Antoine Wright - I expected Wright to have a much bigger role and maybe even breakout in Toronto. It seemed like he was entering a perfect situation for him: Only 25 years-old and in the last year of his contract, started 53 games for a 50-win Dallas team last season, has always played on a playoff team, and joining a team that lacked depth at the 2/3 positions. I neglected to consider that there could be a reason or two that a pair of NBA teams have already given up on him.
Sonny Weems - The name itself is reason enough to root for the guy but it isn't the singular reason why I am thoroughly enjoying the Sonny Weems era in Raptorland. Triano never gave him a real shot until mid-December, and since then Weems has forced himself into the rotation with 45% shooting from the field, a 2-1 assist to turnover ratio, and solid defence. An underdog with a great name? I'm in.
Hedo Turkolglu - For the most part, Hedo has looked happy to forego any ownership or responsibility of this team and simply collect his money. We knew when he signed his free agent contract this summer that playing defence wasn't high on his priority list, but we weren't ready for his Vince-esque lack of intensity. Let's hope he's still trying to figure out his role and not settling into complacency.
Patrick O'Bryant - I wonder what it's like to be paid $1.6 million a year to practice basketball?
Rasho Nesterovic - Solid, dependable, and there when you need him. Which at this point, is not all that often.
Amir Johnson - He played really well for the Flint Tropics in Semi-Pro, but I never would've guessed that his game would translate this well to the NBA. Granted, he has toned down his play (and trimmed the 'fro), staying away from the flashy stuff, but I'm surprised more hasn't been made of this remarkable story.
Jarret Jack - Not an elite talent by any means but knows how to play basketball and provides a nice contrast (and insurance) to Calderon. Boring really. But sometimes boring is good. And when boring gives you 10 and 5 and only costs $4.5 million? Boring is really good.
DeMar DeRozan - The rookie shooting guard is never going to be an All-Star but he definitely has the potential to be a contributing member of a playoff team. And not in the Brian Scalabrine, waving the towel from the end of the bench sense. DeRozan's shot, which was heavily criticized heading into the draft, is actually sneaky steady from 12-14 feet. His minutes should go up in the final 40 games.
Jose Calderon - Raptor fans have been harping on his defence for a couple of years now, and it's true that he is below average in that area, but what about the positives he brings to the court? Excellent passer. Solid shot. Fantastic teammate. Do those qualities not trump 'bad defence'? And since returning to the line-up and playing with the second string, he's turned the entire bench around. He's like a second-string Steve Nash. Obviously the Raptors need to stop playing Jose with Jack to end games...why not continue starting Jack and bringing Jose in off the bench, but then let whoever matches up better with that particular opponent and/or whoever is playing better finish it off?
Chris Bosh - At this point we know exactly what he is (a 25 and 10 most nights with dependable free throw shooting) and what he is not (crunch time scorer, someone who can finish games). I'm actually torn as to whether I want him to re-sign because I'm not sure he can ever be the best player on a championship team and to commit a max contract to him means he's going to be the best player on our team for the forseeable future. On the other hand, I can't imagine tuning in to watch 50 jumpers a night from Hedo and Bargnani.
Marco Belinelli - As my friend and Raptors fanatic Jon Scratch would say, Belinelli is a 'souless chucker' who never met a shot he didn't like. He's a player that Triano should give a few minutes to every game just to see what he's capable of that night. If he's feeling it, let him play. If he's busting up the backboard...give up and try him again next game.
Andrea Bargnani - No longer a threat to pick up more personal fouls than rebounds, so he's got that going for him. And who let him know that he could breathe through his nose rather than spend the entire game with his mouth open? Actually, the big Italian has continued his solid play from the second half of last season and has begun to figure out how to help the team even when his shot isn't dropping. It's still too early to say whether the extension he signed last summer (5 years and $50 million) is fair value, but at least we're not already lamenting it.
Marcus Banks - Honestly, I would rather have Carlton Banks on the roster. Marcus was surprisingly not awful when forced into the line-up during Calderon's injury, but his horrific contract ($4.4 million this year, $4.7 next) will wind up costing us at least one of Johnson or Wright this summer.