Toronto Raptors 2013-14 Team Preview

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Dwane Casey

Feb 1, 2013; Toronto, ON, Canada; Toronto Raptors head coach Dwane Casey reacts to a call against the Los Angeles Clippers at the Air Canada Centre. The Raptors beat the Clippers 98-73. Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Raptors started the season 4-13 and it looked like head coach Dwane Casey was on his way out. They decided to stick with him and the Raptors split their remaining 60 games. They were inconsistent but playing .500 ball for most of the season isn’t terrible when compared with their .415 winning percentage on the season.

Without any draft picks this season, the Raptors look a lot like they did in 2012-13. They only brought in a few bench players and moved Andrea Bargnani to the Knicks. Instead, they’ll hope that Jonas Valanciunas continues to develop, Rudy Gay improves, and Kyle Lowry stays healthy while trying to get some production out of their 2012 draft picks.

They are clearly not a “good” team but there is some talent to work with and key role players who can produce. If Dwane Casey can get the most of his young players, the Raptors could begin to build a contender but the expectations for 2013-14 are considerably low.

2012-13 Ranks:

Wins: 34

Points Per Game: 16th

FG%: 20th

Points Allowed Per Game: 17th

Rebounds Per Game: 28th

Notable Additions: Tyler Hansbrough, D.J. Augustin, Steve Novak

Notable Losses: Andrea Bargnani

Point Guards: Kyle Lowry, Dwight Buycks, D.J. Augustin – Grade: B-

Lowry is one of the better players on this team and he’s not particularly good. Averaging just 11.6 PPG, 6.4 APG, 4.7 RPG, and 1.4 SPG, Lowry does a bit of everything but not a lot of any one thing. His .401 shooting is far from desirable and he only managed 52 starts last season and 38 the year before. Between the injuries, inconsistency, and ineffectiveness, Lowry is not the point guard you want to build your team around but he’s the best option the Raptors have.

Buycks is a bit of a surprise signing after not getting an NBA job in two years since leaving Marquette. He played in Europe and then in the summer league where he impressed more than a few teams and led the Raptors to sign him as their number two point guard. He has the ability to score but we’ll have to wait and see if he has the tools to be an NBA point guard.

A former ninth-overall pick in 2008, Augustin never panned out and was a small bit player for the Pacers in 2012-13 after the Bobcats gave up on him after four disappointing years. His .376 field goal percentage in his final season in Charlotte and .350 last season for the Pacers will likely keep him on the bench most of the time, even on a team with no great players.

Shooting Guards: DeMar DeRozan, Landry Fields, Terrence Ross – Grade: B

DeRozan has solidified his role as the best shooter in the Raptors backcourt after putting up 17.2 PPG, 16.7, and 18.1 over his last three seasons. His .445 FG% is as solid as you’ll find among non-elite guards (good for eighth-best among shooting guards) and his 3.9 RPG and 2.5 APG is a nice, albeit small, contribution elsewhere. He’s solid though and one of the few players on this team without glaring holes in their game.

Fields also shot a strong .457 from the floor but only averaged 4.7 PPG over 20 MPG. He’s mostly there for his defense but he’s not overly impressive there either. He’s there to eat up minutes and give DeRozan a break.

Ross was the Raptors’ first-round pick in 2012 but played just 17 MPG and averaged a mere 6.4 PPG on .407 shooting in his rookie year. Outside of some nice dunks, he didn’t impress anyone and wasn’t used a lot. Unless he starts producing more consistently, he’ll be relegated to some serious bench minutes once again.

Small Forwards: Rudy Gay, Steve Novak, Austin Daye – Grade: B

Gay isn’t the most complete player but he’s probably the best this team has. He’s averaged 18-20 PPG in each of his last six seasons and added a solid six rebounds and 1.5 steals per game. The biggest question mark with him is his shooting percentage. He was excellent from 2007 to 2012 on the Grizzlies, never shooting under 45% from the floor. Last season his shooting dropped to .416, not acceptable for an “elite” small forward. His shooting percentage ranked 19th among full-time starting small forwards, only ahead of Michael Beasley and Metta World Peace. He’ll need to return to the shooter he was in Memphis if he wants to prove he’s one of the better small forwards in the game.

Novak is a one-trick pony. He doesn’t attack the paint, he doesn’t rebound, and he doesn’t pass. He stands on the corners and nails 42%+ percent of his three pointers. In 2011-12, he shot a league-best .472 from three-point range. That’s all he brings to the table.

It’s unclear how Daye will fit into the rotation, if he does at all. He played just 11.1 MPG last season in Detroit and Memphis, shooting a decent .433 from the floor and averaging 4.5 PPG.

Power Forwards: Amir Johnson, Tyler Hansbrough, Quincy Acy – Grade: B-

Johnson had his moments last season but also proved a liability at other times. Playing 29 MPG, Johnson averaged a solid 10 PPG, 7.5 RPG, and 1.4 BPG while shooting a strong .554 from the field. Johnson, however, has a serious problem with fouls. Despite playing less minutes than most starters, he led the league in fouls and averages 4.7 per 36 minutes. He’s a foul-out waiting to happen, not the type of player you want late in games.

Hansbrough came over from the Pacers and is one of the toughest players in the game. He’s not much of a shooter but he’s a physical defender and fights for the ball every second he’s out there. He averaged 4.6 RPG over just 17 MPG last season, that extrapolates to 10 rebounds per 36 minutes.

Acy, the Raptors’ second-round pick in 2012, got more minutes as the season went along but he’ll need more than 12 MPG to be relevant. He’s got a chance to break out though. His strong .560 shooting , along with 2.7 RPG and 0.5 BPG, and 4.0 PPG extrapolates to 12 PPG, 8.1 RPG, and 1.6 BPG over 36 minutes. He’s only 23 so he’ll need time to develop into a player that could play that many minutes consistently.

Centers: Jonas Valanciunas, Aaron Gray – Grade: B

Valanciunas had a very strong rookie season and got more minutes as the season went along. He played 30+ minutes in 20 games last season, averaging 13.5 PPG, 8.0 RPG, and nearly two blocks per game over those contests. He’s still a work in progress but a promising one.

Aaron Gray is a longtime backup center for Toronto, New Orleans, and Chicago. He’s averaged 12.4 MPG, 3.8 RPG, and 3.6 PPG over his career and that’s pretty much what you get all the time.

Coach: Dwane Casey – Grade: C+

Casey was almost fired last season but the Raptors opted to keep him and he now enters his third season as the Raptors’ head coach. The Raptors have won less than 40% of their games since he arrived but their .415 W% last year was a big improvement from their .348 W% the previous year. The Raptors are unlikely to do much this season but if Casey can get the most of his players and take this team in a specific direction (rather than the current throw it at the wall to see if it sticks approach), he could keep his job and have a chance to build something.

Team Grade: C+

Igor Derysh is Editor-at-Large at XN Sports and has been featured in The Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Herald, Baltimore Sun, Orlando Sun-Sentinel, and FantasyPros. He has previously covered sports for COED Magazine, Fantasy Alarm, and Manwall.com.
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