Thumb-down 35 special … for the Raptors

According to the Raptors head coach …

Triano ready to go from surreal to real
“Thumb-down 35 special,” says Triano, spilling into blackboard talk for Turkoglu’s bread-and-butter play in Orlando. “Give him the ball with a high screen and roll (with Chris Bosh), and three shooters … we can put (Andrea) Bargnani where Rashard Lewis was, we can put Jose (Calderon) in one of the corners and put another shooter, (Jarrett) Jack, in the other corner. A pretty darned good play.”


this should be an effective set play for Toronto this season, given their player personnel, compared with Orlando’s squad last year.

Is this really the case, however?

… when you match-up these specific sets of players against one another.

To wit:

[the relevant shooting percentages from last season, in the positions on the floor dictated by the design of this set play]

Jose Calderon, from the Deep Corners = 11-26/42.3%
Jameer Nelson, from the Deep Corners = 25-47/53.3%

Jarrett Jack, from the Deep Corners = 27-77/35.1%
Courtney Lee, from the Deep Corners = 43-98/43.8%

Andrea Bargnani, from the High Top R & L of the Key = 69-171/40.4%
Rashard Lewis, from the High Top R & L of the Key = 109-272/40.1%

Chris Bosh, Interior Shots = 289-500/57.8%
Dwight Howard, Interior Shots = 506-817/61.9%

[according to NBA Hotspots]


Those expecting the Raptors to experience “guaranteed succees” this season … along the lines of what the Magic had in 2008-2009 … on the basis of this specific set play, might be in for a surprise. 

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22 Responses to “Thumb-down 35 special … for the Raptors”

  1. DG Says:

    Now why don’t you replace Jarret Jack with Marco Belinelli, is there a difference.

  2. khandor Says:


    Yes, there is a big difference, if the Raptors use Marco Belinelli in this spot over Jarrett Jack:

    Jack = 27-77/35.1%
    Belinelli = 19-39/48.7%

    Since this option would address 1 of the 3 areas of deficiency in the play’s effectiveness for the Raptors compared with the Magic … it’s curious that Triano would even suggest using JJ in that role, from an offensive perspective.


    PS. The suggestion I would offer for Jay’s rationale, at this time, is that he also happens to think that Jack would provide a better balanced 5-Man Unit, as the #2/OG with this group, given his perceived superiority over Belinelli at the defensive end of the floor.

  3. t Says:

    I fail to see your point here…….The higher percentages would attest to Turkoglu and the success of the play. There is no relevance your stats but there is also no reason for hightened optimism due to the not knowing the chemistry this team will have…..

  4. Reply Says:

    how many of these 3pt attempts were wide open?
    I’d say orlando took a lot more wide open 3pt attempts then we did.
    as they had guys like Hedo and howard to draw the defense.

    the only reason we are running this play is so we can get open 3′s
    instead of contested.
    so naturally out 3pt% should rise as a result.

  5. brothersteve Says:

    As Colangelo and Triano have both been indicating that all of DeRozan, Belinelli, and Jack with see minutes at SG. And Colangelo has been projecting Belinelli as a MIP candidate.

    The SG minutes could/should look like Jack 6-12 minutes, DeRozan 16-24 minutes, Belinelli 16-24 minutes, depending on match ups and who’s hot. But we’ll see.

    I expect if you could look at the Magic’s corner 3s that a lot of them were not well defended, thus the high percentages. And no one is going to leave Bosh or Bargs to cover the corners – but the other way will happen. Should be interesting.

    Nice piece.
    Earlier Triano gave a description of “The Zipper” play that they were going to borrow from the Magic as well. Think you could give us a break down of that one as well?

  6. khandor Says:


    1. Welcome aboard! :-)

    2. How come these percentages are relevant?

    For the most part, the shot percentages of these players for these specific types of shots are not dependent on whether they were contested.

    These are 3PT shots, from designated, and generally hard to defend, locations on the floor … usually arising from Drive & Kick scenarios … as opposed to mid-range jumpers off the bounce, or interior shots, which can certainly range in degrees of difficulty depending on the level at which they are contested by the defense.

    The percentages which players shoot for these shots have a tendency to remain the same over an extended period of time … pending a great of hard work put in to improve one’s individual efficiency.

    Whether it’s Hedo Turkoglu passing them the ball or Jamario Moon [admittedly, unlikely to happen :-) ] is largely irrelevant.

    3. One of the things that does make Hedo special when he uses this specific play is his ability to make highly contested shots, with his defender right in his grill … which is due, in part, to the degree of difficulty he has in gaining separation from his individual check in the first place given his overall lack of quickness at the SF position.

  7. khandor Says:


    1. Welcome aboard! :-)

    2. Please see my reply to t.

    3. Do not expect the Raptors players, in these designated spot-up locations, to shoot any higher percentages than they have to this point in their NBA careers … just because it’s “The Turkish Michael Jordan” passing them the rock.

