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Legends66NBA7 10-11-2013 06:43 PM

One Team, One stat: Raptors come up empty in the clutch


The stat

12.8 percent - Combined 3-point percentage by DeMar DeRozan (1-for-12), Rudy Gay (2-for-12) and Kyle Lowry (3-for-23) in the clutch last season.
Clutch = Last 5 minutes of the fourth quarter or overtime with a score differential of five points or less.

The context

Among 85 players who attempted at least 10 clutch-time 3-pointers, Gay, Lowry and DeRozan ranked 80th, 84th and 85th in clutch 3-point percentage respectively. And Gay was tied with Chris Paul and Luke Ridnour, so, technically, all three Raptors were in the bottom four.

Ten of Gayís 12 attempts were with the Grizzlies, but that still leaves a lot of misses between Lowry and DeRozan. As a team, Toronto ranked last in clutch-time 3-point percentage at 20.4 percent (19-for-93) and 29th in clutch-time efficiency, scoring 91.2 points per 100 possessions in 211 clutch-time minutes.

The following video has the lowlights from a Grizzlies-Nuggets game (won by Denver) in which Gay was 0-for-3 on clutch 3s and a Raptors-Sixers game (won by Philly in OT) in which DeRozan and Lowry were a combined 0-for-6 on clutch 3sÖ

Clutch-time stats are small sample sizes with some randomness to them. Gay shot 36 percent from the field and 2-for-12 from 3-point range in clutch time last season, but 51 percent from the field and 5-for-8 from deep in 2011-12. Lowry was 6-for-13 on clutch 3-pointers in í11-12.

Still, all three guys are under 30 percent on clutch 3s over the course of their careers (DeRozan is 1-for-25), with the league average at 31.5 percent since Gay and Lowry entered the league in 2006. Clutch time or not, perimeter shooting is one of the biggest questions surrounding the Raptors this season.

Lowry has actually improved his 3-point shooting quite a bit over the course of his career. After shooting 26 percent from beyond the arc in his first four seasons, he has shot 37 percent over his last three. That improvement has been worth more than a point per game.

But he needs to teach DeRozan, who has shot 24 percent from 3-point range in his first four seasons, how he did it. Gay, meanwhile, has shot just 32 percent on 3-pointers over the last two seasons.

Long-range shooting is a critical part of a successful NBA offense. Only one of the top 10 offenses in the league last season ó Denver ó didnít rank in the top 10 in either 3-point attempts or 3-point percentage. And the Nuggets were a unique team that ran the floor, attacked the basket, got to the line, and grabbed a ton of offensive rebounds.

The Raptors ranked 14th offensively last season, but 21st after the Gay trade. And it will be difficult for them to have a decent offense this year if two of their three perimeter starters canít shoot the league average from beyond the arc. It will also be difficult for them to win close games if those clutch numbers remain so ugly.

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