With the NBA season being suspended indefinitely, we've spent the last couple of weeks rolling out our Raptors Report Cards on each key member of this season's team. The plan? Take a closer look at how everyone performed, from Kyle Lowry and Pascal Siakam to Terence Davis and Matt Thomas.
We're down to our last player: Patrick McCaw
The road to the NBA title still goes through Patrick McCaw.
He won the NBA title as a rookie with the Golden State Warriors in 2016-17.
He won another one in his second year with the Warriors in 2017-18.
After linking up with the Toronto Raptors midway through last season following an odd week-long stint with the Cleveland Cavaliers, he, of course, won yet another NBA title.
Now in his fourth year, McCaw has endured yet another odd season in which he's been in and out of the rotation. Inactive in 21 of Toronto's first 23 games, McCaw has consistently seen big minutes since the second week of December despite less than stellar play.
MORE: 2019-20 grades for every Raptors player
He played 9:47 in a loss to the LA Clippers on December 11, which was Kawhi Leonard's first game back in Toronto. Two days later, he played 29 minutes in a win over the Brooklyn Nets, which began a stretch of 19 games in which he averaged over 28 minutes a game with 11 starts. Dating back to that game vs. Brooklyn, McCaw ranks seventh on the team in minutes per game ahead of Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Terence Davis, Matt Thomas and Chris Boucher, four other reserves looking to work their way into the back end of the regular rotation.
Surely McCaw has done enough in those minutes to warrant the consistent burn from Coach of the Year candidate Nick Nurse... right?
This is where it gets tricky.
On the season as a whole, the 6'7" wing has shot just 41.4 percent from the field. He's certainly not out there for his scoring, but among the 242 players averaging at least 20 minutes per game, only four of them are averaging fewer points than McCaw (4.6 PPG). Though he's been given a larger role than in seasons past, his rebounding, assists and steals per minute are all about on par with his career averages, and it all adds up to a Player Efficiency Rating of just 7.3. Of the 271 players in the NBA this season who have played at least 800 minutes, McCaw's PER ranks 268th ahead of only Terrance Ferguson, Treveon Graham and Jordan Poole.
Of course, there's far more to a player's worth than PER. It would be foolish to look at one data point and use that as the over-arching indicator - positive or negative - of a player's overall contributions.
Surely a player like McCaw shines beneath the surface in a way that's not reflected in his overall stats... right?
Since that Brooklyn game, which appears to be the moment when McCaw's role flipped, the Raptors have been significantly worse whenever he's been on the floor. While Toronto has outscored teams by a resounding 11.1 points per 100 possessions in the minutes McCaw has been on the bench, that number dips all the way to just plus 1.9 whenever he's been on the floor. That net negative on/off swing of 9.2 points is by far the worst of any Raptor who has logged at least 250 minutes over that span.
|McCaw On Court||McCaw Off Court|
McCaw's value comes primarily on the defensive end where on paper he's got the size, speed and length to match up against most wings. Between McCaw, Hollis-Jefferson, OG Anunoby and Pascal Siakam, it's not hard to imagine what Nurse is thinking in terms of deploying a versatile perimeter stable that can switch and match-up with almost anyone.
And yet the overall numbers on both sides of the ball point towards a significant drop on the offensive end with almost zero added benefit on defence.
On/off numbers can be tricky and there's certainly some noise. But while McCaw's overall defensive stats are solid, they aren't overwhelming to the degree that it offset the near complete lack of offensive production.
When searching for his own offence, it's at times been ugly, as evidenced by his 5-for-24 shooting on pull-up jumpers and 17-for-46 shooting on drives. If he's not wide open, he's struggled to make teams pay from the perimeter as McCaw is just 3-for-21 on 3s with any defender within six feet.
Unfortunately, that tongue-in-cheek championship pedigree hasn't truly translated to improved play on the floor even though he's been given plenty of opportunities to shine. Moving forward, it's a bit of a head scratcher why McCaw would receive minutes over the likes of Davis, Hollis-Jefferson or Thomas. There's a chance that should the season resume, McCaw remains a piece of Nurse's extended rotation. Should that happen, here's to hoping history repeats itself with his presence alone keeping Toronto's championship flame flickering.
The views expressed here do not reflect those of the NBA or its clubs.