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- Can The Raptors Contend Without Tanking?
- The Case Against Signing Steve Nash
- An Open Letter to Bryan Colangelo
- 5 Stupid Reasons NOT To Trade Bargnani
- The Gospel According to Allen Iverson
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Posted on May 30, 2012 | 6 Comments
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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