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Weekly Rap: Messy Week Leads To Positive Record

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The first week of the Toronto Raptors’ 2013-14 season is officially over, and that means it’s time for our first Weekly Rap of the year.

Jeff Green, Amir Johnson, Rudy Gay

The season opener was against the Boston Celtics, which was a very, very sloppy game. The Raps pulled away with a strong overall performance in the fourth quarter. The second game was a loss on the road to the Atlanta Hawks, where the Raps were put in a hole due to a run made by Atlanta. On the latter of the back-to-back, the Raps took down the Milwaukee Bucks to finish the week.

Record: 2-1

Team Grade: B-

Visually, the team looked pretty poor for the most part. The offense often failed to create which sparked runs for opposing teams, the defense was late closing on shooters and out of sync at times, and the team turned over the ball a fair share. However, the advanced stats after 3 games gives reason for some optimism.

Offensive Rating – 100.0 – 14th in the NBA
Defensive Rating – 96.1 – 6th best in the NBA
Net Rating – 3.9 – 11th

OREB% – 34.8% – 1st in the NBA
DREB% – 83.7% – 1st in the NBA
REB% – 58.1% – 1st in the NBA

TS% – 50% – tied for 22nd
AST% – 45% – 29th
Opp FG% – 46.3% – 23rd 

The rebounding numbers obviously stick out more than anything, as the Raps have been grabbing boards at a ridiculous rate. This isn’t going to continue – it has more than likely been a product of weaker rebounding teams getting pounded on the glass. The defensive ratings are promising, and offensively the team is in the middle of the pack as well (due to the offensive rebounding). The TS% and assist rate are clearly issues, and this is something that will need to work itself out as the offense progresses.

Rudy Gay – D+ 

To his credit, he carried the load against the Celticshitting clutch shots down the stretch to secure the win. Aside from the first game, Gay has been dreadful, and he knows it. He’s been shooting the ball at an abysmal rate, and leads the team in shots per 36 minutes. I’m going to also say he single-handedly lost Toronto the game vs Atlanta, shooting 6-23. After 3 games, Gay is shooting at nearly 33%.

The silver lining is that he’s leading the team in rebounds at 9.33 per game, and it’s fair to assume that the efficiency will improve. Let’s just hope Gay doesn’t shoot the Raps out of any more games.

If you want to read a more in depth article on Gay’s struggles, check this one out from our friends at Raptors Republic.


Kyle Lowry – B- 

Lowry has looked great – at times. The whole being in shape thing has helped his game out as he’s playing much better defensively, which helps the Raps an unbelievably large amount as a whole on that side of the floor. Offensively, he looks more assertive, which is promising. We still haven’t seen the best Kyle Lowry yet, but it’s getting there.

Lowry needs to create the offense by attacking, otherwise we will continue to see baseline clear-outs being run for Rudy or DeRozan as the primary play sets.

Keep in mind that he is playing with a splint on his left hand, which could be part of the reason he’s shooting 55% from the free-throw line.

DeMar DeRozan – B+ 

DeRozan has looked the part of an all-star at times this season. Take a look at his game against the Hawks:

That is ice-cold stuff right there. On the flip side, he struggled in the other two contests in terms of efficiency, but his court-vision as well as ball handling has looked much better. He’s been strong in terms of rebounding as well – stats don’t necessarily show it but he’s boxed out his man.

Defensively, DeMar is better but is still not where he needs to be. His man to man D has looked tremendously improved – the overall awareness is the problem. Fighting through screens, closing out, knowing when to help are still issues for DeRozan. Let’s hope to see some consistency on both ends from DD.

Jonas Valanciunas – B

JV has not received the minutes he needs to make a serious impact. Casey loves his vets, but enough is enough – free Val.  He’s had a size advantage over teams, yet Casey’s reluctance to allow him to close games as well as the lack of ball touches has really made it tough on Jonas.

Offensively, Valanciunas hasn’t been scoring at the same efficiency as he did last year, probably because he’s trying to force it whenever he gets the ball. Defensively and on the glass he’s been solid.

NBA: Toronto Raptors at Atlanta Hawks

Amir Johnson – A-

What’s with this ‘Summertime Three’ phase? I can’t advocate Amir shooting three’s regularly, but if the shot clock is winding down and he’s wiiiiiiiiide open, then sure. He has been hitting at around 37.5%, which is actually a pretty good rate.

Aside from that, Amir has been Amir, and will continue to be Amir. High energy, high efficiency, and thankfully, he’s kept his foul rate down.

Landry Fields – A

I will be the first one to admit that Landry has impressed me. I’ve bashed him quite a bit, and there’s no way he will ever live up to that contract, but let’s forget about that for now.

Fields + DeRozan has actually looked better than DeRozan + Gay, surprisingly. Landry has played a fair amount thus far, and has provided solid energy off the bench. He’s been playing very tough defense, has rebounded at a high rate, has picked his spots offensively, and has made smart plays.

That shot still looks ugly, though.

Terrence Ross – C+

There isn’t too much to evaluate here. His minutes haven’t been great, and he hasn’t taken many shots. Ross’ impact has been minimal thus far offensively, and he’s made a few mistakes defensively. Until Ross can get consistent minutes, don’t expect much to change.

Tyler Hansbrough – B+

Talk about an impact bench player. Psycho T has been awesome, and actually reminds me of Amir Johnson off the bench. Efficient, high energy, and amazing per-36 stats.

D.J. Augustin – B

D.J has run the offense fairly well, and is always in control. He’s not providing a scoring punch, but Augustin has been an ideal back-up guy to have because he’s been very steady, smart, and has played solid D. There’s no reason to think he won’t keep it up.

Aaron Gray – A+

Well, Gray has a PER of 39.61. He’s also only played 6 minutes. So there’s that.

Austin Daye – C-

Daye got a run vs the Hawks and didn’t impress anyone. He shot poorly, but grabbed a few boards and played decent D.

Dwight Buycks – C+

Buycks actually helped spark a run in the Atlanta game. He hit a three and played great D for a few minutes, but that’s about all.

Steve Novak – C

Novak hit one three, and got a rebound. He’s been banged up since the first game, and there hasn’t been much word on when he’s going to return.

Quincy Acy, Julyan Stone – N/A

Neither of those guys got any playing time. Surprising.

Credit to Kevin Liles - USA TODAY Sports.

Dwane Casey – D

Casey’s coaching methodology hasn’t changed much. We’ve seen A) sporadic rotations that include horrible line-ups without starters B) two-point guard line-ups C) poor time-out management D) Bad offensive sets more often than not. Yup, sounds like Casey coaching.

In all seriousness, Casey needs to establish a proper rotation – enough is enough. Also, one of Gay or DeRozan should always be on the floor. I don’t mind the two-point guard line-up when the team needs a spark, but other than that, it should never even be considered. With regards to the time-outs, I’m not sure what to say. Offensively, the team has run some very solid plays at times, and Nick Nurse seems to have improved the framework – the team just has to stop the sloppiness and execute it.


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