Building Raptors’ offense – what’s a “good shot” & who takes them?


When speaking of the offense of the Toronto Raptors, we concern ourselves with the concept of a “good shot”. And so we should – every play ever scrawled on a whiteboard is designed to free up a player for an attempt at a makeable basket. Moreover, there’s a hierarchy of shots, meaning we want to take as many corner 3-balls and layups as we can. Those are money shots, as long as the ball is in the right hands.

More from Raptors News

There are players for whom every shot, no matter how far from the basket it’s launched, is makeable. Gunners like Kyle Korver, StephenCurry and LeBron James don’t need to worry about being barked at by Coach for an ill-advised attempt. Every shot those people take can, and often does, go in.

Nov 1, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Hawks small forward Kyle Korver (26) shoots a three past Toronto Raptors shooting guard DeMar DeRozan (10) in the second half at Philips Arena. The Hawks won 102-95. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Conversely, there are players who are warned about taking low-percentage (at least for them) shots. I don’t want to think about the number of times James Johnson, in his first go-round as a Raptor, took long 2s early in the shot clock. I wish there was an Unremember button in the brain. Last season JJ was effective when he backed down his man, but his jump shot is still broken.

On the other hand, there’s DeMar DeRozan, who’s a decent shooter to about 18 feet from the rim, and a poor one from further away. Opposing teams know to play him “loose” when he’s outside the 3-point arc (27% for his career on long balls), and tight when he’s on the move. It’s remarkable that DD has been able to rack up the numbers he has, given how well-established his tendencies are.

Then we have our new backup at centre, Bismack Biyombo. He has career marks of 4.8 points and 6.1 rebounds per game in his 4 NBA seasons. How many players average more rebounds than points? Let me save you the effort – precious few. His career mark from the free-throw line is 53%, and he’s never tried a 3-ball. For Bismack, the only good shot is an uncontested dunk.

[all stats courtesy of]

One of the many things I’ll be watching for tomorrow (when the Raptors kick off their pre-season schedule with a game against the Los Angeles Clippers) is which players take those precious “good shots”, meaning, makeable for them. Is it too early to worry about such things? Certainly not; and I can assure you Dwane Casey, a stickler for details, won’t let poor shot selection go unpunished.

Take note of substitutions. If James Johnson imagines himself Kobe Bryant in his prime by taking a couple of silly long jumpers, he’ll sit down. The fringe guys (Anthony Bennett, Bruno Caboclo, Ronald Roberts, etc.) must be especially mindful of their decision-making. Should one of these hopefuls attempt a hasty shot while being tightly covered early in the shot clock, he’s likely to hear about it, loudly, at the next timeout.

The Raptors hope to maintain their scoring punch this season while drastically improving their defensive efficiency. Those goals are not mutually exclusive; in fact, they are complementary. If Jonas Valanciunas takes open baseline 10-footer jumpers, if TRoss is launching open corner-3s, if DeMar DeRozan takes the ball hard to the tin – those are all good shots. We make enough of those, and our defense will have the time to get into its optimal alignment. Watch and see.

Next: Raptors have big rebounding problems

More from Raptors Rapture