I believe that DJ will begin as the back-up abd will holding on to it for the whole season. He had a down year last year but, his still an upgrade over Lucas/Telfair.Battle at Point Guard
Lowry is in a contract year and he has impressed everyone with his conditioning this summer. Last season was filled with injury issues and adjustments to a new head coach and a new system. A very motivated Lowry will be starting at training camp in October. The other two point guards could be fighting over scraps.
The backup point guard job is Augustinís to lose. He has the NBA experience to hold off the rookie Buycks after starting for two seasons in Charlotte and playing with the Pacers last year. Buycks, however, is an intriguing prospect. The MVP of the French Pro A League last season could surprise a lot of people once he finds his NBA legs. Both of these guys will be quietly hoping Lowry misses a few games so they can showcase their skills. Neither player is guaranteed past this season.
Expect Buycks to be outside of the rotation on opening night.
I agree with this part Fields will out play the current Ross out of the rotation without his jumper back.Mysteries at Shooting Guard
Itís no mystery who will be starting at shooting guard. DeRozan almost never misses a game and heíll soak up 36-40 minutes a night this year as well. DeRozan is on a new $38 million 4-year deal, so heís under no pressure to perform, but hard work over the summer is the norm for DeRozan and no expects him to surrender any minutes to anyone once the season starts.
A lot of people were hoping Ross would be deserving of the backup shooting guard role this season, but he actually looked like he had regressed at Summer League in July. Ross struggled as a rookie and this season, there are other young players to take those minutes if he isnít ready and he hasnít looked ready.
Fields is the mystery. He lost his jump shot due to elbow problems last season and the hope is he can rebuild it over the summer. However, when he plays, he plays hard and that will vault him past Ross in the rotation whether his jump shot has returned or not.
Fields is under contract for another season after this one, but Ross only has a team option. Ross needs to step it up. At the moment, it will be Ross sitting on the end of the bench during games.
I think that Austin will slowing steal minutes from Novak. Just for the fact that Novak is so one dimensional. Not saying that Daye is a defensive ace but his lenght makes up a lot of ground.No Battle at Small Forward
Rudy Gay may be Bryan Colangeloís acquisition and he holds a playerís option for next season, but he will be the best player on the Raptors this season and the expectations are very high.
Gay is another 36-40 minute per game player who leaves little time for those playing behind him unless he gets injured and although he has a reputation for getting hurt, heís only missed more than seven games once in his seven NBA seasons. Gay had eye surgery to correct his distance vision and put on 13 pounds of muscle to strengthen his back according to Casey; his backups canít count on Gay missing many games this year.
Three-point specialist Steve Novak will own the backup role as Caseyís floor spreader and instant offense off the bench and he should see some extra minutes in small lineups if the Raptors need an offensive boost. At 30-years-old, Novak is the old man on the roster and has two seasons left on his deal. He will be responsible for more than just shooting the rock and he needs to play if he is going to effectively mentor the younger players.
Austin Daye is a nice addition as a young highly-skilled prospect who has yet to prove he belongs in the NBA, but he could surprise if given an opportunity to play. Daye will have trouble cracking this rotation, but he does have a guaranteed deal for next season.
Im starting to believe that Tyler might just win this battle but, they will both probably play the same amount of minutes.A War at Power Forward
Johnson has always been viewed as best suited to coming off the bench. In part because of his very high personal foul rate, but more due to playing behind Bargnani, however, Bargnani is gone now, so the starting job is wide open.
Johnsonís claim as the starter comes from longevity, this will be his fifth season in Toronto and also from much improved offensive game. Known as an energy player and solid defender, Johnson has developed a good looking outside jump shot and a nice pick-and-roll game.
Hansbrough has the reputation of a bull in a china shop, but he actually fouls at a significantly lower rate than Johnson. He is also the better scorer, but almost all of his points come from opportunistic chances in the paint and trips to the free throw line. A reliable jump shot hasnít been seen from Hansbrough since his sophomore NBA season.
Both players have partially guaranteed contracts for next season and either of these two players could start. Both of them will get more than 24 minutes per game. Unfortunately for Quincy Acy, that will leave him outside of the rotation.
I don't think he'll more than 32 minutes a game. More than that is kind of too much for a big especially a Center. That's to much of a beating every night.Center
The praise about Valanciunasí development over the second half of last season and through the summer from Casey, Ujiri and the media around the NBA couldnít get much louder. The 2013 NBA Summer League MVP is expected to have a huge season. Bigger, stronger and more polished than as a rookie, Casey plans on running his half court offense through Valanciunas this year.
If Valanciunas plays as well as Casey believes he will, thatís bad news for the Raptors wings and forwards hoping to find a few more minutes while the team plays small ball. Valanciunas played 31.6 minutes per game in April and if that ramps up to 32-36 minutes this season, the three-man rotation of Valanciunas, Johnson and Hansbrough is going to soak up all of the available time at the four and five positions. Small ball may not happen all that often.
When the Raptors need to stay really big to handle those few remaining powerhouses in the post, they turn to Gray. Gray is an immoveable object in the paint and heís not afraid to knock you down. He averages over six personal fouls per 36 minutes, but heíll only rarely play more than half of that in a game. Gray will back up the center spot on those nights when size is important. He is on an expiring contract.