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When the Toronto Raptors, a summer ago, committed $64 million over 4 years to DeMarre Carroll, the hope would be that the acquisition would propel the team past the first round, and help them establish themselves as one of the elite teams in the league. 56 wins and a berth in the Eastern Conference Finals later, mission accomplished, right? We can say that this was truly a successful signing, and no one could possibly question the contract, right? If it were that simple, I’d tell you that Carroll was going to have a great year and end the profile at that. But last year wasn’t that unmitigated success for DeMarre due to health concerns, even if the Raptors got where they wanted to be.

Last year the injury problems started early in the season for Carroll, with a story breaking early in November that he was dealing with plantar fasciitis. After playing 35.6 MPG in the first 6 games of the season, Carroll then missed the next 3 games, from November 8th through 11th, and upon return averaged 33.6 minutes over the next 12, before, on December 7th, being ruled out indefinitely with a bruised right knee. Carroll would go on to sit the next 9 games, before returning on December 26th to play five more games, before sitting out yet again with knee issues and requiring surgery on January the 6th. He would go on to miss the next 41 games and return in April to play 3 games late in the season, and DeMarre was active for the entire playoff run for the Raptors, although he never looked truly himself.

We could talk about the handling of the injuries by the Raptors, and the questions over whether a player returning from injuries should be playing more than 30 minutes a night, and whether that contributed to the ongoing problems that Carroll had. But some good did come of all the time missed last season. There’s certainly something to look at there going forward with how the team handles injuries and works towards bring players back. If not for Carroll’s injuries, however, the Raptors never would’ve found the playing time for Norman Powell, and he wouldn’t have been able to develop so quickly.

The Raptors acquired Carroll to defend bigger small forwards in tough matchups, something that neither DeMar DeRozan or Terrence Ross is capable of doing. Carroll in pre-season has shown signs that he might be returning to that player again. In Atlanta, prior to the acquisition, DeMarre had the best season of his career, proving to be an effective, tough defender, and on shooting 48.7% from the field and 39.5% from downtown. The Atlanta offense felt tailor-made for his skillset as well, being built around passing and generating the best shot available.


(Courtesy: Austin Clemens)

In Toronto, the offense wouldn’t seem as well-fit for DeMarre, as the Raptors rank near the bottom of the league in assists, while the Hawks are perennially in the upper echelon in that category. However, Carroll was able to find his niche as an off-ball player here as well, working off DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry’s ball-heavy attack and using their frequent double teams to find open 3-point shots. Despite taking a much smaller percentage of his 3pt attempts from the corners than he did with the Hawks, Carroll still managed to hit 39% of his shots from long-range last year, and had an impressive 48.3% effective field goal percentage on catch and shoot opportunities. His field goal percentage, on the other hand, dropped from 48.7% in 2014/15 to 38.9% last year. A lot of this might be attributed to the Raptors asking him to create some of his own offense, and Carroll didn’t look comfortable doing this, as he struggled to score off the dribble. Whether this remains part of the Raptors offense this season remains to be seen.

The Raptors intended starting lineup from a year agi, Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, DeMarre Carroll, Luis Scola and Jonas Valanciunas played in only 15 games last season, partially due to Carroll’s injuries and partially due to missed games from Valanciunas, and never managed to fully find it’s footing. This year the starting group looks to be similar, with Jared Sullinger playing in the place of Scola, who departed during the summer. Although Sullinger appears to be a far better fit than Scola, the group still has to prove they can be an effective unit this season, to lessen the dependence on the bench being strong in order to keep the team in games, and a lot of that will depend on how much the team can get from Carroll this year. While Ross and Powell behind Carroll remain capable players, neither of them truly replaces Carroll’s defensive role and if DeMarre can’t give the team a healthy, effective season it’s hard to see the Raptors returning to the Eastern Conference Finals, or pushing further come the spring.

  • Mike$

    Might never be as good as he was as in Atlanta but he if healthy he’s still a difference maker. His 3pt shooting will always be needed and even as a decent defender, never mind the elite defender he could be, he should be a lot of help this year. Stay healthy carroll

    • distorsun

      We need him more than ever this year.
      , especially with the void left by Byombo.

  • justsayin

    Which former hawk will have the biggest impact on his team this year, assuming a healthy season: Carroll or Horford?

