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Dinos & Digits: Looking at Jonas Valanciunas’ Subtle Value

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This week, we examine screen assists, post-ups, Bebe’s efficiency, Lowry’s minutes, and DeRozan’s league-leading scoring.

NBA: Preseason-Toronto Raptors at Cleveland Cavaliers David Richard-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.

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

The Raptors lead the league in screen assists per game at 13.4.

A screen assist occurs when an offensive player sets a screen for a teammate that directly leads to a made field goal by said teammate.

Jonas Valanciunas is Toronto’s screen assist leader with 5.2 per game, which also places him third in the entire Association behind only Marcin Gortat (6.1) and Rudy Gobert (6.0).

The Raptors also have two other players in the top-20 in the NBA in this category, with Lucas Nogueira doing it 3.5 times per contest (14th) and Jakob Poeltl chipping in 3.1 (19th).

The Raptors lead the league in points per possession (PPP) on post-ups at 1.05.

Interestingly enough, they have only had 57 such possessions through 11 games this season, which is 25th in the league and only accounts for 4.8% of their total possessions.

Among players that have posted up at least 10 times this season, Jonas Valanciunas is fifth in the league in PPP at 1.23.

Lucas Noguiera has a true shooting percentage of 88.0% through his six games.

True shooting percentage is a measure of shooting efficiency that takes two-points field goals, three-point field goals, and free throws into account. Noguiera hasn’t taken a three this season, but he’s shooting 88.2% from the field and 75.0% from the charity stripe.

If Bebe met the statistical requirement for true shooting shot attempts (he’s only attempted 17 field goals and four free throws to this point), he’d be leading the league in this category.

This stat comes from a sample size that might be too small to care about, but we here at Raptors HQ love us some Bebe and will give him some props whenever they’re due.

Kyle Lowry is leading the league in minutes per game at 38.6.

Lowry is not exactly the center of attention this season (more on who is in a minute), but he’s playing a ton of minutes and subtly putting up great numbers as well.

His 38.6% shooting from the field leaves a bit to be desired, but there should be some positive regression coming for the career 41.8% shooter. Meanwhile, Kyle is averaging the second most points per game of his career with 18.9 (trailing only last year’s 21.2), while putting up career highs in both rebounds (5.3) and assists (6.8) per contest.

Also on the minutes per game leaderboard is DeMar DeRozan, who ranks sixth in the Association with 36.9 minutes played per contest. Speaking of DeMar...

DeMar DeRozan still leads the NBA in scoring with an average of 33.3 points per game.

Ok, we’ll stop talking about DeMar’s scoring as our lead stat every week, but we said we’d check in on his Michael Jordan-like start to the season until the wheels fell off and they simply haven’t. Case in point:

Also:

The Raptors have never had a scoring title winner, but DeRozan looks to be taking a shot at being the team’s first if these first 11 games are any indication. Yes, 11 games is only 13.4% of the way to a full 82 games, and that makes it hard to just assume that DeRozan will continue to play at this level for the whole campaign. Still, he should at least be recognized while he is putting up such historic early-season numbers.

On that note, DeRozan is on pace to be the all-time franchise leader in points per game (33.3 to Vince Carter’s 27.6 in 2000-01), player efficiency rating (30.0 to 25.0, set by both Chris Bosh in 2009-10 and Vince Carter in 2000-01), and win shares per 48 minutes (.223 to Jonas Valanciunas’ .211 set last year). We’ll keep an eye on those numbers to see if they hold over the full season.

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