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Join Date: May 2008
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Hollinger: Player profiles (Toronto Raptors)
+ Tough, aggressive guard who pressures the ball and defends. Loves taking charges.
+ Likes to push the tempo but can get out of control. Improved outside shooter.
+ Good athlete who draws fouls. On the short side. Excellent rebounder for size.
Lowry had a career year in Kevin McHale's point guard-friendly system, but he clashed with the coach anyway -- partly because his previously ferocious defense slackened noticeably last season. Normally among the best defensive point guards in basketball, Lowry's defensive metrics were pretty ho-hum last season. Synergy rated him below average, and opposing point guards had a 15.7 PER against him, although the Rockets still gave up fewer points with him on the court.
The one positive at that end was how much he helped on the glass -- Lowry's rebound rate (8.2) led all point guards. Nonetheless, one suspects that in Dwane Casey's system, he'll be asked to defend more and freelance on offense less.
Offensively, Lowry's shooting was a revelation. He made 37.4 percent of his 3s and was smart enough to mostly either shoot 3s or go all the way to the rim -- fewer than a third of his shots were 2s outside the basket area. Additionally, he drew heaps of fouls this way and made a career-high 86.4 percent at the stripe. The cost was a boost in turnovers without any commensurate rise in assists.
Lowry now has shot better than 37 percent on 3s in consecutive seasons, and last season many of these were several feet behind the line, so it's time to update the scouting report on his shooting -- he's a real threat from deep. Between that and his quickness getting to the rim, he'll be a major upgrade for Toronto, especially if he gets back to his old ways on defense.
+ One-dimensional scorer who can get to the rim and draw fouls. Midrange shooter.
+ Great leaper, finisher. Ball hog with iffy handle, passes only as last resort.
+ Decent defensive tools but focus an issue. Struggles to guard big 3s.
DeRozan averaged nearly a point every two minutes last season, ranking in the top third of shooting guards in that metric. And that about does it for the good news.
Few players score an emptier 20 than this guy. Offensively, DeRozan drew fouls at a high rate (eighth among shooting guards) and made his freebies (81 percent). But his secondary percentage was still less than the norm for the position because he made only 24 3-pointers all season, and his midrange stroke had some snags, too. DeRozan had made a strong 41.5 percent of his long 2s in 2010-11, but that might have been an outlier; he converted only 35.7 percent last season. Given that he mostly shot long 2s, that was a problem.
His other problem is that he doesn't notice the other four guys on the court. It's one thing for DeRozan to be a mildly inefficient, high-volume shooter, but he also created only for himself. He ranked just 56th out of 61 shooting guards in pure point rating.
Defensively, DeRozan improved but still has a long way to go to become decent. Some of that can be attributed to playing more at the 3, where he struggled with size mismatches. However, his effort and technique also could use a significant upgrade. DeRozan ranked near the bottom of Synergy's rankings, while the Raptors gave up 3.5 points per 100 possessions more with him on the court.
+Tall line-drive jump shooter. Deadly off catch or single dribble to right.
+ Likes jab move off wrong foot for face-up jumper or right-hand drive.
+ Much-improved defender. Charmin-soft and abhors contact. Horrid rebounder.
Bargnani missed more than half the season with a calf strain and wasn't quite himself in several aborted comeback attempts, which is unfortunate because he looked to be one of the league's most improved players before the injury.
Bargnani was a force in the 13 games he played before the All-Star break, averaging 24.1 points on 46.3 percent shooting, getting to the line with aggressive right-hand drives and pump fakes, and flummoxing opposing big men with his usual unorthodox assortment of wrong-footed jab step moves. Without him, the Raptors were hopeless offensively; they're 10-31 over the past two seasons when he doesn't play.
The offense wasn't even the best part of Bargnani's partial season, though. Defensively, he went from one of the worst in the league to something resembling a real basketball player, overnight. I don't want to get too excited just yet -- he still lacks physicality and his rebound rate is flat-out embarrassing for a 7-footer -- but Bargnani had very strong Synergy grades, and his other metrics were substantially less awful than usual.
Last season offered a small sample, but with Bargnani likely to play more at the 4 this season and the tantalizing glimpse he gave us in 2011-12, he could finally be poised for the kind of breakout the Raptors have awaited the past six years.
player profiles - ESPN