    • Sinbad

      Horford, and its not close. He’s tailor-made for the Celtics system, be it passing, switching out onto the perimeter, rebounding, shooting, post-defence…he ticks all the boxes. And I trust Stevens to manage his minutes and not burn him out far more than I trust Casey to manage Carroll.

      • Noelle

        never being a great rebounder is tailor made for the Celtics system? Interesting, do tell.

        No call to slobber over a perceived opportunity to slag Casey when the question you’re responding to specifically asks to assumes a healthy season

        • Mike$

          Other than rebounding I think its fair to say he fits into the celtics system extremely well. He’s not a high usage player and plays inside the system very well (not great in iso, but he can space the floor, shoot the ball and post up a bit). Also great for the celtics system is he can play both the 4 and 5 and again is a very good system defender. Even when healthy Carroll has never impacted his team as much as Horford has (besides one good playoff run).

          Yeah there was no need to put down casey though

      • Henry Swagson

        Horford is a poor rebounder for a big man and even worse come playoff time.

        He also ranked 28th percentile defending against the roll man and 65th percentile against players in the post (JV was 92nd percentile). Horford ranked 64th percentile against spotup shooters. Horford ranked in the 56th percentile against opponents in ISOs.!/playtype/player/post-up/

        You clearly don’t know what you’re talking about. Ticks all the boxs lol

        Also I don’t know what you mean why you are trusting Stevens, he’s done nothing to prove that he can manage players better than Casey.

        • Mike$

          He does tick most of the boxes. Other than rebounding and post defence he’s a solid defender. Offensivly he does it all, can do a little in the post, shoot, pass ect. No he won’t score a bunch in the iso but he’s a great system player.

          Horford is a legitimate all star with an all around game. He might not check off all the boxes, but i think its fair to say he checks off a lot of them.

          • Henry Swagson

            No he clearly doesn’t check off all the boxes the other guy listed. In addition to poor rebounding and post defence, he’s a poor 3 pt shooter.

            The comment about 56th percentile in ISOs was about him defending them, indicating his switching ability isn’t that good. Yes he’s a system player, ATL had a much better system than Boston that’s why I don’t see him improving in most regards (he’s already experiencing a decline anyways). But it did look like he was playing as the primary 4 with Amir.

            He’s certainly not a legit all-star, he was selected by the commissioner as the 2nd injury replacement to go along with 15& 7 he averaged. He’s a good player but you’re severely overrating him. He got exposed in the playoffs and JV would likely be even a much worse matchup since he’s a better rebounder than TT or Love.

            • Mike$

              ah my bad I didn’t mean the boxes he listed, I just ment he checks off most of the things you look for in a player. And what your talking about is one year. He’s a 4 time all star and made an all Nba team that seems pretty legit to me. Of course he has his weaknesses but so does every player.

              At 30 he very may well be declining but he should be a very big positive to the celtics team. I don’t think he makes them a contender and they’re still a step below the Raps but he’s a good player. Sure you can poke holes in his game, and even if over rated, he’s still a great pick up for them. I’d gladly have him on our team

              • Noelle

                This is all in response to Sinbad’s reply to
                “Which former hawk will have the biggest impact on his team this year, assuming a healthy season: Carroll or Horford?”
                which was:
                “Horford, and its not close… blah blah…. better than Casey.”
                and the misconceptions of what Horford brings to the table,,,,,,, never mind that no assessment of our own guy’s impact was even sniffed in Sinbad’s insightful dialog, but rather a pot shot at Casey as the counter. Enlightening, eh.

                But back to Horford’s perceived impact, vs our own Carroll, and to add further to Henry Swagson’s comments:

                1. Sinbad included
                rebounding as a factor in what Horford will bring, tailor made, to
                Boston. They lost their best rebounder in Sullinger (8.3/gm, 12.7/36
                min) to be replaced by Horford’s 7.3/gm, 8.2/36 min,,,, declined to
                6.5/gm, 7.2/36 min in the playoffs. Rebounding is far from his strength, and they lost a much better rebounder in our Sully. We will sooooo murder them on the boards!
                2. Sinbad also included “passing”
                as another impact he’s bringing. They lost their 2nd leading assist man
                (Turner), and 3rd leading assist man (Sullinger), who combined had more
                than 2x the assists of Horford,,,, so it’s highly unlikely he has much
                of an impact in that regard.
                3. As Henry pointed out, actually not that great a defender either.

