2012 Final Raptor Report Card (Post Lottery)

Posted on May 30, 2012 | 6 Comments

After Part 1 and Part 2, the ping pong balls have settled and I can now finally give the Raptors organization a grade for this past season.

Toronto Raptors: Epic Fail!

Too harsh? I don’t think so. The main goal going into the season should have been to get a high lottery pick. They were coming off a 22 win season after losing their seudo-franchise player, Chris Bosh, to free agency, had no stars, and the playoffs looked years away.

After getting screwed in a weak-ish draft, moving from 3rd to 5th, they found themselves in an relatively fortunate situation. Jonas Valanciunas, who most thought to be the third best prospect in the draft, dropped into the Raptors lap and the fact that he wasn’t even going to join the team for another year, pretty much gave the franchise the license to throw out the next season.

Considering the next draft was projected to be one of the best in the last decade, and nobody had any expectations for the season (well, not good ones, anyway), it was the perfect chance for the Raptors to “tank” the season in the name of developing the young players, and give themselves a good chance to get a top pick in the draft.

After years of half measures and hedging their bets, the Bryan Colangelo and the Raptors franchise finally had the chance to rebuild the right way. They had some decent prospects, but no All-Star talent, and had a great chance to get a franchise player in the next draft and build around him, Oklahoma Thunder-style.

So what happened?

They ended up playing mediocre ball.

New head coach, Dwane Casey, got the team to play defense and work hard. That sounds good, but the problem is that he got a bunch of poor to mediocre players to play defense and work hard. And all that did was allow the Raptors to finish 8th last, instead of 2nd or 3rd last, which meant that instead of having a 15-20% chance of the top pick, and a 40-50% chance of landing a top 3 pick, they would have a 3.8% chance of the top pick and a 12.3% chance of a top 3 pick.

Admittedly, there’s no guarantee you’re going to get a top pick wherever you finish, but when you have a 3.8% chance of a top pick, is it any surprise when you don’t get it?  New Orleans finished 4th and ended up getting the top pick with their 13.7% chance¹.

In a league where luck has a lot to do with the fortunes of franchises, the more you can do to increase your odds, the better.

I’ve heard the mantra about “changing the culture” of the team. Sorry, but that’s bullshit. And the reason it’s bullshit is because in an ideal situation, the majority of the players who were part of that change wouldn’t even be on the roster in a year or two.  It’s like putting up new drywall only to demolish the house later.

And to make matters worse, we never saw the development most wanted out of the major prospects. DeMar DeRozan and Ed Davis both had disappointing seasons that made many question their value and ultimate potential. Andrea Bargnani teased everyone with 13 games of very good offensive play, and the ability to try harder, if not be actually successful, on the defensive end, only to miss half the season and come back playing similarly to the way he had been the previous 5 years. Even Jerryd Bayless had a disappointing season, where he also missed half the season, but when he did play, it became more and more apparent that he’s probably never going to be a true PG.

This season has the real danger of haunting the the franchise for the next decade. In it’s entire existence, the team has had only two perennial All-Stars, and only one of them looked like he had the makings of a legitimate franchise player. And after years of trying to build around a player who simply wasn’t good enough to build around, the Raptors now are faced with the prospect of getting back into the playoff race without a player even as good as Bosh.

Bryan Colangelo is going to do his best to improve the team, this offseason, but without a franchise player, or even a perennial All-Star on the roster, this is a team whose ceiling appears to be a first round playoff appearance.

All the talk of trying to mimic the Indiana Pacers model (which is nonsense, by the way- something I will save for a later post) doesn’t even make sense for a team that doesn’t have nearly the quality of players the Pacers do, and they’re basically the new Atlanta Hawks.

So the Raptors are stuck with the 8th pick, where there are some decent, and possibly even good players available, not even one All-Star calibre, and a GM who looks to have lost his patience with rebuilding. Am I the only one worried about the future?

Jonas Valanicunas’ development just became that more important.

1. I know there’s a lot of talk of conspiracy, with the NBA recently selling the Hornets franchise and the team losing Chris Paul, but I think all that talk is just ridiculous. Why? Because the negatives of doing so FAR outweigh the positives. If the conspiracy was discovered (which it probably eventually would) it would absolutely destroy the credibility of the league and tarnish and end the careers of everyone involved, who would face lawsuits and, ever worse, possible prison time. And all in order make sure 1 team out of the 30 in the league gets the top pick. A result that will have absolutely no affect on the league. It simply doesn’t make sense.

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Join the discussion: 6 Comments


  • sleepz

    I think there’s positives and negatives to analyze regarding this. The numbers played out the way they should so the 8th pick was the most likely result.

