Title: Raptors’ unconventional 3-point shot-blocking on full display against Suns
Date: February 21, 2020
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic Toronto, I wrote about the Raptors’ ability to block 3-point shots and what that does to opposing offences.
It looked as if the Toronto Raptors had conceded an open corner 3, something their statistical profile suggests they’ve done a lot of this year.
As the defence shifted to the strong side of the floor to defend a Devin Booker-Aron Baynes pick-and-roll, a Booker pass made its way across the width of the court to Kelly Oubre Jr. Oubre is a career 33 percent 3-point shooter and a 35.9 percent one on the season. That’s not exactly a 911 scenario for the defence, but he is dangerous when his steely, emerald eyes have time to lock in clearly on the rim, and the Raptors’ strategy of “conceding” corner 3s is only that in broad, ungranulated data.
As soon as the pass left Booker’s hands, Fred VanVleet left his position as the tagger on Baynes’ delayed roll and began a sprint toward Oubre. While VanVleet is not slow or unathletic, his closeout ability is restricted to some degree by his 6-foot-2 wingspan. Even as VanVleet scampered closer, Oubre should have had what would be considered, on paper, a pretty good look: a catch-and-shoot corner 3 in the middle of the shot clock against a late, shorter defender.
VanVleet closed the distance and got an arm up. Oubre missed the shot. VanVleet is not a conventional closeout threat, but he proved effective. It was a fitting snapshot of Toronto’s performance this year on that end, where little has been conventional but almost all of it has proved effective.