The Wings Of The Future

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December 28, 2012 by upandatom786

The Raptors went into the summer of 2012 with the intention of upgrading an extremely weak wing rotation. With this aim in mind, they jettisoned talented but consistent wing defender James Johnson, extended DeMar DeRozan, signed Landry Fields as a RFA, and drafted Terrence Ross. The thought was that these latter two would pair with DeRozan to be the wings of the future. So far, Landry Fields has barely played, but in the games he has played he’s shown almost no offensive ability. It’s unclear how much of his struggling is due to his exotic elbow injury, but Raptors fans and management certainly hope his percentages begin to approach those of his first two years.

The player that I most want to examine here is Terrence Ross. His drafting was a bit of a surprise in the ninth draft spot, not least because he ostensibly played the same position as DeMar DeRozan.The logic behind his drafting seems to hint at a potential fulltime move by DeRozan to the 3 spot. The problem with this theoretical lineup switch is DeMar’s ability to defend small forwards. Although DeMar’s got the length to match up with bigger players, he’s still a skinny guy. That’s why it’s encouraging to see that, according to NBA.com, when Ross and DeRozan are on the floor together, Toronto’s Defensive Rating improves from 104.9 to 97.9, albeit in only 189 minutes of floor time. What’s not so rosy about this lineup combination is the offense. With these two on the court together, the Offensive Rating of the Raptors drops from 101.2 to 94.6. Toronto fans must hope that Ross’ offense improves and their defense with both DeRozan and Ross stays as good as it is. This is why it’s encouraging that in the month of December, this two man combination has produced an Offensive Rating of 99.4 while the Defensive Rating has maintained at 98.

Ross’ individual development has been spotty but encouraging. His athleticism is staggering, and as a result he’s earned a reputation as one of the best, most exciting dunkers in the league. His athleticism serves him well on defense too, and according to Synergy, he’s the 48th best defender in the league, ranked by points per possession. When he’s been matched up against some of the better shooting guards in the league, his foot speed and length have allowed him to play above average D in 1-on-1 situations. In fact, on isolation plays, Ross is ranked 85th in the league. He’s also used his athleticism to great effect while closing out on shooters, and he’s allowing only .74 points per spot up possession, good for 35th in the league. While it’s important to note that the current sample size is tiny, it’s encouraging that Ross is showing such immediate results on defense.

It’s on offense where Ross has struggled. Outside of his spectacular dunks in transition, he’s struggled to make shots, and although his jump shot shows good form and he seems capable of growing into a good perimeter shooter, he’s only hitting on 31.6% of his 3 pointers thus far. He’s also overly reliant on long twos. According to Hoopdata, he’s shooting more than 4 shots from 16-23 feet per 40 minutes, despite shooting only 23% on these shots. If he can get to the rim more, where he’s shooting an absurd 87%, it will do wonders for his efficiency.

On a side note, I want to note how good Alan Anderson has been. Even though his 2 point percentage isn’t stellar – in fact, it’s pretty putrid – his shot distribution is immaculate. He takes more than half of his shots from behind the arcĀ  where he’s an average shooter and he gets to the line at a prodigious rate for a three point gunner. He also hits his shots when he gets to the line. AA’s defense has been solid too. Although he’s not a lockdown defender by any means, he’s a smart help defender who’s rarely out of position and who tries hard on every play. It’s no coincidence that Anderson has the best Net Rating on the team, and although his age probably precludes him from a spot in the wing rotation of the future, one hopes both that the Raptors are able to move him for a piece of future value and that he gets to go to a team where he can play meaningful games. He’s certainly earned the right to play for a good team.

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2 thoughts on “The Wings Of The Future

  1. Oliver Tweed says:

    What Anderson brings to the table is a tenacity that sets the tone for the whole team. It’s not easily measured on a stat sheet but it improves the overall defensive performance of the team. This shouldn’t be discounted when assessing his contribution. As good defenders are, he’s a pest. (see: Gary Payton)

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