    There will be all-star players selected from this draft from the 8th pick and beyond. I can’t tell the future but I truly feel Lamb, T.Jones, T Wroten, A Rivers, T Ross, P Miller, all have potential to become all-stars. There are others but these are just to name a few. The scouting and work done to ensure we select a potential all-star will determine if the season was a failure or not. Whether its the 2nd pick or the 8th pick, if you draft an all-star it doesn’t matter. No one cares that Paul Pierce went #10. We just know he’s a Hall-of Famer, so try and keep optimistic about the potential these players have. Not saying they will be like Paul Pierece but it’s too early to declare drafting an -all-star at the #8 spot is impossible.

    That being said, BC is starting to show inclinations of why I thought he should have been fired instead of given a 2 yr extension. he has no intention of rebuilding properly and is trying to assemble a team on the fly, centred around Bargnani and trying to add pieces instead of tearing it down and going the youth movement route. If he trades the pick, signs a pricey FA or makes a move that singals he is trying to compete now, I hope everyone will truly realize that he is not the right GM for the Raptors as he doesn’t get it and is concerned with win-now mediocrity, not sustained winning and building a championship type team.

    He should have been removed from his position a year ago as he does not have the stomach for a true build which requires patience. This is the bigest threat to the Raps franchise moving forward.

  • Rex

    So how are you saying, with certainty, that there will be no All-Star calibre players at #8? That’s just a guess, and although I would’ve loved the number one pick, there is potential to get a great, great player at #8, and I really like some of the names there.

    Also, you don’t know if we’re moving up, you don’t know who will fall in our hands at 8, and you don’t know what kind of player they’ll be, so all the talk about the future being in the shitter is moot. And hey, many said that JV would be a #2 pick if he entered this draft, so a #2 and a #8 pick isn’t horrible. How about that for an inkling of positivity you could’ve added to your post? Jeez, imagine how the Bobcats must feel, or how about the Nets…yikes!

    There was one clear-cut franchise guy, if you want to call him that, in this draft, in Anthony Davis. Who knows how he’ll perform, another Marcus Camby? Or will growing so much so quickly have an effect on him injury-wise down the road? Who knows, you just can’t go and predict any of these players futures with certainty, just like you can’t predict the future of the Raptors with certainty, anything can happen, between now and next season, and beyond.

  • Tinman

    So if we would of got lucky and gotten top three it would of been a success?
    Their final grade you established was based on chance. Chance should not be apart of it.

    Epic fail? Why add the Epic? Because there were 7 teams well worse off than us going into the season. 7 terrible teams. That was not the Raptors organization fault.

    Tim your season ending grades are consistant.You have had tunnel vision all season long.

    Don’t worry, fasten your seat belt. BC is on the phone. We will not pick 8th this year. Since you waited for the lottery b4 grading, why not wait until after all is said and done. The Legomaster is on the phone.

    Well at least you didn’tr blame the lottery on Bargnani- although I am sure there is a post in the wings.

  • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.


    The 8th pick was the most likely result, but that doesn’t mean it’s alright. They needed a top 3 pick, at the very least, and didn’t get one.And yes, there COULD be All-Stars at 8, but simple logic (and statistics) says that your chances of finding an All-Star goes down the lower you draft. If the Raptors can find an All-Star at 8, I’ll be ecstatic, but the odds of doing so are MUCH lower than if they were drafting 3rd or 4th.

    For me, what Colangelo does this summer will decide whether or not I think he should stay. If he tries to take a shortcut to respectability, but pushes the Raptors towards perennial mediocrity, then he will have fully lost my support.


    I look at things realistically. Being positive or negative doesn’t matter to me, just truthful. I also don’t worry about what position other teams are in. Just the Raptors (well, and Spurs). I don’t take solace in the fact that other teams are worse. And I never said there would be no potential All-Star at 8, with certainty or without. But the fact is your chance of finding one at 8 is far less than finding one at 3 or 4.

    And I think Anthony Davis is going to be a special player and far, far better than Marcus Camby.


    If the Raptors got the top pick, then the season would have been worth it. Chance is a part of success in the NBA, whether people like it or not.

    It’s an epic fail because the Raptors had a mediocre season at possibly the worst time. They will not likely get a chance at a high pick for quite a while, and without an elite player on the roster, they are seriously in danger of becoming perennially mediocre. Again.

    I don’t doubt Colangelo will be in deal making mode (see the post I just posted), but the question is whether he will try and make a short cut to the playoffs, by trading for a veteran, which would help the Raptors reach the playoffs next year, but just about kill any chance they have of becoming contenders in the near future.

  • Stephen Waugh

    “That being said, BC is starting to show inclinations of why I thought he should have been fired instead of given a 2 yr extension.”

    I share this thought with you among many other people, but let me ask you (and other readers) a couple of questions to engage your mind. Think when (before) you answer!

    1) Who would you have hired to replace Bryan Colangelo last year and why?

    2) Would you bring back Rob Babcock?

  • Stephen Waugh

    My comment above is meant for @sleepz, but anyone can reply.

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