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Dinos & Digits: DeMar DeRozan’s Michael Jordan Impression

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Another instalment of Dinos & Digits, where we look at five interesting Raptors stats from this season.

NBA: Toronto Raptors at Washington Wizards Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome back to Dinos & Digits, a column where we dive into the box scores and find five interesting or strange Raptors statistics and put them on front street for discussion.

We like to explore a mix of both individual player and team statistics, ranging from raw box score numbers to some interesting and funky advanced metrics. The goal is to present the numbers without too much opinion attached, leaving those debates for the comment section.

We’re only a little over two weeks into the new season, so our digits still get the “small sample size” caveat for now. Either way, the Raptors look good at 5-2 and some interesting trends are emerging.

OK, let's get down to it. Here are this week's interesting digits:

DeMar DeRozan is leading the NBA in scoring, averaging 34.1 points per game.

This was the lead stat last week too, but until DeMar manages to come down from his historic pace, we will continue highlighting it here.

Not only is he on pace to beat the Raptors’ single-season scoring average record of 27.6 set by Vince Carter in 2000-01 (on pace through only seven games mind you), but the fact that DeRozan is still averaging over 34 points this far into the season puts him with some pretty esteemed company:

That’s right, DeMar DeRozan is out there acting like Michael Jordan circa 1990.

Of course, this torrid start looks incredibly unsustainable (sorry, it does).

DeRozan’s hitting 51.8% of his mid-range jumpers so far this year, compared to 38.0% in 2015-16, while connecting on 58.4% of his contested shots this year as opposed to 44.8% last year.

Regression is coming, but that should not diminish what DeMar has managed to accomplish so far in this young season.

DeMar DeRozan is second in the NBA in points per touch at 0.499 (minimum 30 touches per game).

This is just another way of pointing out how extremely efficient DeMar has been to start the season.

He’s also averaging 4.25 seconds and 3.62 dribbles per touch. For someone who has a bit of a reputation as a ball-stopper, both of those rates are fairly reasonable for a high usage guy like DeMar. For comparison’s sake, DeRozan is 45th in average time and 60th in average dribbles per touch among 230 players who average a minimum of 30 touches per game.

Also — in case you’re wondering — Andrew Wiggins is currently first in the NBA in points per touch at 0.504.

The rookie duo of Jakob Poeltl and Pascal Siakam have a net rating of -39.3 in 18 minutes of floor time together.

The comes from an offensive rating of 71.2 (points scored per 100 possessions by the Raptors when the two are on the floor together) and a defensive rating (points allowed per 100 possessions) of 110.4. That is the lowest net rating from any of the 56 two-man combinations the Raptors have used this season, regardless of minutes played.

Poeltl and Siakam have started next to each other in the frontcourt in each of the last two games due to the absence of Jonas Valanciunas, but Lucas Noguiera started the second half in place of Poeltl against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday night.

It’s no secret that the all-rookie frontcourt doesn’t work very well together quite yet, so it will be interesting to see if head coach Dwane Casey sticks with the two rooks in the starting lineup tonight if Valanciunas has to sit out another one, or if he shakes things up.

The Raptors are currently ranked fourth in the NBA in Simple Rating System (SRS) at 6.43.

According to Basketball-Reference.com, SRS is “a rating that takes into account average point differential and strength of schedule. The rating is denominated in points above/below average, where zero is average.”

Teams are often judged by win/loss records, but SRS gives a much clearer picture of how strong or weak a team has really been.

The rest of the top 5:

  1. Los Angeles Clippers - 17.73 (!)
  2. Atlanta Hawks - 8.44
  3. San Antonio Spurs - 7.40
  4. Toronto Raptors - 6.43
  5. Charlotte Hornets - 5.55

Where are the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers, you ask? The season’s still young, give them time.

The Raptors are 27th in the NBA in pace, averaging 95.94 possessions per 48 minutes.

The Raps remain a grind-it-out team after finishing 29th in pace in 2015-16 with an average of 95.31 possessions per 48 minutes.

All stats courtesy of basketball-reference.com and NBA.com/stats.