Manu Ginobili and DeMar DeRozan

Oh, to be a fly on the wall of the Spurs’ locker room when they went into the half trailing the lowly Raptors by 11 points last night. You think he tore a few new orifices in there? I think he probably did. Anyway, that was a different Spurs team in the third quarter. They both exposed the Raptors’ sorry interior defence as they asserted their own defensive superiority with an effective combination of zone defence and double-teams.

What was different about these double-teams is that they were on DeMar DeRozan, and I don’t think I’ve seen another NBA team apply repeated double teams on him before last night. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich obviously saw that DeRozan had 20 points at the half while Andrea Bargnani was having his second crappy game in a row, and then Pop instructed his players to double-team DeRozan and collapse into the paint when he tried to drive. As you’ll see in this sequence of third-quarter plays, this strategy worked very well. On the last two Raptors possessions in the video (the last one of which is actually a Bargnani miss), I included the subsequent Spurs possessions where, in contrast, they scored quite easily in the paint.

And that’s how the lead was lost. Most of us knew that was coming, of course. If you actually thought the Raptors were going to hang onto that lead, you haven’t been paying attention to this team — or the Spurs for that matter.

After the game, DeRozan said he was “tired of losing”, obviously referring to the Raptors’ 13-29 record and the fact that they’ve lost five in a row. It’s nice that he cares, but he and and several of his teammates are going to have to start really digging in on defence if this team is going to avoid residing among the dregs of the NBA basement at the end of the season.

Once again, the Raptors have one of the worst team defences in the league, with a 26th-ranked Defensive Rating of 111.1 points allowed per 100 possessions. They were dead last in 2009-10, and the marginal improvement can mostly be attributed to Ed Davis and the additional minutes given to Amir Johnson. DeRozan, Bargnani, Jose Calderon and Linas Kleiza are all in the Raptors’ top five for minutes played and they’ve all been poor defenders this season. Bargnani, Calderon and Kleiza are probably lost causes either due to lack of ability or lack of willingness to give a crap — I don’t think I need to point out which fault applies to which player. DeRozan theoretically should have the ability to be a decent-to-good defender, but he hasn’t shown that yet in his NBA career.

Aside from his lacking defence, what the Spurs did to DeRozan in the third quarter last night emphasizes the need for him to extend his shooting range so he can become a more complete offensive weapon. The Spurs were able to effectively shut down the Raptors by playing zone and doubling DeRozan when he drove because they knew they didn’t have to worry about him hurting them from deep.

While DeRozan’s improvement at getting to the free throw line this season has been impressive and his .471 FG% looks decent for a wing player, he’s shooting a so-so 76.2 percent from the free throw line and because he can’t make treys, his True Shooting Percentage of .535 reveals him to actually be a pretty inefficient scorer for the number of shots he takes — he’s 36th in True Shooting Percentage out of the 51 NBA players who have taken at least 495 field goal attempts.

If DeRozan’s tired of losing, he needs to understand that losing isn’t something that just happens to him. He can’t make the Raptors winners on his own but if he wants to be known around the league as much more than a pretty good dunker on a crappy team, he has a lot of work to do to raise his game to a level that will actually help his team win games in ways that go beyond the number under “PTS” on his boxscore.

Comments (6)

  1. So double teaming our second year sorta-star shut down the team? Sad.

    I attribute the fact that I checked the score, saw the Raps winning, then turned on the game. That usually does it.

  2. Could you clarify the relevance of True Shooting Percentage? I’m looking at that list and seeing some very good players below DeRozan. Does it mean they’re somewhat overrated or just that their shooting is poor in one particular area?


  3. Any thoughts on the Stojakovic for Ajinca trade?

  4. Obviously, for you, Scott, not only Bargnani but even Calderon and Kleiza are “lost causes”. How weird! My compliments! Not others. Just those 3! There must be some racial bug around, given their “lack of ability or lack of willingness to give a crap”.
    All the others are fine, or will be fine, by default!
    If they are not good now, they will be good tomorrow. But Jose, Linas and Andrea are “lost causes”, and the Raps won’t be good until this kind of guys will be around.
    Tha’s what you are saying, Scott, and you don’t even realize how offensive is all this.
    I know it’s Obama time, but I really think you guys are going a bit to much over the top on this matter. Yesterday, I even red someone teasing Bargs as an “autistic”! Is there anyone of you, brave guys, who dare to say the same on any black player? Oh I know, it’s just because they are not autistic! They’re just the model, the true version of what a sport player and a human being have to be!
    The surprising thing, most of you guys don’t look like them, but just like Bargs, orJose, or Kleiza. I told once and I will tell you again: make up your mind, cause you are looking bad. You are hating on yourselves. Seek for a good doctor, or a deep self-examination. Maybe you are not so good and objective and analytic the way you think. Maybe you’ve got coloured lenses on, or maybe you’re just sheeps holding around one after the other. Not a good show, indeed.

  5. Robert: I’m bummed out that Peja didn’t get to make two more three-pointers in a Raptors jersey so he could have passed Dale Ellis for fourth all-time. As for Ajinca, he’s a skinny, soft, weak, foul-prone, a poor rebounder and a decent shot-blocker. He’s a backup C at best.

    dekerf: True Shooting Percentage is a way of looking at a player’s total scoring efficiency because it incorporates two-point field goals, three-pointers and free throws in one number. It’s calculated by the formula PTS / (2 * (FGA + 0.44 * FTA)). The players at the lower end of the list just haven’t been particularly efficient scorers this season, which may or may not make them overrated depending on how you considered them to be rated before you looked at that list. What might be more interesting is to notice some of the people in the top 20 like Nick Young and Wes Matthews who could be considered underrated.

    C.d.G.: I spent most of this post pointing out DeMar DeRozan’s faults and yet you chose to single out the one part where I refer to white players in a negative light. And I’m the one with a racial issue? I see you have a “.it” email address which in combination with the bizarre content of your comment means there’s no way I could hope to have a reasonable discussion with you about your boy, Bargnani. If you don’t like how he’s portrayed on here, feel free to start your Bargnani fansite where you can combat all the undeserved criticism your misunderstood countryman receives.

  6. Bargnani fan boys are hilarious. You know who’s a good, white defensive player? Kirk Hinrich. You know who’s a bad, black defensive player? Andray Blatche. Somehow I doubt that black Wizards fans interpret that comment as racism. Grow up, children.

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