Amir doing work, DeRozan Defense, Pre-season predictions, Trade baits and Odd Bayless stats

Today, I am going to look at some Raptor and NBA related stuff.

1) Amir doing work.

I have written this before, but Amir Johnson is one of the bright spot for the Raptors this season. The biggest thing is that he is able to stay on the floor without getting into too much foul issues. He averaged just less than 30 minutes in Jan, which is a career high for Amir. I wasn’t too crazy about the 5 year contract given by Bryan Colangelo, mostly because Amir can’t stay on the floor.  I also said that in order for Amir to earn his contract, he has to average 30 minutes per game. If he can continue to stay on the floor and avoid foul problems, I could be wrong after all.

Johnson is still very young at 23 and continue his improvement as a NBA player. He has great hands, excellent finisher around the rim. He improves his jumper and free throws. He has always been able to rebound and block shots. The one thing I like most about him is that he battles every game. He is undersized even as a PF, he isn’t strong enough to battle most players for positions. But he tried to front bigger opponents for post position, and somehow get into good rebounding position, unlike Andrea Bargnani who concede post position every time. His defense on Andrew Bogut late in the game against the Bucks was tremendous.

Johnson can be a starter in this league on a contending team, he has all the skills and athletic ability in the world, nothing can stop him from being a good player except for himself.

2) DeRozan’s Defense.

Now that DeMar has proven he can score, maybe it’s time for him to learn how to play defense.  According to, his on court/off court rating is the worst among the regular players playing on the team. And this is proven if you watch him play defense on court.  He gets blown by way too easily, get caught in screen too many times, doesn’t get into good defensive stance. DeRozan so far has not be able to translate his athletic ability to defense. In order for the Raptors to become a better defensive team, DeRozan has to play better D.

3) Pre-Season Prediction.

Before the season started, I did an over and under column base on Vegas odds.

Like all prediction, the results are mixed. By my calculation, I am right about 60% of these. So far, it looks I am right about Minnesota, Toronto, Cleveland, NY, New Jersey, Chicago, Philly, Houston, Charlotte, Phoenix, Indiana, OKC, Golden States, Detroit, New Orleans, San Antonio, Dallas and Denver.  I was wrong on the others, particularly the Bucks (I thought Maggette and Gooden would improve their offense, but both are disappointment this season), the Celtics (I was thinking they would pace themselves and have more health issues) and the Hawks (I thought they have reached a peak last season).

Of course, things could change, an injury or two could alter the outcome of the season, we will have an in depth look after the season.

4) Trade Baits.

With the trade deadline just a couple of weeks away, it’s time look at who in the Raptor lineup are most likely to be traded. For me, there is no untouchable with this lineup, as long as we get value in return, but the 2 players most likely to be moved are Leandro Barbosa and Reggie Evans. Evans is an expiring contract, who is a monster rebounder. The Raptors hoped that he can return from his injury before the trade deadline so they can showcase him to the contenders. Reggie is a good backup big man on a contending team, the Raptors is hoping to get a young prospect or late first round pick. As for Barbosa, he is very valuable player who can provide scoring off the bench. He has a player option which he will probably not use. If the Raptors can get an expiring contract plus a decent prospect, then he has a good chance of leaving.

As for the other Raptors, I am sure none of them are untouchable. If Colangelo could get value for Bargnani, he would move him. It’s just that I am not sure the longer contracts can be traded especially when there is a lockout looming.  As for the trade exception, I don’t expect them to use much of it.

5) Odd Bayless stats

We will end on something I observe with Bayless. He is a much better player as a starter than coming off the bench. He averaged 14/7/4 while shooting 46% as a starter, while his FG%, points per minute and assist per minute goes down when he comes off the bench. He seems to look more confident as a starter, and very tentative coming off the bench.  I am not sure if anyone can explain it, but it’s very odd.  And it’s not like he is pouting coming off the bench like TJ Ford, he has a good attitude as far as I can tell, it’s pretty strange.




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