How are the Raptors still an elite defence while surrendering a historic number of corner threes?

Title: How are the Raptors still an elite defence while surrendering a historic number of corner threes?
Date: January 10, 2020
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis:  In my latest for The Athletic Toronto, I dove deep into the Raptors’ defensive profile to try to figure out how they can be a top defense while allowing so many threes, and whether that’s sustainable.

The Toronto Raptors are allowing more corner 3-point attempts than any team in NBA history. They are near the very top of the league in man-games and expected wins lost to injury. Yet somehow they still rank second in the league in defensive rating through Wednesday’s games.

Those three sentences do not feel like they can coexist.

It’s easy enough to find an explanation for the Raptors’ defence holding up through all of the injuries. Even as you go deeper down the roster, there are very few subpar individual defenders, a matter of strategy that became clear very early in the offseason. The Raptors have been able to find a unique blend of championship carryover and chip-on-the-shoulder attitude, a testament to their character. Nick Nurse is also turning in a Coach of the Year level performance through 38 games.

It’s more difficult to marry the volume of corner threes with the overall quality of the defence. The explosion of 3-point volume around the league has occurred because those shots were found to be quite efficient. The Raptors’ own offence wants to create them, and most defences hope to keep their opponents from taking them. Even allowing for the fact that leaguewide offensive efficiency has increased the last few seasons – making the relative value of a corner three less dramatic compared to the overall offensive environment – it’s unusual that a defence can give up so many high-yield looks and still be quite strong overall.

Check it out on The Athletic.

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