  8. khandor Says:


    1. Welcome aboard! :-)

    2. When it comes to using Belinelli at this specific spot … you’re talking about a different beast entirely; some of which is very good, and some of which is mucho bad.

    He would be terrific, if used in this position, from a strictly offensive perspective!

    However, the rub with Marco is what then results at the opposite end of the floor, in terms of Defense, Rebounding, and an overall Lack of Athleticism … considering the individual strengths & weaknesses of four of the following five Raptors on the court together:

    PG – Calderon
    OG – Belinelli
    SF – Turkoglu
    PF – Bosh
    C – Bargnani

    3. How open the Magic’s 3s might have been last season is not relevant here in the ways mentioned, thus far, by others.

    [Please see my reply to t.]

    Orlando’s perimeter shooters were not “open” because of Hedo Turkoglu’s ability to hit contested shots off the bounce.

    Orlando’s perimeter shooters were “open” because of Dwight Howard’s superior ability to catch an array of interior passes [i.e. lobs and others] and finish them with resounding authority [506-817/61.9%].

    The fact is, however … this is not who Chris Bosh [289-500/57.8%] is, as an elite level Big Man in the NBA; and, neither is it Andrea Bargnani [150-274/54.7%].

    4. I haven’t seen Triano make mention of the “Zipper” action yet. If you could point the way to that it would be sincerely appreciated.

  9. MC_Brad Says:

    Khandor…finally…a piece against the raps that you wrote that i feel was well written and relevant….good job…not that you need my praise…

  10. Brain Colangelo Says:

    I went back to check past years to see if the #s were aided by a small sample size, for Jameer Nelson in particular. The answer – no. Jameer can knock down the corner three.

    The question for the Raps is whether their shooters can improve their percentages in the corner catch and shoot situation. Judging by Calderon’s demonstrated ability to work on his weak spots and improve, I’d say he probably has room to improve this skill. The other question is whether Bosh can improve his efficiency in close. This may be an area in which his additional bulk will help him. Douby also drain the corner 3 and who could be used one occasion with Jarrett Jack when facing a small opposing backcourt. Anyone else you think could improve enough to make this play a winner?

  11. winwin Says:

    Here’s Triano on the “zipper” from a Tim Chisholm interview (…I was wondering about the “zipper” as well:

    Tim Chisholm: So then moving on to a guy like Turkoglu, who has a tendency to disappear from games when he doesn’t have the ball in his hands, is there an opportunity in Toronto to let him run the point guard spot like he would do in Orlando?

    Jay Triano: Absolutely, yeah. There are a couple of things I’ll give you right off the bat: one, if he rebounds the basketball then he brings it up like he did in Orlando, and Jose is excellent off of the ball so he’ll know where to space. The other thing that they did is they would run what they called ‘thumb-down, five-special’, which is just a zipper to bring him up to the top and then it’s a high screen-roll for him. Well, now we’ve got Jose on the side, they zipper him up and get him [Turkoglu] at the top, spread the floor, and he goes. The day that we made the deal I said to Micah [Nori, assistant coach, NBA scout] and our coaches “thumb-down, five special”, we’re adding that one, put that one in our playbook! And I like the way that we run it equally as well as the way Orlando did it. They’d just zipper him up, it’s a high screen with Dwight [Howard] and then Dwight rolls. Well, we’re gonna put CB in that and they lifted Rashard Lewis, so we’re gonna lift Andrea, we’ll put Jose in one corner and Belinelli in the other corner – who are they gonna help off of on the screen-roll? That’s why we’re just gonna roll CB down, with shooters all around him, and he’s going to have a chance to go right to the basket. It plays to his strength, it plays to Hedo’s strength as a playmaker, to Jose’s by catching the ball and making a play.

  12. mr.hunter Says:

    i think Reply’s comment was spot on, when you have dwight howard in the middle and 2 other all-start caliber forwards, alot of space is being created on the field because of double teams- thus leading to many more open shots than you regularly see, which leads to misleading statistics. the raptors are an overall better shooting team, and have a more versatile array of ways to get the 3s in the air- whether it be by a bigman getting to andrea too late or hedo&bosh pick and pop. either way you cannot make an educated guess on how the raptors match up to last years magic yet…honestly, you can’t use stats like that. these are different players, playing along with different players. 9 new faces- it can go well like 07-08, or not:P and Derozan isn’t a bad shooter, he is just more affective driving than settling. Although i see him as the obvious starter on most night baring him succumbing to careless mistakes due to inexperience, i like the idea of a line-up full of offensive fire-power when belinelli starts. then jack derozan wright evans and rasho can come in and show the opposition same major toughness. how can an opponent handle that easily, right:P? but when derozan starts it would give the lineup more balance with shooters, and creators, and athletic highflyers, and quick bigmen with great shots. i love what the raptors have done as far as improvement, I’m just afraid the final product is right around the same level of talent alot of other teams have. but in conclusion the stats shouldn’t be used as anything more than a non-extensive guideline to what CAN be expected, but these same players-when put in different circumstances (along with a summer of training and preparation)could perform dramatically different. better or worse.

