Big Man options for the Raptors

When the Raptors play right now, there are four distinct options which they can use to man the Power Forward [PF] and Center [C] positions:

[PF = Bosh] + [C = Bargnani]

[PF = someone other than Bargnani] + [C = Bosh]

[PF = someone other than Bosh] + [C = Bargnani]

[PF = someone other than Bosh or Bargnani] + [C = someone other than Bosh or Bargnani]

This is how each of these four combinations played out in last night’s Raptors at Magic game:



Toronto at ORLANDO
Wed April 1, 2009







Q1 12:00-02:56






Q1 02:56-00:00







Q2 12:00-08:58






Q2 08:58-02:04






Q2 02:04-00:00







Q3 12:00-06:37






Q3 06:37-05:51






Q3 05:51-00:00







Q4 12:00-11:07






Q4 11:07-07:26






Q4 07:26-07:01






Q4 07:01-00:00







Cumulative +/- Combinations [MP]

OPTION 1 – Bosh [PF] + Bargnani [C] = -5 [22:39]
OPTION 2 – 0 [PF + Bosh [C] = -1 [16:34] 

OPTION 3 – 0 [PF] + Bargnani [C] = +5 [02:56]
OPTION 4 – 0 [PF] + 0 [C]  = +5 [05:51]



FINAL SCORE: Raptors 99, MAGIC 95
Complete Game Info

Despite their current 5-game winning streak … achieved vs LA Clippers [<.500], vs Milwaukee [<.500], vs Oklahoma City [<.500], vs Chicago [<.500], at ORLANDO [>.500] … a correct assessment of the Raptors’ current Big Man situation would be that this team is actually winning games IN SPITE of the pairing of Chris Bosh & Andrea Bargnani, at the Power Forward & Center positions, respectively … NOT because of it



Check out any of the Raptors’ GAME REVIEWS found on this blog which include a Substitution Chart.

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15 Responses to “Big Man options for the Raptors”

  1. malefax Says:

    Regardless of whether or not your contention is correct, this is not good evidence for it. Not only is the sample much too small, it ignores several confounding factors, the most obvious being the opposing lines that are on the floor. If, for example, the Raptors starting 5 are below par compared to the opposition starting 5, then the Raptors will tend to be outscored at the beginning of games, but might make it back when the opposition main unit is broken up. +/- numbers can be very misleading because they conceal so much information.

  2. khandor Says:


    Have you taken the time to peruse the other Raptors’ Game Reviews on this blog?

    If you have, then … you should be able to see that when I do a “substitution chart” for a game it usually includes the opposition line-up, as well, for each of the positions on the court.

    If you haven’t, well, then …

    After a while … when the same data keeps showing up time after time … it becomes redundant to keep doing that, as the writing has been on the wall for quite some time, re: this specific issue with this Raptors’ team.

    * Bosh plays better when he’s at the Center position. Period.
    * The Team plays better when Bosh is at the Center position. Period.
    * Bosh and the team both play better when he’s at the Center position. Period.

    This doesn’t mean that Andrea Bargnani is a bad player.

    What it means is that Bargnani is not a better player than Chris Bosh … at the Center position for the Toronto Raptors.


    If the Raptors trade Bosh and keep Bargnani as their Center … this would not be the end of the world and, depending on who they obtained in return, could succeed as a viable for the team moving forward.

    If the Raptors keep Bosh … which is the better option for their team overall … they have two distinct options to consider:

    A – Keep doing what they’re doing right now … which is not working, in terms of the on-court productivity levels for these two players and the team, as a whole.


    B – Shift Bargnani into the Back-up Center role and use him that way primarily … so that Bosh and the TEAM can both benefit.

    [understandably, B is perceived to be a "bad" option by most Raptors fans, as it is considered to be a giant WASTE of available resources to have so much time, effort and money invested in a former No. 1, overall, Draft Pick and then to use him JUST as a Back-up to Bosh, rather than as a running mate]

  3. chippewa Says:

    You can’t take a stat like plus/minus on it’s own and draw a conclusion about two players.

