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Dwane Casey’s Toronto tendencies: Ball movement, attacking the rim, and three pointers

How much of Casey’s playbook will make the trip to Detroit?

NBA: Detroit Pistons at Toronto Raptors Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

DBB’s David Fernandez didn’t lie:

Much to my healthy skepticism, the Pistons made Dwane Casey their new head coach on the day The Fernantula said they would. For myself, that meant taking a crash course on Toronto’s offense.

I, probably much like you, didn’t and haven’t watched the Raptors with the same attention to detail as I do with the hometown Pistons. I, probably much like you, took in eight Raptors’ games from start to finish this year: their 4-0 season sweep of the Pistons and the 0-4 playoff sweep at the hands of the Cleveland LeBrons. To put it lightly, I, probably much like you, still have much to learn about Dwane Casey.

Fixing the Pistons’ offense has been an on-going event this off-season at DBB (here, here, and here) but let’s put that on hold why we examine what, exactly, is headed our way. Below are the major themes from the Raptors’ offense that stood out during my summer school elective class.

Does any of this fit our roster? That’s for the comment section decide, I’ll lay it out for you to play it out.


Drive and kick

“Drive” definition: When a player attacks the basket off the dribble in the half-court offense. Does not include situations where the player starts close to the basket, catches on the move, or immediately gets cut off on the perimeter.

Applying pressure towards the rim was a focus for the Raptors during the 2017-18 season and culminated in 52.3 drives per game, good for second most in the NBA. Leading the way, by far, was DeMar DeRozan with an average just north of 16 per game. Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet and Delon Wright all contributed over seven drives per game.

The “kick” part comes into play in the form of spot-up shooting as 22.5-percent (third highest in the league) of all Raptors’ possessions ended in a spot-up attempt.

Increase three-point attempts

The Raptors’ revamped offense made the three-pointer a priority, not only in theory, but in practice as well. The result was a franchise-high 2,703 total attempts which is an average of 33 hoists per game, registering third most on a per game basis.

The Raptors often used the PNR to touch paint, gather defensive eyeballs and dish out:

Hardly complicated but overly effective.

Ball movement

Replacing the isolation heavy focus from years’ past, Casey preached ball movement with an emphasis on forcing the defense to move side-to-side.

The principle showed up on film in two major ways: ball reversal and making the extra pass.

Ball reversal:

Skip passes and quick passes keep the defense moving east and west making them more susceptible to penetration.

Extra pass:

Turning down a good shot for a great shot is the dream of all coaches.


Led by Sixth Man of the Year candidate Fred VanVleet, the Raptors’ bench was an undeniable strength. Young, athletic and versatile, the second unit not only kept the Raptors in games, but often put the team ahead before the starters came back to close it out.

Jakob Poeltl and Delon Wright did most of their damage in and around the rim, C.J. Miles was the long-ball threat while OG Anunoby and Pascal Siakam did a little bit of everything.

As a team, Toronto wasn’t much of a DHO (dribble hand-off) user, but that didn’t stop Miles and Siakam from exercising the action on a when-needed basis:

75-percent of all Miles’ attempts were three-pointers.

DeMar DeRozan / Kyle Lowry

DD attempted a career-high 285 three point attempts but attacking the rim remained the main talking point of his game. One of the easiest ways Casey got DeRozan involved was through a simple wide screen:

And this staggered screen:

A whopping 60 percent of Lowry field goal attempts came beyond the arc but the 12-year pro backed it up by scoring 120.5 points per 100 shots which put him in the 96th percentile of all point guards.

Lowry’s chemistry with DeRozan remains elite:

Jonas Valanciunas / Serge Ibaka

Two distinctly different bigs with Valanciunas more of a roller and Ibaka more of a popper out of the pick-and-roll. As a team, the Raptors scored 1.12 PPP when the ball ended up in the screener’s hands out of the PNR. In addition to the conventional PNR, both bigs used the throw and chase:

Valanciunas also dabbled in three point shooting (40 percent on one attempt per game), and, at 1.09 PPP, he was a proficient post up scorer. Casey and the Raptors, however, rarely ran the offense out of the post.

Ibaka scored six points per game solely on catch-and-shoot opportunities while only 22-percent of his total field goal attempts came at the rim. Ibaka’s 4.4 spot-up attempts per game landed him in the top ten of frequency.


Five out

All five players start outside of the three-point line:

With no defender at the rim, the offense will patiently wait for the most opportunistic time to attack.

1-2 pick-and-roll

Most commonly used by Lowry and DeRozan:

Back-court PNR but the slip made it extra spicy. Toronto was a top-eight team in terms of frequency and scoring proficiency from the ball-handler in the PNR.


Sideline DHO with read and react options:

If no one is there to stop you, take it hole like Wright.


Often used at the end of the quarter. Big sets an on-ball screen then hunts for the opposite wing’s defender:


A staggered screen involving one big and one back-court player that begins on either wing:


Inbounder has an option to cut baseline or pop out for a three, and depending on what he chooses, options open up for the screener:

Get the ball into DeRozan’s hands:


Like the Veer, a favorite at the end of the quarter:

Looks for shooters

A frequent set-up for Miles:

And its progression:

For Ibaka:

And its progression:

Well, there you have it - does any of this fit in Detroit? How will Casey change from the Raptors’ backcourt strength to the Pistons’ (seemingly) strength in the frontcourt? That’s my biggest question. What’s yours?