Included Players: DeMar DeRozan (25), Patrick Patterson (25), Will Cherry (23), Terrence Ross (23), Lucas Nogueira (22), Jonas Valanciunas (22), Bruno Caboclo (19)
Win Shares: 23.1
Average PER: 16.8
Top-Five Picks: 1
Lottery Picks: 4
The Toronto Raptors were the surprise of the Eastern Conference in 2013-14, rising like a phoenix from the ashes of the Rudy Gay trade to win the Atlantic Division for only the second time in franchise history. Their young talent deserves a lion's share of the credit for that shocking turnaround.
Though point guard Kyle Lowry, the team's leader in both PER (20.1) and win shares (11.7) from this past season, turned 28 in March, four of the next five players on the win shares leaderboard are 25 or under: swingman DeMar DeRozan (8.8), center Jonas Valanciunas (6.7), shooting guard Terrence Ross (4.2) and forward Patrick Patterson (3.4).
DeRozan, Valanciunas and Patterson finished the season ranked second, fourth and fifth, respectively, in terms of PER.
The former earned his first-ever All-Star berth in 2013-14, and when looking at his per-game averages of 22.7 points, 4.3 rebounds and 4.0 assists, it's not difficult to see why. His three-point shooting could still use some work—he's a career 26.7 shooter from deep—but he did drill a personal-best 30.5 percent of his three-point attempts this past season.
After a breakout performance at 2013 summer league, Valanciunas didn't make the major leap many expected from him, but it's difficult to complain about a 22-year-old center who averages 11.3 points and 8.8 rebounds in just 28.2 minutes per game.
Patterson, meanwhile, looked like a new man after coming to Toronto in the Gay trade, posting per-game averages of 9.1 points and 5.1 boards in 23.3 minutes.
This year, the Raptors will add to the mix a handful of relative unknowns in center Lucas Nogueira, the No. 16 pick from 2013, guard Will Cherry, who logged time with the D-League's Canton Charge last season, and Bruno Caboclo, the 20th overall pick from June, whom ESPN's Fran Fraschilla described on the telecast as being "two years away from being two years away."
If any of those three provide substantive value this coming season, the Raptors could challenge for the top spot here before long.