  4. khandor Says:


    Welcome aboard!

    Please read again the reply I wrote to “malefax” and then apply it to yourself, as well.

    Take a gander at some of the other Raptors’ Game Reviews you see on this blog and then come back and make the claim that what I’ve said in this brief entry, right here, is an inaccurate description of the way these two players and this team have played since the the trade with Miami was made.

    There are different aspects to the “Bosh vs Bargnani at Center for the Raptors debate”, no doubt … but the cold, harsh, truth of the matter is that each and every one of these is working in the FAVOUR of Chris Bosh, not Il Mago.

    Bosh [C] is better with Marion [PF].
    Bosh [C] is better with Mensah-Bonsu [PF].
    Bosh [C] is better with Graham [PF].
    Bosh [C] is even better with Voskuhl [PF], Humpries [PF], Moon [PF] and Nesterovic [PF].

    Bosh is better with just about any Raptor imaginable in the other Post slot … in comparison with how CB4 plays when he lines up beside Andrea Bargnani … and it’s not because Bosh is a bad player, or because Bargnani is a bad player, or because the moon’s gravitational pull on the earth has somehow had a deleterious effect on the dreads bouncing down around his head these days, discombobulating his visual acuity and throwing his shot off in the process. No, it’s not.

    It’s because the almost 24 year old Andrea Bargnani, as a regular sized power-based perimeter oriented Center is not a good fit bside the Raptors’ 25 year old Captain and 4-time NBA All-Star and Olympic Gold Medalist, Chris Bosh, who just happens to function best as an under-sized finesse-based Center, himself.

    Offensively … Chris Bosh needs to play in the mid-range area of the court where he can best utilise his quickness advantage over the vast majority of opposition Centers that populate the NBA. Bargnani’s presence, as yet another perimeter player for the Raptors, crowds the court on CB4.

    Defensively … Chris Bosh needs to check the opposition’s Center, who is usually stationed closest to the basket for his team, so that Bosh can:

    * Save the additional wear and tear that builds up on a big man who has to run the floor harder, slide, rotate and switch much more frequently than a Center

    * Play behind opponent Centers in the Low-Post, using the strength of his major muscle groups … in his legs, hips, back and shoulders … to root his much larger [but also less agile] check off the block … thereby putting him in oustanding position to deter, contest, and block all manner of shot attempts by the other four opponent players on the court

    Rebounding-wise … Chris Bosh has a nose for the ball and, if allowed to play behind opponent Centers in the Low-Post, exclusively, will find himself in outstanding position to dominate the defensive glass each and every game, despite his only “average” NBA athleticism.

    As a Center, in the NBA, Chris Bosh is a superior player to Andrea Bargnani … and, it isn’t even close.

  5. Scott G Says:

    For Chippewa and Malefax — I’ll save you the time: the numbers tell the same story, just about every time. Sure, this post itself is a small sample size, but the point that it makes is well-supported by other evidence.

    That said, I agree with all of the above…but here’s a question for you, Khan:

    If CB4 is a bad fit next to Bargs, what type of 4/5 player would be a good fit? Or is the ineffectiveness of this combo related predominantly to the negative impact that Bargs has (as a perimeter C) on CB4′s game?

    Further, what sort of 4 should CB4 be playing beside? If Bargs ruins spacing by being on the perimeter, I assume you’d prefer CB4 to be playing next to a low-post guy. But, isn’t that, to some extent, what we had with JO? (I know, he stinks, so that combo may be irrelevant) Or, do you think CB4 would function best next to an energy/rebounding 4, such as Pops, etc, who doesn’t really have a “spot” on the offensive end other than to be in position to hit the glass?

