The next 11 days or so are going to be critical for the Raptors. Seven upcoming games leading up to Dec. 2 would seem to include some, as Chris Bosh says, of the “winnable” variety. We’ll soon find out if those exist on the Raptors schedule. (If not, well, they're always available for birthday parties and games of pin the tail on the Dinosaur.)
One thing, though. This one pass and a quick-shot approach they've fallen in love with isn’t working - it's actually making last year's Mike James and the Bahamas group look good. Parsing the stats at 82games.com this morning, here’s your numbers du jour noting: # of possessions/game; pts/100 possessions; early shots as a percentage of total shots taken; and early shot percentage:
……………….. Poss….Pts/100p..E shots..E shot pct.
06-07 offence……..97…..103…….67 %……40.4 %
05-06 offence……..92…..109…….68 %……46.6 %
|Okay, on to those winnable games.|
So: more possessions, but doing far less with them. Of all the numbers, this one looks like the biggest dropoff (if you’re wondering about the defence, the 82games numbers actually suggest marginal improvement in most areas, the notable exception being rebounding. But still below-average numbers overall).
The Raptors do have gunners, though. Shooters know the next shot they take is going down. Gunners know the last shot they took went down. So when Fred Jones hits a three off a Calderon baseline drive-and-kick, as happened last night, you knew he was going to shoot a 3 next time down off the first pass (and miss) - just one example. He's not alone. And, well, that's what he's been told to do.
Aside from the numbers, there’s a perception problem shaping up as well. The Raptors seemed at least interesting coming into this season, with the new faces, the Eurocentricity and the GM/coach combo's dress sense. In three weeks, they’ve delivered much less than anticipated. At this rate, the only thing they're going to be eligible to win is the Eurovision Song Contest. I think lack of familiarity with each other has something to do with some of their troubles, and that only comes with time. Time, though, is a rare luxury in pro sports. They’re in danger of sliding from all the way from interesting to irrelevant while the waiting continues, as even the casual fans who were looking at them beginning of the month turn away.
Irrelevant. That's maybe the most damning adjective you can throw at a pro sports franchise.