Finding a shot to rely on: Analytics Guest Post by Khadar Abukar

Every elite team has at least, one strength in their game especially in and around the paint and in the corners. The Toronto Raptors are just average offensively around the paint, and they are not above average from the corners, as seen in the shotchart below. If they want to be among the top tier teams around the NBA they need to strengthen an aspect of their game. Nowadays, basketball is a game of runs. Whichever team can get on a run and sustain their lead will often win the game. Every team needs a way to end a run by the opposition by putting the ball in the basket, and to do that they need to have confidence and have a play that they can go to, to negate a run. Their highest percentage shot is at the right wing. The Raptors take more shots at the wings than the corners. This seems more like a coaching decision, because it appears that Dwayne Casey isn’t a big fan of analytics. This is evident by the lack of shooting from the corners compared to the wings. The corner three is statistically the second best shot after a layup, so why not shoot them more often? Also, when the Raps do shoot corner threes they only shoot them at league average.

raps shotchart

(Toronto Raptors Shotchart)


Now, let’s take a look at some of the elite teams in the league. Starting with the defending champions Miami Heat. They dominate the paint, which is evident by them shooting above league average in the paint. This is impressive for a team that often plays with a smaller lineup. The Heat also shoot well from the corners as illustrated in the shotchart. Obviously this is a recipe for success as they have won 2 consecutive NBA Championships. They put immense ball pressure when on defense, resulting in turnovers and easy baskets at the rim. This increases their FG% around the rim. Although LeBron James and Dwayne Wade account for the majority of these drives it is still one of the team’s strong suits.

heat shotchart

(Miami Heat Shotchart)

Another elite team is the San Antonio Spurs, who went to the NBA Finals last year (And were five seconds away from winning a championship). The Spurs rely on the inside presence of Tim Duncan in the paint and Tony Parker’s drives, which free up the three point line for shooters like Danny Green and the hot Marco Belinelli. This season they are shooting extremely well from the wing (due to shots from Manu Ginobli, Belinelli, and Patrick Mills). By the looks of it they are poised for another title run.

spurs shotchart


The Raptors have improved since the Rudy Gay trade, but maybe they were pumped up by all the trade rumors and wanted to show that they are good as a team and no one needs to be traded. Now their performances have dipped playing down to their competition and losing winnable games like those against the Los Angeles Lakers and Charlotte Bobcats without Kemba Walker. If they want to maintain the third seed they must make sure that they stay above .500. But to become a team competing for a championship they must strengthen the team’s presence inside the paint, or surround the paint with more shooters. That way they will become a more potent team offensively and hopefully become serious contenders for an NBA Championship.

Guest poster: Khadar Abukar


Tags: Toronto Raptors

  • Rowdy101

    Interesting offensive figures. The poor performance in the paint is due to lack of “Big” size, and willingness to go inside.

    The real comparison, however, should be that the Raps numbers are well ahead of last year, the last year graphic on the top would be all orange and red. They were 2nd from the bottom of the league in 3′s.

    They are simply getting more quality defense, and more successful in their shooting. Still need that Big Big in the middle, and less turnovers, and you have a quality playoff team.

    • Khadar Abukar

      I do agree that the Raptors do lack size but the Miami Heat lack size but hey score well around the paint. Also, as Jonas Valanciuanas continue to develop and grow I believe they will be more efficient around the paint. Against a team like the Heat the Raptors are quite large in the paint with Amir Johnson and Jonas. As the Raptors continues to develop I suspect that percentage to increase.

  • Greg Hall

    What I find interesting is that the only red zone is Demar DeRozan’s favorite shot spot (or it used to be). Up until the Rudy Gay trade DeMar came off screens and shot the ball right there, he has not done so nearly as much of that since the Gay trade and added a lot more variety to his game (thank goodness). I just couldn’t look at those shot charts without pointing that out. I think that shows the development and maturing of DeRozan’s game, specifically this season.

    • Khadar Abukar

      Hello, and I do find that DeRozan does shoot less from the top of the key he shoots more from he elbows of the key. Also he does not shoot well from the three point line and smarter teams will take advantage of this weakness in the playoffs. Demar has improved since the Rudy gay trade but if he wants to be an elite scorer he must expand his range. He is still young and seeing this consistent improvement is a good sign.