- +17.5 in Points per game
- +10% in FG%
- +4.3 Assists per game
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
How excited can you get?
Two wins against teams that were a combined 35 games below .500... you excited yet? Two teams both in the lower half of defensive efficiency (with one being dead last)... you excited yet?
Well frankly, I am, a little bit.. and here's three reasons why:
Only 5 Power Forwards in the NBA are averaging over 20 points per game in January. Only 4 Centres in the NBA are averaging over 20 points per game in January.
The Raptors have one of each.
Not surprisingly, given those facts, Chris Bosh and Andrea Bargnani have been the highest-scoring frontcourt in the NBA in this month (for informational purposes, Amare/Shaq are 2nd, Dwight Howard/Rashard Lewis are 3rd).
Here's another less talked about reason for optimism about these two: Both are averaging season-highs in assists this month as well, which could indicate they're starting to gain a certain amount of comfort playing together around the paint.
Chris Bosh is the superstar, I'm fine with that. But if there was any question as to which player was most valuable to this team (Bosh included), it was answered over the past two games. Consider the difference in performance over their two-game win streak compared to their seven-game losing streak:
Obviously, what changed between those two time periods was the return of Jose Calderon. Have you seen his crazy averages over the past two games? 19.5 pts, 9 ast, 79.4 FG%, and ZERO turnovers.
(Alert: This is your stat of the day) Calderon's amazing efficiency this season (quick aside: He's now just 11 free throws away from tying the NBA record for consecutive successful free throws) has led to this: According to basketball-reference.com, Calderon has best offensive rating in the NBA this season. This is mostly a measure of efficiency, and when you consider his shooting percentages, his assist totals, and his low turnover rate, it all makes sense. For reference sake, here's the rest of the top 10:
2. Chris Paul
3. Carl Landry
4. Ray Allen
5. Pau Gasol
6. Brandon Roy
7. Chauncey Billups
8. Jameer Nelson
10. Lebron James
The most interesting aspect of Calderon's return has been Jay Triano's new 8-man rotation. Make no mistake about it, this isn't something that has been advocated by this franchise for years. Smitch was a big proponent of a 9 or 10 man rotation... but the problem this year has been that they don't have a roster to merit such a deep rotation.
With the return of Calderon, they've essentially removed the two players from the rotation that were not legitimate NBA players at this time (Ukic & Solomon). It's a real simple premise: Play your best 8 guys, and make the minutes and positions fit to your talent.
Here's another coincidence (or maybe it isn't, maybe we found the stat that Triano/Colangelo really like to track): Toronto's new 8-man rotation are their top 8 players in True Shooting percentage (a number that takes into account three pointers and free throws).
THE WEEK OF HELL
All this optimism for a two-game winning streak, and yet, it could be all gone by next Sunday. Beginning this Sunday, the Raptors play 5 games in 7 days... here they are:
SUN vs Orl
TUE at Cle
WED vs Lal
FRI at Nok
SAT at Mem
The only thing that tells me is that Toronto MUST win tonight against New Jersey and Friday against Milwaukee.