The Raptors made a couple of minor roster moves on Friday by signing guard Jerel McNeal and forward Chris Wright. Realistically, both are probably being brought in as extra bodies for training camp, and nothing more.

With the recent re-signing of Jamaal Magloire and signing of Dominic McGuire, the Raptors’ roster now features 18 players, which means that three players will likely be shown the door before the season starts. In all likelihood, those three players will be McNeal, Wright and Magloire, although since none of us actually know the ins and outs of the contracts that have been signed, I would guess that it’s not that cut and dry and that players like McGuire and even Alan Anderson could still be roster casualties before the 2012-13 campaign tips off against the Pacers on Halloween night.

In any event, here’s how I would peg the Raptors’ depth chart heading into training camp, which starts on October 2 in Halifax after Media Day in Toronto on October 1.

PG SG SF PF C
Lowry DeRozan Fields Bargnani Johnson
Calderon Ross Kleiza Davis Valanciunas
Lucas III Anderson McGuire Acy Gray
McNeal Wright Magloire

A lot of the Raptors’ players are interchangeable between a couple of positions. We know DeRozan, Fields, Ross and Anderson are wings, and could play the two or the three. Kleiza can play some small four, Acy can play both forward positions, Amir Johnson can play the four or the five, and Bargnani will regrettably still play some centre for Toronto.

In addition, while Amir is ahead of Valanciunas and Gray on my centre depth chart, I expect to see both Johnson and Gray get some starts at the five until Jonas can step in on a full-time basis. For the most part, this depth chart is somewhat of a rough draft heading into camp that we can and will adjust over time.

I’m sure Dwane Casey will tell us that starting spots are up for grabs and that players like Calderon and Kleiza will be given a chance, but barring any major developments, shortcomings or spectacular training camp and pre-season performances, we’re all pretty confident in the fact that if they’re healthy, Lowry, DeRozan, Fields, Bargnani and one of Johnson or Gray will start on opening night.

Some questions on my mind heading into camp are whether Valanciunas can push the rest of the bigs for early minutes, whether Ross can put pressure on DeRozan from the get-go, whether Ed Davis can supplant Amir Johnson in the overall bigs rotation and whether Quincy Acy can break into that regular rotation.

These questions and others will soon be answered, as we’re now just over a week away from the start of camp.

In case you haven’t ‘liked’ RaptorBlog’s facebook page yet (seriously, get on that) and missed it the other night, the Raptors’ official youtube channel released the following video:

I’m not going to pretend that because they’re featured working out in a 20-second teaser, the Raptors are working earlier or harder than any other team right now, but I will say that as a Raptors fan, an NBA fan, and a basketball fan in general, this should get your juices flowing in anticipation of the season that’s now just around the corner.

Comments (19)

  1. How sad is it that I’m excited about this coming season, just because mediocrity seems within reach for the first time in years? The Raptors may not be the most exciting team to watch next year (especially if they have a 20th-place offense or worse), but I’m pretty sure they won’t be embarrassing … especially on defense.

    Now, if BC can only combine of that depth and turn it into another good play (especially a SF)…

    • Nothing sad about it – less than two weeks til training camp.
      We got two rookies with promise, added two other players expected to upgrade their positions immediately in Fields and Lowry and a coach with a plan.
      Mediocrity is all I’m hoping for, this team cannot take a step backwards.

    • Go watch the Leafs then – lord knows thier better then mediocre!

    • It’s only sad if you envision this season as some sort of peak year for this group at 35-40 wins. But if you’re looking forward to a 35-40 win season that you actually believe could be the start of something good, as I am, then there’s nothing to be sad or ashamed about.

      As I’ve said recently, we just came off of two years where we knew in August that the season was a tanking write-off that was more about the Draft than the actual basketball being played. Now, for the first time in three years, we can actually go into a Raptors season looking forward to the season at hand.

  2. I think that they should start JV right off the bat. I like what Johnson does rebounding wise, but I’ve never seen someone so uncomfortable with the ball on the offensive end. They need to establish a paint game as early as possible. JV was a beast at the olympics and it would be nice to see him play like that for the Raps.

    • I love Amir’s hands. I think he is great on the pick and roll. Seriously underrated on offense.

    • My money is on Aaron Gray starting at centre. I believe that’s the plan.

    • I would love to see Jonas start if he’s ready and has earned it in camp and during the pre-season, but I think the more likely scenario is that Amir and Gray share the starts at centre until Valanciunas is ready to take on the full-time job.

  3. There’s no way this group of players can combine to be bottom five in the league in offensive efficiency again, right?

    I really hope Casey loosens the reigns because that’s the only way this team will be able to play up to its peak, you can’t have another season like last year.

    • I think he will loosen them up a little, but I also think he is going to want to instill that defensive game on the young guys, so I wouldn’t expect too much.

    • The offense almost automatically upgrades, just based an the new additions.

    • Casey has said from Day 1 that his preference is to play a lot of transition offence and fast-paced basketball based on getting stops and then running, but he simply didn’t have the roster suited to that style of play last year (mainly Calderon running the offence). With Lowry leading the charge now and some added athleticism, I think we’ll see a faster paced offence and a more efficient one at that.

      If the Raps can maintain their top-12 defence while even jumping into the 15-20 range in offence, they’ll be right in the Eastern Conference playoff hunt.

  4. I think we’ll see JV for no more than 20-25 minutes a night this year, and I’m okay with that. I’m only basing that on the possibility he struggles with foul trouble though – if he doesn’t, then he can start and play 30/game

    • Might even see him for less than 20 minutes to start the season. If he can stay on the floor for 20-25 minutes right off the bat, I’ll be more than content with that.

  5. Gray will be starting I believe

  6. Guess what really makes me wonder about the feature is the depth chart showing Amir on top.
    If I am not mistaken, Amir lost his center rights last year.
    Am I nuts, or did Gray become the starter over Amir last season?
    If so..when in hell does this chart come from?

  7. I don’t know how well it would go over, but on a purely BASKETBALL standpoint, I think Ross would fit better with the other projected starters (than DeRozan)

    Lowry
    ROSS
    Fields
    Bargnani
    Johnson

    Bargs is the primary option on offense, and Ross seems like he would play off him better since he has a more fluid game, and can certainly hit the open 3′s that Bargs should be able to create. Also has a penetrating/drive and kick game, which suits Ross’ long shooting capabilities.

    Then the 2nd unit has:

    Calderon is better suited throwing lobs to DeRozan, and just getting him in isolation and getting out of the way (and being ready to hit any open 3′s). Plus he has Valanciunas who he can run the P&R with, and Val can go crash the Offensive boards on DeRozan’s drives and misses.

    Ross fits better with Lowry + Bargs….DeRozan fits better with Calderon + Valanciunas

  8. I don’t know how well it would go over, but on a purely BASKETBALL standpoint, I think Ross would fit better with the other projected starters (than DeRozan)

    Lowry
    ROSS
    Fields
    Bargnani
    Johnson

    Bargs is the primary option on offense, and Ross seems like he would play off him better since he has a more fluid game, and can certainly hit the open 3′s that Bargs should be able to create. Also Lowry has a penetrating/drive and kick game, which suits Ross’ long shooting capabilities.

    Then the 2nd unit has:

    Calderon is better suited throwing lobs to DeRozan, and just getting him in isolation and getting out of the way (and being ready to hit any open 3′s). Plus he has Valanciunas who he can run the P&R with, and Val can go crash the Offensive boards on DeRozan’s drives and misses.

    Ross fits better with Lowry + Bargs….DeRozan fits better with Calderon + Valanciunas

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