With Chris Bosh now in Miami, the HQ takes a quick look at the current roster and wonders if unlike last year, offence might be an issue, specifically, players creating their own shots...
A few weeks ago, we took a look statistically at Leandro Barbosa, and contemplated how he would be best used by the Toronto Raptors. We noted that he's not an isolation player, so in many respects, the offensive skills he brings to the table are duplicated by players like DeMar DeRozan and Jose Calderon.
Looking over Toronto's current roster recently, I realized that the same could be said for the vast majority of the current edition of the Raptors, and now with Chris Bosh in Miami, that leaves...
As we all know, the Raptors the past few seasons have been pretty much an offensive juggernaut, able to fill up the basket both from the perimeter, thanks to various sharpshooters, and also from inside thanks to Chris Bosh and his nearly 600 free-throw attempts per season. Defensively they've struggled, but the offensive attack was what fans could depend on to in most cases to keep things close, or help the team get back in games they looked to be out of.
However a good chunk of that offence was predicated on the abilities of number 4.
He was a devastating scorer from inside and out, and as mentioned, was one of the best in the league at getting to the line. His ability to create from the low or high post helped set this team's offence in motion, enabling cutting wings like DeRozan and Weems to attack the hoop, or giving open looks to gunners like Calderon, thanks to double-teams etc.
With Bosh gone, it's going to be up to others to initiate the offensive attack. However looking at the Synergy stats for the team last year, there just aren't many players who thrive in isolation situations.
Players like DeRozan, Amir Johnson, and Sonny Weems all thrive off of getting the ball in places where they can use their athleticism, and to a lesser degree, a guy like Jose Calderon needs someone to "make the first move" on offence so he can get open looks for perimeter J's.
Add in inexperienced rookies like Ed Davis and Solomon Alabi, not to mention players like Linas Kleiza and Julian Wright who have been described as black holes on offence to a certain extent, and I'm expecting a number of Kevin O'Neill-ish possessions next year; the ball just sorta sits on the perimeter for 20 seconds before someone has to jack it up.
However there are a few options for Toronto in my opinion, the first being Andrea Bargnani.
Bargs has shown a quickness advantage over most centers and with a good first step and a nice touch from inside 10 feet, he can be a tough guard for other bigs as well as a legit iso threat. He didn't operate that much last year in terms of being an "iso guy," but the hope is that minus Bosh down low, he'll feel more comfortable in a role such as this.
To put it simply, he needs to feel more comfortable for this team to have any success next year.
Outside of Bargs, Jarrett Jack is probably the best iso option the team has in terms of isolation play and while he can be effective in that role as he showed last year, I'm not sure you constantly want the point guard who is supposed to be setting others up, going one-on-one. (Or one-on-five as was the case at times last season.) Ideally a wing player would be the team's "creator" but both Weems and DeRozan need to improve their ball-handling skills before I'm sold on either filling this role.
The reality is that NBA offences are predicated to a large extent on isolation, especially in late shot-clock situations, and if Toronto can't create in the clutch, it's going to be a very long season.
Remember, this team hasn't done a ton to improve defensively so if the offence sputters too, this could get ugly quick.