I’m sure we’re all well aware of how efficient the Raptors are on the offensive end and how inefficient and ineffective they are (statistically) on the defensive end. The first week of games really exposed deficiencies defensively- players were rotating late, not communicating when they needed help, and were doing nothing to close off the driving lanes- resulting in almost every opposing team taking advantage of dribble penetration and drive and kick opportunities. Those wide open 3s by Ryan Anderson were frustrating to watch.
Since then, I think the team has made some serious strides on their rotations and switches. Help defense has also improved, but Jose Calderon and Andrea Bargnani could be doing a better job… specifically, teams are taking advantage of Calderons single coverages and faster pg’s are easily blowing past him- this usually results in Bosh moving away from his man and coming up to close off the lane. Unfortunately, this sequence totally exposes Bargnani’s help defense - or lackthereof. I’m sure these are areas that can be improved upon by Bargs, but I believe that once Reggie Evans returns to the lineup, the Raptors will be able to limit some of these sequences. Bargnani is a pretty underrated on-the-ball defender and I think he does a pretty decent job of containing the opposing 5s in the paint, but his glaring weakness is as a help defender. Perhaps he can learn a thing or two from Amir Johnson, who has been amazing imo. He’s precisely the kind of player this team has been missing for the last few years; a high energy big that can relieve some pressure off our bigs and help box out.
Offense is clearly not an issue with this team, although I’m sure if Jose and Jarrett Jack were shooting better percentages from long range our offense would be even better. And CB4's amazing run so far has been well documented.
For those that are still not convinced by the teams play, I think it’s a fair assessment when you look at the stats, but watching the team play night after night there is evidently progress being made. In my opinion, the one thing that really separates this team from last year is how efficient and effective our offense is under Jay Triano. If I’m not mistaken, I don’t think the Raptors had a single game last season until Feb or March where they actually held a lead of over 15 points during the game! Isn’t that a telling tale of how ineffective our offense was early in the season last year?
One thing that is slightly concerning is the inability to sustain large leads, but thats a sign of a young team and a relatively inexperienced coaching staff. Things should improve over time as both the players and the coaches learn and make progressive adjustments.