Raptors Offence: What they need to Change


Please welcome Graham Orr to Raptors Rapture.

The Toronto Raptors currently find themselves sitting in 9th place in the Eastern Conference, and are in the midst of a 3 game losing streak. The offence remains a top 10 unit on the season (in terms of points produced per 100 possessions), and the defense is just outside of the top 10 at 13th(as per Basketball-Reference).

Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Looking at those rankings it would appear that the major issue with the Raptors right now is that they have extended periods of time where they can’t get stops. This was very apparent recently in the 4th quarter versus Sacramento and in the 2nd quarter against Golden State, and it was a constant issue last season. Although these defensive struggles certainly need to be dealt with if the Raptors want to make the playoffs, changes to the Raptors offensive structure will also be necessary if they want to take the next step in the playoffs this year. The Raptors currently rely heavily on the production of DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry, with each player averaging over 20 points per game. The problem with this reliance is that a large number of these baskets occur on isolation sets, and that both DeRozan and Lowry are shooting around 40% from the field. As these isolation sets occur, other Raptors have difficulty getting into the flow of the game, and this is a major cause of the lack of productive games from periphery players like Terrence Ross, Patrick Patterson, DeMarre Carroll. This also leads to the Raptors being very predictable in clutch 4th quarter possessions, which has led to a disproportionate number of losses in close games (margin of under 10 points) under Dwane Casey.

The Raptors currently sit in 29th in the NBA in potential assists per game (according to NBA.com), which measures passes which lead to a shot that, if made, will be an assist. If you look at the top of this list, you will see teams like the Golden State Warriors (1st), the Atlanta Hawks (2nd), the San Antonio Spurs (5th), and the Cleveland Cavaliers (6th). It is not a coincidence that there is a high correlation between being near the top of this list and being in a strong playoff position currently.

If the Raptors want to actually make progress this year, they will need to be able to win close games down the stretch and get major contributions from players like Terrence Ross, Patrick Patterson, and DeMarre Carroll. In order to do this, a more free flowing, Spurs-type offence, at least at points, will need to be adopted. This could simply begin with higher usage of the pick and roll or using Cory Joseph more as the primary ball handler. Eventually, however, what will allow the Raptors to really improve in this aspect is to have a more ball movement oriented offence that consistently runs sets, rather than setting up isolations for DeMar DeRozan or Kyle Lowry, similar to what the Golden State Warriors run now. With the types of shooters the Raptors currently employ, creating more open looks for periphery players will lead to an increasingly efficient offence. With a system like this, Terrence Ross should easily be able to match the production of a Kent Bazemore or Danny Green, and Patterson and Carroll should be able to improve on the currently weak 36-37% shooting they are currently scoring at.

Next: Dwane Casey - is his job in jeopardy?

Graham Orr is a Staff Writer 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.