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How Should Toronto Raptors Manage Minutes in the Season's Final Weeks?

Zachary ArthurCorrespondent IIApril 8, 2013

How Should Toronto Raptors Manage Minutes in the Season's Final Weeks?

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    The Toronto Raptors should make use of the remaining games in the regular season and manage everybody's minutes with an agenda.

    An agenda that isn't so much about winning games as it is about developing specific players for specific reasons.

    Only five games separate the Raptors from the end of another disappointing year. It might feel like next season is too far away to talk about, but it will be here before we all know it.

    That's just what it does.

    Providing the correct amount of minutes to the right players will be crucial toward seeing who should have a roster spot on next year's team and who they should let go.

    Let's take a look at how exactly Toronto should manage those minutes.

Point Guards

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    Current Minutes Per Game

    Kyle Lowry: 29.6

    Sebastian Telfair: 16.6

    John Lucas: 12.8

     

    Lowry has been the only choice at point guard since Jose Calderon got traded and it's for the best. You'll likely never see Lowry taking plays off or competing at a level any less than 100 percent. The man plays hard and gets it done.

    Lowry's job isn't in jeopardy and the team isn't playing for anything as far as wins are concerned. Taking his minutes down to around 25 per game would be the right move, as it allows for Toronto to look at its other options.

    Two of those other options are Lucas and Telfair.

    Giving Telfair around 20 minutes per game would be ideal. The Raptors would be able to get a pretty good sense of who this guy really is and if he has a future as being their backup point guard. Remember, this guy has played for eight teams in eight years, so the answer to that question is really up in the air.

    Lucas hasn't seen any playing time in their last five games and doesn't appear to be injured. Throwing 10-15 minutes at him in every game for the rest of the season wouldn't be a bad idea. He isn't a bad third option and at 30 years old, he's probably content with that role.

Shooting Guards

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    Current Minutes Per Game

    DeMar DeRozan: 36.9

    Alan Anderson: 23.8

    Terrence Ross: 16.9

     

    DeRozan is the unquestioned leader at shooting guard. His numbers have slightly improved in his fourth year, but they didn't really need to get much better. The problem is that his current minutes are way too high for a guy that has a solidified role.

    Especially when he's got so much talent behind him.

    It's time to give Ross a legitimate shot. His minutes have been incredibly inconsistent. There are stretches of time where he goes multiple games without playing more than 12-15 minutes, then all of a sudden he'll end up with over 25 in the next couple games. That kind of management isn't going to work.

    He'll need to consistently play around 25 minutes in the remaining contests so that he has more of a chance to develop and grow as an NBA pro.

    Anderson is the older player that gets the job done. Averaging 11.1 points in 23.8 minutes is no joke and very impressive. The key to his numbers are that he's been doing that all season. That's important because Toronto shouldn't need to see much else out of him. It's not like he randomly started putting up points.

    Flip-flopping his minutes with Ross' would make sense in this scenario. Anderson just doesn't need that opportunity to finally see the court like Ross does. He's been fairly steady all year and the Raptors know what they'll get out of him.

Small Forwards

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    Current Minutes Per Game

    Rudy Gay: 35.9

    Landry Fields: 20.8

    Linas Kleiza: Out for Season

    Mickael Pietrus: Out for Season

    Quincy Acy: 8.8

     

    Gay has been a workhorse since his trade to Toronto and there just isn't a use for it. If you didn't notice by reading the list, the Raptors aren't as deep at small forward as they initially look. Still though, Gay has been a bit banged up this year and doesn't need to be playing so many minutes. He'll be their No. 1 option next year so somewhere around 28-30 would do just fine.

    Fields had a lot of success when he played in New York, but hasn't been able to consistently replicate that for the Raptors. Giving him about 27 minutes per game for the five remaining games should give him a chance to show that he's still got "it."

    Acy has recently gotten more of an opportunity to play and he's making the most of it. There's no way that Toronto knows much about its rookie when he's only getting 8.8 minutes a game. Moving that number to 15 would paint a better picture.

    Kleiza isn't an option as he's only played in 20 games after recovering from a knee injury suffered earlier this year. On top of that, left knee tendinitis has kept Pietrus out for the majority of the year, so he joins Kleiza on the unplayable list.

Power Forwards

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    Current Minutes Per Game

    Amir Johnson: 28.2

    Andrea Bargnani: Out for Season

     

    Johnson is putting up career-highs in points, rebounds, assists and steals.

    Talk about a pleasant surprise for the Raptors. Consistent energy and passion are two of Johnson's most valuable traits and they seem to be translating to the basketball court in the forward's eighth year.

    His current minutes are right where they should be. It feels as though he's solidified his position as a second-string power forward, and now it's up to Toronto to decide if they feel like he can be a starter.

    And if being a starter sounded ridiculous, take in the fact that he's only 25 years old and it starts to make more sense.

    Bargnani probably doesn't deserve much attention as he's likely on his way out. His injury saves both he and Toronto the time and energy from having anything to do with each other.

    That's probably best for both parties.

Centers

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    Current Minutes Per Game

    Jonas Valanciunas: 23.7

    Aaron Gray: 11.4

     

    The more Valanciunas sees the court, the better and more impressive he starts to look. Toronto probably didn't guess that it was drafting a center that could come into the league and contribute in his first year, but that's exactly what they got.

    Increasing his minutes to around 30 per game will allow him to get comfortable and give more of a glimpse into how good he could one day be.

    There isn't much of a need to see Gray more than you have to. He'll never do anything exceptionally bad when he's on the court, but he'll never do anything exceptionally well, either. His playing time is fine just where it is.

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