    I, for one, think that energy/rebounding players tend to be tremendously underrated in terms of their value to a team. Fans seem to want to field a team of 15 scorers, rather than worrying about who will take care of the less glamorous side of a successful team’s nightly work. Guys like Perkins, Varajeo, Scola, Oberto, Birdman, etc just aren’t appreciated enough.

  6. Khandor-impersonator? Says:

    Quick question – have you used + – to consider how other players play with that combination? What is the +- of the team when both are on the court. I believe the +- doesn’t tell the whole story. The other matter not considered is giving these players some real time to gel. The +- may not be working for this season, yet but it doesn’t preclude for working next season.

    That’s what it means when your sample size is too small. There are only a few games between the Marion trade. You need to assess this over a longer period of time, without falling into the trap of making what a ‘rookie’ GM might do is make trade decision or quick conclusions about how two players play together.

    What about overall trends, have you done this type of analysis to see if your conclusion show an increasing trend of decreasing trend regarding +-…

    As a last point; have you also considered; and I can’t verify your data; or conclusion that the same conclusions are coming up the same time; but really using scientific principles and plotting these (data sets you have) and then seeing if there is any correlation between +- and winning and how strong is that correlation. Is it 40% or 60% probability that the team would win if the +- of two players are not compatible. Maybe, again I don’t have your data, there is a 10% correlation between a team winning and this +- mattering. In this case, I would make no decision based on this +-.

    I’m no genious at this stuff, but even I can see you have a rudamentary understanding of stats. I would suggest to take a course or two; before you start using them as a way to illustrate your point.

  7. Khandor-impersonator? Says:

    Looking forward to your always single minded (I’m right) answer

  8. Raps Fan Says:

    really interesting question scott, i personally think bargs would do well lined up with a reggie evans type player with a better offensive post-game. khan?

  9. Raps Fan Says:

    scott: i appreciate all those guys you mentioned, especially scola who i picked to win the match-up with bosh in the last raptors/rockets game (he did in my estimation, but it was close).

  10. Scott G Says:

    RF – evans could work well next to bargs, although I’m wary of his ability to guard on the perimeter (I have this vision of bargs shaking him to the floor…). That said, I think he fits the mould of the type of player the raps have been sorely lacking, at least prior to our acquisition of PMB. Since Bargs is so immobile re rebounding, I think a guy like Evans could work well since he chases the ball so well.

    re your appreciation of my list of underrated’s — I consider you one of the few who know enough to look beyond ppg. I wish I could say the same for the “tribal honking fans”, as someone at RR is so fond of calling our faithful. Honestly, I think those same fans would love this type of player, if they were only willing to give him a chance… we need another JYD!

    Khan – what, are you taking a day off or something?? ;)

  11. Linkage for Apr 1 12pm to Apr 3 5pm - Raptors Republic Says:

    [...] khandor’s sports blog » Big Man options for the Raptors [...]

  12. khandor Says:

    Scott G.,

    The sad reality is that Bargnani isn’t an exceptional player at this level of competition.

    Bargnani is a solid perimeter-scoring scoring big man. Period.

    For the most part, perimeter-based scoring big men do not lead their teams to NBA championship … in the history of this league … unless they are tough as nails thugs and can, at aleast, hold their own on the defensive defense glass, ala Bill Laimbeer – which is part of the reason I’ve made that exact comparison for the last 3 years with the former Bad Boy – and are surrounded by a host of other first-rate defensive players, the quality of Dennis Rodman, John Salley, Joe Dumars and Isiah Thomas.

