Toronto Raptors: Projecting The 12-Man Rotation
Toronto Raptors Projected 12-Man Rotation
For the first time since anybody can remember, the team has returned its entire starting-five unit from the previous season. Something that was a rarity given the revolving door known as the Raptors’ roster under previous General Manager Bryan Colangelo.
Colangelo would routinely enter the offseason and replace seven or eight players than wonder why the team had no chemistry once the season tipped-off.
Entering the 2013-14 season, the Raptors will only have four fresh faces with two of those players likely to see limited action at the end of the rotation. With only two players to truly work into the rotation, the Raptors shouldn’t have the early-season chemistry issues that has plagued the team in the past.
With the starting-five set to be the same as it was when the 2012-13 season closed out, new General Manager Masai Ujiri set out to solidify his team’s bench. He traded away the giant pylon known as Andrea Bargnani and replaced him in the rotation with Tyler Hansbrough.
Hansbrough couldn’t be any more opposite from Bargnani as instead of only hanging around the perimeter on offense, Hansbrough attacks the paint trying to get offensive rebounds and quick put-backs. Instead of doing less on defense than the person eating popcorn sitting in section 112, row 12, seat four, like Bargnani would do. Hansbrough will dive in the front row for loose balls and never stop hustling. Hanbrough isn’t nearly as good of a shooter as Bargnani, but Raptor fans will have no problem trading Bargnani’s shooting stroke for a hardworking power forward.
The Raptors also lost backup point guard John Lucas III to free agency, but managed to upgrade at the position by signing D.J. Augustin. Augustin will be a better fit for the franchise than Lucas was, as the former Raptor was much more of a shoot-first guard than a passing guard, which is not something you need in a backup point guard.
Lucas was also undersized as one of the smaller guards in the league, which made it difficult for him to step into the starting line-up and have consistent success. Augustin is a proven starter in the league and although he’s better suited as a back-up, if he needs to slide into a starting role he’s shown he can do it with some success.
With Hansbrough and Augustin being the team’s two main additions to the roster from a year ago, the two should complement the rest of the rotation and receive consistent minutes from Coach Dwane Casey.
12. Dwight Buycks
The third-string point guard will sit more games than he plays in. However, given Kyle Lowry’s injury history, don’t be surprised if Dwight Buycks earns his fair share of playing time throughout the year.
11. Steve Novak
The main piece back from the Andrea Bargnani trade will likely provide exactly what the former first overall pick did in his tenure with the franchise. Steve Novak will shoot a lot of three-pointers, play minimal defense and might grab a rebound or two. Unfortunately for Novak, he won’t have a regular spot in the rotation and will be used when the team needs a spark off the bench or to break up the opposition’s defensive zone.
10. Aaron Gray
The backup center will see more time on the bench than he will on the court. However, the 7-footer will see action when there’s another big bodied center to match up against or when the rest of the front court finds itself in foul trouble.
9. Terrence Ross
Last year’s slam dunk champion will need to show he’s more than just an impressive highlight reel in order to receive consistent minutes in his sophomore season. He’s proven he can score in the league, now he needs to prove he can play quality defense.
8. Landry Fields
Looking to bounce back after a difficult first year in Toronto, Landry Fields will be given every chance to prove himself if he can stay healthy. He’s overpaid, but if he can provide the little things needed to win games by hustling to loose balls and working hard on defense, he’s going to have a regular spot in the rotation. The Raptors don’t need him to score, they just need him to demonstrate the high basketball I.Q. he’s shown in the past.
7. D.J. Augustin
A sneaky offseason addition that can prove to be a significant move by the general manager as D.J. Augustin has no problem coming off the bench. He’s shown in the past he can be a starter in the league which is exactly what the Raptors need from their backup point guard given Lowry’s previous health issues.
6. Tyler Hansbrough
The player likely to receive the most minutes off the bench compared to the rest of the roster, Tyler Hansbrough could quickly become the team’s new fan favorite.
PG. Kyle Lowry
The starting point guard has proven he can be a pit bull on the court with his hard-noised defense and aggressive nature on the offensive end. Injuries plagued Lowry in his first season in Toronto a year ago, but when he was healthy he showed he’s capable of being a triple-double threat on any given night.
C. Jonas Valanciunas
The sophomore starting center will need to avoid silly fouls in order to stay on the court, but if he can manage that then the sky is the limit for Jonas Valanciunas. The mobile big man is not only quick for his size, his athleticism and strength has fans in Toronto excited about watching the center reach his potential.
PF. Amir Johnson
The definition of heart and hustle, Amir Johnson will receive all the playing time he wants as he’s proven he has an endless motor and is willing to play through injuries. It wasn’t long ago his contract was considered outrageous, but nobody is complaining he’s overpaid after Johnson routinely played his tail-off last year and showed few players will out-hustle the forward on the court.
SG. DeMar DeRozan
The starting shooting-guard wants to have a breakout season and potentially average 20 points for the first time in his career. He’s worked hard in the offseason to improve every aspect of his game and seeing as he was able to average 18 points without Rudy Gay on the court; averaging 20 points might not be far-fetched. The main focus of the opposing team's defense will be Gay, which could free up DeRozan to explode for strong showings on the offensive end.
SF. Rudy Gay
Entering his first full season with the Raptors, the keys to the car belong to the starting small forward. Toronto will go as far as Gay takes them, as for the first time in his career the swingman will be the leader of a team and the primary option on offense. No longer will Gay have to evenly share possessions with Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol, as the offense will run through Gay and no one else.