Toronto is only three games into its post-Bosh existence, so I don’t want to go too far with this, but it’s worth looking at how they’re doing without their ex-franchise player since it’s clear the Cavs have fallen fast without James. Here are a few different ways to look at and evaluate how Toronto is doing since Bosh left for South Beach.
1. Overall Record: The Raptors are 1-2 with a 5-point loss to New York, a 20-point win over Cleveland, and a 3-point loss to Sacramento. Considering the franchise has had only one winning season in Bosh’s seven years with the club (47-35 in 2006-07), it’s not a stretch to say their record has not been affected by his absence at this early point in the year.
2. More Advanced Look At Their Record: Looking at the SRS metric (Simple Rating System) which factors in point differential and strength of schedule, the Raptors are 2.89 points above average right now, ranking 9th in the league. Over the previous five seasons with Bosh, the team’s SRS numbers and their rankings within the league have been -1.83, 19th (2009-10); -2.53, 23rd (2008-09); 2.47, 12th (2007-08); 0.61, 10th (2006-07); -3.03, 26th (2005-06). So far, the team is actually performing better overall than they ever did with Bosh on the roster.
3. Offensive Ratings: One reason a team could be performing better overall is by having a better offense. So how is the Raptors’ offense doing so far? They currently have an Offensive Rating of 106.7, which is 10th best in the NBA. Over the previous five seasons with Bosh, Toronto’s Offensive Ratings and their rankings have been 111.3, 5th (2009-10); 107.0, 22nd (2008-09); 110.2, 9th (2007-08); 107.0, 10th (2006-07); 109.5, 5th (2005-06). You should notice that their Offensive Rating has dropped from what you’ve come to expect from the Raptors in the recent past, but their rank in the league is about the same. This is because the league’s Offensive Ratings have dropped as a whole, meaning their offense is (compared to the league) about the same as when they had Bosh. It appears that the increased burden put upon Andrea Bargnani and DeMar DeRozan, plus the addition of Linas Kleiza, was enough to neautralize Bosh’s departure in the scoring department.
4. Defensive Ratings: Another reason a team could be performing better overall is by having a better defense. So far they have a Defensive Rating of 102.4, which is 12th best in the NBA. Over the past five years with Bosh—who is known for his defensive indifference and ineptitude—Toronto’s Defensive Ratings and their rankings have been 113.2, 30th (2009-10); 110.0, 22nd (2008-09); 107.0, 13th (2007-08); 106.0, 12th (2006-07);112.7, 29th (2005-06). There is no question their defense has improved from last season’s league-worst performance, and it’s clearly a step up from what fans have come to expect from the squad in recent years.
5. Reggie Evans' Rebounding: Part of the reason the Raptors’ offense and defense haven’t taken a noticeable hit (yet) has been the emergence of new starting PF Reggie Evans and his amazing rebounding prowess. Although undersized at 6-feet-8, Evans is leading the league in rebounds per game through three contests with 16.3. His individual totals for each game are 16, 14, and 19, giving him an overall total of 49. Chris Bosh currently has a grand total of only 32 rebounds through 5 games. In fact, the last time Bosh had 49 rebounds over 3 consecutive games was…never, and the 5-time All-Star hasn’t topped 19 in a single game since 2006. Bosh’s Rebounding Percentage numbers have been OK throughout his career, averaging 14.9 over his 7 years with a single-season high of 17.7 last year (10th best in the league, the only season he ranked in the top-10). Evans, on the other hand, has a career Rebounding Percentage of 20.8 (one of the highest percents ever, topping Dwight Howard’s 20.7, Tim Duncan’s 18.5, and Shaq’s 17.9), and it’s never been lower than 18.8 in a season. The evil bearded one is way ahead of the league right now with a 29.1; Bosh sits at a shooting guard-like 11.5.
Between Evans’ vastly superior rebounding abilities, Evans’ slightly better defensive abilities, and a few other players picking up the scoring slack (Evans isn’t a scorer), it’s not too difficult to see why the Raptors are not showing any signs of taking a step back after Bosh left. It’s too early to say we have all greatly over-rated Bosh’s skills and impact on the game up to this point in his career, but his legacy certainly has to be re-examined if Toronto continues to be none-the-worse without him.