Unless you are a big believer in Andrea Bargnani or DeMar DeRozan (and, frankly, you shouldn’t be) the 2011-12 Toronto Raptors didn’t feature a single player with star potential. That sentence comes with a huge asterisk, however, as the Raptors best player didn’t play a single minute in the NBA last summer. Jonas Valančiūnas, the team’s 2011 draft pick, was unable to get out of his contract overseas. That wasn’t necessarily a terrible thing for the Raptors, as Valančiūnas racked up the awards, including the Lithuania Basketball Player of the Year, FIBA European Young Player of the Year, MVP of the VTB United League and the Eurocup Rising Star.
Jonas Valančiūnas may not end up being worthy of building a team around, but it’s really the only plan the Raptors have. As a 20 year old center, Valančiūnas will no doubt need a couple years to develop, which should push the Raptors firmly away from “win now” mode. They should be constructing a team that will thrive when players like Jose Calderon and Andrea Bargnani are gone.
I see the Raptors main need as a player that can create their own shot, as they don’t really have anybody that can currently do so. Valančiūnas thrives on alley-oops, put backs, hook shots and the like: in no way can the offense run through him. It is possible that DeMar DeRozan will develop into that player, but I doubt it.
Editors Note: As an outspoken and unabashed University of Arizona homer I'd like to point out that I personally think Jerryd Bayless has what it takes to be a starting 2 guard for somebody in the league. Oh, and he's got a blog.