Apr 9, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Toronto Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas (17) shoots the ball against Chicago Bulls center Nazr Mohammed (48) during the first half at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Soaking up the minutes left behind

By my calculation, the minutes played last season by now-departed Toronto Raptors total 6, 862*. That represents almost 84 minutes of a game’s 240 (5 players times 48 minutes), or over 34%. Raps’ coaches have to figure out who is going to replace those “lost” 84 minutes. [20-second timeout: I don't know whether 34% is a good, bad or indifferent percentage. Those of you with a mathematical bent are encouraged to do further research. Does a championship-quality team "lose" that amount each year? Lots of questions are possible, and I'd be happy to read any submissions on this matter.] Who among the returnees and the new guys will grab the playing time made available by player subtraction?

Apr 12, 2013; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Raptors center-forward Amir Johnson (15) dunks against Chicago Bulls center Nazr Mohammed (48) at the Air Canada Centre. Toronto defeated Chicago 97-88. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

At first blush, Jonas Valanciunas, who’s in line for a big jump in Minutes Per Game [MPG], would appear to be the easy answer. He averaged 23.9 MPG last season, and I’d be surprised if he isn’t closer to 33 in ’13-’14. However, that doesn’t follow. What minutes Jonas doesn’t play at centre will likely be taken by Aaron Gray or Amir Johnson, so it’s a zero-sum game, as both those worthies are still with us.

I was surprised to learn that Alan Anderson played more minutes than Jose Calderon, so there’s a serious chance for a swingman to emerge with a lot more PT. Terrence Ross averaged 17 MPG in 73 games, and I suspect all of us are hoping he will earn at least 5 more MPG as a sophomore. Landry Fields desperately needs to revitalize his career, and will be striving to earn more than the 20+ minutes he averaged in his abbreviated 51-game season. If he doesn’t, or Ross flat-lines, we’ll be in grave difficulty, as DeMar DeRozan can’t be expected to average more than the 36.8 MPG he provided. Calderon’s minutes at point guard will likely be taken up by a more mature and fit (we hope!) Kyle Lowry, with Dwight Bucyks and D.J. Augustin battling for scraps.

Bargnani’s minutes will be grabbed by the sudden arrival of two “stretch-4s”, Steve Novak and Austin Daye. If both of these guys contribute, you can expect to see Gray’s PT actually decrease. Rudy Gay is supposedly in better condition than ever before, and should easily maintain his 35.8 MPG rate, with a committee of Tyler Hansbrough, Quincy Acy and Fields eager to suck up all the minutes remaining. They will also be in the mix for the role of Amir’s backup. He averaged 28.7 MPG, and we shouldn’t expect more from a guy playing smash-mouth under the basket.

I’d really like to hear from Rapture Nation on this topic. Who do you think is going to increase his PT dramatically? Whose lost minutes will be the hardest to replace? Please drop a Comment.

* If you want to see the data on this, say so in the Comments.

Brian Boake is Senior Editor for Raptors Rapture. “Like” Raptors Rapture on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @RaptorsRapture for all the latest news and updates about the best damn NBA team from Canada.

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