    For the most part, perimeter-based scoring big men are a waste of time, if your team has championship aspirations, unless, of course, THAT BIG IS USED OFF THE BENCH AS A SITUATIONAL SUB FOR HIS OFFENSIVE PROWESS similar to how the Lakers used Bob McAdoo [C], back in the day. The major problems with this option for the Raptors, however, are the fact that:

    Bargnani lacks lateral quickness on defense and is not the type of agile defensive player that most elite level teams need at back-up spot, since when he comes into the game he NEEDS to be versatile enough to play against an assortment of different line-up combinations which opponents of all sorts can put together as their 2nd units in this league.

    i.e. when you look around the NBA, the majority of high end teams DO NOT come off their bench with oafish big guys who cannot move laterally at the big men spots, since these players are not really helpful in this role due to their overall lack of versatility. Solid Big Men subs for championship teams in the NBA look, and play, like PJ Brown, and Ronny Turiaf, and Joe Smith … not Erick Dampier, or DeSagana Diop, or Greg Ostertag.

    What type of #4/PF would go well with a #5/Center is not really THE best question.

    The best question … because having a Center like Bargnani EFFECTS each of the teammates who are forced to play and cover up for him [instead of the other way around] … is,

    “What type of #1/PG, #2/OG, #3/SF and #4/PF are the best to COMPENSATE for a perimeter-based scoring big man like Andrea Bargnani?”

    Which is a WHOLE DIFFERENT ball-game, IMO, than finding a solid collection of players to go with a player like Chris Bosh.

    #1/PG – Calderon is not a good enough defender … if Bargnani is your C.
    #2/OG – Parker is not a good enough defender & rebounder … if Bargnani is your C.
    #3/SF – Marion is not a good enough individual 1-v-1 offensive player … if Bargnani is your C.
    #4/PF – Bosh is not a good enough individual 1-v-1 offensive player in the low post and not a good enough individual defender at this specific spot … if Bargnani is your C.

    Which types of players in the league today would be a good fit with Bargnani [C]?

    There are all sorts of terrific players who could fit well into each of these spots, on an individual basis … BUT this is not how a High End TEAM actually operates in the NBA … since it really is a TEAM game at this level of competition, contrary to what most casual [non-astute?] NBA observers might think.

    NOTE: Scott G., know that I do not put someone like you, with the sorts of basketball experiences you’ve had in your life, into the category of a non-astute NBA observer. :-)

    Leaving other STAR players off the list …

    PG – Rajon Rondo
    OG – Rudy Gay
    SF – Travis Outlaw
    PF – Jason Maxiell

    each of the following “types” of players would be a decent fit with a Center like Bargnani.


    re: solid #4/PF’s to go with CB4 [#5/C]

    In general … most basketball fans and NBA observers do not understand just HOW IMPORTANT REBOUNDING IS TO CHAMPIONSHIP SUCCESS … when the fact is that it’s simply fundamental to the game:

    “No rebounds; no rings!”Pat Riley

    Anyone who is “under-sized” [because of the versatility such players bring to their squad], a tough hombre, who can knock down a mid-range J and GO AND GET IT on the the glass would fit the bill [i.e. offensively, defensively and rebounding-wise]:

    e.g. Luis Scola, Carlos Boozer, Paul Millsap, Leon Powe, Ronny Turiaf, Carl Landry, Glenn Davis, Reggie Evans, Josh Powell, etc., etc., etc. …

    IMO, it’s important that this player is under-sized so that the Opposition CANNOT get away with using their principal BIG MAN [D12, Yao, Shaq, Duncan & Bynum] on Chris Bosh’s partner in the front-court but, instead, is punished mercilessly when they try this manouevre, both, off the bounce and with a series of made mid-range weakside J’s. When Bosh’s coach/GM constructs their team around Bosh and ensures that the Opposition has to match-up defensively with their best Biggest Man vs CB4 is when “the scorer” is in fact good enough to abuse this check all game long, offensively, and dominate the contest on the glass using his superior quickness.

    RULE #1. Quickness, relative to the position played, is basis to creating and minimizing mis-matches in basketball.

    RULE #2. Mis-matches create open shots.

    RULE #3. OPEN SHOTS are what KILL a team, and determine Winners from Losers.


    re: sample size for valid statistics in basketball

    Basketball is NOT baseball.
    In general, “sample size” is irrelavant in basketball.

