The Toronto Raptors made it clear from the start of the offseason that they were determined to improve their team at the point guard position. The result of that effort makes them one of the deeper teams at the position in the NBA. Only a few teams can match the depth the Raptors now have.
Kyle Lowry will be the starter in Toronto, and he will be backed up by Jose Calderon and John Lucas. That is an impressive trio to have for any NBA team. Calderon has been the starter for years in Toronto, ever since T.J. Ford was shipped to the Pacers. He now will be facing other teams' second units. This is a clear advantage for the Raptors against almost anyone.
John Lucas spent last year with the Bulls and saw a great deal of time, thanks to the injury woes of Derrick Rose. This is a far cry from the Raptors' 2011-12 depth, having to rely on Ben Uzoh as their third option.
The Raptors have done this based on having a lot of bad luck in terms of injuries. Calderon has had his struggles with injures in the past. Last season, Jerryd Bayless was plagued with injures backing up Calderon. The Raptors' usage of a lot of pick and roll situations makes the point guard vital in their offense.
Is their depth the best in the entire league? Let’s start to answer that question by looking around the Atlantic Division first.
Rajon Rondo, Deron Williams and Jrue Holiday all log a ton of minutes for their teams. If you can name the back-ups for the Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers, you are a true basketball junkie. If any of these teams lose their respective starters for any amount of time, they are in serious trouble.
The New York Knicks have Raymond Felton and Jason Kidd as a tandem to help people forget all about "Linsanity." It is an impressive twosome. Kidd is not getting any younger, but he, like Calderon, should be able to torch second units if he ends up being the backup. In addition, less minutes should give both a better chance to stay healthy.
It is a nice duo for the Knicks; still, give the Raptors the nod in that comparison. So how about the rest of the Eastern Conference? The one team that springs to mind is the Indiana Pacers. George Hill teamed with D.J Augustin and Sundiata Gaines. That is a pretty capable trio to have. The Raptors trio gets the advantage in this case as well—on NBA experience alone.
When the Chicago Bulls get healthy, they have great depth, as they added Kirk Hinrich for a second tour of duty in Chicago. They also added Marquis Teague in the draft and picked up Nate Robinson. If you added a healthy Derrick Rose to that mix, that is some amazing depth. Problem is, the Bulls may not see Rose at all this season, or if they do, not until very late in the season.
Let’s take a look at the Western Conference, where two teams jump out for me. The San Antonio Spurs are a team who has some nice depth behind Tony Parker. I am a big fan of Patty Mills and what he can do. Last season, they drafted Cory Joseph out of Texas. He looked good at Vegas Summer League and is a nice young talent. Gary Neal can also play at either guard position.
The one team that is the answer to this question though is the Oklahoma City Thunder. They have Russell Westbrook, who logs the bulk of the minutes. In addition, they have Eric Maynor returning from a devastating leg injury. If he is the same guy that he was prior to the injury, he will be a solid backup point guard. Reggie Jackson rounds out this trio, as he is entering his second season with a ton more experience than expected.
This threesome—in terms of depth and overall talent—is potentially the best in the league. The Raptors clearly deserve to be in this conversation with any team you care to choose, however.
You take almost any NBA team and take away their number one option at the point guard, and they would be hard pressed to win games. Teams that have depth at the position have a better chance at being able to survive the season. The Bulls showed that, having to play a lot of games last season without Derrick Rose.
Point guard is the one position that in most offenses is vital to making them run. It is smart for any team to have depth at such a key position. The Raptors have learned that lesson the hard way at times. They went out and did something about it. The result is having one of the strongest depth charts at the position in the league.