Apr 6, 2013; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Toronto Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan (10) during the game against the Milwaukee Bucks at the BMO Harris Bradley Center. Milwaukee won 100-83. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

How little things become big things – DD’s unmade 3-balls

Sometimes I let my imagination out of the corral, and let it romp around a big pasture for a while before reining it in.

Let’s look at the Toronto Raptors’  34-48 won-lost record of last season. Of those 48 defeats, 11 were decided by 2,1 or zero points. [20-second timeout: the Raps lost 7 of 9 overtime games, which are the games with a zero-point margin, i.e., at the end of regulation time.] DeMar DeRozan made 34 of 120 3-point shots in ’12-’13, or 28.3%. Let’s “give” him 11 more makes, one in each of the losses under consideration. That would push his shooting percentage to 37.5, nowhere near the league-leading rate. Now we win 11 more games, and our record is 45-37, comfortably in the playoffs.

Apr 17, 2013; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas (17) dribbles the ball around Boston Celtics center Fab Melo (13) during the fourth quarter at the Air Canada Centre. The Raptors beat the Celtics 114-90. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Right about now, you may be getting exasperated at this seemingly silly exercise, and I wouldn’t blame you. However, I do have a point, which is this: for the Raps to enjoy a better season, and even make the playoffs, we don’t need lightning to strike and turn all of our players into All-Stars. Asking for 11 3-ball makes instead of misses for one player is hardly a huge demand of the basketball gods. DeMar doesn’t need to transform into Kobe Bryant’s successor as the NBA’s best shooting guard (although that would be nice!). We need incremental growth – better shooting from beyond the arc for DD, a return to health and form for Landry Fields, a full season of the Jonas Valanciunas we saw in the last 20 games, Terrence Ross to emerge from his cocoon.

I’ve tried to show through this woulda-coulda-shoulda scenario that the margin between winning and losing is often wafer-thin in the NBA. The Raps are closer to being a good team than a bad one. I’ll go out on a speculative limb and suggest that Masai Ujiri sensed the same thing when he came on board as General Manager, which is why he didn’t blow up the roster as many observers thought he might. (Dumping Andrea Bargnani hardly qualifies as a radical move; what would have been radical is NOT moving him.) Nor did Masai fire coach Dwane Casey, whom I’ll profile next week.

There are sound reasons for optimism among Raptors’ fans. As we get closer to Opening Day, we’ll take a longer look at those reasons.

Brian Boake is Senior Editor for Raptors Rapture. “Like” Raptors Rapture on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @RaptorsRapture for all the latest news and updates about the best damn NBA team from Canada.

Remember, for the best deals on Toronto Raptors tickets for any game on the 2013-14 NBA schedule, visit our friends at TiqIQ.com.


Tags: Andrea Bargnani DeMar DeRozan Jonas Valanciunas Landry Fields Raptors Terrence Ross Toronto Raptors

  • StabbyRaccoon

    No Alan Anderson jacking up bad shots should mean even more wins, and we all know that Rudy Gay will improve his shot this year! Not to mention growth across the board and the fact that they were a better team after the Rudy Gay trade. I predict a 75-7 record!

    Actually I don’t know. Very good point about speculation. I’d say the team’s better this year and on its way up, but the competition is stiff. The Cavs and Wizards are looking good and there are already a bunch of teams that we kind of know are better than the Raps. But it should be fun to watch, a close competition that actually gives Raptors fans a reason to cheer.

    • Newmarket_Brian

      Hi SR:
      A 75-7 record…I like it!
      You’re right to mention Alan Anderson and his crazy shots; I didn’t mention any addition-by-subtraction stuff other than Bargnani because I wanted to focus on the positive things we can expect.
      You’re also right about the Cavs and Wiz being upward bound. I think Cleveland may “arrive” sooner than Washington, because of their bountiful collection of young, skilled players.
      It won’t hurt us that Boston and Philly should be in the basement.
      Thanks for commenting.
      P.S. I’m glad you liked my speculation.

  • Guy

    If we’re talking Derozan, I submit a different take on your ’3 pointer’ scenario.

    If I said a number of 3′s DD took last year were ill-advised, I doubt there’d be much argument. So rather than imagining he made one more 3 in those 11 games, I’d rather imagine he actually made two smart passes that lead to baskets. Ya know…. an assist. While his 3pt% of 28.3 is poor, his assists/game of 2.5 is no better. What’s scary about that 2.5 number is it was his career high. He does little to involve &/or create for his teammates.

    Improving his 3pt% is important, but in my opinion, for DD to make himself, & therefore the Raptors better, he needs to be much better at two things, seeing the floor & moving the ball. A team like the Raptors is better offensively when everyone is involved & DD doesn’t do that nearly enough.

    • Newmarket_Brian

      Hi Guy:
      Hear, hear! DD is out of excuses on the no-one-to-pass-to front. Now that Jonas has shown he’s a serious option inside, DD can move the ball to an open JV, or Rudy, or even a cutting Amir. Lots of options. His assists per game will be a key stat to watch.
      Thanks for commenting.