Everyone had a chance to gather their breath a little bit? The Raptors got off to a relatively early start during a crazy period of player movement in the NBA by signing DeMarre Carroll to a 4 Year, $60 Million contract. As many outlets reported Carroll was so blown away by the Raptors' pitch (I'm sure the dollar amount had something to do with that), he actually ended up cancelling the remainder of his meetings.
Right from the get-go, Carroll's evolution as an NBA player has been nothing short of remarkable. After toiling as a deep rotation option for four years, Carroll's sudden development of the three-point shot has completely changed his utility in the NBA. He went from a defensive specialist in Memphis and Utah to a legitimately well-rounded starting small forward in Atlanta.
Check his shot chart from last season:
Though shot zones can be somewhat arbitrary, Carroll only had three zones where he could be considered a "cold" shooter. It's a testament to Mike Budenholzer's system and the buy-in he got from his team that Carroll only took 25 shots total from those three zones.
That's right, DeMarre Carroll was above league average from three-point range, mid-range and in the paint last season. This is what he'll bring to the table at the 3-spot for the Raptors. For comparison's sake, here's Terrence Ross (the player he'll likely be replacing in the starting lineup) in each of those zones:
Offensively, it's not Carroll's outside shooting that separates him from Terrence Ross. Both are comparable long-range shooters, with a similar number of attempts from three point range. Where Carroll vastly outperforms Ross is in his work within the arc. Ross attempted over twice as many shots from midrange as Carroll, while Carroll had double the attempts in the paint. DeMarre was a much better finisher at the rim too, shooting 60% to Ross' below league-average 50%.
Looking at their shot charts paints a larger picture of Atlanta's offence versus Toronto's. In the area that could be considered "long two-point range," Carroll took a total of 41 shots all season. Terrence Ross? 102. And that's not the guy on this team we associate with peppering inefficient mid-range jumpers.
When you dive into their player tracking numbers, a few things stand out comparatively as well. Pull ups (a low efficiency shot) constitute a whopping 30% of Terrence Ross' shot attempts, and only 11% of Carroll's. Overall, 87% of what Carroll shoots is either catch-and-shoot or deep in the paint. DeMarre rarely takes a 2-point shot if it isn't in the paint.
If it isn't apparent yet, let me be more clear -- DeMarre Carroll is unbelievably disciplined with his shot selection. On 81% of his shots outside of 10 feet, he was either categorized as "open" or "wide-open". Not to keep ragging on Terrence Ross here, but he's a great reference point for how much of a change we're going to see next season. He registered only 59% of his outside shots being open or wide open.
It'll be interesting to see if this level of discipline continues in a far more stagnant offence in Toronto. Even if his efficiency drops slightly, as he's forced into a few more bad decisions, his TS% (60+) affords him a bit of a drop-off offensively. That's the just one side of the coin though. Let's take a look at how he'll fit defensively and how he compares to the incumbents.
Carroll is a strong perimeter defender through and through. His counterparts shoot 4% worse from 3 point range and 2% worse from anywhere greater than 15 feet. Per NBA.com, for the past 2 seasons he's had a Defensive rating of 101.9 and 101.8, which were good for the top-15 among starting SF/SGs in the NBA in each respective year.
Carroll admittedly, hasn't been among the best defensive players at the SF spot. Curiously, Atlanta allowed fewer points per possession with him on the bench than with him on the court (1.045 On vs 1.029 Off) per NBAwowy. In a vacuum, that seems worrisome and it may well be. But contextually, Atlanta was a deep team that eventually ended up winning 60+ games. Carroll would often be replaced by strong defenders like Thabo Sefolosha, so it's unsurprising that the Hawks maintained a strong defence while Carroll sat.
Carroll's real value comes strictly from who he's replacing. The only starting SG/SFs with a worse defensive rating than Terrence Ross' 107.2 (see link above) were Wesley Johnson, Andrew Wiggins, Bojan Bogdanovic, and Wilson Chandler. By replacing Ross with Carroll's above average work on that end of the court, the Raptors perimeter defense stands to improve significantly next year.
As you may recall, the Raptors had a tendency to get bullied in the rebounding game last year. DeMarre Carroll will help here as well. Ross was a very poor rebounder at the SF spot, registering a RB% of 6. Carroll's ~10% graded out top 10 in rebounding rate among qualifying SFs.
The Raptors are solving a huge need by acquiring an efficient, floor-spacing, defensive-minded small forward to supplant Terrence Ross in the starting lineup. The trickle-down effect of having Ross' hot outside shooting come off the bench is an added bonus that helps the Raptors' depth.
Playing for a powerful Atlanta Hawks squad last year, Carroll's offensive discipline played a big role in their team's potent offence, as he was one of only a handful of wing players to register a TS% over 60. Offensively, Carroll almost never takes bad shots, and is above league average in all of his favourite zones. This attention to detail should come in handy for a team that has a tendency to get into chucker mode a little too often for most of our liking.
Carroll brings the kind of size and toughness that DeMar DeRozan and Ross couldn't defensively, due to them being out-of-position shooting guards. When you combine the type of efficient offensive output Carroll promises to give the Raptors with his above average defense, Toronto should be thrilled to finally have a true 2-3 wing rotation that can push them that much closer to contention.
Welcome to Toronto, DeMarre, we're happy to have you!
All stats from NBA.com, basketballreference, nbawowy, and Vorped.