In the wake of what appears to be yet another big off-season trade, it appears that economy be damned, a lot of teams aren't content to sit on the sidelines of trade activity this summer.
The Orlando Magic have maybe been the most active team this off-season despite going all the way to the NBA Finals last year.
And the Toronto Raptors have been no slouches themselves in the personnel moves department, almost matching the Magic transaction for transaction.
In fact last season before the Orlando Magic really took off in the standings, many Raptors fans, myself included, compared Orlando to Toronto and vice versa. This was especially true once Toronto acquired Shawn Marion.
Both teams relied on a dominant post player (albeit in different fashions) and essentially surrounded them with a collection of skilled jump shooters and multi-faceted talents like the aforementioned Marion and Turkoglu. I even went so far as to compare Andrea Bargnani to Rashard Lewis after watching Lewis in the playoffs. Not that Andrea was at the same level as Lewis production-wise, but that there were some very large similarities in their games and that perhaps Lewis represented a ceiling of sorts for Il Mago.
There was never any question that Orlando had the superior talent in this comparison though, to the point that I believe I referred to the Raps as the Magic version 1.0.
And while that's possibly even moreso the case now that the Magic have re-loaded this off-season, it's inevitable now that Hedo has joined "version 1.0" of his former club, that comparisons would abound.
But just how similar now are these two clubs?
Jameer Nelson is certainly effective running an offence in the half-court and has greatly improved his shooting skills, but I don't think anyone would confuse he and Jose.
And likewise Bosh and Howard can both dominate games, but they tend to do so in very different fashions.
However there are indeed similarities between the two clubs from individual players to the style of play; both favouring an offense that is dominated by pick-and-roll scenarios and that likes to create mismatches one-on-one.
Taking a look at last year's statistics courtesy of 82games.com, we see more similarities between the two teams, especially in terms of "shooting details."
And for Orlando:
Both teams relied quite heavily on jump shots and surprisingly, even with Howard's brute force down low, dunks made up the same percentage of Orlando's offense as Toronto's. The key difference upon eyeballing these stats is that even though the Magic made jump shooting 4% less of their offense, they were more efficient with those shots than were the Raptors.
Also interesting from 82games.com in terms of the offensive similarity between these clubs - shot clock usage. Toronto and Orlando showed almost equal propensity to take the bulk of their shots at certain times during that crucial 24-second period:
Shot Clock Usage
Shot Clock Usage
Again, Orlando was more efficient for the most part in terms of making the shots they took, but I think from these offensive stats we see two teams that like to employ similar offensive tactics.
It's on the defensive end where the clubs really showed key differences.
Without going into too many more stats, a quick look at both clubs defensive efficiency scores to end the season sums things up pretty well.
Toronto finished 22nd out of the league's 30 teams in defensive rating.
Oh...they finished first.
The hope for Raptors fans of course is that with Iavaroni on board, and some upgrades in the personnel department, the Dinos can at least climb up into the league's mid-level in terms of defensive ranking. For all the offensive similarities between the Magic and Raps, I'd argue that until this occurs, it's a bit pointless to compare the two clubs.
However that doesn't mean that Bosh vs. Howard, Hedo vs. his former club, and the Polish Hammer vs. the Slovenian Sabre won't make for some interesting story lines this coming season.
And that's not even factoring in former Raptor Vince Carter into the equation.
It's going to be interesting enough to see his fit with a potential NBA Championship contending team, let alone any one-on-one battles that he may have with DeMar DeRozan, the player who has already taken to being called the new "Air Canada."
I'm guessing the folks at RaptorsTV are prepping the VC-DD comparison footage already...