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A Statistical Look At the 2009-2010 Raptors Season

Wonder what the most effective offensive set was for the Raps this season? Is the Raptors most effective offensive set the one they use the most?

How bad were the Raptors on defense this season? Where are the weaknesses?

Thanks to SB Nation and Synergy Sports we now have some answers.

Being part of the SB Nation has it's perks. Last week each NBA Blog was provided access to the Synergy Sports web site which to quote their site -

offers the same online video scouting tools used by the coaches, scouts and general managers at your favorite NBA teams. Synergy Sports provides the pros with one-of-a-kind statistics on types of plays run, player moves and player tendencies—this information is not available anywhere else!

Since gaining access I can honestly say this is the most comprehensive basketball web-site I have ever seen and the amount of information it provides is almost overwhelming.

Over time I am sure we will be using this site regularly to help break down the strengths and weaknesses of both the Raptors as a team, and for individual players.

To kick it off we thought we would recap the Raptors season as a whole from a high level. It's a revealing, but far from shocking, story.


No-one questions the Raptors ability to put the ball in the hoop. Averaging more than 100 points per game there was never any complaint about the offense. What made the Raptors offense so lethal? Well here is a quick breakdown.

Over the course of the season the Raptors had almost 8500 offensive possessions which led to either a FTA, a turn-over or free-throws. Based on the results of those 8466 plays the Raptors managed almost 1 point per play (0.99 to be exact), which was second best in the league.

It's how the Raps got those points which was telling.

For the most part the Raps got their offense through jumpers. Of the Raptors 8466 possessions, 23.2% resulted in a jumper. This was by far and away the most prominent part of the Raptors offense. In terms of percentages the second most frequent result was a Pick & Roll with the Ball Handler (14.3%), a transition possession (12.1%) and then a tie between an isolation play (11.6%) and a post-up play (11.6%).

Out of the five most frequent possession types what was the post effective in terms of putting points on the board? The spot-up shooting resulted in 1.05 points per posses ion ("ppp"), meanwhile the P&R with the Ball Handler resulted in 0.89 ppp, transition 1.12 ppp, isolation 0.86 ppp and post-up play 1.03 ppp.

The results should not be surprising. The Raps, for the most part played up to their strengths. The team was full of shooters and they shot a high percentage. The team also had a dominant PF who when fed the ball in the post, produced. In fact, somewhat surprisingly, the Raps had the number one ranked post-up offense in the NBA. Yup, the Raptors produced the most ppp in post-up situations. No Chris Bosh next year? Expect that number to change.


This is where things get a little more interesting and when I look back on this past season it really will be the brutal defense that I will remember.

So what went wrong?

Well, pretty much everything. The Raps ranked dead last in terms of ppp when the opposing team's possession featured a cut to the hoop (1.38 ppp) or an off the ball screen (1.01 ppp) and they were in the bottom third when the opponents ran pick and roll (both with the Ball Handler and off the ball), ran plays for a spot-up jumpers and when they were in transition. The only categories where the Raps put up a decent performance? Isolation plays, post-ups and shots off of offensive rebounds. 

Based on the statistics it's clear that the Raptors perimeter defense is as bad as advertised and any offensive play where the Raps would need to rely on help defense they failed. The decent performance in post-ups and isolations also proves than in one-on-one situations that the Raps can, generally, hold their own, it's when a defender has to rely on a teammate when things go bad.

This ties into what Vicious D talked about yesterday in terms of bringing in some new assistant coaches. The stats tell us that whatever defensive system was in place last year was ineffective at best. The Raps have some major work to do in this department, perhaps more so in the coaching department than the players on the court. The system, whatever it was, simply doesn't work. 

I'll admit, there is more to take from these stats than I have covered here and I am by no means a statistician but what they tell us is that change is required, or more specifically a philosophical change. 

Here's hoping Colangelo and staff are taking these types of statistics seriously - RHQ sure will be.

Disclosure: Synergy Sports Tech has provided RaptorsHQ with a free My Synergy account.