When T.J. Ford is running the point, Toronto plays at an above-average pace, when Jose Calderon is getting the majority of the playing time, the Raptors play at the slowest pace in the entire NBA.
Unfortunately, I can’t break pace factor down possession by possession, but here are the two numbers to remember: 94.6 and 90.2.
When T.J. Ford plays more than half of a game for the Raptors
(24+ minutes), the Raptors
pace factor is 94.6, which would put them 13th in the NBA. When T.J. has been injured, or has played less than half of a game for the Raptors, their pace factor is 90.2, which would tie them with Detroit for the slowest pace in the league.
I think these numbers pass the “laugh test,” which means they “sort of make sense.” When T.J. is in the game, he can break his man down off the dribble early in the shot clock, and (as his critics often point out), he takes jumpers early in the shot clock every so often as well. Conversely, Jose Calderon
is more prone to working the offence deep into the shot clock, waiting until the best shot is possible before ending a possession, so to speak.
But I think one other element is at play here that might be going unnoticed. I think both T.J. and Jose play at a faster pace when both are healthy. I have no doubt that Jose has slowed the pace of this team since T.J’s injury. You simply don’t see that typical Calderon
finish off the initial pick and roll very often anymore. I suspect that’s because it’s probably a play that requires a high amount of energy for Calderon
to perform it successfully, and, well… he hasn’t had a lot of energy to spare lately.
So are the Raptors
a grind it out team or an up-tempo squad? The answer—at least when they have a full, healthy roster—is a bit of both.