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Let's Measure Raptor Performance by Synergy Play Type Statistics

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NBA.com recently added play type statistics to their extensive statistical database. Ever wonder how the various Toronto Raptors players perform on different actions like post-ups, isolations, or pick-and-rolls? Wonder no more!

Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Synergy's Play Type statistics measure how NBA players perform on both offence and defence in various in-game situations. By perusing these statistics, we can see how frequently different players or teams perform certain actions and how successful they are when they do.

For the sake of clarity, here's NBA.com's explanation:

"Play Type Statistics go beyond the play-by-play section of the box score and break down what happened on each play to produce the end result. Synergy Sports catalogs all of the action that takes place in each play of each game to provide a comprehensive look at how players and teams execute on offense and defense.

How often does a team run pick-and-roll? How successful is a particular player when posting up on the left block? Who runs the most isolation plays? Which team generates the most offense in transition? These are the types of questions that can be answered with Play Type Statistics."

Stat mining is not everyone's cup of tea, but there are some interesting ways that these numbers reflect what analysts and fans see on the court with their own two eyes and talk about in the media and through forums like Raptors HQ.

After a couple weeks of flipping through and studying these numbers, here are some interesting Raptor-related finds.

Kyle Lowry's Ballhandling

Kyle Lowry has proven that he's one of the best point guards in the NBA, but these Synergy stats aren't all that kind to him. He ranks 24th in the league in points scored in transition (181), but only does so at a rate of 0.98 points per possession (PPP). That places him in the lowly 26.8 percentile of the NBA in terms of efficiency on the break.

He fares slightly better in isolation (0.92 PPP, 72.6 percentile) and pick-and-roll situations as the ball handler (0.83 PPP, 66.5 percentile), but doesn't really stack up to other All-Star guards in those areas. He does well coming off screens (1.07 PPP, 81.6 percentile), but that only makes up 5.1% of his offensive possessions.

In other words, volume is Lowry's friend, but he's not overly efficient in the most common situations point guards generally find themselves in.

Jonas Valanciunas' General Goodness

Despite starting all 56 games he's played for the Raptors this year, Jonas Valanciunas only averages 26.3 minutes per game (including a mere 5.2 fourth quarter minutes). Raptors fans are constantly in a state of clamouring for more time and touches for the big Lithuanian, and the following numbers might reflect why.

Valanciunas has had 212 post-up possessions this season and scored 200 points. That 0.94 PPP rate puts him in the 74.0 percentile, ahead of guys like DeMarcus Cousins (0.90 PPP, 66.0 percentile) and Zach Randolph (0.86 PPP, 57.4 percentile). The main difference? Valanciunas has been given roughly two-thirds the post-up possessions that Cousins (356) and Randolph (348) have had this season. Furthermore, he also defends post-ups in the 83.5 percentile, allowing a mere 0.71 PPP.

As for being the roll man on pick-and-rolls, Jonas scores an impressive 1.17 points per possession, good for the 81.6 percentile. The only problem? He's only in pick-and-rolls for 9.4 percent of his possessions.

For what it's worth, most of his possessions (20.2 percent) come in the form of putbacks (where he happens to be in the 82.0 percentile with 1.25 PPP). Maybe it's time to call more plays for the big guy.

ISO-Lou is Surprisingly Effective

Raptors fans have grown to dread the end-of-quarter isolation plays that Lou Williams inevitably draws every time Toronto finishes a frame with the ball. What we might lose sight of when those clank out is that Sweet Lou is actually one of the most efficient isolation players in the game.

Lou's 185 points scored in isolation this year is fifth in the whole NBA and make up for 23.5 percent of his shot attempts. His 0.97 PPP rate puts him in the 80.7 percentile for ISOs, pretty much in line with LeBron James (0.96 PPP, 79.5 percentile) and Carmelo Anthony (0.95 PPP, 80.7 percentile).

We Have Spot-Up Shooters Galore

The Raptors have three shooters that place in the top-35 in points scored by way of spot-ups (possessions ending in a catch-and-shoot or catch-and-drive play). Greivis Vasquez (221 points, 1.13 PPP, 82.9 percentile), Terrence Ross (204 points, 1.11 PPP, 81.4 percentile), and Patrick Patterson (198 points, 1.08 PPP, 74.2 percentile) are all among the best in the league in these situations.

James Johnson's Quietly Amazing Offence

James Johnson has only had 38 post-ups this season (10.5 percent of his shots), but he's eighth in the league in PPP with 1.13 (95.4 percentile). Furthermore, his mere 17 attempts as the roll man in pick-and-rolls only accounts for 4.7 percent of his possessions, but he's fifth in the league in PPP there with 1.47 (97.4 percentile). That's two very commonly used offensive plays where Johnson ranks in the top-10 in the whole NBA in terms of efficiency. Should the Raptors be calling his number more?

Amir Needs More Pick-and-Roll Love

Amir Johnson has only had 117 possessions where he's been the roll man in pick-and-rolls this season, but he ranks 19th in points in those situations with 138. That 1.18 PPP rate (82.6 percentile) is the third highest among the top-20 scorers on that list, trailing only Anthony Davis and Tyson Chandler.

Where's DeMar?

DeMar DeRozan doesn't show up among the leaders in many of these searches, apart from ranking 15th in points scored coming off screens. Unfortunately, he's only doing it at a rate of 0.76 PPP (29.5 percentile).

There are plenty of other interesting nuggets to be discovered if you explore this page here. If you find anything else of interest, put it in the comment section so we can discuss it!