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The Raptors have been seeking an identity since the departure of Vince Carter in 2004, and they have a chance to develop one under coach Dwane Casey. His gritty defensive style should be a hit with Toronto's hockey-mad fans; scorers Andrea Bargnani and DeMar DeRozan have already bought in. Next, Casey needs to indoctrinate Jonas Valanciunas—a 6'11" center who played in Lithuania last year after being drafted fifth in 2011—and first-round pick Terrence Ross, as well as volatile point guard Kyle Lowry, who at 26 has a chance to start anew after his public falling-out with coach Kevin McHale in Houston.
The hardworking DeRozan should serve as a good example for Ross, a 6'6" shooter out of Washington, and Valanciunas will benefit from playing alongside Bargnani. An expected midseason trade of José Calderón's expiring contract will provide another shake-up, but it could also be a boost to a team that is headed in the right direction.
COACH: Dwane Casey (2nd season with Raptors)
2011--12 RECORD: 23--43 (4th in Atlantic)
OFFENSE: 90.7 ppg (28th)
DEFENSE: 94.0 ppg (9th)
PICK-AND-ROLL OFFENSE: 23.3 ppg (T-15th)
PROJECTED STARTING FIVE
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