Understanding properly the Raptors’ defensive problems

There is nothing wrong with the rigid defensive philosophy which Jay Triano is using this season for the Toronto Raptors, i.e. to force baseline and protect the paint. In today’s NBA, this is actually standard fair and is used by other good teams, as well [e.g. Miami Heat, 6-1].

So, too, however, was there little wrong with the flexible defensive philosophy used for the previous 4 seasons by Sam Mitchell, former Raptors’ head coach, which required game-to-game [possession-to-possession?] adjustments based on the specific strengths or weaknesses of the team’s opponents.

The Raptors’ main defensive problems are not rooted in the team’s philosophy, per se, but are based on the specific short-comings of their individual players … several of whom should NOT have been expected to be able to play first rate defense this season by anyone with a sound grasp of how the game actually works in the NBA.

TORONTO RAPTORS CURRENT ROSTER

PLAYER

CONTRACT

INDIVIDUAL STRENGTH

RETURNESS [from 2008-2009]

Chris Bosh

$15.7 M for 1 yr

Solid all-around

Jose Calderon

$8.2 M for 4 yrs

Offensive

Andrea Bargnani

$6.5 M for 6 yrs

Offensive

Marcus Banks

$4.5 M for 2 yrs

Weak overall

Quincy Douby

$0.9 M for 1 yr

Offensive

Patrick O’Bryant

$0.9 M for 1 yr

Weak overall

NEW ADDITIONS [for 2009-2010]

Hedo Turkoglu

$9.0 M for 5 yrs

Offensive

Jarrett Jack

$5.0 M for 4 yrs

Average overall

Reggie Evans

$5.0 M for 2 yrs

Weak overall; good rebounder [PF]

Amir Johnson

$3.9 M for 1 yr

Weak overall; average defender [PF]

DeMar DeRozan

$2.3 M for 2 yrs

Offensive

Rasho Nesterovic

$2.0 M for 1 yr

Defensive

Antoine Wright

$1.8 M for 1 yr

Weak overall; average defender [OG]

Marco Belinelli

$1.5 M for 2 yrs

Offensive

Sonny Weems

$0.7 M for 2 yrs

Weak overall; good offensive transition

When your team has a roster that looks like THAT , and struggles to DEFEND and REBOUND effectively:

Points Differential Rank, #18
Points Allowed Rank, #28
Rebounding Differential Rank, #26
Opponent’s FG% Rank, #23

the primary responsibility lies, not with the head coach or the individual players, but with the architect[s] of the team.

On an annual basis, the very best franchises in the NBA place their emphasis on Acquiring and Retaining individual players who advance the cause of their squad by contributing a great more than just scoring points.

When you look at the list of teams that have achieved major success in the history of the NBA:

NBA Finals: All-Time Champions

2009 NBA Champions, Los Angeles Lakers, QIR #6
2008 NBA Champions, Boston Celtics, QIR #1
2007 NBA Champions, San Antonio Spurs, QIR #2
2006 NBA Champions, Miami Heat, QIR #3
2005 NBA Champions, San Antonio Spurs, QIR #1 [tie]
2004 NBA Champions, Detroit Pistons, QIR #1
2003 NBA Champions, San Antonio Spurs, QIR #1
2002 NBA Champions, Los Angeles Lakers, QIR #4
2001 NBA Champions, Los Angeles Lakers, QIR #9

What it takes to win the NBA Championship [QIR definition]

it should be plain to see how placing an inordinant value on the “offensive” contributions made by any individual player is Fool’s Gold.

Related:

Where and how exactly Toronto lost last night at San Antonio

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4 Responses to “Understanding properly the Raptors’ defensive problems”

  1. Raps Fan Says:

    I agree with what you say above, but could Triano have done a better job with specific player substitutions to mask the teams overall lack of defensive ability? Specifically the Spurs game?

  2. khandor Says:

    Raps Fan,

    Yes, Triano could have done a better job of this in this specific game, BUT … and it’s a pretty BIG ONE … that would have involved sitting down the pride and joy of the Raptors’ GM:

    1. Hedo Turkoglu [2009 off season UFA "Big Ticket" signee]
    2. Andrea Bargnani [2006 No. 1, overall, Draft Pick]

    and to a lesser extent,

    3. Amir Johnson [2009 off season acquisition, in the trade for Carlos Delfino and Roko Ukic]
    4. Jarrett Jack [2009 off season RFA signee]
    5. Marco Belinelli [2009 off season acquisition, in the trade for Devean George]
    6. Sonny Weems [2009 off season acquisition, in the trade for Carlos Delfino and Roko Ukic]
    7. Antoine Wright [2009 off season acquisition, in the trade for Shawn Marion, Kris Humphries and Nathan Jawai]

    as well,

    each of whom performed poorly vs San Antonio at crunch time.

    ————————————

    If you take a close look at what I outlined in yesterday’s blog entry:

    Where and how exactly Toronto lost last night at San Antonio … especially, in the sections:

    Critical Factors
    Critical Plays

    you should be able to see the specific players responsible for the Raptors’ ineffective crunch time performance against the Spurs.

  3. gal carps Says:

    Khandor,

    I don’t agree that Chris Bosh’s individual strength is all around. You see in their game against Dallas he got burn by Dirk Nowitzki, he may be a good offensive player but defense is not his forte. Further to this, I look at him as just a great stats fodder.Whatever point production he has will always be negated by the player he is guarding, check this out in the coming Raptors game.

    Gal

  4. khandor Says:

    gal,

    Although you are certainly entitled to hold your own opinion about this specific subject …

    IMO, when playing within the context of an elite level team, I’ll take Chris Bosh over Dirk Nowitzki in a 1-v-1 match-up each and every day of the week, and twice on Sundays … as an all around basketball player.

    No question, Dirk is the superior offensive player but with the right mix of teammates around him … when he’s used at the Center position … CB4 is a better Defender and Rebounder than Mr. Nowitzki, and it isn’t even close. :-)

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