    The only “size” of anything that MATTERS in basketball is … a player’s actual “size” in relation to [I] his explosive quickness and [II] the position he plays on the floor [i.e. Defensively, Offensively, and in terms of Rebounding]. :-)

    IMO, there are simply too many dependent and independant variables at-work simultaneously, in a game like basketball, to think that “statistical sample size” makes any significant difference at all … when determining what is going to work, or not, on the individual possessions which are most crucial in deciding the outcomes of specific basketball games WHERE INDIVIDUAL MATCH-UPS AND MIS-MATCHES are in an almost constate state of FLUX. :-)

    [... and, yes, that is a respectful shout-out to you, my friend! ;-) ]

  13. khandor Says:



    I do not appreciate those who attempt to use my name on-line.

    I have “adjusted” your moniker here … from what you wrote originally, i.e. “khandor”, to what you can now see in comment thread, i.e. “khandor-impersonator?”

    If you use this “new” moniker on this blog your comments will continue to be published, as long as they are not otherwise offensive. What you do, in this regard, is your decision to make.


    Trust that my understanding of “actual” statistical analysis is beyond rudimentary.

    Trust that when I use “simplistic game stats” in the way I chose to use them in this entry on my blog … it’s probably for a pretty good reason.

    Trust, as well, that what I think about the applicability of “conventional” statistical analysis in basketball isn’t that it’s particularly relevant at all … but, rather, a scourge on the development of a proper understanding of the game, in the first place … unlike a truly “advanced” method/model of statistical analysis which functions similar to the human brain, and is aligned with some of what individuals like Daryl Morey are just now beginning to pursue, in earnest, in hopes of further developing THEIR own concepts about the game.


    The NBA game is unique.
    Two teams are composed of 5 players each, with a series of subs that can go into and out of the line-up throughout the contest, at any stop in play.
    Each team has a head coach and a number of assistants.
    Each team has a basket to defend and score upon, which is 10 ft in the air.
    The court is relatively small in relation to the size of the players.
    Players range in size from a height of 5-8 to 7-6 and weigh between 150-330 lbs.
    There’s a “restricted zone” zone on the floor in which an offensive player may not stay for more than 2.99 seconds at a time.
    There’s a “restricted zone” on defense which players are prevented from entering to make contact with an offensive player in the act of shooting.
    There are “defensive rules” in place which limit the places a specific player may stand for a designated duration of time, relative to the individual player he is assigned to check on that specific possession.
    Individual players may not run or walk with the ball but may choose to pass or dribble it around the court.
    Each team may take no more than 24 seconds on offense without attempting a shot.
    Shots taken and made from a further distance are rewarded with 3 points scored, rather than only 2.
    Players fouled in the act of shooting are awarded 2 Free Throws, worth a single point each.
    Players who amass 6 personal fouls are disqualified from the game.
    A personal foul is called when a player makes excessive physical contact with an opponent.
    A shot is allowed to be blocked on its path to the basket as long as it is not on its downward arc or has already touched the backboard.
    Touching the ball while it is within an imaginary cylinder above the rim is not allowed.
    All players on the court are allowed/must play Offense, Defense and Rebound … each and every possession.
    No goaltenders are allowed in basketball.
    Each team has 6 individual Time-outs that may be called by either players or coaches to immediately stop the game.
    When a single variable is changed in this game … it has a Domino Effect on each and every element within that specific game.

    As such, “Statistical Sample Size” is not what determines Winners from Losers in this league, IMO. ;-)

  14. khandor Says:

    Scott G.,

    re: taking a day off here and there

    More along the lines of “Technical Difficulties” … some of which are still unresolved … although the trains must continue to run.

    A good opportunity though for astute others, like you and Raps Fan, to exchange your own ideas in a sane environment like this … Far from the Madding Crowd, where you also get to see “radiant” clips like THIS, from time to time.


  15. Scott G Says:

    cheers to that!

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