Chisholm: Breaking Down the Raptors roster
Old 12-15-2011, 09:05 PM   #1 (permalink)

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Default Chisholm: Breaking Down the Raptors roster

The story here is about Bayless and what the Raptors actually have in this free agent-to-be. He posted stellar numbers as a starting point guard last year (18.1 ppg and 6.7 apg), but the organization is still unsure if he's got the playmaking skills necessary to be a full-timer at the position. He'd be a great explosive scorer in the Barbosa mold off of the bench, but he struggles hitting shots around the basket (he shot just 54.6% at the rim last season with Toronto) and only managed a .422 FG% last season overall. The team needs a much clearer picture of his future if they are going to eat into next summer's cap space to bring Bayless around for another tour of duty.

The wings aren't nearly as well-represented as the guard's position is. It's basically DeMar DeRozan, the starting shooting guard and a lot of filler until trades, free agency and the draft can bring in some reinforcements. The expectation is that DeRozan will become a consistent 20 ppg scorer like he was after the All-Star break last year while also upping his defensive intensity, with the outside chance of him becoming a legit star in the process. Beside him in the starting five will be James Johnson, who in a best-case scenario is a Shawn Marion-lite type of do-it-all wing, but in a more realistic scenario is at best Trevor Ariza-lite, but he'll have every opportunity to max out his potential with PT this season.

Behind those two is a sordid group of castoffs, from Gary Forbes to Rasual Butler to the still-recovering-from-surgery Linas Kleiza. Barbosa will get plenty of minutes at shooting guard this season, which means that only one of the aforementioned players really needs to be ready to play every night, and the smart money is on Kleiza. While Forbes will have nearly two months to strut his stuff before Kleiza returns to the lineup, he hasn't shown anything in his brief NBA career to suggest he's got legit staying power, while Kleiza has at least been a regular backup on a playoff-bound Denver club. That's not to say that Forbes CAN'T make his mark before Kleiza gets back, it's just to say he probably won't make enough of a mark to keep Kleiza from eating away all of his minutes by mid-season.

The frontcourt is the one place where the team actually begins to resemble a real NBA club. Andrea Bargnani is an NBA-level scorer who managed a moderately-efficient 21.4 ppg last season, and has paid all the requisite lip-service to defence and rebounding during camp, all of which will no doubt be for naught once the games start. Fortunately he's got solid hustle players surrounding him in Amir Johnson (the club's likely starter at centre now that he's bulked up to over 250 lbs.) and Ed Davis, last year's rookie from whom many are expecting a double-double output this coming season. Those three will basically eat up nearly all of the big man minutes, with newcomers Aaron Gray and Jamaal Magloire possibly seeing time if fouls, matchups or injuries dictate their usage. Magloire has come to camp sounding like a man who was promised minutes on the court this season, so we'll see how far that gets him once the games start being played. It's hard to see him leaping ahead of Gray, let alone Johnson or Davis, for any reasonable minutes this coming season
Chisholm: Breaking down the Raptors' 15-man roster
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