Raptors roster in mid-summer – where are we?


May 4, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas (17) comes off the court after a loss to the Brooklyn Nets in game seven of the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at the Air Canada Centre. Brooklyn defeated Toronto 104-103. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Toronto Raptors roster appears all but complete, even though we’re several months away from training camp. Let’s examine our team’s depth chart.

Point Guard – Kyle Lowry, Greivis Vasquez, Lou Williams

Shooting Guard – DeMar DeRozan, Landry Fields

Small Forward – Terrence Ross, James Johnson, DeAndre Daniels

Power Forward – Amir Johnson, Patrick Patterson, Tyler Hansbrough, Bruno Caboclo

Centre – Jonas Valanciunas, Chuck Hayes, Lucas Nogueira

No team in any sport is strong at all positions. In our case, the lack of depth at Centre is immediately apparent and disturbing. JV is a solid defender already, despite his youth. He has the additional benefit of being a capable offensive player who hasn’t topped out yet, and is the clear-cut starter. JV seems to be a sturdy fellow, and has managed to avoid injuries so far in his career (yes, he broke his ring finger as a rookie, but that was a fluke and doesn’t count – if he was sitting down due to twisted ankles or sore knees, I’d worry). However, we don’t have any insurance should he be hurt for an extended period. While I think the trend towards smaller, quicker lineups isn’t going away, there’s still a need for a rim-protecting, shot-challenging giant in the paint. I would feel much happier with a beefy rebounder backing up our talented young big man. However, size equals money, and there aren’t a lot of elder-statesmen defensive centres hanging around the street corner looking for work.

Clearly we are in an enviable position at point, in particular if Lou has a bounce-back season in him. The team recently sent Diante Garrett and Dwight Bucyks packing, and Julyan Stone prior. The latter two were emergency-use-only players last year, and won’t be missed. Kyle should be on the All-Star ballot, and will make the glitterati team if he enjoys a first half as complete as last year’s. Would that happiness automatically led to points and assists – Greivis would be all set. His affection for his team and his city is palpable and refreshing.

DeMar was an All-Star last year, and should be again, assuming his improved numbers weren’t a fluke. I’m not worried about lack of depth at the 2. We’ve lots of swingmen. For example, I’ve arbitrarily declared DeAndre Daniels a 3, but it’s moot; from what little I’ve seen, he can play either spot. Whether he will or not remains one of the roster’s few open questions, as he may make his professional debut in Europe.

I’m not entirely happy with the situation at Power Forward, but Amir at least covers the spot, and 2Pat gives a different look. Hansbrough provides some backup toughness. It would be pleasant if the man could actually shoot, but Indiana dropped him for sound reasons.

In sum, the Raps’ depth chart is encouraging, but still has a few holes. My prediction: Bruno and Lucas are moved to the D-League, and Masai finds a veteran centre.

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.