With no Raptors' representative on the NBA All-Star team for the first time in years, the HQ makes due by creating an "anti-all-star" one...
Last week, basketballreference.com posted an article about the "Black Holes" of the NBA, players who pass the least per touch, with a minimum of 30 minutes played per game. The Raptors had three players on said list, although Jose Calderon was on the "good side" of the black hole index at the point guard position. The other two though, Andrea Bargnani and DeMar DeRozan...
...not so much.
My commentary on Twitter regarding the Black Hole List sparked some amusing discussion as to other current and former Raptors who could make a historical version of such a list. In fact, the Globe and Mail's Michael Grange noted that you could form a sort of opposite All-Star team from this group, an "Anti-All-Star Team" so to speak.
Without a Raptor being represented in this evening's All-Star gala for the first time in years, I thought it would be a good time to roll out the results of such a Raptors' all-time black hole team.
First though, the rules.
I picked 12 spots on the team, 5 starters and 7 bench spots, just like a regular NBA roster. The starters all had to play at least 25 minutes per game, and attempt more than 10 field goals per match.
The bench had no such criteria, other than having a very low assist to field-goal attempt ratio.
In fact, the entire "Raptors Anti-All-Star Team" had a very low ratio for their respective positions, in addition to extremely low "assist percentages." (What basketball reference.com defines as "an estimate as to the percentage of teammate field goals a player assisted on while he was on the floor.")
Many of these names you'll recognize of course, and some, well, you may have forgotten about.
Or at least tried to.
Here we go:
PG: Mike James. There were a number of options to consider at this spot but ultimately James beat out Rafer Alston for the title. James actually averaged nearly 6 assists per game as the Raptors' starting point guard in his lone season in Toronto, and at face value, doesn't seem to be such a black hole. However his 28% assist percentage lags behind even average point guards like Andre Miller (35% for his career) or many traditionally shot-happy ones like Raymond Felton (32%.)
Outside of the statistical evidence, Raptors' fans remember James for his "shoot-first-and-ask-questions-later" style, and there was a reason when we started the HQ in 2005 that we dubbed James "the roller coaster." His one-on-five style of play was responsible for many exciting finishes, but many, thanks in part to his itchy trigger finger, ended up in losses.
SG: DeMar DeRozan. Uh oh. Originally I thought DeMar might occupy a bench role on this team but after going through copious other options, unfortunately, DeRozan came out on top. There were a few other former Raptor shooting guards who had similar "black hole" statistics, but DeRozan's paltry 6.7% assist percentage and his 0.13 assists per field goal attempt ratio put him over the top. And these were only bolstered by his importance with this club as a franchise piece.
He's indeed a black hole, and while this Raptors' team arguably needs some of that at present, the hope is when he's surrounded by more talent, DeMar becomes less of a "one-and-done" option on offense.
Speaking of "one-and-done offence..."
SF: Jalen Rose. Everyone remembers Jalen right? The incessant isolations in the high post. The one-on-five forays at the rim, the non-existent defence...let's face it, he was a shoo-in for this list.
The funny thing is, in his first partial season with the Raps, he wasn't so much of a black hole. He averaged nearly 6 assists a game, had a point-guardish 27% assist percentage, and a 0.37 assist-per-field goal attempt mark.
But in the season and a half that followed, it got ugly.
14% assist percentage and only 0.2 assists per field goal attempt.
And it wasn't like he was sitting on the bench a lot. Jalen played an average of 33 minutes a game over his brief Raptors career, so had plenty of time to dominate the offense.
And speaking of dominating the offence...
PF: Chris Bosh. Now this is interesting. Bosh was often thought of as a player who held the ball too long and slowed down Toronto's offensive mojo, but I didn't expect to see his numbers put him on this list.
Indeed they did though, and as a starter nonetheless thanks to his nearly 37 minutes per game average.
Bosh's 10.3% assist percentage is pretty weak, even for a big man, and his low assist per field goal attempt mark puts him firmly in black hole territory.
C: Andrea Bargnani. This one is probably the least surprising inclusion on the list. We've talked ad nauseum about Bargnani's "blackholishness" this season, and his 6.5% assist percentage backs this up.
But it's his assist per field goal attempt mark that really jumps out. Bargs takes on average 10 shots before dishing out one pass that results in a successful score. I couldn't find another player in Raptors' history that had such a futile mark considering the amount of playing time Andrea gets.
If there was a poster-boy for Black Hole NBA players, it would be Bargnani.
-Rafer Alston: Rafer was much less of a black hole than I thought he'd be statistically, but there's no question he was the king of dribbling down the court on a fast-break, only to launch a 3 without a rebounder in sight.
-Leandro Barbosa: Ugh, another current Raptor. He wasn't one of the more egregious on this list, but his numbers still put him as a top option off the pine...if you didn't want the other four players to get many touches on O.
-Tracy Murray: Here's a blast from the past. Murray was such a chucker that until I dug into DeRozan's data, he looked to be firmly entrenched as the starting 2 guard on this squad.
-Kris Humphries: The Hump! This was Mike Grange's pick and the numbers do it plenty of justice. In fact if he had played more minutes, he would have topped Bargs in terms of worst assist-to-field goal attempt ratio.
-Jamario Moon: Moon had all the intangibles of a lock-down swingman and rim-wrecker but there was only one problem; he liked to shoot. His 6.2% assist percentage was actually worse than DeRozan and had he played more minutes and taken more shots, he would have been a possible starter too.
-Voshon Lenard: Moon's "chuckiness" paled in comparison to Lenard though. Of all players considered for this exclusive club, only Barbosa and Murray averaged more field goal attempts per minute, and his .42 shots per minute mark was the same as two starters, Mike James and Andrea Bargnani.
-Kevin Willis: Old Man Willis was one of my all-time favourite Raptors. Gritty player, solid leader, and you knew once he was fed the ball in the post, it wasn't coming back out. (Not to mention he was likely going to attempt some form of hook-shot.)
Willis averaged a Bargnani-esque 0.10 assists per field goal attempt during his Raptor years, and matched Andrea's assist percentage as well during his time in TO. He was the definition of black hole before Bargs came along and stole his thunder.
Hedo Turkoglu (master of the ill-advised 3), Marco Belinelli (as streaky as they came), Lamond Murray (never met a shot he didn't like), Jason Kapono (one-dimensional game had him automatically in the running) and TJ Ford (Rafer Alston light.)