                No denying, on my part, that Horford is a very good all around player, but has never proven to move the middle all the much in Atlanta, for reasons that he’s just barely above mediocre in several areas. With all his playoff experience, been swept 2 straight years by the LeBrons, while our beat up newbies at least won a couple.

                Anyway he’s not some perfect fit that somehow is going to elevate his new team, at 30, to the point of Carroll’s potential impact “not even being close” for our boys. If DC returns to form, and indications are he’s on track to, he fills such a giant need, as an exceptional 3 & D big SF,,,,,, on a team that already is a better team than the Celtics. Not even close? wtf, nothing but highly slanted, to be kind, opportunity to take a shot at Casey?
                *needed that rant* 🙂

                • Mike$

                  As I said in previous comments I didn’t agree with the shot taken at Casey, especially since it was unrelated to the original comment. I also didn’t agree with every stat that was posted especially rebounding which Horford is very poor at. But I do agree with Horford having a bigger impact on his team. You bring up the argument all the time that DD is thought to be a great player and him being an all star, picked by coaches proves it. Horford has also been named an all star by coaches and even named to an all NBA team, where carroll hasn’t been named into any of that. I’m not trying to put down carroll, I think he’s a good player and is exactly the type of guy we need. But Horford is the better player at this point of time even if Carroll is healthy.

                  Do you agree with Horford being the better player?

                  And then another thing to consider when looking at impact is the role the player will have. I think its fair to assume that Horford will be a very large part of the celtics offence, most likely second behind IT. Carroll on the other hand is basically a spot up shooter / cutter and is basically behind kyle , lowry and JV in the pecking order.

                  Since Horford is the better player (as voted so by the many capable Coaches in the NBA, probably including Casey) and will be more of a focal point for his team he should be the more impactful player. Carroll is still a great player and should have a huge impact for us, but not as much as horford for the celtics.

                  That doesn’t mean I think the celtics are better (we are) or even that the celtics will be much improved over last year. Turner was a huge part of creating their offence and Sully was a monster on the glass. But Horford is better than Carroll and more of a focal point so should be more impactful

                • Noelle

                  The question isn’t who has been voted to an all star team, nor who will be more of a focal point on their respective teams, but whose skill set has the most impact on improving the team. The answer being responded to is “not even close”, with some qualifiers that are clueless.
                  I look at the original question as not whose the better player, but who fills a more important need (s) ENOUGH to move the needle for their team, over what they had last year.

                  One of the most important factors in today’s game is 3 pt shooting. Celtics were 11th in the league in attempts, but 28th in 3P%. They did nothing to improve that, and Horford hardly moves the needle on that end. In contrast, Raptors were 19th in attempts, but tied for 4th (0.5% behind 2nd) in 3P%. This was without having a 39-40% 3 pt shooter as a starting SF. With a healthy DC (the assumption given in the question) one can expect both attempts and percentage to go up. But that may not be the greatest impact of this factor, as opening the floor more for our two all stars to do their thing. Nothing to do with individual stats or accolades, but the TEAM impact through something that was sorely lacking last year, to say nothing of DeMar not having to play SF near as much as he did last year.

                  Another extremely important factor in today’s game is having someone that has the ability to defend big SFs, as in the likes of LBJ, KD, PG, etc. The importance, and impact of this in today’s game cannot be overstated, and a healthy DC has proven elite at it.

                  So in what important area of the game does Horford move the needle a lot for the Celtics, over what they had last year?
                  1. One of the most important things a team needs from a big man is rebounding. Horford has never been a great rebounder, in fact poor as a C, and he’s effectively replacing a much better rebounder than the one they let walk to our end of the court.
                  2. Defense? He’s actually not that great a defender, in part because he’s undersized and struggles with bigger Cs.
                  3. He’s a good passer? Yup, but no better than the guy we got from them, and they lost their second leading playmaker, with no replacement in sight.
                  So what is it that he brings to the Celtics, over and above what they had last year, that moves the needle very much? One can talk all they want about his fit with the team, but it doesn’t say a thing about what parts of the game will he elevate the Celtics a lot. What important aspects of the game is he elite at enough to have a big impact on that team?

                  Our guy brings two very important aspects of the game that elevates the Raptors at an elite level,,,, so saying “it’s not even close”? We’ll see.

                • Mike$

                  Yeah I agree that the not even close was too far. But your twisting words in saying “I look at the original question as not whose the better player, but who fills a more important need (s)”. The word used in the original question was impact so who’s the better player has a lot to do with it because better players have a bigger impact.

