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Thread: Money Ballin' It - The Spurs should be the blueprint to sustained success?

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    Administrator Apollo's Avatar
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    Default Money Ballin' It - The Spurs should be the blueprint to sustained success?

    Whether you agree or not, the majority consider the Raptors a small market team. Forget what you know and feel about Toronto, you're not going to shake this stigma from the Raptors. It is, what it is.

    Looking around the league there is one team in particular that is the pinnacle of sustained success, the Spurs. They just happen to be a small market team. Many people have suggested that the best way for the Raptors to achieve the kind of success the Spurs have is to actually follow the Thunder's model. I am starting to disagree. There are a half dozen of the same suspects year in, year out hoping to be the next Thunder... Yet they never seem to pull themselves out of the abyss. Hitting homers like the Thunder did requires really high picks and a lot of luck, along with the hard work, timing and intelligence. The Spurs on the other hand have been able to stand the test of time while drafting late almost every year. Now, no doubt they've had the luxury of a stud #1, soon to be hall-of-famer, Tim Duncan but Tim would be nowhere without the supporting cast. While the Raptors don't have a Tim Duncan, they have a very good nucleus of JV, Gay, Lowry and arguably a few others. They're not going to be in the high lotto again for a while and so the Spurs seems like the model that should be considered.

    Things which stand out to me about the Spurs:
    1. Draft: It doesn't matter where they are in the draft, they seems to almost always get a good player and I can't count how many times I've been watching the draft or reading this forum where I or someone else says something in the order of "wow, how did he last until the Spurs selected?" or "Wow, they just got a really good 1st rounder right there with essentially a high second rounder". You rarely see them reaching for the guy with "the body" or the "hops" or whatever other flashy attribute you can think of while bypassing the guy who you know can play. They don't gamble as much, low risk is usually the way they go; I can't remember in recent years seeing anyone hammer the Spurs from taking a risky flier on a player. Their motto seems to be "slow, but steady".
    2. Internal development: They don't like turnover. To establish a system you need the right kinds of players playing in the system for years. They need to know that system inside/out. They need to own that system. Then they need to teach newcomers and by taking ownership/accountability there is little chance for anyone to shake what is being contsructed. That's also called a strong locker room, everyone playing together towards a common goal, everyone in line without question.
    3. Retention: One could argue this is merely a product of success and as such the Raptors can't achieve this until they reach some level of success. I agree with that stance but in the meantime they need to do a better job of retaining assets when turover occurs. How many times have we sat back and asked the question, how the hell did they let another guy walk for nothing?


    This ultimately comes back to the question, is the current management up to the task? Well, I'm no longer a beliver but whoever is in charge going forward we need to see a far better job at points 2 and 3. To Colangelo's credit, he's hasn't drafted many busts in his career during the first round but at the same time, the message he sends has at times conflicted with the types of players he's drafted. If he wants this team to play tough he needs to stop trying to change players and just go get the guys right for the system. He's needs to stop this business of trying to fit a square peg into a round hole... And if he's in the business of drafting based on talent and not position(like he should be) then he needs to find ways to turn those assets into what works for the team if they aren't pieces which fit. He needs to pull the trigger sooner, than later(Bargnani, you know he's going).

    What do you all think?
    Last edited by Apollo; Tue Apr 23rd, 2013 at 05:39 PM. Reason: hit submit accidently...

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    Super Moderator CalgaryRapsFan's Avatar
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    I couldn't agree more. I have long been against the "OKC Model", or "Suck & Luck" as I call it (yes I know OKC has good scouting, but there is no "OKC Model" without lucking into Durant).

    The other important feature of the Spurs model is that there hasn't been turnover at the GM or Head Coach position either. Not only are they great at their jobs, but they are well respected. I don't think the importance of this point can be overstated.

    With a stable system - starting with GM & Coach - it becomes much easier to continually add players that fit the system.

    Kawhi Leonard is a perfect example. He was one of my favourite players in the 2011 draft, but was way too much of a stretch for consideration at the #5 spot (JV was a solid pick, obviously). I was really hoping the Raptors would somehow acquire a mid-1st round pick to draft Leonard, as I thought he would greatly improve the wings, especially defensively. The Spurs traded George Hill for him, who was coming off a decent year.

