Toronto Raptors’ Best 5-Man Unit

Three fifths (3/5) of the Raptors’ Best 5-Man Unit should be no surprise at all … given the presence of Jose Calderon [No. 1 Assist:Turnover Ratio in the NBA last season], Jermaine O’Neal [6-time All-Star] & Chris Bosh [Member of the Gold Medal winning Redeem Team] on their roster.

Barring injury, however, the eventual outcome for Toronto’s season, this year, will NOT be determined by the performance of these three players.

It’s the two players who the Raptors decide to put with them … that WILL.

While other NBA observers/analysts have been quick to designate the following combination of players as the Raptors’ principal line-up this season, in all likelihood:

1/Jose Calderon
2/Anthony Parker
3/Jamario Moon [or Jason Kapono]
4/5 Jermaine O’Neal
5/4 Chris Bosh

this corner DISAGREES with this perception and DOES NOT believe that some combination of THAT group will/should form the Raptors’ Best [most effective] 5-Man Unit this season.

The Case For Calderon, Moon, Graham, O’Neal and Bosh

Those who visit this space on a regular basis know already that simple ‘game stats’ (either Traditional or of the New Age variety) are of little meaning [overall] to the various interpretations of this corner.

That said … in an effort to help others better understand the sometimes unconventional thinking put forth here … it can be a valuable exercise to provide some of the basic statistics which the rest of the basketball related blogosphere seems to swear by these days and accept as gospel truth.

For Jamario Moon
* 21-51, 0.411 … 3PT-Shooting from the Left Corner & Left Wing, 2007-2008 [as per NBA.com/hotspots]
http://www.82games.com/0708/07TOR8C.HTM
* http://www.82games.com/0708/07TOR8B.HTM

For Joey Graham
* 15-35, 0.429 … 3PT-Shooting from the Right Corner & Top Of The Key [TOTK], Career [as per NBA.com/hotspots]
* http://www.82games.com/0708/07TOR9C.HTM
* http://www.82games.com/0708/07TOR9B.HTM

If the Raptors commit to running a simple version of (i) the San Antonio Spurs’ High Middle Pick & Roll/Pop Series, with a few specific (ii) Horns’ based sets … there is NO VALID REASON whatsoever for Jamario Moon & Joey Graham … in combination with Calderon [an efficient & productive 3PT-Shooter], O’Neal and Bosh … to not form the Best 5-Man Unit possible for this team, this season … using a POWER based ‘3 Out/2 In’ Offense which emphasizes Middle Pick & Rolls/Pops with Corner/Wing/TOTK 3PT-Shooting and significant improvement in the all-important areas of Team REBOUNDING and Team DEFENSE. 

On Offense

* Calderon was a … 0.429 3PT-Shooter last season
* Moon was a … 0.411 3PT-Shooter, from the Left Corner & Left Wing, last season
* Graham has been a … 0.400 3PT-Shooter, from the Right Corner & the TOTK, for his 3-yr career

* O’Neal & Bosh have both been … solid Middle Pick & Roll/Pop Bigs in the NBA for multiple years

On Defense

* Calderon [6-3, 210], as a PG, is capable of using his size to overcome his average-only quickness  
* Moon [6-8, 205], as a Wing Defender, is capable of dominating the glass from this position, with his length, quickness and overall athleticism
* Graham [6-7, 225], as a Wing Defender, is capable [physically, mentally & emotionally] of playing Bruce Bowen type lockdown defense against the best athletes in the NBA

* O’Neal [6-11, 260] & Bosh [6-10, 230], as Big Defenders are both under-sized … but with a solid combination of quickness & strength, help instincts and Shot Blocking ability

Rebounding

* Calderon, as a PG, is capable of neutralizing his individual check
* Moon, as a Wing, is capable of DOMINATING his individual check
* Graham, as a Wing, is capable of either NEUTRALIZING or DOMINATING his individual check

* O’Neal & Bosh, as Bigs, are capable of either NEUTRALIZING or DOMINATING their individual checks

In addition to being the Raptors’ best 5-Man Unit … what this specific line-up also does is allow …

[I] One-dimensional Offensive-minded players like Jason Kapono [2/3] and Andrea Bargnani [4/5] the opportunity to come off the bench and score the ball, in spurts;

[II] In concert with a solid but unspectacular jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none two-way player like Anthony Parker [as the team’s principal back-up 1/2]; and,

[III] Still developing and inconsistent players like Kris Humphries [4/5], Wil Solomon [1], Roko Ukic [1/2], Hassan Adams [2/3] and Nathan Jawai [5/4] the chance to fill in as ‘extra-only’ players, where need be.

Historically, certain organizations [i.e. owners, GM’s and coaches] in the NBA have known for many years just how important Team REBOUNDING, Team DEFENSE and Team OFFENSE (including Efficient 3PT-Shooting) actually are when it comes to giving themselves the best chance possible to win a game against a high calibre opponent in a meaningful regular season or playoff situation … while the vast majority HAVE NOT.

As the final countdown begins towards the start of the 2008-2009 season … it will be most interesting to see into which of these two categories this year’s version of the Toronto Raptors fits best … [A] The Legit Contenders, who place a premium on Team Rebounding, Team Defense, and Team Offense; or [B] The Also-rans, who do not. 

Which 5 players comprise their Best 5-Man Unit will go a long way towards answering this question.

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