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Posted on June 26, 2012 | 9 Comments
Okay, both you and I know the Raptors got screwed this year. This season was supposed to be about the development of the young players and getting a top pick in the draft. Unfortunately few of the players developed the way they were supposed to, and Dwane Casey was able to squeeze a little more out of a team that really had no business finishing outside of the bottom 5, so the Raptors ended up in the 8th spot in the draft. It was no surprise, then, when Adam Silver called out Toronto’s pick at 8, and not in the top 3. Disheartening, but not surprising.
Still, it was encouraging to see the Raptors, even with their injuries, claw and scrap their way to 23 wins, besting last years mark despite playing 16 fewer games. Right? Well, not really. Not when you consider that a good number of those players probably aren’t even in the Raptor’s long term plans. Or if they are, they probably shouldn’t be.
Having watched you in Phoenix, and then in Toronto, I’m betting a guy like you isn’t going to sit on his hands an do nothing, this summer. So here’s some unsolicited advice for you….
NO SHORT CUTS!
With the Raptors drafting 8th and the fact that you’re not nearly as likely to find a future star at 8 as you are in the top 3, you’re probably tempted to trade the pick.
I’ve even heard the rumours about trading for Andre Iguodala or Rudy Gay, as well as ones involving Luol Deng.
That’s a recipe for mediocrity. There are definitely times when veteran help is a good idea. Now is not one of them. Not for this team. Not for a team as young and with as little proven talent as the Raptors. What exactly are you hoping to gain from trading for a Rudy Gay, Luol Deng or Andre Iguodala? To be in a fight for the playoffs? Great. Then what?
Iguodala, Deng and Gay are very nice players. They’re all borderline All Stars and all around good players. But if they’re your team’s best player, then you’re not going to be anything more than a mediocre team, at best. And not one of them is going to ever be much better than they are right now. Gay is the youngest, but after 6 years in the league, he’s shown shockingly little to no improvement in his game in the last five years.
NASH IS NOT THE ANSWER!
Speaking of short cuts, I understand the desire for Steve Nash to join the Raptors. He’s immediately make the Raptors competitive (for the time being), the prospect of Captain Canada playing in his home country would be a marketing bonanza, and you had great success signing him before. The problem is that his supporting cast in Toronto wouldn’t be any better than it was in Phoenix, and Phoenix didn’t even make the playoffs this year.
Adding a guy like Iguodala or Gay would certainly help, and might even help the team match the 47 wins they achieved in your first year in charge. Unfortunately, just like that team, a team built around a 38 year old former MVP and a few decent players isn’t the way to build a contender. And once Nash declines, the team’s best shot at doing ANY damage in the playoffs will be gone. Again.
Besides, not only would I like to see Nash finish his career on a high note, I think Raptor fans deserve something more than to watch an aging, former MVP at the tail end of his career.
YOUR GOAL SHOULDN’T BE TO MAKE THE PLAYOFFS!
Making the playoffs would be nice, sure, but far, far more important is to build a team that actually has a good chance to do something more than just making the playoffs. You already built a playoff team in Toronto. Even without injuries, though, that team didn’t have a chance to be anything more than an Atlanta Hawks wannabe. A team that is competitive, makes the playoffs, but has no hope of going beyond the second round.
Memphis, Indiana and Philadelphia shouldn’t be your models. Oklahoma should be. That means that if they need to miss the playoffs again, so be it, as long as it raises the ceiling for the team. I’d much rather go through another season like this one, if it means building a contender, than to continue to go through what Raptors fans have been through in the previous 17 years. We’ve been through mediocrity. Been there, done that. Let’s shoot for something more, this time.
DON’T TRADE DOWN!
I’ve never understood the fascination some have had with trading down in the draft. I guess on paper, it might seem like a good idea. In the case of the Kyle Lowry rumours, the Raptors would get Lowry AND the 14th or 18th pick for their 8th pick.
Now, I actually like the prospect of trading for Kyle Lowry, but not for a draft pick, even if the Raptors get a lower pick in return.
The problem is that trading down generally results in the team just drafting a worse player. In the NBA, two decent players don’t equal one All Star. And all trading down does is lessen your chances of finding a gem.
TRADE UP, IF YOU CAN!
It’s a simple and indisputable fact that you increase your chances of finding a star in the draft the higher you pick. After what we’ve seen this year, can you honestly say that anyone on the current roster (not Jonas Valanciunas) is good enough not to trade if it means bettering your chance of finding a star? And on a team lacking in stars, that’s the ONLY thing you should be trying to draft.
Whether it means taking on a bad contract or trading away any of the players on the roster (or both), you need to try and move up. The need for a star player is that desperate.
SWING FOR THE FENCES!
This draft is not the one to play it safe. That means drafting the player with the highest ceiling, not the highest floor. In other words, I’m hoping looking at John Henson is just a smokescreen. It’s not that he’s not nice player, but after 3 seasons how much star potential does the guy really have? And is he really any better than Ed Davis, who still has a good chance of being a good player.
Playing it safe is the quickest route to mediocrity. Even if you are able to move up, that means staying away from a guy like Harrison Barnes, who’s got a high floor, but low ceiling.
Please don’t be afraid of selecting someone who might take a couple of years to develop, if that guy is going to be the best player available in 5 years.
At the risk of sounding like a bit of a broken record on the subject, it’s time. Actually, it’s well past time, but better late than never.
He’s never going to be the player you envisioned. He’s always going to be a high maintenance, low efficient/high volume scorer who is a below average rebounder and defender. And he’s as much of a problem for the team he’s playing for as for the opposing team. Because of his deficiencies, he requires specific players around him that can hide them, but the problem is that he’s simply not good enough to build around, so basically you engineer a team around a guy who should be a role player. Where’s the logic in that?
There are many that say you will never trade Andrea Bargnani. It’s common for GMs to overvalue their picks, they say, and that by trading Bargnani you would be admitting that you were wrong to draft him. They say you’ve tied your future to him. That’s probably not the best idea, unfortunately.
It’s time to cut ties with the past. Especially since the past doesn’t exactly have the fondest memories. Prove to the fans that you care more about winning than being right.
This is a very important summer for you, Bryan. Up until now, I’ve supported you. But this summer could end up being the tipping point. Most fans don’t seem to think you know how to build a contender and have resigned themselves to the fact that the Raptors won’t become one. Prove them wrong, Bryan. Prove them wrong. Please.
A longtime, and long-suffering, Raptor fan
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