Position posturing: Raptors enter camp with roster riddle

Andrea Bargnani looks to lead the Raptors this season (IMG_0283)

The Toronto Raptors took to the hard court and opened training camp at Air Canada Centre on Tuesday.

Heading into camp, a number of questions remain unanswered and what transpires over the course of the next month may give some insight on what to expect.

Probably one of the biggest issues is the starting line-up.

Currently, there are three positions where the starters have yet to be decided and there certainly will be a battle throughout camp to determine who takes the spot.

One thing is clear, Andrea Bargnani will definitely be one of the five players lining up for the opening tip come Oct. 27 against the New York Knicks.

Yet where he starts is something that remains to be seen.

Over the summer, Bargnani began developing a back to the basket game, something he needs to become an elite NBA scorer.

“I played with the [Italian] national team a couple of months so I was playing the centre over there so I always played with my back to the basket, played a lot of minutes,” said Bargnani to the Toronto Star. “Of course I was the main guy there so I was getting a lot of touches.

“It was great for me, it was great to learn a lot of stuff coming into a new NBA season.”

Whether the Italian-native lines up at the five [centre] or four [power forward] remains to be seen and who he stands next to is also unsure.

A leading candidate to play alongside the seven-footer is the Raptors $35 million [US] investment Amir Johnson.

With rookie Ed Davis injured there will be less clutter in the front court for the time being, but when the former North Carolina Tar Heel returns there may be some indecision for head coach Jay Triano.

Where the team decides to position Bargnani will determine who is in contention for a starting role as veteran forward Reggie Evans could be in play if the Italian 24-year-old is put at the five.

Backcourt produces questions

The front court isn’t the only place where there is uncertainty.

If the Raptors wish to throw two-guard DeMar DeRozan right into the action, much like they did a season ago, then he too could have a starting spot all sewn up.

But with the strong play of teammate Sonny Weems towards the end of last year and throughout summer league, DeRozan may find himself in a dogfight for a starting role.

Along with Weems, the Raptors newest off-season addition, Leandro Barbosa, may also contend but it is remains likely he will be kept as a scoring threat to bring off the bench.

Even if DeRozan were to land the starting role, Weems would still be in contention for another spot as the small forward position also remains open.

The former Arkansas Razorback will be pitted against off-season acquisition, Linas Kleiza.

Former teammates in Denver, both look to impress coaches with their unique skill set — Kleiza a dead eye shooter, Weems an athletic penetrator — they’re ability to defend, however, may very well decide whom is named to the starting five.

Finally, the controversy that seems to plague the Raptors at the start of every season is who will be the starting point guard?

In both Jose Calderon and Jarret Jack, the Raptors have two viable options at the one [point guard] and who leads the team in the interim may very well land the starting role.

If this off-season is an indicator the Raptors are leaning towards Jack as a potential trade with Charlotte involving Calderon was nixed by Bobcats owner Michael Jordan, leaving the Spaniard possibly feeling unwanted.

One comment:

  1. why does EVERYONE think Sonny Weems is bigger than Derozan?
    Derozan is the true swingman
    Sonny Weems is more of a guard combo, he doesn’t have strength to match up with a lebron neither does Derozan but he is still young and has more potential there, I think he can only go SF when they are going really small with Jack and Calderone playing the guard positions

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