National Post Q&A with Alex Rucker
It's a two part Q&A one is on the use of analytics in the NBA and the other on individual players
Q: Is there a specific slant to what the Raptors do analytically?
“The two core pieces of analytically ideology are: one, what data do you have, and two, how do you use it or what are you looking to find [from] it? With respect to the data, I think there are massive discrepancies between NBA teams. And we are frankly at the leading edge of that. We’ve invested heavily in the SportVu camera system. We have a robust data collection process, whether it is coaches, interns or other people. I think that we are at the leading edge in terms of data that we hold. But I think that edge is a temporary one. I think it’s a matter of time before every team has the cameras and has the volume of data that we enjoy … I think that our team has some fairly clear identities. [Raptors coach Dwane Casey] has set a clear culture and points of emphasis as far as what we’re doing to do as a team. I’m not going to go anywhere near [mentioning] specific metrics or processes. But I think our focus has shifted over the last three years. We’re focused on what kind of team does Bryan want to assemble, and what kind of performance does Dwane want on the court …”
Rucker gives a very good analysis on the individual players and how each on compliments the other and should help us be competitive. Also using Casey's defensive philosophy Rucker put emphasis on defensive analytics in all the players that we brought in this offseason. It really looks like were building a team that going to be really good in the coming years.
Q: There was a lot of angst over the three-year, US$19-million contract given to Landry Fields. What supports being so aggressive with him?
“I understand the controversy or criticism of him, and I think a huge amount of that was due to his sophomore season in the pros. Somebody mentioned to me the other day that if you swapped his first and second years, there would be no criticism at all. If you rewind 12 months and give him that deal after his rookie season, there is no criticism at all, and there probably would have been a lot of praise. However, that second year happened. I think we identified that the wing position was a need, and that there were specific things we wanted to upgrade. The two big ones were wing defence and perimeter shooting. Again, I know that Landry had this massive disparity between his exceptional first year of 39% three-point shooting to the significant decline last year to 26%. One of those numbers is great. One of those numbers is very poor. What do we get? Obviously we went after him and targeted him because we think we’re getting something closer to the rookie year in the mid-low 30s, which would give us a very valuable weapon on offence. And he is a very, very strong complementary player. You mentioned Andrea or Lowry as guys who are very effective with the ball. At a certain point, you do want to have guys like [Morris Peterson] or James Posey or Aaron Afflalo who are more effective in an off-ball, complementary role in offence. If you look at Landry’s rookie year in that role, he was exceptional. Last year, there was a decline across the board. You can look at why and how and when that happened and draw your own conclusions. …”