The Biggest Training Camp Mysteries for Toronto Raptors

Christopher WalderContributor IIOctober 2, 2013

Sep 30, 2013; Toronto, Ontario, USA; Toronto Raptors head coach Dwane Casey speaks with the media on media day at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports
Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

You would think Sherlock Holmes was on the case with all of the mysteries and questions surrounding the Toronto Raptors in training camp.

Well, I'm probably overexaggerating just a little bit. 

In fact, other than a few issues that can easily be rectified, everything is pretty much set in place.

Last year's starting lineup of Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, Rudy Gay, Amir Johnson and Jonas Valanciunas are all returning to their respective roles. There should be zero controversy as it pertains to that unit.

Even with reigning NBA Executive of the Year Masai Ujiri taking over as general manager, Dwane Casey still finds himself as head coach of this basketball team. The players now know what to expect from their disciplined and hard-nosed leader, so there should be no surprises there. 

But of course, no matter how good things appear to be, there will always be those concerns that continuously linger in the back of one's mind until the day they're fully addressed. Things aren't perfect in Raptor country, but for the time being, they're looking pretty good. 


How will the Minutes be Allocated at Both Shooting Guard and Small Forward? 

The Toronto Raptors have more wings than a flock of seagulls eating chicken wings while watching an episode of "Wings." 

That's a lot of wings.

Rudy Gay, DeMar DeRozan, Terrence Ross, Landry Fields, Steve Novak and Austin Daye are all guys in the rotation who will be seeking a reasonable amount of playing time.

Above and beyond 30 minutes a night seems almost guaranteed for Gay and DeRozan at this point. Where Ross, Fields, Novak and Daye fall in the pecking order remains to be seen. 

The Raptors are in desperate need of some consistent three-point shooting after averaging just 34.6 percent from behind the arc last season. Novak and his career 43.3 three-point percentage—which is good enough for sixth all-time in league history—will undoubtedly see the court simply for his sharpshooting prowess, if nothing else.

Even after a rough 2012-13 rookie season which saw him average just 6.4 points on 40.7 percent from the field, Terrence Ross still needs his PT to show fans and coaches alike whether or not he has a long-term future here with the franchise. He's had his ups and downs, but it's certainly not time to be waving the white flag on his young career just yet. Expect Ross to match or maybe even surpass the 17.0 minutes he averaged last season in 2014. 

The only thing holding Landry Fields back right now is that injured elbow. During the Raptors' recent media day festivities, Fields revealed that he's nearing 100 percent health, with the strength and nerves slowly returning to his hand and arm. That asinine contract of three years and $19 million will always hang over him like a dark cloud, but if he is in fact healthy, he can still bring tremendous value as a member of the second-unit. Will the minutes be there for him though?

Austin Daye would appear to be the odd man out in this equation. The only times he should be seeing the court are in blowout situations, or if an injury befalls any of the aforementioned names. Working under a cheap two-year, $2 million deal, Daye's sole purpose will be to add depth at the bench. I'd be very surprised to see him work his way up to a certified spot in the rotation.


And the 15th Spot on the Roster goes to.....

The Raptors have invited three players with non-guaranteed deals to training camp in Julyan Stone, Chris Wright and Carlos Morais.

They will compete for the 15th and final open slot on the roster, as the team currently has 14 players under contract for next season. 

Stone would appear to be the front-runner in this three-man race. He has a history with Masai Ujiri from their days with the Denver Nuggets, and if not for a failed physical back in July he would have already been a full-fledged member of the Raptors months ago. However, with point guards Kyle Lowry, D.J. Augustin and Dwight Buycks already signed on, is there truly a need for a fourth-stringer at the position?

This is the second training camp in as many years for Chris Wright in Toronto. He was impressive over the course of five games with the Las Vegas Summer League squad, averaging 10.0 points and 3.2 rebounds. Will all of his hard work pay off?

Carlos Morais is a legitimate threat to win the job, even if you've never heard of him. This would make him the first player ever trained in Africa to play at the NBA level. Morais was recently named the MVP of the 2013 FIBA Africa Championship as a member of Angola, having averaged 15.9 points and 4.6 rebounds. 


Is There a Vocal Leader Hiding Somewhere on this Team? 

No one is asking for Charles Oakley 2.0, but wouldn't it be nice if one of the high-profile names on this roster distinguished themselves as the team leader both on and off the court?

Rudy Gay would seem like the obvious choice as arguably the best player on this team, but after looking back over his seven years in the NBA, you will find little to no instances where he would take on that kind of role. His scoring speaks for itself, while he rarely speaks at all.

DeMar DeRozan and Amir Johnson are the longest-tenured Raptors at five years apiece, but is it in their personalities to be overly vocal with teammates? Johnson tends to let his actions on the court, whether it be playing through pain or working his tail off on defense, be an indicator for his overall passion and desire. DeRozan has put his best foot forward in hopes of being more of a leader in recent memory, but it hasn't carried over from season to season. 

The oldest Raptor on the roster is Steve Novak at 30 years old, but let's not kid ourselves.

It would also be silly to think that a second-year pro like Jonas Valanciunas, who is still continuing to learn the nuances of the English language on a day-to-day basis, being that guy. Not yet anyways.

Dwane Casey is the voice of reason on the sidelines and in practice, but where is that same voice in all other aspects of the game? It needs to come from one of the players and not just the head coach. 

Follow Christopher Walder on Twitter @WalderSports