  13. stevezy Says:

    How has noone mentioned Rafer Alston yet.

  14. FAQ Says:

    khandor … last year’s stats are fine for discussion, but the coach must put together a squad with a synergy that complements the player’s strengths. That’s going to be Triano & Staff’s challenge, and it will take not only the preseason, but also the beginning of the regular season to determine who has the NBA hops.

    Big question marks still persist on the compatibility of Bosh + Bargs, and Jose + Jack, as well as whoever is most effective at SG. Hedo is another question mark in that will he be effective with the Raptors as he was with the Magic. Only time will tell.

    In your considerable quantitative opinion, can you say how effectively the new edition Raptors will gel qualitatively and when will it be apparent the team is still a work in progress or a true success? Shine up yer crystal ball, khandor … ;-)

  15. khandor Says:



  16. khandor Says:


    Calderon can certainly improve his Corner Catch & Shoot % with additional practice. He has good form on his jumper to begin with and is a hard worker.

    As stated above, Belinelli is already a proficient shooter from this spot … but also brings added defensive/rebounding liabilities to the floor with him.

    Jack would seem to be the weakest link at the moment, given his lack of consistency from this spot last season and his lack of size overall, when asked to defend and board at the #2/OG position for lengthy stretches of the game.

    DeRozan would seem to be the long term answer … except that expecting a rookie to be able to hit this specific shot consistently this season is a reach, at-best, since traditionally it is one of the most difficult ones in the game to master without a great deal of devoted practice.

    A chief problem for the Raptors potential success rate on this play is the difference which exists between Chris Bosh & Dwight Howard as interior scorers … both, [I] off a series of lob passes, as an Aerialist, and as [II] a Back-to-basket Scorer. Superman rolling to the bucket, in the aftermath of setting this High Middle Pick for Turkoglu, is a might more scary proposition for the defense, in comparison with CB4.

  17. khandor Says:

    brothersteve and winwin,

    The “Zipper” action which Triano is talking about in that quote is simply the movement entry that Orlando used to bring Turkoglu to the Top Of The Key area, initially, from his customary spot filling the wing in offensive transition.

    See this simple explanation from Avery Johnson, as but one example of the action’s use, i.e. Diagram 5.9.

  18. khandor Says:

    mr. hunter,

    re: the raptors are an overall better shooting team, and have a more versatile array of ways to get the 3s in the air- whether it be by a bigman getting to andrea too late or hedo&bosh pick and pop.

    I don’t agree with this observation you’ve made.

    The Magic are a better shooting team overall than the Raptors.

    re: i love what the raptors have done as far as improvement, I’m just afraid the final product is right around the same level of talent alot of other teams have.

    If the bolded part actually proves to be an accurate observation this season then the non-bolded part at the beginning is a simple “misperception”, on your part and many other Raptors fans.

    In this instance … You can’t have it both ways.

  19. khandor Says:


    1. Welcome aboard! :-)

    2. In what way exactly are you suggesting Rafer Alston should have been mentioned to this point?

  20. khandor Says:


    Quantatitive and Qualitative analysis can go hand-in-hand, in my book.

    What I’m opposed to is the use of copious stats for the wrong purpose/reason, or with a lack of actual applicability to the way the game is actually played.

    A top notch coach can bring a disparate group of players together in a relatively short period of time … if the base talent is good enough, in comparison with the competition, and the attitude of the individual players is focused primarily on achieving team success.

    At this point, do the Raptors fit into this category?

    Time will tell.

    The first 20 games will present an interesting window to the season … during which all the different personnel changes across the entire NBA should begin to settle into place and provide a solid snap-shot of how things might eventually finish for every team in the league.

    For the Raptors:

    8-12 in this stretch would mean that there is going to be a long road ahead this season.

    10-10 would mean that the team has a legit chance to at least be in the race for the lower tier playoff spots for the balance of the season.

    12-10 would mean that the team has a legit chance to earn one of the middle tier playoff spots this season.

    FWIW … here’s what I think, re: Game 1.

    Hopefully, between now and opening night, I’ll be able to something similar to that for each of the games during the first phase of the regular season schedule.

  21. mr.hunter Says:

    i just thought i would make it clear that -yes you can make alot of improvements, and still be an “middle of the pack” team.

  22. khandor Says:

    mr. hunter,

    And my point is that …

    These types of perceived improvements … over the personnel on last year’s team … that do not account for where this places the team this season relative to its competition, simultaneously, are far from being real improvements at all.

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