FanPost

The Raptors Starting 2-Guard and Rotation

As a means of killing time and fending off the mandatory off-season boredom, I thought a look at the likely starters for the Toronto Raptors, as well as the rotation behind them, would be a good exercise.

We know some things right off the bat...

The starting lineup will look like this:

PG: Jose Calderon
SG: ?
SF: Hedo Turkoglu
PF: Chris Bosh
C: Andrea Bargnani

The backup PG spot is pretty solid as well, with Jack taking all those minutes.

To do this properly, we need an estimation of how many minuted each player will be playing at each position.  We'll start with some numbers I've guestimated, and the discussion can take it from there.

PG: Jose Calderon (32), Jack (16)
SG: ?
SF: Hedo Turkoglu (34)
PF: Chris Bosh (36)
C: Andrea Bargnani (36)

I've allocated 32 minutes to Jose because I think that's the minimum he should be playing as a starter, and he has shown he is more effective in limited minutes, so best of both worlds there.  34 for Hedo, since he's not getting any younger, and the standard (not Mitchell-overworked) 36 starter minutes for AB and CB.

That leaves 48 SG minutes, 14 SF minutes, and 24 big minutes to be played.

The Bigs

Amir-johnson-dunking_medium

via www.detroitbadboys.com


The bigs question, to me, is simple: is Amir Johnson ready for full-time backup duties.  If he has developed his defensive game so he can hold position and rebound without fouling excessively like in the past, he becomes the ideal energy backup to match with either of our two finesse bigs.  His difficulties in the past have been primarily associated with not being able to stay in the game.

So, the backup C and PF are simple: ideally, play Amir for as many minutes as possible, until he fouls out.  Then play Rasho at C and Reggie at PF whenever the starters need a breather.  Our resultant rotation is:

PG: Jose Calderon (32), Jack (16)
SG: ?
SF: Hedo Turkoglu (34)
PF: Chris Bosh (36), Amir Johnson (12)
C: Andrea Bargnani (36), Amir Johnson (12)

The Wings

Our candidates (for this exercise) are Demar Derozan (~16 minutes per game, from Jay Triano), Antoine Wright (defensive specialist and past starter), Marco Belinelli (offensive specialist), and Jarrett Jack (needs more minutes than just backup PG).  This means I am ignoring Weems, Banks, and Douby, because I only see them being used in extreme cases (say, GSW goes all 5-guards on us) or in case of injury.

The obvious answer is to state that Jay has said that DeRozan will likely be starting, but let's leave this open, because he has also said the spot will ultimately be determined in training camp and preseason.

I believe the real question here is not who starts at the 2 (and why) but who backs up the 3. 

Jack and Belinelli are out of the question for this, so it comes down to whether DD or AW should back up Hedo.

Wright brings a solid defensive game, with little ball-handling skills and little offensive game.  DeRozan brings athleticism, rebounding, and a solid mid-range game, but is a mystery on defense and has no NBA experience.

So, two scenarios:

A) Jay decides DeRozan can handle full-time backup duties at the 3 better than time at the 2, due to his penchant for the offensive board, his somewhat limited handles, and his lack of a long-range game.

B) Jay decides that DeRozan cannot play the 3 effectively, forcing Wright to take all the backup SF minutes.

Scenario A

PG: Calderon (32), Jack (16)
SG: ?
SF: Turkoglu (34), Derozan (14)
PF: Bosh (36), Johnson (12)
C: Bargnani (36), Johnson (12)

Act_antoine_wright_medium

via www.nba.com


This gives Derozan roughly the minutes originally allocated to him by Jay, and leaves 48 mintes to split between Jack, Wright, and Beli at the 2.  Beli, to me, seems to be a great fit with the second unit, as a sixth-man offensive boost.  Jack should not be started, as he should be fresh coming into the game when Calderon needs a rest.  As such, the rotation I ended up with is this:

PG: Calderon (32), Jack (16)
SG: Wright (20), Belinelli (18), Jack (10)
SF: Turkoglu (34), Derozan (14)
PF: Bosh (36), Johnson (12)
C: Bargnani (36), Johnson (12)

The minute allocations are as above because I see Wright being used similarly to how DeRozan may be used, for 8 minutes at the start of each half, to set the tone defensively, plus a few minutes at the end of the 4th quarter to slow down the Wades and LeBrons when they are ripping us to pieces in crunch time.

Jack gets 10 minutes at the 2 to round out his expected (by me) 26 minutes per game, allowing Beli to play solid minutes off the bench.

The reason I like this rotation is that the Wing pairings could conceivably be Hedo/Wright and Belinelli/DeRozan, if they are subbed at the same times.  This would maintain a ball-handler/defender aspect to the wings, allowing continuity of roles in plays throughout the game.  The first unit gets an upgrade defensively, and DeRozan still has no pressure to score (since he is playing alongside Beli) and less pressure to be able to defend the top players, as he'll be playing second-stringers, probably with a defensive substituation happening up front at the same time he comes into the game.

Scenario B

PG: Calderon (32), Jack (16)
SG: ?
SF: Turkoglu (34), Wright (14)
PF: Bosh (36), Johnson (12)
C: Bargnani (36), Johnson (12)

Demar-derozan_medium

via i.cdn.turner.com

This is the scenario most fans seem to be gravitating towards, and it does seem the most likely.  In this case, Derozan gets the nod to start, Wright takes a few SG minutes, and the following rotation is likely.

PG: Calderon (32), Jack (16)
SG: DeRozan (16), Belinelli (18), Jack (10), Wright (4)
SF: Turkoglu (34), Wright (14)
PF: Bosh (36), Johnson (12)
C: Bargnani (36), Johnson (12)

Conclusion

There's not really a conclusion here, except to say that I really prefer Scenario A, where Wright starts at the 2.

Please feel free to comment on minute allocations, rotations, or just how much of a fool I am.  This really was just supposed to be a conversation starter.

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