In what is now the third of a three part series, I will detail what the Raptors should do after they tank. If you haven’t done so already, you should reads parts one and two.

Note: There seems to be a lot of readers who are under the impression that the point of trading players like Rudy Gay and DeMar DeRozan is to cut payroll. That’s not true. With the team rebuilding, taking back bad contracts isn’t a problem because you won’t need the financial flexibility for a few years, by which time the contracts will have expired. So if the Raptors need to take back a bad contract to get something half decent for Gay (prospect or draft pick), that’s fine.

Also, there seems to be a belief that expiring contracts will somehow be incredibly valuable in the future. I highly doubt it. Not with the shorter contracts that exist now. It’s been suggested that keeping Gay and Andrea Bargnani would allow the Raptors to be able to trade their expiring contracts for something of value.

But let’s look at the numbers here.

The summer that their contracts will expire, there are only three teams projected to be even over the cap. Obviously that will change because of what happens before now and then, but the point is that if a team is going to try and be a player on the free agent market in the summer of 2015, they’re going to be planning ahead, so will most likely not take on any cumbersome contracts they’ll be desperate to unload a year and a half later.

Secondly, and more importantly, take a look at the OTHER expiring contracts of massively overpaid players that teams could trade: Amare Stoudemire ($23.4 million), Carlos Boozer ($16.8 million), Kendrick Perkins ($9.8 million), Tyrus Thomas ($9.4 million), Marcus Thornton ($8.6 million), and it goes on. And those are just the players whose value would basically just be their expiring contract.

The market will be a tad saturated for teams hoping to cash in on their expiring contracts.

But on to the subject of this article…

A Blueprint for Winning

Blowing the team up and stocking back up your roster with players that aren’t going to help you win many games is only the start. You still need to plan for the long term, even if you don’t know exactly who you’ll be building the team around. You need a blueprint of how to win.

I think one of the biggest mistakes most teams make is that they lack a real blueprint of how to build a winning team. And it’s a mistake Colangelo seems to constantly make. If there is a blueprint he has been trying to follow, it certainly hasn’t been obvious. To me, it’s seemed more like his moves were made without a lot of planning, and seemed more reactive than proactive. The alternative is simply that his plan was not a good one.

Now, obviously you’re at the mercy of the level of talent you can acquire, but that’s not what I mean. In the NBA, and basketball in general, there are basic things that help you win, and there are certain types of players that help with those things.

If you look at the teams that have won Championships, over the years, you’ll see a lot of the same things. Especially the closer you look. Out of interest sake, I’ll also take a look at how the Raptors do in these categories.


Winning or even contending for a Championship is difficult enough. Add on having to motivate or babysit players that need extra attention, and you’re asking for trouble. This is especially true for your main guys. The identity of the team trickles down from your top players. You look at the top teams over the years, and the vast majority of them have workaholic franchise players. The underachieving teams generally had guys who coasted on their talent. Case in point, Carmelo Anthony has been out of the first round once in 9 tries.

But it’s not just your alpha dogs that need a good work ethic and professionalism. It may seem obvious, but then you look over the rosters of the mediocre and bad teams and they’re full of guys who too often give an inconsistent effort. Those teams are often willing to gamble more than the better teams on high-risk high-potential players because they’re desperate and need a big payoff, but it’s a vicious cycle. Those gambles rarely work out, especially on bad teams.

hedo-turkoglu-andrea-bargnani-2010-10-17-16-10-2Colangelo doesn’t do well in this category. He’s drafted, signed or traded for Andrea Bargnani, Hedo Turkoglu, Rudy Gay, Kyle Lowry and James Johnson, all of whom had either known motivational/consistency issues or checkered backgrounds.

While Gay is supremely talented, his lack of improvement over his career, plus the inconsistent effort he gives on both ends of the court trickles down. And we’re seeing that with the inconsistent play of the entire team.


Take a look around the front offices and coaching staffs of the league, and you’ll see an inordinate number of ex-players who were on Championship teams. Many of the best coaches over the years won Championships as players. Of the eighteen coaches that have won Coach of the Year, in the last 20 years, seven won Championships as players.

And right now, of the six current GMs that have won Championships as GM, four won Championships as players.

It’s not just that those players learned everything by being on a Championship team. It’s that the organizations that won those Championships targeted high IQ players, which is one big reason they won Championships.

The Boston Celtics team that won the 1986 Championship had 5 guys on the team that would go on to become either head coach or GM. Larry Bird won Coach of the Year and Executive of the Year, Danny Ainge won Executive of the Year and a title in Boston, and Rick Carlisle won Coach of the Year and a title in Dallas.


One franchise that seems to have figured this out are the San Antonio Spurs. Take a look at their rosters, over the last fifteen years, or so, and you’ll see very few guys who didn’t have high basketball IQs. It shouldn’t be a surprise that the Spurs have been the most successful NBA team over the last 15 years when they always have smart players on the floor.

The only current Raptor I can see achieving success in coaching or the front office is Landry Fields. This Raptor team does not have a high basketball IQ, and not just because they are young.


On the flip side, too many teams overvalue how athletic a player is. Elite athleticism is nice, but only when in combination with other skills. And it’s not really necessary for a productive NBA career. As long as a player has the minimum amount of athleticism he needs to defend his position, then, chances are, I’d rather take a more skilled player over a more athletic one.

I’m not suggesting avoiding players with elite athleticism, especially when it comes to acquiring your franchise player, but if you look at most NBA Champions, there are generally very few elite athletes. The Spurs currently have the second best record in the league and might have the best chance of beating the Heat in the Finals, and they have only two or three.

That’s one way they end up drafting so well. They forego the athletic, “high-upside” guy in favour of the skilled role players that fit their system. Of course, when you already have a core of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, you can afford not to gamble on players with potential.

The 2006 drafted represented a great cross section of why you don’t overvalue athleticism, but why you can’t undervalue it, either. On one hand, you’ve got Tyrus Thomas and Patrick O’Bryant, both elite athletes for their position but both of whom have been major disappointments. On the other hand, you’ve got Adam Morrison and Sheldon Williams, neither of whom had the minimum amount of athletic ability to make any impact in the league.

Sam Young, Tyrus Thomas

With athleticism, it’s a balancing act. Brandon Roy wasn’t thought to have the elite athleticism to be an elite player in the league, but if it weren’t for his knees, he would have been.

Lastly, too many times people connect athleticism with defense. DeRozan was thought to have great defensive potential because of his athleticism, but he’s never been even an average defender. On the other hand, players with average athleticism (or worse) have gone on to become superb defenders, like Shane Battier, Bruce Bowen and Ron Artest (when he was Artest).

The best two perimeter defenders on the Raptors are Landry Fields and Allen Anderson, two of the least athletic players on the roster.

