Using NBA.com's Player Tracking stats, we can get an idea of what the construction of the Raptors' offense is, where on the floor they are generating offense and scoring from (and passing from and to, to generate easy buckets). Let's dive right in.
We've covered in some detail how much improved DeMar DeRozan has been in generating drives rather than settling for jumpers. With him being such a large portion of the offense, it would reason that the team has improved here. Here are the numbers, and league ranks, for the Raptors on drives this year. Note that NBA.com defines a drive as a possession where the ball starts outside of 20 feet and is dribbled inside of 10 feet of the basket (and does not include fast breaks).
Year | Number of Drives Per Game | PPG | AST% | TOV%
2014-15 | 27.4 (12th) | 18.1 (6th) | 8.8% (10th) | 7.0% (11th)
2015-16 | 36.1 (2nd) | 23.5 (1st) | 10.6% (11th) | 5.5% (4th)
Wow, what a change. The team is making a concerted effort to get to the basket, with a 30% increase in drives per game and points scored off of drives per game. They also pass well out of drives and don't turn the ball over, a rare combination. It seems DeRozan's efforts are duplicated team wide. Good start. Moving on.
One of the biggest concerns with the offense last year (and this year as well) has been the lack of ball movement. Here's a look at the raw passing stats to compare this year's offense to last year's. Note that a potential assist is a pass leading to a shot, where if that shot went in it would have been an assist.
Year | Passes Per Game | APG | Potential APG | Points off Assists
2014-15 | 281 (24th) | 20.7 (22nd) | 39.0 (30th) | 49.6 (17th)
2015-16 | 308 (13th) | 18.3 (29th) | 37.6 (30th) | 44.7 (28th)
That's a mixed bag. They still rank at the bottom of the league in potential assists (and have had a per-game decrease, worryingly). But their passing is very much up from last season, almost 30 more passes per game, leaping from the bottom of the league to just above average. The main difference in their big drop in assists per game (from bad to terrible) seems to be their conversion on assist chances, as their potential assists haven't dropped by nearly as much as their point generation has. Let's file this one under worryingly similar to last season, but with some upside if guys start hitting their assisted shots, and move on.
Pull Up Jumpers
These were a big problem last season, and with the increase in drives, let's see if these have improved too.
Year | Points | Pull Up Jumpers | eFG%
2014-15 | 21.1 (2nd) | 25.9 (4th) | 40.7% (14th)
2015-16 | 16.1 (21st) | 20.4 (21st) | 39.4% (21st)
That's good. Last year they were very dependent on pull up jumpers for a lot of their offense, even though they were about league average in terms of conversion rate. This year they've dropped a little in efficiency (though not by much, the rankings don't have much spread to them), but are thankfully taking far fewer attempts. Funny that they are currently 21st in all three of points, attempts and eFG% on pull up jumpers this season. It's the little things, you know...
Last one. Let's take a look and see how often the Raptors are operating out of the post. Both Jonas Valanciunas and DeMar DeRozan are very effective in the post, and Kyle Lowry will go there occasionally as well.
Year | Post Touches | Points | Assist %
2014-15 | 15.1 (26th) | 13.3 (19th) | 3.0% (29th)
2015-16 | 13.8 (26th) | 11.5 (25th) | 2.9% (28th)
Nothing has really changed here. Even fewer post touches than last season, similar black hole when they do go there.
So, a mixed bag of results there. The aggression in the offense is way up, with very little settling for jumpers and a huge number of drives generating the offense. I can only see that as a good thing. A couple other concerning traits are repeating themselves, however, with very little play initiating from the post and very few assist chances being generated (though there is a little bit of increased ball movement that may be opening up those drives).
I think there should be some optimism about the ways the offense has changed, but it should definitely be cautious optimism with regards to playoff success, as there still are a couple of aspects to the offense that are very concerning (and reminiscent of last season).
Are there any similarities/differences I missed compared to last season's offense? I plan to discuss the defence in detail in another post.