We began our discussion of the importance of 3-ball shooting yesterday. Let’s continue by figuring out who among the Toronto Raptors’ big men can, and should, make more long balls. Steve Novak, our only “stretch-4″, was donated to the Utah Jazz for salary cap relief. While I’m fine with his departure, we still need to make up his 52 made 3-balls. [20-second timeout: while we're on the topic, of the Raps' 765 3-point baskets in '13-'14, 139, or more than 18%, were made by players no longer with the team. That's not trivial, and replacing those baskets will be a challenge for Dwane Casey and his staff.]
Neither of our pencilled-in starters up front are decent shooters from distance. Amir Johnson would get a rise from the home crowd when he’d set up to take one of his occasional 3-point attempts, but our beloved power forward made only 20 of 66 for the season. That’s 20 more than Jonas Valanciunas (and Landry Fields, Tyler Hansbrough, Chuck Hayes and Austin Daye, for that matter), but is still a poor total. Patrick Patterson, if he wants to push Amir to the bench, will need to come to training camp with his deep shooting in solid shape. He shot over 41% last season from beyond the arc, and won’t have any trouble getting minutes if he maintains that pace. 2Pat made 46 threes in his 48 games as a Rap; if we extrapolate that over 82 games, we’ve just added back 34 of our lost baskets.
As hinted at above, the Raps’ other rotation big men are no threat from beyond the arc. Bruno Caboclo, our surprise first-round draft pick, was a deep shooter in Brazilian ball; whether he’ll get any minutes, or the requisite coach’s permission, to allow him to bomb away, is difficult to know. I’d wager against it. I’m not counting on any threes from DeAndre Daniels either, despite believing he could make the team, because he’ll be bench-warming. Lucas Nogueira? Um…no.
We’ve come full circle. The Raps are going to need improved shooting from their swingmen and guards just to maintain the pace of made threes of last season, because we aren’t going to make it from the big men. If Lou Williams, acquired from Atlanta in the John Salmons trade, is healthy once again, he can contribute from deep. He’s averaged more than one 3-ball per game in his last five seasons. Landry has got to make a few threes someday, doesn’t he? DeMar showed he can hit the long 2-ball (the shot analytics types love to hate). The coaches will need to draw up some plays for him to attempt the same kind of shot from beyond the arc. He seems most comfortable pulling up off the dribble, as opposed to catching & shooting, so there’s going to have to be some picks set for him by TRoss or Amir. Kyle and Greivis will be fine. Terrence will need to make more than just corner threes, but he’s certainly capable.
To sum up my research, the Raps will be hard-pressed to make the same number of long balls as last season. Assuming they do, and the interior scoring, led by Jonas Valanciunas, improves, our offense won’t regress.
What do you think, Rapture Nation? Is there someone I’ve given short shrift to, whom you think is primed to help us make some threes? Please drop a Comment.
Tags: Toronto Raptors