I think one reason so many elite athletes don’t become the type of defenders people expect is that they have been able to rely on athleticism, rather than smarts and instincts, to defend players. Unless they have some excellent coaching in their background, which fewer and fewer players seem to have, they come into the NBA with poor defensive instincts.


Speaking of defense, I don’t understand coaches like Mike D’Antoni. There hasn’t been one Championship team that hasn’t been, at least, above average defensively. Ever. It’s pretty much a necessity that you need to be a good defensive team if you have ANY hope of winning a title. Yet defense seems to be an afterthought for D’Antoni.


It’s not just the coach that needs to be good defensively, but the players.

Quick, name the last NBA Champion that did not have, at least, one player who either had been, or would in the next year, make the All Defensive First or Second team.

I’ll give you a clue. You can’t, because there hasn’t been one.

Good defense allows you to stay in games when your shot isn’t falling, which will happen. It will allow you to make stops when you need to at the end of close games.

Dwane Casey certainly preaches defense, but the current roster is not one that plays it consistently. And if you’re not doing it consistently, you’re not doing it.

One issue I have is that Colangelo has never seemed to put a priority on defense. He’s seemed to always believe he can simply plug in a few good defensive players into the rotation and that’s good enough. And we’ve seen enough evidence to realize that’s simply not true.


While it’s important for the vast majority of the roster to play good defense, it’s EXTREMELY important for your big men to not only defend, but be able to grab boards, because that’s part of defense.

Again, looking at the past NBA Champions, you won’t see a whole lot of big men who can’t defend and rebound. Dirk Nowitzki is often brought up, but he was actually a decent team defender who wasn’t a liability on that end of the floor. Even so, Dallas often underachieved in the playoffs. In between their two Finals appearances, they lost in the first round 3 out of 4 times, once after winning a league best 67 games.

Even if you’ve got a great defensive center, a power forward that isn’t good defensively or on the boards will hurt you, often at the worst times. The NBA doesn’t allow your center to stand in the paint the whole time. Both big men have to be able to protect the basket, or else teams are going to isolate them and take advantage of their weakness. And if they can’t grab the defensive board, then it just gives the opposition another chance to score.

Obviously Raptor fans have seen enough of this to know this is true.

On a related note, I recently had a discussion with a couple of friends of mine, and brought up the fact that there are fewer and fewer big men who are both good scorers and defenders. In fact, if you look at the top scoring big men over the last two seasons, I count three under 30 who are very good on both ends of the floor. Dwight Howard, Andrew Bynum and Al Horford. And you could probably make a case for Chris Bosh, who is a better defender than most Raptor fans probably believed he was.


The two power forwards who have recently ascended to Superstardom, Blake Griffin and Kevin Love, are both below average defenders, something I think that will hurt both team’s title chances. When Amare Stoudemire was on the Phoenix Suns, they could never get to the Finals, in part because Amare simply wasn’t a good defender.

That’s one area where the future is promising for the Raptors. I’d much rather have a front line of Jonas Valanciunas and Amir Johnson than the front line of a good majority of teams in the league.


I know the recent trend is to have stretch big men who can step outside and draw out the defense, but teams that have historically done well have had a low post threat that can create double teams, score inside and be a guy who can get you a good look down low when the game slows down or the jumpshots stop falling.

That doesn’t necessarily have to be one of your big men. LeBron James is the main post-up threat for Miami. And it wasn’t until LeBron moved into the post, that he won a Championship. Michael Jordan’s Bulls won their last three titles with him as the team’s only real post scorer.


Having a good post player is especially important in the playoffs, when the game slows down. In the half court, you don’t get the easy looks you do in the regular season. The defense is stingier and the lane shuts down. Having a guy in the post you can throw it into does several things. Obviously there’s the ability to get a high percentage shot close to the basket, but it also makes the defense react, which allow more open looks for teammates.

The lack of legitimate low post scorer (and Russell Westbrook’s decision making) might be Oklahoma’s biggest achilles heal and what keeps them from winning a Championship until they get one. I think they made two mistakes at the start of the season. First, I think they should have kept James Harden and traded Westbrook. Secondly, I think they should have dealt him for a low post scorer.

The best low post scorer the Raptors ever had was probably Jermaine O’Neal, who played less than half a season. Chris Bosh has always been more of a high post scorer, probably due to his slight build, and saying Hakeem Olajuwon was a shadow of his former self, while a Raptor, is probably an insult to shadows.

In the last couple of weeks, Jonas Valanciunas has shown the makings of a potentially excellent low post scorer. He has pretty good footwork, great hands and a knack for getting the ball in the basket. In his last ten games, he’s shooting 68%, while scoring 15.9 ppg, and a fair number of those shots are either off post ups or jumpshots. This isn’t DeAndre Jordan getting half a dozen lobs at the rim a game.

And he’s been extremely physical, which was an area of concern when he was drafted because he LOOKED like a 19 year old kid with not a whole lot of muscle. In less than two years, he’s filled out so much you have to wonder if he’s spent a little time with Barry Bonds. Really, though, he simply looks like a man now, as opposed to the boy the Raptors drafted two years ago.


He still needs to work on his footwork and get a lot better at seeing the floor (for teammates and help defense) when he’s got the ball, but this is an area where the future is very bright for the Raptors.


The best statistic for offensive efficiency is True Shooting Percentage, which takes into consideration percentage for field goals, threes and free throws. This year, the top three teams are Miami, Oklahoma and San Antonio. Last year, Miami, the eventual Champion, was fourth. The year before, when Dallas won their Championship, they were fourth. A team’s scoring efficiency really can’t be downplayed.

Other than teams that had injuries during the regular season, you can go way back and you’ll see the same results. The true contenders are efficient scorers.

There are two components to efficient scoring. The first is making sure your main scorers get to the line at a high rate, so that they can manufacture points even when the shots aren’t falling. The more consistently your main scorers get to the line, the more consistently they will score, and that means fewer scoring droughts when they are on the floor.

But that’s only part of it.


In basketball, the two best places to shoot is under the basket and behind the 3 point line. Obviously under the basket will give you the best chance to actually make the shot, but a three point gives you more bang for your buck. Shooting 33% from the three point line gives you basically the same points per shot as someone who shoots 50% from inside the arc. And if you take into consideration that three point shots lead to more offensive rebounds, it’s obvious why Raptor’s Director of Analytics, Alex Rucker, wants the Raptors to take more threes.

Now, unfortunately, just taking shots from those two areas isn’t quite good enough. You need to actually make shots from those areas, too. Case in point, according to Hoopdata.com, of the ten teams that have the most attempts at the rim, seven are playoff teams, and only three are expected to win 50 games or more. Of the ten teams that shoot the highest field goal percentage at the rim, nine would make the playoffs, if it were held today, and that includes Miami, San Antonio, the Clippers and Oklahoma, so basically the four teams that have the best chance at getting to the Finals.

