Toronto has been stuck in a hamster wheel of losing for quite some time and general manager Bryan Colangelo took the fall this offseason. With Masai Ujiri replacing Colangelo, the Raptors have a renewed sense of hope. Coach Dwane Casey doesn't have any significant new pieces, but he'll have a full season with Rudy Gay on board and several young players showing signs that they're ready to break out.
The roster has more depth this season, but it comes back to player development from last year to this one.
Rudy Gay -- No matter where Gay falls on the scale of above-average player to borderline All-Star, he's the face of the Raptors franchise. That doesn't mean he should be expected to do anything beyond his abilities. Gay is still the go-to scoring threat and, with DeMar DeRozan, he gives Toronto a decent enough one-two punch. If there's anything to be hopeful about, it'll be Gay finding a way to lead a relatively young team that must build a cohesion that's been missing for quite some time.
Jonas Valanciunas -- The development of the Lithuanian center showed promise in the NBA Summer League and even in his limited role with EuroBasket's runner-up team. Valanciunas proved to be a defensive force and displayed a new physicality about him, one that's surprising for a 21-year-old. A significant step forward for the young, 6'11 big man could catapult the Raptors forward in their quest for relevancy.
Kyle Lowry -- The tank of a point guard won't be looking over his shoulder this year. Since veteran Jose Calderon was traded in the middle of last season, it's Lowry's Toronto team to lead. He and DeMar DeRozan finished last year on a tear as the Raptors won seven of their final nine games of the year. They'll look for the momentum to continue into 2013-14.
DeMar DeRozan -- DeRozan is entering his fifth NBA season, but he's also just 24 years old. He averaged 18.1 points per game in 2012-13 and, by shooting 45 percent from the floor, was more efficient than Gay. Could DeRozan surpass his elder teammate? Although many people might look to Gay to lead the Raptors, there should be reason to believe DeRozan has more room to grow. DeRozan finished last season by averaging 22.3 points per game in the month of April.
Amir Johnson -- A workhorse in the paint, Johnson came into his own last season and was especially effective as a starter. Now that Andrea Bargnani is gone, it appears like he's a lock to start at power forward. Johnson was also productive when he was forced to play heavy minutes at center. Valanciunas is the man there, but Johnson could also play center in spurts.
Tyler Hansbrough -- The free agent formerly of the Indiana Pacers gives Toronto solid depth at the power forward position after the team lost young big man Ed Davis to the Grizzlies in the Rudy Gay trade. Hansbrough won't bring much offensively, but he'll be a decent rebounder and give the Raptors toughness in the middle.
Steve Novak -- The only tangible piece of the offseason trade that sent Andrea Bargnani to the Knicks, Novak could find a place as a regular rotation player who can stretch the floor like the former No. 1 overall pick ... on a much-smaller salary.
D.J. Augustin -- Augustin didn't impress with the Indiana Pacers last season, but he's the leading candidate to back up Lowry at point guard. Though the Raptors also signed Summer League standout Dwight Buycks and added Julyan Stone, Augustin is the most battle-tested floor general of the three.
Terrence Ross -- Ross enters his second season looking for more consistency offensively. Casey said this summer that Ross got on the floor as a rookie because of his defense, but the next step is turning the athletic jump-shooter into a more diverse offensive weapon to give DeRozan and Gay a breather.
Landry Fields -- Fields played 20 minutes per game last season and struggled with his shooting stroke. He very well could be at risk of losing more minutes in 2013-14 because of the development of 2012 lottery pick Terrence Ross. Despite his limitations, Fields is a capable defender and a smart player off the pine.
Deep on the bench
Quincy Acy -- Like his fellow youngsters, Acy had a strong Summer League, and could use that to propel himself into more playing time. The forward saw his minutes increase as last season wound down.
Austin Daye -- Daye might be the most underrated free agent pickup for the Raptors. He's yet to find significant playing time in the league -- he was traded from Detroit to Memphis in part of the Gay deal last season -- but there could be minutes available for Daye to earn a backup role at one of the forward spots.
Aaron Gray -- After Valanciunas, Gray is the only true center on the roster so he's a valuable piece to the puzzle.
Dwight Buycks -- Buycks led the Summer League in scoring and assists. The speedy point guard could challenge for backup point guard minutes, but it won't be easy with Augustin in his way.
Julyan Stone -- Stone was originally signed as a free agent before a health issue raised red flags. Ujiri apparently still likes what he sees and Stone could fight for a roster spot in training camp.
Dwane Casey -- A revamped front office has given Casey the go-ahead to continue building a winning culture in Toronto. It hasn't been easy so far, but the Raptors didn't have young talents like DeRozan and Valanciunas or an established name player in Gay until recently. Casey has a deeper roster and budding talent that could bring the Raptors back to relevancy.