                  And to your 3rd point, we’re comparing the impact he’ll have right now, not relative to the players the celtics lost. And then its strange to say Horford is replacing a great rebounder so thats a negative, and even though he’s a good defender, he’s not great. Relative to Sully, Horford is a really good defender, especially at the PF position. And Horford most certainly is a better passer than Sully.

                  By your arguments of how important the 3 point shooting and D are for guarding LBJ, Durant ect, is Carroll a more impactful player than DD? Or is Batum a more impactful player than DD?

                • Noelle

                  holy shit! now turning it into DD vs Batum? we’re talking different languages on what impact is, so agree to disagree, and we’ll see how reality plays out

                • Mike$

                  I totally think DD is the better player. All im saying is its somewhat similar. DD is an all star where as Batum is boarder line but 3 and D which above you state is one of the most important things to have.

                  Horford is an all star and Carroll was somewhat boarderline but a 3 and D guy so you say he’s more impactful.

                  You could apply the arguments you used to support Carroll to make Carroll seem more impactful than DD.

                • Noelle

                  *sigh*, no desire to continue with this. Have a g’day, eh

                • Mike$

                  Its because a lot of the parameters you set make it impossible to argue from the other side. If the discussion was about Carroll vs DD im sure you, like most people would pick DD. But then by saying impact isn’t effected by how many all star games you’ve been to or being the focal point of the offence doesn’t matter where 3 point shooting and deffence on LBJ is the most impactful thing of course Carroll would be more impactful. How can you even defend DD in a situation where being the focal point doesn’t matter in terms of impact?

                • Noelle

                  I should slap myself,,,,,,,,,, but we are looking at what “impact” means from very different angles. You are looking at it as who is a more key player for their team, in a general sense, as in 2nd option is more important than 4th option. Obviously Horford is the answer to that, but that’s not where Sinbad was coming from with his somewhat inaccurate assessment of what Horford brings to the table.

                  I’m looking at it as who has the most influence on improving the team vs their respective teams last season. That’s what I call impact. That’s why I included what the Celtics lost in players going out, because some of what Horford brings to the table is simply replacing what they lost in out going players. Bring in a poorer rebounder (one of the factors specified as a Horford plus) than what you lost, and the impact isn’t exactly positive now is it? Bring in a good passing big, when you lost a good passing big (Sully), AND your second leading playmaker (Turner) without a replacement in sight, and how much is passing from your C really going to impact improvement over what they had before?

                  Two of us have pointed out that Horford isn’t some huge improvement for the Celtics in several of the areas Sinbad what glorifying him on, including some REALLY important factors needed from a C (rebounding, defense), while I’ve pointed out that what a healthy Carroll brings to the table, and the impact it could have over what the starting unit missed sorely last year, imo, could be just as important to the Raps as what improvements Horford brings to the Celtics. The post all this was in response to was “Horford, not even close”. I disagree

                • Mike$

                  Okay yeah when put like “‘m looking at it as who has the most influence on improving the team vs their respective teams last season.” that makes a lot more sense. The celtics lost a bunch last year so i doubt they’ll be much better. One thing though is if you look at Horford and see him playing most of his minutes at the PF (not C) he should be more impactful, especially when compared to sully. Even Sully played 66% of his minutes at PF. When it comes to defending the PF posititon Horford is much better than sully no question. At the 5 though where Horford has been forced to play a lot he gets pushed around lowering both his rebounds and defensive numbers.

                  So when you put it as im looking at it as who has the most influence on improving the team vs their respective teams last season i agree with you. But in terms of who will have the most impact on their team THIS season not accounting for what the team lost, I’d say Horford

  • Dunkenstein

    Last season the Raps started Ross, Johnson or a broken down Carroll at SF and Scola at the 4.

    This year, if all goes according to plan we’ll have a healthy ( fingers crossed ) Carroll at 3 and Sullinger at 4….A huge upgrade at both positions.

    We’ll miss Biyombo but we have ore depth now. I think we can win at least as many games as last year. And we’ll be stronger going into the playoffs if Casey uses our depth and rests our all stars a little more.

  • Yodha

    I think we need to call it like it is.Carroll signing has been an overpaid bust so far. Best we can hope is to get 2 out of 4 good years.

    • Noelle

      what makes 3 good years not possible?