Of the ten teams that take the most 3 point shots, only two aren’t playoff teams. And Miami, San Antonio and Oklahoma are all in the top five for 3 point percentage.

On the other hand, one of the least efficient shots is the long two. Players rarely shoot a very high percentage shooting them, and unlike the three point shot, they’re not worth any more than a shot closer to the rim.

Miami, San Antonio and Oklahoma are all in the bottom ten for attempts from the 16-23 foot range.

Toronto has the eleventh most attempts from that range, largely due to both DeRozan and Gay taking a lot from there.

Things don’t get any better when you look at shots at the rim, where the Raptors are fourth last in the league in attempts. Thankfully, they are 9th in the league in field goal percentage, at the rim. They just need to shoot a lot more shots there.

The opposite is true from 3 point range, where they take the tenth most attempts in the league, but are 6th last in percentage. So maybe the idea of the Raptors taking MORE threes isn’t the best idea.


Knowing where your shots should come from and actually getting them there are two different things. Players will always go back to where they are most comfortable, so you need to have players that are comfortable scoring inside and can hit for a good percentage from outside.

The Raptors are currently 18th in the league in True Shooting percentage, and would be lower if Bargnani weren’t injured, and Gay had been on the roster the whole season, meaning no Ed Davis or Jose Calderon. And this year, the top 3 scorers on the team have below average scoring efficiency, so you can’t even argue that the team is constructed to be offensively efficient. They’re not.


The last one I will discuss is ball movement. If you watch the better teams in the league, most of them have great ball movement. Good ball movement makes the defense work harder, and leads to more open looks. Watch Miami and San Antonio, and you’ll see teams that move the ball better than just about any other team in the league. And it has nothing to do with the fact they have such great players, because Denver also moves the ball extremely well.

What you need is unselfish players who aren’t ball stoppers and make good decisions with the ball.

Once again, this isn’t an area of strength for the Raptors. Both Gay and DeRozan tend to be ball stoppers, and Lowry will take too many quick shots early in the shot clock. Even Valanciunas has been guilty of grinding the offense to a halt when he gets the ball in the post, something he will have to work on.


Now, the one thing I am leaving out is the elite talent that is necessary to truly contend in the NBA. But that’s where the 2nd part of this series comes in.

And obviously a getting a good coach who will focus on those things is important, but the fact is you need to right pieces. And that’s what this article is about.

This is about acquiring the right types of players that will help a team in these areas, which, in turn, helps the team win.

If you look at the areas I’ve listed, it might seem fairly obvious, but it’s apparently not. One just has to look at Colangelo’s moves during his tenure with the Raptors to see that. From drafting Bargnani, to the Hedo Turkoglu signing, all the way up to the Rudy Gay trade, he’s consistently focused on traits in players that don’t help you win.

Not coincidentally, the one roster he had that seemed to follow the above blueprint, to a large degree, was in 2006 when he first took the job. He had a good defensive team that had a lot of high IQ players (Anthony Parker, Jorge Garbajosa, Jose Calderon, Rasho Nesterovic) all of whom moved the ball well. They didn’t over-rely on athletes, and they finished in the top ten for True Shooting Percentage.

The big downfall for that team was the low ceiling, but Colangelo at least seemed to have the right idea. Then he started making high risk-low payoff gambles that made the team worse.

Just looking at Colangelo’s moves, I was tempted to add DON’T OVERPAY ROLE PLAYERS, but team’s have certainly won while overpaying some role players. It does make it more difficult to improve your team, though. And it’s a rule the San Antonio Spurs obsessively try and follow.

Los Angeles Clippers v San Antonio Spurs - Game One

Speaking of the San Antonio, to me, they should be the model of how of how to build a team. Now, as I said before, having Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili certainly helps, but if you look at their rosters since Gregg Popovich took over the reigns of the team, in 1994, you’ll see a plan that focuses on all the areas I talked above earlier.

In his first year, he signed Avery Johnson, who went on to coach the Dallas Mavericks to the Finals, Chuck Person, a well respected assistant coach with the Lakers, and Doc Rivers, who coached the Celtics to a Championship. Then the next year he traded for Monty Williams, currently the head coach of the New Orleans Pelicans Hornets.

He almost never took chances on risky players, acquired good defensive players and built the core of the team around true professionals who never took a night off and always worked hard.

It just seems to me that if you’re going to build a team, you need to focus on the things that have worked year after year, and have won titles. Because that’s the goal. Or at least it should be.

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  • WhiteVegas

    Is this an article or a novel? Way way way way too long to hold my attention span on RR. Maybe you should have done a 15 part series to make these things more manageable. I just scrolled to the bottom as was like “no way I’m reading all of that.” There is something to be said about brevity when making your point. Perhaps at least put a short bulleted summary at the top so we can decide which parts interest us.

    I know from your comments on RR that I most likely disagree with just about everything you wrote, but I won’t be able to write any rebuttals because this article (thesis paper?) is just way too damn long for a blog post (or any kind of article on the internet for that matter).

    • Yes, something is to be said from brevity, but there’s also something to be said for depth and research. I felt this was a subject that demanded thoroughness, rather than a short surface piece that really doesn’t say anything.

      I can’t help the attention span of kids these days, but I’d advise them not to be scared of actually reading more than 140 characters at a time. You learn a lot more that way.

      • WhiteVegas

        Wow, way to deflect and try to imply I only read twitter. Should have figured you’d do that since you can’t seem to see anything from a perspective different than your own, you are the definition of closed minded sir. Since you’re being a smart ass, I will too.

        Your post: 22,354 characters.

        Or the equivalent of 160 full sized tweets.

        Andrew Thompson’s great article on Amir: 10,708 characters.

        You see the difference? And that wasn’t part 3 of a 3 part series. Just one great article of a manageable length. You’re not showing depth and research, you’re showing how many times you can say the same thing over and over again in different ways.
        You just wrote two previous long winded pieces about roughly the same topic, but for some reason you feel the need to keep repeating yourself until the article gets to gargantuan proportions.

        It also doesn’t hold the readers interest because it’s not a balanced piece on team building, its just a shit storm of mostly unreasonable pie in the sky babbling. Find me an article on ESPN, SI, Yahoo, or any major sports site that is even close to as long as this? That should keep you busy for awhile.

        • Sorry, I should let you insult my article, without having reading it, without being a smart-ass back.

          What I do find curious, is that you admit you didn’t read ANY of the articles, including this one, yet that hasn’t stopped you from critiquing the content.

          Oh, by the way, check out Grantland.com. Either way, complaining that a free article is too long seems kind of whiney.

          • WhiteVegas

            I like that you think about this stuff a lot, and have a ton of research to bring to the table, but I (and probably the majority of this sites readers) will not be able to take in your opinions if this is the format they are served up in. I enjoy reading contrary opinions to mine and engaging in some debates in the comment section. I just can’t do that here because its way too long. Andrews article was pretty long for this site, but it was manageable. Your article here is over twice the size of Andrew’s, and it’s part 3 of 3, with 2 other equally long parts. You wrote roughly 30+ pages (in word default settings) in this series. That is a lot to expect people to read, especially if you’re like me, and disagree with pretty much all of it, it would drive me insane.

            Just try setting yourself a 10,000 character (or 2000 words) limit next time, and even shorter would be better. I’m sure you could make the same argument in an effective way, and people will actually be able to read it and respond to it. I promise I’ll read the whole thing if you do.

            • I respond to this tone of comment way better. Thank you.

              I didn’t actually intend for the article to be that long, but as it often does, it expanded as I thought of more things I wanted to touch on. This three part series started out as one article, and then grew. A few years ago, I did a five-part series on Colangelo that started as one, then three, then five.

              Part of the reason I write so much, is because I know there will be comments about it, and I try and cover my bases. Plus, I just have a lot to say.

            • tl;dr.

          • morons

            lmao comparing the dicket fence to grantland? a site of reputable established writers compared to your amateur rubbish? you’re too wordy and verbose, and you’re just parroting the same stuff over and over. I bet your next post will be “how the raptors should NOT do it” and then finally “how the Raptors will do it”

        • And really, how the hell long does it take you to read this much? If it’s more than five minutes, then I’d say you might be the one with the problem, and not me.

          • WhiteVegas

            The average human reads 250 words per minute with 70% comprehension. Your article here is over 4000 words. 4000 / 250 = 16 minutes for the average human to read. Even super fast speed readers only claim to be able to do double that. If you can read this in 5 minutes, you’re full of shit.

            • Really? You’re still going on about this? Someone’s a little obsessed, aren’t they?

              • WhiteVegas

                You do see your own comment right above mine the caused me to respond right?

                I’m not sure you do, so here you go:

                “And really, how the hell long does it take you to read this much? If it’s more than five minutes, then I’d say you might be the one with the problem, and not me.”

                So how am I obsessed if all I did was address your derogatory comment?

        • tl;dr

        • smh

          “you can’t seem to see anything from a perspective different than your own”

          Isn’t that everyone here?

      • Wes

        Brevity does not have to come at the expense of depth and research.

        • True. But no one is making anyone read the article. Complaining it’s too long to read seems rather childish. Especially when done in a rather childish manner.

      • VESTIGE

        Kudos to you for being new yet not taking the beating lying down.

        • smh

          New? Tim?

      • Guy

        As usual, the picket fence responds to criticism, not with any sort of effort to think the critic may have a point, but with arrogance, subtle though it may be. Same ol same ol.

    • c_bcm

      I think this is an unfair comment. Great article with lots of intelligent points that each should merit some discussion in the comments section. Brevity is for Twitter and other such high volume, low-quality discussion forums.

      • Thanks. I realize it’s long, and it’s fair to criticize that, but I just didn’t appreciate the manner in which it was done.

    • tl;dr
      you must be a detriment in all aspects of your life

    • p00ka

      you have the fucking stupidest username ever. that is all.

      • WhiteVegas

        Sorry, p00ka was taken and I panicked……

    • Roarque

      A novel is typically 75000 words or 250 pages – give or take. A far cry from Tim W’s effort above which I for one quite enjoyed. If you think that you don’t have the time to read it, may I suggest you use the time you might take to watch one of the Raptors’ games between now and the end of season and read this instead. It might be a better use of spare time and it might make you happier. Happiness might be missing in your current intellectual diet.

      • Well done. Thanks.

      • WhiteVegas

        Sarcasm, ever heard of it? I was using an exaggeration “novel” to explain how long I felt the article was. My comment wouldn’t go over an 8 year olds head, but for some reason it flew right over yours. Please roarque, find me an article on any major sports website (or this website by any different author) that is even close to this long. If you can, then I’ll think the length is less absurd.

    • smh

      “Perhaps at least put a short bulleted summary at the top so we can decide which parts interest us”

      Hah, I thought the same thing 1/2 way through

    • Kevin

      wow you are a moron commenting on an article you didnt read because it was too long ?!? ahha youve got to be kidding me “no way im reading that” ahha then dont comment either you jackass. Go read some books for toddlers that are more suitable for your grade 2 attention span

  • Steve


    I’ve definitely read articles as long as this (if not longer) so ignore these people whining. Anyways, I enjoyed your first article and your final two was interesting to read however I still don’t clearly get what the raptors specifically need to focus on doing. You touched upon mediocrity and championship but haven’t touched on what raptors can realistically do on trades, free agency, etc. If they want to tank for Wiggins, how do they just trade away their core? I think this team is too talented to tank for next year and don’t see it realistically happening. But what I had in mind is to try and create a legit playoff team for next year and by experience of getting to the playoffs you can take steps from there. Look at the bulls, pacers, they went from 8th seed to becoming dominant in the east and getting out of first round (put healthy rose on the bulls and they’re contenders). My point is you first have to get to the playoffs, then you can start thinking about championship. Unless you suddenly get a guy like lebron or durant, then you immediately think about that. So the first step on making playoffs has to be firing Casey because the guy has cost the raptors so many wins it’s ridiculous. Then you have to try and grab that big name pf by free agency or trade, I think with Rudy in town we can attract players (think about it Kenny Smith never talked about raps and now suddenly he is) the thing about the Rudy trade was about big names and possibility of others coming. So in order to get that pf, trading bargnani or fields/derozan should work. This kind of solves the problems with having demar shooting inconsistently and ither points you mentioned. After that, I think adding some shooters and veteran leadership could help.

    • Thanks.

      I didn’t want to get into specifics, because trade proposals, and such, can be so subjective. What one person thinks as reasonable isn’t to another. But since you brought it up, here are some deals I think are reasonable and are the type I’m talking about:

      Rudy Gay for Brandon Bass, Courtney Lee, Jared Sullinger and maybe a protected first round pick or second round pick. If Boston wants to continue to compete, they may be willing to roll the dice if they aren’t giving up any core players. Toronto gets a couple of decent veterans and a prospect, and maybe a pick.

      DeMar DeRozan for Luke Ridnour and Derrick Williams. Minnesota needs a starting SG and both Williams and Ridnour are pretty much redundant. Plus Minnesota has coveted DeRozan since he was drafted, apparently) Toronto would get a starting PG who can man the position for a while, and a prospect whose value could increase.

