1 66%

    Player 48-Minute Production by Position
    Position FGA eFG% FTA iFG Reb Ast T/O Blk PF Pts PER*
    SG 38.0 0.786 0.0 42% 10.9 0.0 0.0 0.0 10.9 59.8 50.0

    Opponent Counterpart 48-Minute Production
    Position FGA eFG% FTA iFG Reb Ast T/O Blk PF Pts PER*
    SG 0.0 0.000 0.0 0% 0.0 5.4 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0

    Net 48-Minute Production by Position
    Position FGA eFG% FTA iFG Reb Ast T/O Blk PF Pts PER*
    SG +38.0 +0.786 +0.0 +42% +10.9 -5.4 +0.0 +0.0 -10.9 +59.8 +50.0

    in comparison with a player like Anthony Parker, when he’s used as at #2-spot:

    Player Floor Time Stats by Position
    Position Min Net Pts Off Def Net48 W L Win%
    SG 45% +221 99.9 94.0 5.9 49 32 60%

    Player 48-Minute Production by Position
    Position FGA eFG% FTA iFG Reb Ast T/O Blk PF Pts PER*
    SG 15.5 0.587 2.0 18% 5.8 3.6 1.3 0.3 2.8 19.7 17.9

    Opponent Counterpart 48-Minute Production
    Position FGA eFG% FTA iFG Reb Ast T/O Blk PF Pts PER*
    SG 18.5 0.540 3.1 25% 5.3 4.0 2.2 0.2 2.2 22.5 18.0

    Net 48-Minute Production by Position
    Position FGA eFG% FTA iFG Reb Ast T/O Blk PF Pts PER*
    SG -3.0 +0.046 -1.0 -7% +0.6 -0.4 +1.0 +0.2 -0.6 -2.7 -0.1

    The specific match-ups vs Orlando isn’t what took the Raptors out of positive Rebounding Differential situations

    WHAT THE RAPTORS CHOOSE TO EMPHASIZE WITH THEIR TEAM/PLAYERS & THE WAY THE RAPTORS CHOOSE TO EMPLOY THE PLAYERS ON THEIR ROSTER is what brings this about.

    Example #2 …

    If the Raptors would have used Kris Humphries, at either the #4 or #5 positions in their series vs Orlando:

    Player Floor Time Stats by Position
    Position Min Net Pts Off Def Net48 W L Win%
    PF 18% -32 92.4 94.5 -2.1 30 31 49%
    C 4% -7 99.6 101.3 -1.7 16 15 51%

    Player 48-Minute Production by Position
    Position FGA eFG% FTA iFG Reb Ast T/O Blk PF Pts PER*
    PF 16.8 0.464 6.4 45% 13.8 1.4 2.6 1.6 5.4 19.3 16.7
    C 18.7 0.573 6.7 53% 12.0 1.7 2.2 1.0 6.2 26.0 22.4

    Opponent Counterpart 48-Minute Production
    Position FGA eFG% FTA iFG Reb Ast T/O Blk PF Pts PER*
    PF 15.7 0.496 4.2 35% 12.9 3.2 3.8 1.6 6.0 18.7 16.2
    C 14.2 0.553 8.7 59% 13.5 3.5 3.7 1.7 6.0 22.2 21.5

    Net 48-Minute Production by Position
    Position FGA eFG% FTA iFG Reb Ast T/O Blk PF Pts PER*
    PF +1.1 -0.032 +2.2 +10% +0.9 -1.8 +1.2 +0.0 +0.6 +0.6 +0.5
    C +4.5 +0.021 -2.0 -6% -1.5 -1.7 +1.5 -0.7 -0.2 +3.7 +1.0

    instead of using Andrea Bargnani … at any of the 3 positions they played him at:

    Player Floor Time Stats by Position
    Position Min Net Pts Off Def Net48 W L Win%
    SF 0% -3 46.8 93.7 -46.8 0 1 0%
    PF 37% +136 100.9 96.5 4.4 42 34 55%
    C 9% -14 97.4 99.3 -1.9 23 27 46%

    Player 48-Minute Production by Position
    Position FGA eFG% FTA iFG Reb Ast T/O Blk PF Pts PER*
    SF 23.4 0.000 0.0 0% 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
    PF 18.4 0.448 4.2 21% 7.6 2.3 2.3 0.8 5.1 20.0 12.1
    C 19.7 0.453 5.0 20% 6.6 2.3 2.0 1.5 6.8 22.2 13.2

    Opponent Counterpart 48-Minute Production
    Position FGA eFG% FTA iFG Reb Ast T/O Blk PF Pts PER*
    SF 0.0 0.000 0.0 0% 23.4 23.4 23.4 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
    PF 16.5 0.546 3.5 41% 10.9 3.3 2.3 0.9 3.7 20.7 19.2
    C 12.7 0.495 4.0 64% 12.7 3.2 2.6 2.0 4.4 14.4 14.2

    Net 48-Minute Production by Position
    Position FGA eFG% FTA iFG Reb Ast T/O Blk PF Pts PER*
    SF +23.4 +0.000 +0.0 +0% -23.4 -23.4 +23.4 +0.0 +0.0 +0.0 +0.0
    PF +2.0 -0.098 +0.7 -20% -3.3 -1.0 -0.1 -0.1 -1.4 -0.7 -7.1
    C +7.0 -0.042 +1.1 -44% -6.1 -0.9 +0.7 -0.5 -2.4 +7.8 -1.0

    DO YOU THINK THE RAPTORS WOULD HAVE BEEN IN AS POOR SHAPE VS ORLANDO IN TERMS OF REBOUNDING DIFFERENTIAL?

    ===============================

    Looking back to that Orlando series last year … what was quite hilarious actually was the pre-series perception of the vast majority of Raptors’ fans, ‘bloggers’ and ‘media types’ who PROCLAIMED their belief that “Toronto was in a preferential match-up vs Orlando” and that the Raptors WOULD be advancing to the 2nd Round of the Playoffs, as a result.

    ===============================

    A legit contender for a conference championship in the NBA just doesn’t talk about emphasizing the importance of Rebounding & Defense in an effort to advance in the playoffs … a legit contender uses players in its principal rotation … i.e. #1-8, 9 or 10 … who have REBOUNDING & DEFENSE as Cornerstones to their individual games, night in and night out, at this level of competition … based on their PHYSICAL, Mental & Emotional make-up, and the SKILL SET they possess, as NBA players.

    On the Raptors current roster:

    Calderon … is a NEUTRAL rebounder, as a starting PG
    Moon … is a BIG POSITIVE rebounder, as a starting OG
    Graham … is a POSITIVE rebounder, as a starting SF
    O’Neal … has been a POSITIVE rebounder [in the past]
    Bosh … is a POSITIVE rebounder
    Humphries … is a POSITIVE rebounder
    Parker … is a POSITIVE rebounder, as a back-up PG & OG.

    These are the 7 key players, who can help the Raptors advance to the 2nd Round of the NBA playoffs.

    They are the ones who NEED to play the most … SUPPORTED by Offensive-minded players like Andrea Bargnani & Jason Kapono … NOT the other way around.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: