Toronto Raptors: 5 Players Who Must Step Up in 2013-14
5 Players Who Must Step Up For the Toronto Raptors
Although the Toronto Raptors have made somewhat of a makeover during their offseason under new GM Masai Ujiri, the changes seem to only reflect their bench. Players coming off the bench are definitely a crucial part of any team in any sport, but you ultimately rely on the players that you put on the floor right from the start.
It's evident that Ujiri liked what he saw from a starting lineup standpoint when he came to Toronto from the Denver Nuggets. He didn't make any changes to the projected starting five that Head Coach Dwane Casey will put on the floor at the beginning of each game. This came as a big surprise to many as the organization as a whole has been speaking loudly in regards to heading into a re-branding process which most thought would involve the players as well as a new logo and color scheme.
The re-branding process for the Raptors is not something that the players need to focus on, but they should send their attention towards putting up some serious points on the scoreboard using the sheer athleticism that they currently possess. The rejuvenated bench with the likes of D.J. Augustin, Tyler Hansbrough, Steve Novak, Dwight Buycks, and potentially Chris Wright won't hesitate to take any starting spots that may come available.
Other than Raptors big man, Amir Johnson, the starting five for the Raptors disappointed on many levels last season. For four out of the five projected starters on the Raptors, along with one high flyer coming off the bench, the 2013-14 season must be career years in order for the Raptors to reach the NBA playoffs for only the sixth time in franchise history and for the first time since 2008.
5. Terrence Ross
You don't just win the 2013 Slam Dunk Contest during the All-Star break by fluke. It takes some serious talent to be named the league's premier high flying dunk machine. This is what Terrence Ross needs to realize as he heads into the season hoping to be a serious threat coming off the bench for the Raptors.
4. Kyle Lowry
This Raptors team is going to be as bad, as good, or as great as the player that sets them up on a nightly basis. Kyle Lowry can be a premier point guard in this league. He just needs to realize what kind of weapon he is as well as what kinds of weapons he has around him.
3. DeMar DeRozan
There's no reason why DeMar DeRozan should still be seen as a hidden gem deep within the depths of the Atlantic Division basement. DeRozan has raw, high flying talent that is arguably the best of its kind when it comes to slamming down points. If DeRozan attacks the basket rather than looking for the perfect shot, there are going to be a lot of posters being printed at the expense of Raptors' opponents this season.
2. Jonas Valanciunas
Jonas Valanciunas has an enormous ceiling in regards to the talent that he possesses. If he is able to sharpen up defensively and continue to be a presence in the paint, the Lithuanian center can make some serious noise for the Raptors this season.
1. Rudy Gay
Although his career in Toronto is still in its infant stages, Rudy Gay is the leader and the current face of the Raptors franchise. Gay has the ultimate ability to be a premier small forward in the league. If he plays well, everyone else will follow suit.