      Kyle Lowry for Chuck Hayes and a future first rounder and second round pick. Sacramento has no starting calibre PG, and Chuck Hayes barely plays, which

      Amir Johnson for Evan Turner. This is probably the least likely, and while I don’t WANT to trade Amir, I think it’s necessary to tank. Acquiring Turner would be a low risk-high payoff move, like Derrick Williams.

      Those are moves that I think are reasonable, help for the future, but won’t help you win right now.

      “My point is you first have to get to the playoffs, then you can start thinking about championship.”

      I’ve heard this argument before, and it’s true, but only to a point. The first step should be making the playoffs, but you have to make sure you have the core to be able to take the next step to contending. And the Raptors simply don’t have that. Colangelo has always banked on the fact that he can sign a big free agent or make a blockbuster trade that will put the Raptors over the top, and he’s failed miserably every single time. If your team is close to the luxury tax, as the Raptors are, and aren’t even a playoff team, then there’s something seriously wrong.

      The first step is acquiring an elite player, and while I don’t like it, the fact of the matter is that the best way for a team like the Raptors to do that is through the draft, and you need to lose big to do that. Until the NBA changes the way things work (that’s actually a future column).

      The whole, Rudy Gay will attract talent, is a mirage. Players of Gay’s talent don’t attract talent. How many free agents were flocking to Atlanta to play with Joe Johnson? Players are attracted to contenders or franchises with a history of winning. It’s a catch-22. You can’t attract players unless you are a great team, but how do you become a great team without attracting players? Through the draft.

    • smh

      “My point is you first have to get to the playoffs, then you can start thinking about championship”

      That’s kind of a slippery slope, as teams might become just happy to reap the benefits of being just a play-off team.

      • I think most teams get stuck at this point. And when they’ve become a playoff team, they’re less likely to make the big moves that are necessary to become more than just a playoff team.

        • smh

          Atlanta comes to mind, or Phoenix. Maybe even Utah.

          • smh

            Oh, I forgot Indiana.

  • thead

    enjoyed this one Tim!

    • Thanks. Much appreciated.

  • c_bcm

    Great article.

    Your comment “Now, obviously you’re at the mercy of the level of talent you can acquire, but that’s not what I mean. In the NBA, and basketball in general, there are basic things that help you win, and there are certain types of players that help with those things.”

    I think that this is really the lynch-pin for traditionally bad teams like the Raptors. The points in this article are right, to my mind, and likely not secrets to the rest of the league. So if hard-working, high IQ players are in demand, why would they want to play for TO? I can’t think of a single redeeming quality of this franchise that would make a player come to this team. Not one. In fact the 2 players whom you suggest (and I would agree) have the highest BBALL IQ (LF and AA) were either over paid to come here, or given their last shot in the league AND unlimited shot attempts to try and stay in the league. So I’m not sure that the reality that faces the franchise moving forward is consistent with many of the ideas here.

    San Antonio has the luxury, as you concede, of having Duncan, Parker, and Ginobli. But they also have the legacy of Admiral Robinson in the generation before them. So while their method of team-building in undeniably successful, they have the advantage of maintaining 1st ballot HOF’ers on their roster for 20+ years. This is a reality.

    • msas

      Robinson was a great player but he wasn’t a star attractor for the Spurs, much like how Dominique Wilkins didn’t attract stars to the Hawks or or Clyde Drexler didn’t bring stars to the Blazers. There are very, very few players who attract talent in and of themselves and they are almost always either LeBron-or-better level players, or people like Rudy Gay who are inexplicably friends with half of the league.

      • c_bcm

        Time will tell if Rudy Gay can attract players, but I didn’t see much evidence of that in Memphis until Marc Gasol became relevant. You are nitpicking a bit with Robinson I believe. The point is that he was a HOF player, and it was clear from his playing days that it was so. That kind of talent does not exist on the Raptors, nor has it ever. There was no debating Robinsons induction, whereas the best player in Raptors history, who spurned this franchise, is hotly debated whether inclusion in the hall of fame is warranted.

        The other point worth making is that no significant talent will come to this franchise willingly until it shows an ability to do something with it once it gets here. A classic catch22 that exists for most traditionally bad teams in the league who haven’t struck it rich in the draft (clippers, Cleveland, Minnesota). So while Rudy Gay himself cannot attract talent, IMHO, his success here is paramount to our cause. This will be the first chance since Bosh was here to prove to the rest of the league that we know how to win with talented players. That is what will attract players here, not the man himself, but the evidence that good players who come to this team have a chance to compete at a high level with goal being a championship.

    • You’re definitely right about attracting the right talent via free agency, but I’m thinking more in terms of drafting and trading for players. I think trying to improve your team through free agency when you’re not a prime destination or contender is a fool’s errand, and we’ve seen plenty of evidence of that with Colangelo.

  • mountio

    Good read – I think your points are all pretty much valid. The part that is difficult is whether putting together a bunch of nonathletic yet professional, high bball IQ, good defending, good rebounding, good low post scoring (btw – youll be lucky to get one or two of these qualities .. likely not all.) role player types .. Im not convinced you have much of a team. A team full of Kedrick Perkins or DeJuan Blairs or Shane Battiers (players you like if I recall) doesnt go very far.

    On the flip side .. SA is great because they have Duncan, parker, manu, Miami because of Wade, LBJ, OKC because of Durant/Westbrook. Once you find those guys (who btw eat up a lot of shots) .. then I absolutely agree that adding these types of players is absolutely the right thing to do.

    However, I cant remember a team (correct me if Im wrong) that started with the workman like, non-skilled role players and then had the star fall into place. I think it almost always happens the other way.

    Thats why .. like it or not, BC drafted AB. Because he MIGHT be Dirk. And traded for Gay . because he MIGHT be Lebron/Melo type scorer. Im not saying BC had it totally right .. but Im saying I at least understand his line of thinking.

    So – I dont think we are totally off philosophically .. other than I would keep swinging for the fences talent wise, hoping that something sticks (whether through trades or draft picks) and worry about character and all that other stuff once we find a star player. Until then, from my perspective, everything else is moot.

    • Obviously, you also need the talent, which I mentioned. That’s always been a talking point of mine. You need the talent. It’s one problem I have with this current team. It lacks elite talent. To me, this is more a blueprint for what to look for in players. I’m not suggesting that every player will have all those qualities. All your big men don’t need to be post up threats, but I think you do need at least ONE legit post up threat. I do, however, believe all your big men need to be able to defend.

      Right now, the only player on the roster worth even trying to build around is Valanciunas. If the Raptors can get a top 5 pick in 2014, then you’re well on your way to having a core that can move forward with.

      Yes, teams generally get their franchise player first, and then build around them, but not always. San Antonio didn’t do much tweaking after they drafted Tim Duncan, partially because they had done such a good job before. A lot of times, teams end up getting franchise players because they either have mismanaged their way to the top pick, so need to clean house to build around their new player, or have gutted their roster to trade for them, so they have to restock out of necessity.

