Title: Raptors Analytics: Evaluating a transition year, Pascal Siakam’s growth and more
Date: December 7, 2020
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic Toronto, Seth Partnow and I had a discussion about how the Raptors shape up analytically ahead of the 2020-21 season.
The Toronto Raptors always overperform expectations. It’s been as safe a bet as any over the last decade, with the Raptors hitting the “over” on their preseason win total over-unders in nine consecutive seasons. They sleep, prove ‘em, understand the grind, bet on yourself and so on and so forth.
But while the Raptors tend to win more regular season games than the market anticipates, the public’s qualitative analysis of the team has generally been fairly sharp. From 2014-18, the Raptors were framed as a team with a playoff ceiling due to some stylistic and roster construction bottlenecks. In 2020, we worried that while their defence would withstand a superstar’s exodus, the half-court offence was relying on too much progression in a single year.
It wasn’t surprising, then, when the factors that caused the Raptors to bow out in the second round, in one of the best playoff series in recent memory, had been predicted and continually dissected. This isn’t Barry Horowitz patting himself on the back, but a reminder that the why underlying an under-prediction of a team is generally more helpful than the number itself.
To help us put those — and other — numbers in context and project how a second transition year of sorts for the Raptors might look, we enlisted the help of Seth Partnow, the former director of basketball research for the Milwaukee Bucks and The Athletic’s resident analytics expert.