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Toronto Raptors: The Reliability Of Luis Scola

Toronto Raptors: The Reliability Of Luis Scola

Posted by PanamericanWorld on January 11, 2016

After signing a one-year deal last offseason, Luis Scola has brought his trademark reliability to a Toronto Raptors team that desperately needed it.

After an offseason filled with so much roster turnover following a season that ended in utter disappointment, the Toronto Raptors have regrouped exceptionally well this season as they are near the top of a very unpredictable Eastern Conference.

While a lot of the team’s success this year has been due to the incredibly productive play of the team’s (hopeful) All-Star backcourt of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, a substantial amount is also due to the team’s resurgence on the defensive end, spearheaded by head coach Dwane Casey.

The additions of DeMarre Carroll and Cory Joseph, as well as the losses of both Greivis Vasquez and Lou Williams, have been a major help on that side of the ball.

But in terms of the frontcourt, trying to replace the workmanlike play of long-time veteran Amir Johnson along with veteran Tyler Hansbrough would be a tough task of any team trying find their defensive roots again.

That’s where Luis Scola enters.

After signing what’s been considered a low-risk contract with the team last summer, Scola has been instrumental in helping establish the Raptors as a top-10 team offensively and defensively (per Basketball-Reference.com) at this point in the season.

Although his traditional statistics are largely on par with what he’s been able to produce over his nine-year career, Scola’s biggest strengths have made a difference in certain areas where the team suffered last year.

For example, Scola has established himself throughout his career as a strong rebounder, especially on the defensive end and he’s currently posting a defensive rebound percentage of better than 20 percent (21.3 percent as of now) for the fourth straight season.

And while that’s not solely based on Scola alone, as fellow offseason frontcourt acquisition Bismack Biyombo is currently posting a higher defensive rebound percentage (29.4 percent!), the impact has been immense as the team has jumped from the 24th-ranked defensive rebounding team last year to the fourth-best as things stand right now.

Where things have changed the most this season for Scola individually has come on the offensive end.

Even though Scola’s shooting efficiency has slightly dipped over the last couple of years, he’s still shooting a very respectable 46 percent from the field.  But where the story has changed for Scola has been his newfound ability to space the floor, as he’s been shooting a surprising 42 percent from beyond the arc.

Given the ongoing shooting slump of Patrick Patterson, Scola’s offensive versatility and reliable efficiency from deep is a big plus for a team that may not have anticipated this development when bringing him in this past off-season.

And while we’re on the topic of versatility, Scola’s ability to play as a small-ball center in limited minutes should be something Casey should explore more since the small sample size has been more than exceptional so far.

Yes, we’ve only just passed the two month mark of the season, but the addition of Scola (along with every other deal the team made over the summer) couldn’t have worked out better for this Raptors team in what now could be considered a landmark off-season for the team.

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