With the Raptors getting embarrassed in a sweep in the first round, big changes are needed. Some players are inevitably going to have to go. But which ones? We'll try to use one or two big stats to describe why a player should stay or go.
Let's start with the obvious ones.
There's Landry Fields, Chuck Hayes and Greg Stiemsma. None of them are likely to be back, as their big expiring contracts are why we have so much cap space. If they do come back, it's in the most minor of roles imaginable, so let's move on.
Bruno and Lucas Bebe Nogueira are on the first year of their rookie scale deals. They should probably be kept, unless needed as fodder in a trade. Certainly no need to move them. Same goes for the Raptors' no. 20 draft pick this spring.
Amir Johnson and Lou Williams are another couple of players who are responsible for the comfy salary situation this summer. But unlike the "Goners", these two provide value, so there's a little more question as to whether to bring them back.
First, Amir Johnson. He is so done. Historically for the Raptors, he's been a plus-minus superstar, but injuries have finally caught up with him. It's visible on the court - he can barely move - and it's visible in the stats. For the first time ever, the team had a better net rating with Amir on the bench than on the floor. His rebound rate the past couple years is well down from his career averages. His turnover rate is up. His steal and block rates are down. His drop off from last year in RPM, ESPN's impact measurement stat, is from the eighth best power forward to the 22nd best, and he only seems to be getting worse.
Verdict: sorry, Amir. Unless you are taking a huge pay cut, the Raptors have to move on.
Now, Lou Williams. Lou is an offensive dynamo and a defensive problem. He posted by far the highest TS% of the Raptors guards, with a usage very close to DeMar's. He had the second highest PER on the team after Valanciunas, as well as the second best WS/48 (also after Valanciunas). His RPM is a sizeable net positive, even with the sizeable negative his defensive RPM is. Also, when he's on, he's on, but when he's off, he loses you games with the shots he takes. It will come down to cost and identity - if you want to be a defence first team, maybe you let Lou walk. Also, if he is getting big money offers from other teams in the wake of his Sixth Man of the Year award, maybe you let him walk then too.
Verdict: Neutral. It will come down to what's out there to use cap space on, and what direction the team wants to go.
Now it gets interesting. Consider Patrick Patterson, Tyler Hansbrough, James Johnson, and Greivis Vasquez. For half the year the Raptors' bench was unstoppable. For the other half, and the playoffs, it was a big weakness. So who was the problem and who is worth salvaging?
Let's start with folk hero James Johnson. We've covered this in depth before, so I'll keep this short. Pros: 17.9 PER, 61.7 TS%, highest rebound rate of non-bigs on the team, highest block rate on the team, positive DRPM player, best post player on the team in terms of efficiency. Only on a one year, $2.5M deal.
Patrick Patterson is another guy we've looked at in depth. The team is significantly better with him on the court (+5.3 net rating on-court versus +0.8 net rating off). Struggles big time with rebounding the ball, same level as broken-down Amir. But he generates more assists than any other big man on the team, and rarely turns it over. May not be a starter, but is a quality backup.
How about our old friend Tyler Hansbrough? Here's another guy who plays into the cap room this summer. As an expiring contract, if he is kept on, it directly eats into the Raptors' cap space, unless he is willing to sign for the Room MLE or minimum, for example. In the meantime, Hansbrough was very effective within Casey's system this year. Best on-court net rating on the team by far. Some of that is based on only playing against other benches, but his work starting in the playoffs proved not all of it is. His individual numbers are nothing to cheer for, but as a bench big his impact numbers were fantastic (he ranked 15th among all PF's in overall RPM). That said, this team needs a top end talent upgrade, so players like Hansbrough may be the cost of having enough cap space to make a splash.
Verdict: Keep if he'll take a Room MLE deal. If he wants more, bid him adieu.
And finally, Greivis Vasquez. Here we go. Terrible shooting for a guy whose only value lies in his shooting (51.4 TS%). A very poor 12.6 PER. Draws free throws on only nine percent of his shot attempts - truly a terrible number. His assist rate was a career low, so he's no longer even playing as a PG, really. His WS/48 has dropped to .066, a number well below average. He's the 58th ranked PG in overall RPM, dragging down the offence a bit and absolutely killing the defence. He's got one year left on his deal - ideal trade bait to pair with a pick or a core player to bring back more salary.
Verdict: Bye, Greivis. Hopefully. Please, Masai?
We'll take a nice in-depth look at the four "core" players next time.
Stats from NBA.com, Basketball-Reference.com and ESPN.com.