      I also understand WHY Colangelo drafted Bargnani and traded for Gay. I just think it shows why he needs to go. He makes incredibly poor gambles that could easily have been foreseen. And were.

    • smh

      How about the Detroit Bad Boys?

  • And always remember, the Bull’s success happened not just because of Jordan, but because Jordan kept his salary at $3,000,000/year so the Bulls could stack the team.

    That’s not possible today under the CBA that enforces idiotic salaries to forevermore prevent a super talent with crap loads of endorsements from doing what Jordan did.

    Imagine a Miami team that had LeBron taking only $1,000,000 per year from the Miami franchise just to make the team better.

    • The CBA doesn’t force players to take the salaries. They do it themselves. They do that because they want to make as much money as possible as quickly as possible. I don’t recall if Jordan accepted less money, but I know that Magic did, as did Bird and John Stockton. Tim Duncan took way less than he could have on the open market in order for the Spurs to be able to have financial flexibility.

      • ” I don’t recall if Jordan accepted less money” Look it up

        “The CBA doesn’t force players to take the salaries” Who makes more money, LeBron or Gay, and why?

      • The recent CBAs have a window of pay for top players, right? LeBron took the lowest amount for his pay scale to help his team

        • Not true. Any player can sign for any amount he wants down to the veteran minimum.

      • btw.. I think you are awesome in your analysis, I look forward to your posts on this blog

        May you get hired and get what you are worth.. and perhaps, may you run the Raps

        seriously.. I appreciate you

        • Thanks. And if you have any connections on the MLSE board, please feel free to give them my name!

      • found something on the net..


        1984-85 – $550,000

        1985-86 – $630,000

        1986-87 – $737,500

        1987-88 – $845,000

        1988-89 – $2,000,000

        1989-90 – $2,250,000

        1990-91 – $2,500,000

        1991-92 – $3,250,000

        1992-93 – $4,000,000

        1993-94 – $4,000,000

        1994-95 – $3,850,000

        1995-96 – $3,850,000

        Remember the $25,000,000 pay day for Jordan at the end of his Chicago career? That was the pay off for the sacrifice during the years he let the bulls stack

      • smh

        “The CBA doesn’t force players to take the salaries. They do it themselves.”

        I was just going to mention that. Hmm, I wonder if Lebron will do something akin to that again in the future?

  • Arsenalist

    Nice post.

    Question: “In basketball, the two best places to shoot is under the basket and behind the 3 point line. ”

    Does this imply that you think the mod-range jumper is a shot to avoid? I’ve always held the belief that to be a great scoring guard, this is the area to master.

    • Not at all. I think that a mid-range game is an incredibly useful tool to have. Without a mid-range game, you’re not going to be able to get to the hoop much. And it prevents your defender from sagging off you to help on other players. I think Amir’s development of a mid-range shot has been incredibly useful. It’s especially useful if a player shoots a high percentage from there. Calderon was shooting 47% from 16-23 feet this year for the Raptors. What that did is stopped his defender from sagging off him and allowed for better passes into the paint.

      On the other hand, when you become reliant on the shot, your offense is going to be inconsistent. Especially if your main scorer don’t actually shoot a good percentage from there. DeRozan shoots 40% from that range,but takes 5.5 per game. Rudy Gay shoots 30% from that range, but shoots 4.3 shots a game from there.

      Both Denver and Houston have overachieved in large part because they focus on taking shots in the paint or from 3.

      • arsenalist

        I could debate that becoming reliant on that shot isn’t necessarily bad, but I get the gist of what you’re saying.

        Nobody’s debating that the general Raptors shot selection isn’t poor. I think a lot of it is stemming from inside-out play and that we’re left with DeRozan and Gay starting the offensive sets rather than playing off of an inside presence. Neither of those two can be classified as playmakers so everytime we see Gay get the ball at the three-point line, or DeRozan on the elbow/wing, you basically know what’s coming next, and it ain’t an assist.

        The reason I’m somewhat excited by Jonas is that he’s the first big in some time who I can see the Raptors dumping the ball into, and an efficient decision being made (score or pass), It’s a small source of hope, but something that I think can greatly help the ball-movement down the line.

        I have no expectations of Gay. None. I think he’s matured as a player and is unlikely to improve his game much, especially given his effort levels. He is what he is. To your point about DD and Gay being ball-stoppers, I’d say DeRozan has a better chance of shedding that label if he’s given the right guidance. Of course, having no jumper and no handles makes it very easy to defend him and he rarely commands a double-team (except occasionally in the post), so expecting him to kick the ball to improve ball movement is too much.

        In order to improve this team beyond negligible levels, the Raptors will have to trade DeRozan as he’s the only remaining asset the team has. I don’t think anyone touches Lowry, Gay and, of course, Bargnani. The sad part is that this might’ve been a draft where a pick or two might be useful, as it’s the only realistic avenue where the Raptors could add a player. With some luck, we might even get a top three pick, which I see as being a blessing at this point.

        • I agree about DeRozan’s lack of range and ball handling skills making it easy to defend him, which is why the development of his post up game was so important. I still don’t think he’s an efficient enough scorer to be a 1,2 or 3 option on a good team, and his lack of defense and 3 point shot is going to limit his ability to find a role on a good team.

          I actually think both Gay and Lowry can be moved. Lowry’s got a decent contract and only one year left. I think there are still teams that think he’s got the potential to be a good PG. Gay would be tough, but if you’re not fussy about what you get back, I think he’s definitely moveable. The Raptors weren’t the only teams going after him. I know Phoenix was in talks for Gay. They might still be interested.

          • Milesboyer

            I think what you’ve failed to realize is the hit this organization’s reputation would take if they traded Rudy Gay anytime in the immediate future. They would be perceived as inept and/or stupid even if a new GM came on board to do it. Your theory of gutting the whole team might work in practice but in reality things are much more dynamic and variables much more difficult to control. Also, it would be nearly impossible to sell 3-5 more years of rebuilding to the fanbase.

            BTW did you call Patrick O’Bryant an elite athlete?

            • You think the Raptors reputation would be on the line if they traded Rudy Gay? I’m pretty sure their reputation has been in the gutter for most of their existence, except for a brief period when Vince Carter made them relevant. NOT trading Gay isn’t going to help their reputation, especially since it would mean more years of mediocrity.

              The only thing that changes reputation is winning. And the only way to do that is to gut the team. If a new GM can turn the Raptors into a contender, trading Gay away after only a few months will be a distant memory.

              As for selling a rebuild to the fanbase, the Raptors fans are some of the most loyal in the entire league. If you look at the number of wins versus attendance numbers, I’m betting the Raptors would be near or at the top of the league, over their franchise history.