    Too many teams try to find 'hidden gems' or 'diamonds in the rough' by trying to 'hit a homerun' with their non-lottery picks, instead of identifying solid, but unspectacular players who will fit their system. I think the reason for this is two-fold: first, the lure of a successful 'homerun' is too enticing, especially for treadmill and bottom-dwelling teams (great way for GMs/Coaches on the bubble to ensure job security or to 'get over the hump'); second, GM and/or Head Coach turnover prevents a franchise from truly developing a system, so they can't learn to target players that fit said system.

    I would love the Raptors to clean house from top to bottom. They could bring in respected, established GM/Head Coach and provide them with a multi-year mandate to do a proper rebuild that is as much about establishing a Raptor system/identity, as it is about building a contender. This approach would likely come with at least a couple lousy years, but would set the franchise up for sustainable success. I was really hopeful that this was going to be the approach in the post-Bosh era, but "accelerated rebuild" has become my recurring nightmare instead!
    Last edited by CalgaryRapsFan; Tue Apr 23rd, 2013 at 05:57 PM.

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    Raptors Republic Starter TheR3dMenace's Avatar
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    Now if we can only draft one of the greatest basketball players of all time...

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    Want to watch something awful? Look up any game the Spurs played the year before they drafted Duncan. The Admiraless Spurs AKA Dominique "human highlight reel got 5 minutes let of tape" Wilkins's Spurs. I shake my head thinking about that team. They had more injuries than ..... No. Too soon....

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    Raptors Republic All-Star Craiger's Avatar
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    OKC has good scouting, but there is no "OKC Model" without lucking into Durant.

    The other important feature of the Spurs model.....
    There is a 'Spurs model' without Duncan?

    People can claim 'luck' but drafting a stud is no more lucky than trading for a stud (they are never available unless their contracts are running) or signing a stud as a free agent (only available to certain markets).

    History has shown achieving top end success without a stud (ie. Detroit) is more 'lucky' than any other means of trying to win a championship calibre team.

    Luck is relative. The OKC model may be 'lucky' but its less 'lucky' for markets like Toronto than any other way of building a team IF the goal of being a contender or a champion.

    To the original post. The Spurs are a different breed of sports organizations. What makes them so good, and so good for so long, can be boiled down to one simple thing. Great management. Maybe thats a bit of a generic statement, but their management team has patience, no sense of desperation, and confidence; not only in themselves but throughout their organization.

    Colangelo is the antithesis of Buford.
    Last edited by Craiger; Wed Apr 24th, 2013 at 09:07 AM.

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    Raptors Republic All-Star slaw's Avatar
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    I fundamentally disagree with CalgaryRaps that there is any difference at all between how OKC and SA built their teams but I won't get into it.

    The biggest factor in the Spurs favour is not great management. It's great ownership. Not taking anything away from Buford and Pop but Peter Holt deserves enormous credit for the success the Spurs have had. He put together a great management team and has kept it together. Buford and Pop can do what they do because they have ownership's backing and there is a clear vision top to bottom.

    As it relates to the Raps, I am hopeful that having George Cope (Bell CEO) who played ball for Western adds some much needed BB acumen to MLSE. Cope is a big NBA fan and is a regular courtside for Raps games. Hopefully, this will translate somehow....

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    Raptors Republic Superstar heinz57's Avatar
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    Quote blackjitsu wrote: View Post
    Want to watch something awful? Look up any game the Spurs played the year before they drafted Duncan. The Admiraless Spurs AKA Dominique "human highlight reel got 5 minutes let of tape" Wilkins's Spurs. I shake my head thinking about that team. They had more injuries than ..... No. Too soon....
    That year was absolutely atrocious. But, it was also the year that they hired Pop, and i believe it was Buford's first year as president.. i could be wrong about the latter though

    Such a fantastic franchise since then though.. They've been winners every single year since then. There hasn't been a single playoff since where i didnt think "...or the boring ass spurs might just fuck up everything... again"

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    Super Moderator CalgaryRapsFan's Avatar
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    Quote Craiger wrote: View Post
    There is a 'Spurs model' without Duncan?

    People can claim 'luck' but drafting a stud is no more lucky than trading for a stud (they are never available unless their contracts are running) or signing a stud as a free agent (only available to certain markets).

    History has shown achieving top end success without a stud (ie. Detroit) is more 'lucky' than any other means of trying to win a championship calibre team.

    Luck is relative. The OKC model may be 'lucky' but its less 'lucky' for markets like Toronto than any other way of building a team IF the goal of being a contender or a champion.

    To the original post. The Spurs are a different breed of sports organizations. What makes them so good, and so good for so long, can be boiled down to one simple thing. Great management. Maybe thats a bit of a generic statement, but their management team has patience, no sense of desperation, and confidence; not only in themselves but throughout their organization.

    Colangelo is the antithesis of Buford.
    Absolutely they got lucky drafting Duncan (ie: Robinson injury, etc..). However, I don't think drafting Duncan was the foundation for the 'Spurs model' or the San Antonio system. I believe SA had already laid the foundation for a successful system well before Duncan was drafted, building around Robinson. Robinson was a solid player and a great person/teammate, who was worried about winning (not personal stats). He also had the attitude, leadership and lead-by-example approach that helped keep teammates in-line, essentially as an extension of management and coaching staff. The SA system has proven to be sustainable for 20 years, well beyond Robinson and likely beyond Duncan. It's about building a team with the right players, in terms of skill, attitude, desire and fit.

    The 'OKC Model' (so far) is based on drafting a superstar and then adding good, complimentary pieces around him. Time will tell if OKC is able to turn their model into a sustainable system which maintains its effectiveness well after Durant is gone. The problem I have with people pointing to the 'OKC Model' is that it all starts with drafting a superstar, which is extremely rare and dependent on a lot of luck. OKC haven't proven yet whether or not the system they're building will be a sustainable one, or one that begins and ends with Durant. If it does prove sustainable, then one could argue that the 'OKC Model' is really just copying the 'Spurs Model'.

    I do agree with you that any successful franchise model/system/whatever is dependent on good management, first and foremost.
    Last edited by CalgaryRapsFan; Wed Apr 24th, 2013 at 10:17 AM.

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    Raptors Republic All-Star Fully's Avatar
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    The Spurs are a fantastic organization from top to bottom, but I think their "model" has a lot to do with having the best power forward of all time sitting there when they happened to get the first overall pick in 1997. It also helps when you have one of the best NBA coaches of all time patrolling the sideline for the past 15 years, who just happens to be the perfect fit beside said superstar.

    Don't get me wrong, the Spurs organization deserve a great deal of credit for the way they've drafted and developed players in recent seasons. They really had no business getting players of Parker and Ginobili's calibre in the draft spots they did, so full credit to their scouting department. They've also turned lesser teams unwanted parts into key contributors for them, another masterful job by their training and coaching staff.

    However if they don't get Duncan 16 years ago it's all a moot point. If they held the #1 pick in 1996 (Iverson) or 1998 (Olowokandi), their past decade and a half looks much, much different. Same thing if they had drafted second instead of first in 1998 - they'd have ended up with Keith Van Horn.... Do you think we'd still be raving about their player development and drafting skills? They were fortunate enough to get a once in a generation player who also happens to check all the boxes when it comes to leadership, demeanor, maturity, unselfishness, etc. They do deserve credit for filling in the rest of the team around him for so long, but without the centrepiece it's a gravely different situation.

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    Raptors Republic All-Star Craiger's Avatar
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    Quote CalgaryRapsFan wrote: View Post
    believe SA had already laid the foundation for a successful system well before Duncan was drafted, building around Robinson. Robinson was a solid player and a great person/teammate, who was worried about winning (not personal stats).

    And drafting Robinson #1 overall was any less lucky then?

    And just for a point of reference, for the 3 years leading up to the Robinson draft, the Spurs combined record was 33%. 28, 31, 21 wins consecutively.



    The 'OKC Model' (so far) is based on drafting a superstar and then adding good, complimentary pieces around him.
    Exactly what San Antonio did.

    The problem I have with people pointing to the 'OKC Model' is that it all starts with drafting a superstar, which is extremely rare and dependent on a lot of luck.
    And thats where it started with the Spurs model to.

    OKC haven't proven yet whether or not the system they're building will be a sustainable one
    But they have. The Spurs.



    What Presti has done in OKC is the same as the Spurs organization has done. Its no coincidence he came out of the Spurs organization.

    Getting a superstar may be lucky, but its lucky for anyone in any way or fashion. What isn't lucky is recognizing your market place and understanding your best opportunity to get that superstar. The Spurs understood it. OKC understood it. Why can't Toronto understand it?

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    Raptors Republic All-Star Fully's Avatar
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    To answer the original question, I'm not sure you can really "duplicate" the Spurs model of success unless you can find a way to clone Duncan, Popovich and Buford.

    Beyond that, the key to their success seems to be "draft the right guys, sign the right players in the offseason, and then turn them into the best possible players they can be".... I'm sure all of the teams in the league have the same goals, no? It really just boils down to how successful you are at doing them. Teams like the Spurs are great at it; Teams like the Raptors are not. I don't think there's a specific formula to follow though.
    Last edited by Fully; Wed Apr 24th, 2013 at 01:19 PM.

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    While I can agree with the sentiments that drafting Tim Duncan is in the same "luck" vein as drafting Durant, I have to agree with the original post. The Spurs are the pillars of success because they have sustained their greatness, simply put, by having great scouting (and management) and a great coach.

    Their scouts found players like Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli when many other teams passed them over. Their management also trusted the opinion of the guys they had and pulled the trigger. They also keep their goal in mind. That seems, to me, the biggest difference between BC and the Spurs. BC doesn't seem to have a plan, or if he does it changes every other day. The Spurs stick to what they believe in, target the right players, and make the move to get it. Trading George Hill for Kwahi Leonard is a perfect example. How many teams can move a young, productive point guard for a mid-round rookie and get better? Not too many. But the Spurs know what they are getting, and take advantage of it.

    Having Coach Popovich to me is equally important. He is the best coach in my opinion. Steady, firm and yet flexible. As his personnel changed over the years, he has adjusted his style to best suit his players (from a slow it down defensive team to a much faster pace offensive juggernaut). That to me is his best quality. He still retained the defensive discipline, but adjusted the offensive style to maximize the talent on his team. Too many coaches aren't flexible, so that is why they are replaced as GM's look for coaches to make the most of the talent.

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    Super Moderator CalgaryRapsFan's Avatar
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    Quote Craiger wrote: View Post
    What Presti has done in OKC is the same as the Spurs organization has done. Its no coincidence he came out of the Spurs organization.

    Getting a superstar may be lucky, but its lucky for anyone in any way or fashion. What isn't lucky is recognizing your market place and understanding your best opportunity to get that superstar. The Spurs understood it. OKC understood it. Why can't Toronto understand it?
    The more I think about, I suppose that's true (thanks to Fully's post as well).

    So in summary, the only things preventing the Raptors from building an equally successful organization that follows the Spurs/OKC Model are:

    1. A good, respected management team with long-term vision, which is fully supported by ownership
    2. A good, established and respected head coach, with a fully capable coaching staff
    3. A superstar player to build around


    I think it makes much more sense for the Raptors (and most teams) to follow a more team-oriented model (ie: Pistons championship teams and Indiana currently). This model doesn't require a superstar, but rather a group of talented players who can grow together and develop good chemistry - the 'whole is greater than the sum of the parts' model.


