Youthful Unknowns Rule Roster At Shooting Guard

Ulmer's Position-by-Position Analysis: Point Guard | Shooting Guard | Small Forward | Power Forward | Centre
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Mike Ulmer -

September 30, 2009 - In our continuing look at the Raptors, we look at the club's shooting guards.

The Raptors' prospects at shooting guard are both simple and complex. While a trio of combo guards, Jarrett Jack, Quincy Douby and Marcus Banks can play both guard spots, the two guard is most likely to be manned by either rookie DeMar DeRozan or third year NBAer Marco Belinelli, with Sonny Weems likely waiting for an opportunity lower in the rotation.

Here's a look at those three players.

DeMar DeRozan

2008-09 Statistics (as a rookie at USC): 13.9 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 1.5 apg, 0.9 spg, 33.4 mpg, 0.523 FG%, 0.167 3p%, 0.646 FT% in 35 Games Played
Age: 20
Strengths: DeMar DeRozan has not yet played a game for the Raptors but he already he stands out as the best athlete on the club. Gifted with the perfect frame for the swingman position, DeRozan is six-foot seven with staggering athletic potential.

Start with his natural gifts. DeRozan is agile and balanced in the air. That faculty has prompted comparisons between DeRozan and Vince Carter, a preposterous notion since Carter enjoyed two more years of college ball.

DeRozan is an exceptional leaper with enough reach and footspeed to make himself an excellent defender. He is fearless around the basket. He is fierce on the finish. DeRozan is a competent ballhandler who will only get better as he grows into his body and the league. He is considered very coachable. Born and raised in hard-scrabble Compton, Cal., he is mature far beyond his years.

Weaknesses: It's hard to view inexperience as a weakness. DeRozan hasn't had time to develop the finer points of his game. He never had to pass the ball in high school since the best route to the basket was for DeRozan to jump over everyone. DeRozan is working on his mid-range game. Developing a reliable jumper, as Carter did, would make DeRozan a double threat.

Marco Belinelli

2008-09 Statistics: 8.9 ppg, 1.7 rpg, 2.1 apg, 0.9 spg, 21.0 mpg, 0.442 FG%, 0.397 3p%, 0.769 FT% in 42 Games Played (23 starts)
Age: 23
Strengths: Marco Belinelli can light it up from anywhere. Obtained by the Golden State Warriors last summer, Belinelli found more playing time in his second year when he started 23 times.

He is a steak shooter who, when on, isn't deterred by hands in his face or distance from the basket.

Belinelli is very athletic and a good ballhandler quite able to manufacture his own shot. He had games of 27, 23, 22 and 21 points last season for the Warriors.

Weaknesses: Belinelli doesn't drive the paint the way he could. He doesn't get to the line often enough to significantly bolster his point totals. While he can play small forward in a pinch if the Raptors go small, Belinelli lacks the versatility of a true swingman.

Sonny Weems

2008-09 Statistics: 1.6 ppg, 0.3 rpg, 0.3 apg, 0.1 spg, 4.6 mpg, 0.320 FG%, 0.000 3p%, 0.375 FT% in 12 Games Played
Age: 25
Strengths: Terrific athleticism. He can jump to the ceiling or burn opponents from the three point line.

Weaknesses: Hasn't yet grasped the game. Poor defensive player. Prone to turnovers. A project.