Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Something Worth Writing About....
He's only played about 100 minutes (about two full games). He was an NBDL player at one point this season.
And yet, he might be the one bright spot from this season for the Toronto Raptors.
Pops Mensah-Bonsu... my man.
Check out Toronto's 82games.com page. Granted, being on the court for just 3% of a team's season is a small sample size, but his performance is still quite striking.
The best way I can describe PMB is to say he's everything I've ever wanted from Kris Humphries, on speed. His motor never stops, he's slightly more athletic than Hump, and he does everything I want from Hump but to a much greater degree.
For example, I always said Hump should never even consider taking jump shots. He should just grab boards and stay in the paint. Well, he did that... to a degree. 44% of his shots were from "in close," which is pretty good. Well, 82% of PMB's shots are inside shots.
Hump was Toronto's best rebounder (which isn't saying much), grabbing 10% of the available offensive rebounds and 16% of the total rebounds available when he was on the floor. PMB has blown those numbers out of the water (18% and 24%).
However, PMB's greatest impact has shown up on the defensive side of the ball. While Hump improved Toronto's defence by about 3 points per 100 possessions when he was on the floor, PMB's presence on the floor has improved Toronto's defence by about 26 points per 100 possessions. Teams are shooting just 39% from the field when PMB is on the floor, and Toronto's defensive rebounding improves from 70 to 80 per cent.
What all this leads to is the fact that when PMB has been on the floor, the Raptors have outscored their opposition by 34 points (or roughly 17 points per game). Granted, some of that time has been "garbage time" but I think his performance has spoken for itself.
But here's the question? What does this really mean for next year? Front court play hasn't really been a problem for this team. I think most people would say this solidifies the big man rotation. Bosh and Bargnani with PMB as the third big, and Hump as the reserve.
But, to those people, I present the following list:
(* denotes current playoff team)
* 1. CLE 15.5
* 2. LAL 10.9
* 3. BOS 10.3
* 4. MIA 8.6
* 5. POR 7.5
* 6. DET 4.5
* 7. CHI 3.8
* 8. PHI 3.2
* 9. ATL 2.9
* 10. UTA 1.8
11. MIL 1.1
* 12. DEN 0.5
* 13. HOU -0.1
14. OKC -1.2
* 15. ORL -1.6
* 16. DAL -1.9
17. PHX -1.9
18. IND -2.3
19. SAC -2.3
* 20. SAS -2.4
21. GS -2.4
22. NJ -3.0
23. CHA -3.8
24. MEM -4.0
* 25. NOK -4.3
26. WSH -4.7
27. MIN -6.0
28. TOR -7.8
29. LAC -8.6
30. NYK -10.5
Before I explain what list is (and how strongly it correlates with team performance), I also want to relay something I heard on the radio from the great Dr. Jack Ramsay (a longtime NBA analyst). He said that in the new NBA, generally speaking, the most successful teams are the ones who can put the ball in their best player's hands to let them create their own offence. Essentially, he was saying given the new climate (read: rules) in the NBA, dominant perimeter players are now in vogue.
Now I can tell you the list above is Swingman PER +/- (essentially a team's combined PER at the shooting guard and small forward positions). What sticks out to me (other than all the playoff teams at the top of the list): The only teams in the playoffs in the bottom third of the list are the Spurs and Hornets. To take that fact one step further, I present the following rule:
If you want to make the playoffs with below average swingmen, you need either:
A) The greatest Power Forward to ever play the game (Tim Duncan)
B) The best point guard in the game today, and maybe ever (Chris Paul)
Well, let me tell you, Chris Bosh is no Tim Duncan, and Jose Calderon is no Chris Paul.
Which brings me back to my original question: What does PMB's performance really tell us about what the Raptors should do in the off-season? If anything, I think it should embolden the Raptors even more to look for a trade (either Bargnani or Bosh) that significantly improves their production at the 2 and 3 spots.
15 or 20 years ago, this Raptors team as currently constructed could probably win a playoff round or two, but as Dr. Jack said and as the numbers show, this is a new NBA, and the Raptors have to catch up.