    The problem with trying to go with the Spurs/OKC Model is that even a complete tank job doesn't guarantee success. Say the Raps did clean house and tank next season, with the strategy of targeting Wiggins as their Duncan/Durant; there's still plenty of ways for that plan to go bad:

    1. Other tankers - I'm willing to bet that several teams are salivating over the 2014 draft and see it as their chance to take a huge step forward, so there'll likely be several teams tanking next season
    2. Draft lottery - even if the Raps were 'successful' finishing with the worst record, they may not wind up with the #1 overall pick
    3. Wiggins - plenty of other 'sure things' have failed to live up to their hype/potential, so there's no guarantee that he's going to be the next Duncan/Durant (plus it would put way too much pressure on him to shoulder those expectations, especially playing for the hometown team).

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    Quote heinz57 wrote: View Post
    That year was absolutely atrocious. But, it was also the year that they hired Pop, and i believe it was Buford's first year as president.. i could be wrong about the latter though

    Such a fantastic franchise since then though.. They've been winners every single year since then. There hasn't been a single playoff since where i didnt think "...or the boring ass spurs might just fuck up everything... again"
    The president has always been someone else (I think). Popovic and Buford were both already a few years with the organization with Popovic being responsible for basketball (VP) and the GM. Popovic appointed himself as head coach in that season and a few years later resigned from GM and appointed Buford instead. He's still VP of basketball.

    The best thing about the Spurs is that everyone is so secure in his position (due to ongoing succes) that none of them play the short-term game as happens all around the league because everyone cares about their job security. They are very much concerned with succes on the long term and hence invest a lot in developing younger players.

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    Raptors Republic Hall of Famer mcHAPPY's Avatar
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    One element missing in the comparison between OKC and SA is the characteristics both teams superstars share.

    Both Duncan and Durant are known to be the hardest workers, most coachable on the team, and most humble (although Durant doing his best Blatche to get a triple double recently was out of character). When you superstar is 100% committed to the team and the leadership guiding it, everyone else falls in line pretty quick.

    Oh and both guys last names start with D - that means something too.
    "Championships are what we live for, now lets go win them."
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    except at the draft, which is all homework, politics and chance.

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    Raptors Republic Superstar isaacthompson's Avatar
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    Quote Matt52 wrote: View Post
    One element missing in the comparison between OKC and SA is the characteristics both teams superstars share.

    Both Duncan and Durant are known to be the hardest workers, most coachable on the team, and most humble (although Durant doing his best Blatche to get a triple double recently was out of character). When you superstar is 100% committed to the team and the leadership guiding it, everyone else falls in line pretty quick.

    Oh and both guys last names start with D - that means something too.


    DeRozan. That's the answer.
    Twitter - @thekid_it

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    Super Moderator CalgaryRapsFan's Avatar
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    Quote Matt52 wrote: View Post
    One element missing in the comparison between OKC and SA is the characteristics both teams superstars share.

    Both Duncan and Durant are known to be the hardest workers, most coachable on the team, and most humble (although Durant doing his best Blatche to get a triple double recently was out of character). When you superstar is 100% committed to the team and the leadership guiding it, everyone else falls in line pretty quick.

    Oh and both guys last names start with D - that means something too.
    One common element is that they're both true superstars. The model is doomed to fail when you try to build around players who aren't true superstars - ie: Bosh, Bargnani, DeRozan, Gay...

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    Raptors Republic All-Star Craiger's Avatar
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    Quote CalgaryRapsFan wrote: View Post
    The more I think about, I suppose that's true (thanks to Fully's post as well).

    So in summary, the only things preventing the Raptors from building an equally successful organization that follows the Spurs/OKC Model are:

    1. A good, respected management team with long-term vision, which is fully supported by ownership
    2. A good, established and respected head coach, with a fully capable coaching staff
    3. A superstar player to build around


    I think it makes much more sense for the Raptors (and most teams) to follow a more team-oriented model (ie: Pistons championship teams and Indiana currently). This model doesn't require a superstar, but rather a group of talented players who can grow together and develop good chemistry - the 'whole is greater than the sum of the parts' model.


