Three games down for the Raptors, and pretty great early returns, right? Toronto is 3-0. Now, let's take a closer look and how they got there:
Three games, two wildly different DeRozans.
First two games: free throws galore, living mostly on the outside. Last game, a true slasher, getting deep into the paint all night with minimal long jumpers.
Overall, it means a more reasonable usage rate (25%), a decent TS% (similar to his all-star season at 53%), better passing (21 AST%) and one of the best on-court net ratings on the team (+16). But that .71 free throw rate is going to come down (it already dropped from .9 in his first two games) closer to his career best of 0.45 - hopefully he can find ways to keep scoring when the whistles slow down. If he looks to replicate that third game, he should be fine.
Barely used, still a monster. Has the best on-court net rating on the team (+18.6) and best defensive rating (73.9!) of all non-scrub players (i.e. excluding Wright, Bennett and Powell, who have played for a combined 10 minutes total).
Same old song.
How good has he looked? Grabbing a massive 33% of all defensive rebounds, and looking great in this new defensive system (lowest on-court DRTG of the starters and third lowest of the regulars behind Patterson and JJ). He's taken on a larger offensive role (21 USG% - tied with Carroll for third option usage behind DD and Lowry in the starting lineup) and is still thriving (58 eFG%, third on the team; 64 TS%, third on the team - both behind crazy shooting from Ross and Patterson). And his post game is still going strong - small sample of only 11 possessions (of course the league leader has only 25) but he is fourth among post up players in efficiency.
And it shows in the on-court impact - he ranks behind only DeRozan in on-court ORTG, and combined with the aforementioned low on-court DRTG he is second on the team behind only JJ in on-court net rating (+16.5).
Patrick Patterson vs. Luis Scola
I personally find it very odd that Scola is starting and Patterson is coming off the bench. The fit seems much better in reverse, and early returns support that theory. Here are the top several pairings in terms of on-court net rating for Patterson and Scola early in the season.
PP-JV: +44 net rating in 22 minutes
PP-JJ: +32 in 11 minutes
LS-TR: +25 in 6 minutes
PP-KL: +24 in 37 minutes
PP-DD: +20 in 37 minutes
Scola doesn't have much of a sample size with the bench, but his best pairing by far is with Ross. Meanwhile, Patterson has all his best performances with the starters (in decent samples too) with the obvious (and always the case) exception of James Johnson, who's not playing much with the bench anyway.
Overall Team Offence and Defence
9th in ORTG. 7th in DRTG. That's pretty great. Not much more analysis needed there.
One really good sign? The team is currently fifth in both defensive rebounding rate and offensive rebounding rate. That's a pattern I wouldn't mind seeing continue.
What do you guys make of the first three games?
Stats from NBA.com and Basketball-Reference.com.