              Besides, I think it’s obvious that there is A LOT of discontent among fans at the moment. I think selling hope for the future to the fans is better than what they’re selling right now.

              As for O’Bryant, ya, it was a bit of a reach, but for his position, he is very athletic. I debated whether to include him, but after rereading some of his scouting reports from the draft, I decided to.

              • Milesboyer

                Tim, whether I agree with you or not you definitely get props for combing through all these comments and responding to the intelligent ones. Keep it up.

                • Thanks. I don’t know if I can do this regularly, although it is a fantastic procrastination tool.

  • J

    Excellent article, much more thorough and interesting than what I’m used to finding here. Keep up the great work! First article I have ever had the urge to take the time to write a comment about as well. Probably won’t make a habit of it either, but thought the piece is worth the encouragement.

    • Thanks. Much appreciated!

  • Hotshot

    Excellent read Tim, always enjoyed your analysis. Hope to see more of your articles on RR in the near future.

  • TheJohnBomb

    I really liked this article. Sorry about the people that don’t even read it and then criticize you about it. You were dead on about what they need….the only problem is that Colangelo isn’t going to do those things, EVER! We need a new GM that will hire a coach that has a defensive mindset (like Casey) and knows how to get it through to the players. (Not like Casey) Really hope the Raptors get more players like Acy, Valanciunas, Amir, Aaron Gray and Fields. (Without the ridiculous contract) I think the most important thing for having a championship team is having the hard working, dependable players that won’t bring the team, or the locker room atmosphere down. BC loves bringing in players that aren’t wanted but have lots of talent, thinking that he’s going to get the talent but not the attitude. Not gonna happen, these players were either traded or not re-signed for a reason!!!

    • Thanks. I don’t worry about the critics, especially the childish ones. If I wasn’t sparking conversation I wouldn’t be doing my job.

      I do agree Colangelo would never do any of the things I mentioned. And that he has to go.

  • Ted

    While I agree with the majority of what you’ve said I feel you don’t put enough emphasis on having a good coach. Miami with Spolestra is great example of a coach who in the first year of signings struggled with the offense and rotations. While Lebron takes the majority of the credit for winning the championship had Spolestra improvements not occured the Heat might not have won.

    Same for coaches like Frank Vogul of the Pacers. Compare the roster between the Pacers and Raps and talent between them are comparable however his team even without Granger and the struggles of Hibbert are a top 3 team in the east.

    Same can be said for Karl and his use of (Lawson and Miller) instead of Casey who forced Lowry to change his game to mimic Calderon. I have no confidence in Casey at all and unlike Spolestra hasn’t shown any signs of improvements.

    I do disagree that a team needs to shoot a good clip at the 3 to be successful. Denver despite being one of the worst 3 point shooting teams continue to find success.

    • Completely agree about the coach, but I felt that was a specific that everyone really already knew. To me, the three best coaches in the league, right now, are Spolestra, Popovich and Karl. Casey is a a ways down the list, unfortunately. The problem is that there are so few impact coaches available.

      As for the three point shooting, Denver is an interesting case, which I have tabbed as a future subject of an article. They score more at the rim than anyone, and you’re right about the lack of three point shooting (interesting side note: They’re only slightly better than the Raptors). Without giving away too much from my future article, the Nuggets haven’t won anything yet.

  • 511

    Wow. Thorough. Nice.

  • Amigo

    All my dreams ended short,my ambitions are gone either. I m fatter, bold and my job sucks, I loved been with EA sport franchise mode, where I could play games with my staff..

    I have a great second life on the net where I write long blogs about Raptors defence and how to improve a Team based on players wins. I m often right, you know, I should be in charge instead of BC, who is a terrible GM. He doesn’t know how to properly tank or acquire players.

    It just seems to me that I m a better manager than 28 GM in but SAS and OKC. I give you an example, have a look at my supposed trade from my blog in 2010 and just imagine….what could have be if……

    Tim W 16 feb 2010
    “Andris Biedrins for Amir Johnson and Marcus Banks”

    While Amir Johnson is having a great season for the Raptors, and fills a need, the fact that he’s a free agent this summer makes it a real possibility he won’t be back. Why not use his expiring contract to try and get something in return. Biedrins is underutilized in Golden State and overpaid, but his rebounding, shot blocking and mobility would be a great replacement for Johnson, and the fact that he’s got a long term contract means that he’ll be around for a while.The biggest plus, though, would be that he would be a better insurance policy for Bosh than Johnson.”

    Thanks Tim W.,

    I really miss Biedrins mobility.

    • This comment says WAAAYYYY more about you than it does about me.

      A) It seems you have a bit of an obsession with me.

      B) You’re the type of person that likes to take potshots at people as a way of feeling empowered

      C) You like to make broad assumptions about people based on very little evidence.

      D) Did I mention the obsession you have with me?

      Am I always right? No. No one is. But I’m guessing I’m right a lot more than you are, which is one reason you wrote the comment. I’m guessing you were a Bargnani fan who hated the fact that I ended up being right about him all along. I’m allowed to make assumptions, too.

      • morons

        just man up and admit that you were dead wrong on that you clown. its not an obsession at all if he dug up some of your terrible posts on the dicket fence from the past. you claim you’re always right because you once played midget beer league basketball and act like a pretentious little btch so i can see why he did that.

    • WhiteVegas

      Hahahaha, amazing. I love how in denial Tim is in below comment.

  • ppellico

    wow…all that and it comes down to defense, ball movement, knowing how to pick and play real talent vs role players?
    Kind of reminds me of Mr Blandings Build His Dream House with Cary Grant. Ms Loy spends a ton of time describing in delicate detail every color for every room paint. She leaves…the builder ask his painter if he got the details…and he replies…ya. Red, Yellow Green and Blue.
    Nothing more…nothing less.
    But how about another important detail you left out…probably due to the HUGE FANCRUSH everybody is having on JV right now.
    Guess love is blind…or at least blurry.
    But what about a frigging bench!!???
    What so called champpionship team not only had defensive stars…but a solid bench that comes in all the damn time and saves or holds the day?
    Jonas…really getting fun to watch. But hell…he misses more assignments on defense I did in college. Acy…OK…ya, love him some as well…but please…20 minutes and 4 frigging rebounds? You fooling me?
    Should get that in 10 minutes.
    Do me a favor…trade away Gray. Nobody here likes him. Never, EVER gets any ink around here.
    Coach hates him. Hell…he only cost 2.5 million. Chump change. Release him so he can sign on a team that really wants defense.

    • Actually, it comes down to a little more than that, but I never said it was complicated. It’s amazing how many teams haven’t seemed to figure it out.