    The problem with trying to go with the Spurs/OKC Model is that even a complete tank job doesn't guarantee success. Say the Raps did clean house and tank next season, with the strategy of targeting Wiggins as their Duncan/Durant; there's still plenty of ways for that plan to go bad:

    1. Other tankers - I'm willing to bet that several teams are salivating over the 2014 draft and see it as their chance to take a huge step forward, so there'll likely be several teams tanking next season
    2. Draft lottery - even if the Raps were 'successful' finishing with the worst record, they may not wind up with the #1 overall pick
    3. Wiggins - plenty of other 'sure things' have failed to live up to their hype/potential, so there's no guarantee that he's going to be the next Duncan/Durant (plus it would put way too much pressure on him to shoulder those expectations, especially playing for the hometown team).
    Who said success is guaranteed? Exactly when is success guaranteed? Is it guaranteed with a 'team oriented' build? How many teams have tried that and failed? How many championship teams, finals teams, conference finals teams have been built that way other than Detroit in the last 10/20/30 years?

    Given that the 'team oriented' build isn't guaranteed they shouldn't go that route either than I'm assuming?

    If the need is a guarantee than the Raptors should just roll the dice on every decision, or fold up the club. Nothing is guaranteed.

    We can however look to the past and present, notice patterns and then identify what is the best opportunity to achieve success. To be a contender. History has shown us a very clear pattern:

    1) a superstar

    In order to get said star you:

    2a) either draft that star
    2b) be a wealthy attractive market and buy him (either on the FA market or from another team in a trade)

    Wealth isn't Toronto's problem. Its being willing to use that wealth. On top of that they are not an attractive market.


    Wiggins - Is Wiggins the only superstar the future holds? Is 2014 the Raptors last chance? If so I agree, the risk reward is not worth it. If, however there will be other superstars, and the Raptors will be able to draft after 2014, then I'll go right to my statement about the strength of the Spurs. Patience.

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    Raptors Republic Rookie JStockton's Avatar
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    Quote Matt52 wrote: View Post
    One element missing in the comparison between OKC and SA is the characteristics both teams superstars share.

    Both Duncan and Durant are known to be the hardest workers, most coachable on the team, and most humble (although Durant doing his best Blatche to get a triple double recently was out of character). When you superstar is 100% committed to the team and the leadership guiding it, everyone else falls in line pretty quick.

    Oh and both guys last names start with D - that means something too.
    I'd like to stress the "most humble" part Matt52 refers to. Lucking out on a superstar might be a homerun, lucking out on a humble superstar for sure is a grand slam. As an example, it can be argued that LBJ and Howard might be better basketball players than the two D's, however they are not the humble superstars when compared to the two.

    Whereas Duncan said no to Disneyland and stuck with the small market Spurs, and Durant announced his contract extension on Twitter, Howard cried his way out of Orlando to an even bigger market in L.A., and LBJ had "The Decision". Similar highly drafted superstar franchise players, different attitudes in humility.

    Ownership/management in both Cleveland and Orlando will say that they did the best they could to keep their respective players. It just so happened that these players made their own decision to leave the team.

    Maybe we should change the spelling of Bargnani to Dargnani. In that way whenever he fails to rebound we can all scream "DARGN!" in unison.

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    Super Moderator CalgaryRapsFan's Avatar
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    Quote Craiger wrote: View Post
    Wiggins - Is Wiggins the only superstar the future holds? Is 2014 the Raptors last chance? If so I agree, the risk reward is not worth it. If, however there will be other superstars, and the Raptors will be able to draft after 2014, then I'll go right to my statement about the strength of the Spurs. Patience.
    What would Toronto (and every other similar team) do in the meantime, while they patiently await the arrival of their future hall-of-famer? I just don't think that's a viable strategy, since there is so much luck involved. The franchise would also doom itself, since constant tanking would turn off potential GM/coaching candidates, free agents, prospects, media, sponsors and fans. The team could successfully tank for a decade and never wind up with a franchise-altering draft pick - what then?

    My point of comparing the two different approaches is that a team can be quite successful by taking a non-superstar team building approach. Obviously there's no such thing as guaranteed success, but I do believe there's much more liklihood of success via that route, than waiting/hoping/praying/lucking into a superstar via the draft. Of course, even "success" is subjective, regardless of the route taken.

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