Gaining ground, or losing it? Clues to how Raptors are really doing


Do you like ploughing through reams of data to gain insight on the Raptors? I don’t, so here are some shortcuts I find enlightening.

I was reminded by the valuable Marc Stein in his weekly Power Rankings of a useful snapshot data point. When assessing your team, subtract home defeats from away victories, and see what you’ve got. That number offers a valuable insight into a team’s performance, and in the case of the Toronto Raptors, some encouragement for us fans.

As of today’s writing, our team is plus_5, [6 road wins minus 1 home loss] which is excellent. Let’s look at some other teams for comparison. We won’t bother with the Golden State Warriors or Philadelphia 76ers, who are at opposite ends of the spectrum. The Chicago Bulls are 9-4, and are plus_3 [4 minus 1], so they are for real. Miami sits with a 9-5 mark, but are minus_1 [1 minus 2]. If those two play each other soon, take the Bulls. Miami has enjoyed an 8-1 record at home, but haven’t done much on the road.

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Another plus_3 squad is the Dallas Mavericks, who like the Raptors have played a majority of their games to date on the road. While most forecasters, including me, didn’t expect them to contend, the Mavs may be better than anticipated. Oklahoma City sits at zero [3 minus 3], so they need to pick it up.

NBA games are won by the home team more often than not, although the advantage appears to be declining. Thus, a glance at a team’s road results can be helpful. Minnesota has a startling 5-2 road record but is a disappointing 2-6 in their own building. That’s a clue that the T’Wolves may be a gathering force, even to the point of contending for a playoff berth.

Oct 12, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Minnesota Timberwolves forward Andrew Wiggins (22) drives to the basket against Toronto Raptors forward Luis Scola (4) at Air Canada Centre. The Raptors beat the Timberwolves 112-107. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

I’m not a huge fan of synthetics like Offensive & Defensive Ratings, although the Raptors fare well here. They are fourth (107.2) and ninth (102.5), respectively, which has to gladden Dwane Casey’s heart. The Warriors are first (114.4) and fourth (98.8), a frightening combination if you’re a Western Conference opponent.

If you add the rankings together, you’ve got another snapshot. GSW totals five, in a synthetic (boo!) where, like golf scores, lower is better. San Antonio totals 11 (10 + 1), indicating their 12-3 record is no fluke. The Raptors’ 13 shows well, particularly when contrasted to other contenders like Cleveland’s 18 (2 + 16) or Atlanta’s 22 (7 + 15). Philly totals 51 (30 + 21). Where’s their silver lining?

What other “quick & dirty” clues do I look at? Assist to turnover ratio is always valuable. The Warriors, who seem to dominate every stat, own this one too. It helps when you enjoy the highest rate of assists (29.7 Per Game [PG]) in the league. That allows them to overcome a not-so-hot rate of 15.7 turnovers PG. The Raptors are a ugh-worthy 18.1 to 15 PG. The 76ers are the only team less than 1, at 18.2 to 18.9, or full value for their 0-16 record.

Turnovers examined by itself isn’t terribly useful. The teams with the best, i.e., lowest, number of turnovers PG include the Knicks, Pelicans and Clippers, none of whom are tearing up the league. In fairness, the best mark of 12.6 belongs to the surprising 9-6 Charlotte Hornets.

[all data courtesy of & current as of Nov. 26, 2015]

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Over to you, Rapture Nation. Do you have a pet stat you’d like to share? Please drop a Comment.