      I don’t disagree with having a bench, but those are getting into details I didn’t really want to touch on. I figured the article was long enough. I mean, I could have added having a scorer off the bench, a perimeter player who can break down the defense, etc, etc. I wanted to talk more about generalities that teams can look for when acquiring players, whether through the draft, trades or free agency.

      And if the Raptors trade Gray, then we’ll never see you again!

    • c_bcm

      I don’t hate Aaron Gray. Savvy professional veteran who can absorb some fouls and bang with Dwight Howard, Cousins, and Bynum.

  • Madrugata

    This is very good. It is good to say thee things in an open forum. I wonder if the people making decisions for the Raptors read this. What would they say to refute it? That DD is young and has room for improvement? That Gay was “the best athelete in the trade”? That we don’t need second round picks. That the team has just suffered from some bad luck? SOme of your comments about team chemistry and high basketball IQ are not quantified and are unquantifiable, but they ring true. The fact that you use stats to back up your arguments gives your commentary much more credibility. Thanks.

    • Oh, I’m sure there are a list of excuses, as there always have been. I’d love someone on the board to read this and decide maybe they need to make some wholesale changes, but I’m not holding my breath. Thanks for the comment, by the way.

  • golden


    Nice work, as usual. I don’t necessarily agree with everything, but I appreciate the effort and thoroughness. Don’t worry about those posters who complain about the length of the article. Many people today, in this instant gratification era, have the attention spans and patience of a fruit fly. Unfortunately, our GM is one of those people.

    • thegloveinrapsuniform

      exactly my sentiments as well. we have had out disagreements in the past, but the berating and ridicule is unfair and uncalled for. no space for sh$& like that here.

      • I think the comments are actually a little tamer than I was expecting. If it gets too bad, I’ll just stop reading them altogether.

    • Thanks. Much appreciated.

  • thegloveinrapsuniform

    I think I’m at a point now where I do have to agree that tanking maybe the solution for this team to compete in the long run. My only issue is, i dont think this team, which clearly is a beast on paper, has been given the chance to fully show its potential, and what it was built to do. We can criticize players invidually but at the end of the day, they play as a team, and each one’s performance impacts the other. I think your points on Gay, Derozan, Lowry has merit on what we have seen this season, but what you have failed to point out is that 4 of the 5 current starters are in their first season on this team as starters. The full rotation of this team has 7 new players, 1 second year player, and among those, 2 rookies. It can be argued that there is not enough talent on this team (although i think there is adequate but not enough), the fact that there is zero chemistry should be an attribute as well. i do agree that Colangelo needs to go and that he has (assumingly) put the financial flexibility of this team in dire straights but you cant argue the fact that on paper, this team that he assembled is competitive and can do damage in the east. I think it should be put to light that contributing to this non-chemistry is Lowry< Fields, JV having injury problems, Gay coming into the team mid-season and the numerous rotationa and starting five shifts that Casey has done. Since the pieces are already here anyways, trades and signings have already been done, why not see what this team can do, when healthy, with a full season together, with training camp and practices, before actually blowing it up?

    • The problem is that I don’t think this team is a beast on paper. I think this is a team that a casual fan would be impressed with, but looking at the team more deeply, you see the major problems with it. It’s one reason I was completely against the Rudy Gay trade (I wrote three separate posts about it). I do think this team can be better than what’s it’s shown, but it’s got way too many flaws to be anything more than a mediocre team.

      • thegloveinrapsuniform

        I think with any team in the league if you look deeply in every player there is a flaw somewhere. lebron cant shoot FTs, Durant is a below average help defender, wade cant hit threes, etc etc. With the raptors current roster, on paper, they have pretty much covered each position enough to be competitive. lowry can defend, rebound, pass, shoot threes, demar and gay can penetrate open up the defense, amir rebounds, defends and hustles, JV works the post and interior D. althought the backcourt D is a bit suspect, i think the front court D is well above average. With the starting 5, the team has something to build on. A PF with a solid post game and post defense is definitely a need.

        • You can’t compare Gay to LeBron, Wade and Durant. The problem is that he’s being paid like them and he’s being sold as an elite player when he’s obviously not. Every players has flaws, there are some you can live with and others you can’t. Gay’s inconsistency on offense would be acceptable if he were your third option. As your first option it’s a killer. His inconsistency on defense, however, isn’t good if you’re you’re going to be playing him big minutes.

          The big problem I have with this team, outside of the inconsistent to poor perimeter defense, the reliance on long twos and the poor decision making by the 2 ball handlers, is the fact that there is no elite player on the team. Outside of Valanciunas and Amir, I don’t like any other Raptor as a core player.

  • smh

    Good read! Awesome work, Tim!

  • golden

    Regarding your comments on the Spurs acquiring high IQ players – I recall that Tony Parker seemed to have below average IQ (especially for a PG) and was constantly in Pop’s doghouse. To me, it seems like he was a great athlete who ‘acquired’ IQ through coaching, discipline and the culture. Butch Carter used to also say that he would prefer to have the ‘best athlete’ and that he (Butch) would teach him how to play the game. Anyways, my point here is that if BBIQ is what you’re looking for, then there has to be a lot of significance placed on the coach selection. It works in reverse too – crap coaches and destroy a player’s BBIQ. Look at Dwight Howard with SVG and now with D’Antoni, for example. You don’t mention a lot about coaching, but it’s got to be way up there in the rebuilding plan.

    • Parker always was a smart player, but he wasn’t much of a pure PG when he came into the league and would often try and do too much. He couldn’t have been in Popovich’s doghouse much since he started all but four games as a rookie, and the Spurs won 58 games that year. I doubt Popovich would start a rookie if he didn’t have a pretty high IQ.

      I do think players can definitely learn a lot with good coaching and a good system, but I think some players are more conducive to good coaching and some aren’t.

  • SR

    This just in: to be a good basketball team, you have to have good players who shoot the ball efficiently and play defense well. Also, having a championship caliber coach and GM will probably help. ***Angels are singing as the heavenly light illuminates our once deprived minds.***

    Also, Tim is a somewhat sensitive blogger who will give you a smart-ass comment if you criticize his writing, but will return the fist bump if you give him the knuckles. He’s also way over his commas quota for the month of April, having used as many as 6 or 7 per sentence in this post. No more commas for you, Tim! You’re cut off!

  • SR

    Tim W. is the blogging version of Rudy Gay. He’s a volume shooter but his percentages aren’t great, and we’re all asking ourselves how much he’s really helping the team. He should probably be traded for a college pick.

  • name

    this is a great read thanks, I suggest you send this article to MLSE !

  • CashGameND

    just wanted to say I’m a huge fan of this and the previous column’s Tim. It was a great read & i really feel educated about what it takes to build a championship team & how the raptors could go about it. As a Raptors only fan (not a big basketball fan, but I watch all the rap’s games until they are well out of the hunt) I have learned a ton & appreciate your work.

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