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Thread: beyond the tank and anti-tank: a more comprehensive list of management strategies

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    Default beyond the tank and anti-tank: a more comprehensive list of management strategies

    I originally posted this in another thread but I wanted to spin it off and see if I could generate some more discussion on it. I think that there are a lot of debates that are just going around in circles with people arguing over what exactly a tank is and isn't. So, in the hopes of moving beyond those arguments, I think it would be a useful discussion to actually lay out as many different management strategies as we can and give them labels. I tried to come up with an extensive but by no means comprehensive list:

    general competitive strategies:

    - building around your best player: or the colangelo model. Colangelo often made moves that were based on bringing in complementary pieces (both players and coaches) to the perceived best player on the team, first Bosh and then Bargnani. Arguably, if he had kept his job he would have started the process all over again around Gay. Its success seems largely dependent on the quality of the star you're building around, and in Toronto there was never the superstar needed to make it work.
    - moneyball-style short-term asset acquisition: constantly looking to upgrade the value of the roster by making sure that every dollar is best spent. In baseball, moneyball was originally a win-now strategy, nothing was safe from star players to draft picks to prospects. A big part of the system was to take advantage of teams that overvalue potential.
    - long-term asset acquisition: probably more common in the NBA than the short-term approach to moneyball that's more common in MLB. Ujiri in Denver was doing this, as are many other small-market teams; so far, nobody's taken ridden this strategy to a championship.
    - building around a team philosophy: identifying a style of basketball that you think will win, and then bring in the players and coaches that can best implement that. (Arguably, Colangelo tried this a little bit with bringing in Casey, but it still seemed more 'build around your best player' than anything else). Possibly you could call this the Dumars Detroit model. It's rare that anyone builds from the ground up like this: usually it's looking at what you currently have and then building a team philosophy to maximize that. In some ways this is a reactive strategy, often trying to take advantage of the weaknesses of other contending teams.
    - build around a coach: As suggested by Blackjitsu. Probably has some overlap with building around a philosophy, but is anchored around an individual. Karl and Thibodeau as examples.
    - flexibility first: maintain short contracts and easily-tradeable players and draft picks, so that you're in an opportunity to pounce when opportunity presents itself. The flexibility model values draft picks above everything else because they are the most flexible asset there is. Houston would be an example of this strategy.

    big-market strategies:

    - maximum wins: always making the moves that you believe will win you the most games in the short term, and to hell with the longterm. Call it the Dolan model. Probably the simplest and least effective model out of any of them.
    - maximum payroll: the idea that there's value to maintaining a large payroll over the tax threshold, because it allows you to constantly take overpaid players and essentially live by a different set of rules than most of the league. This was a big part of LA's strategy, but the new CBA makes it a more difficult (potentially impossible) strategy. Brooklyn may be the best current test of this strategy.
    - boom and bust: this is totally theoretical, because it's reactive to the new CBA, particularly the provisions that are just kicking in now. It's also something I made up. Nobody's practicing it yet, but I think that we'll see some of the big spenders use it in the next decade. It basically means rapidly expanding your talent and payroll, giving yourself a couple years to win, then blowing it up to get back under the tax threshold for a couple years, before trying to boom again.
    - free agency homerun: planning to see a large amount of salary commitments expire at the same time so that you can add multiple pieces (ideally including a superstar) from a single free agency class. A great strategy if you have that opportunity, because it removes a lot of other variables and give you a contender window that starts almost immediately. But totally out of the realm of what some markets can aspire to.

    tank strategies:

    - hardcore tank: working to create a roster that will lose the maximum number of games and maximize the draft pick above all else. This is rarely actually except as a mid-season approach, but is frequently advocated.
    - softcore tank: focusing on youth development, deprioritizing wins but not actively attempting to build a losing roster.
    - tank for flexibility: based on the post by CalgaryRapsFan. Tanking with the primary goal of undoing a bad roster situation and making it possible to move forward without dead weight and salaries on the roster.
    - tank for stars: contrasting with tanking for flexibility, this is the philosophy that the only way to acquire elite talent is through the draft and so you need to tank until you acquire such a star. Both tanking for flexibility and tanking for stars are in theory compatible with hardcore or softcore tanking.

    Mostly, I think GMs (and fans for that matter) think about a combination of these strategies. Softcore tank, for example, combines very well with asset acquisition and flexibility, and possibly with team philosophy. It also could work with free agency homerun, although I think that's trickier. It's also possible to develop a plan that uses one strategy at one phase in a team's development, then transitioning to another later in a team's development. Team philosophy or building around your best can be thought of as second generation strategies, implemented after another strategy has taken you to that near-contender status.

    Anyway, feel free to suggest additional strategies, give them a name and an example (if you have one), and I'll add them to this list. There are lots of threads discussing what strategies the Raptors should actually use, so maybe keep that discussion in those other threads and use this one for discussing what the various strategies are.
    Last edited by octothorp; Mon Nov 25th, 2013 at 07:22 PM.

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    Raptors Republic Veteran white men can't jump's Avatar
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    You know this is just going to turn into the same thread as the 8 million or so on this forum that degenerate into stupid tanking arguments, right? :P

    I hope it doesn't, but seriously, it's like every few days or every week there's a "lets talk about the team without the tank/anti-tank debate", and it still basically turns into that.

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    Raptors Republic Starter KeonClark's Avatar
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    Cant i want to rebuild the team while still cheering for wins?

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    Quote white men can't jump wrote: View Post
    You know this is just going to turn into the same thread as the 8 million or so on this forum that degenerate into stupid tanking arguments, right? :P

    I hope it doesn't, but seriously, it's like every few days or every week there's a "lets talk about the team without the tank/anti-tank debate", and it still basically turns into that.
    Yeah, you're probably right. But I'm going to use an angry emoticon on anyone who starts to talk about tanking in those terms. You just watch people snap into line once I do that.

    Quote KeonClark wrote: View Post
    Cant i want to rebuild the team while still cheering for wins?
    Sure, I do! But I can also separate my watching-the-game experience from what I think is the best strategy for the Raptors. This thread discusses the latter. Or rather, discusses how we discuss the other. So do you favour a style of rebuild that's in the list I quoted above, a hybrid of these approaches, or a different type of rebuild?

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    Nice thread. It would be nice to talk about something other than tanking for a while. Many of these strategies are more short-term than long-term though (well they're mid-term I guess). They mostly depend on taking advantage of opportunities that are presented.

    I feel like the only thing that management can truly control is the philosophy and mentality of the franchise. A 5 year championship plan can easily get derailed by injury, poor draft years (see bargnani, bennett) etc.

    For example, OKC got hugely lucky with its draft classes. They've now lost Harden, are waiting to see what an injured Westbrook can bring them, and are stuck with Perkins in the front court. Their window hasn't closed but they're future certainly seems less bright than it did the year they made the finals. Management will determine how they cope with this situation moving into the future (see SA and the decline of Manu Ginobli).

    The Pacers, I believe are another franchise that exemplifies excellent management. Despite not getting any breaks like OKC, Boston or Miami, they've developed a team that looks like they can win now and into the future, and they don't seem TOO dependent on any one player or stroke of luck.

    What philosophies should our franchise hold to ensure long term success?
    Last edited by stooley; Thu Nov 21st, 2013 at 05:20 PM.

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    Raptors Republic Superstar Puffer's Avatar
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    - moneyball-style asset acquisition:

    I get the sense that this is something that is a big part of everything MU does.

    Getting superstars into the starting five is hard, but putting a lot of focus on picking up solid role players, supplemented with one-dimensional players who can be subbed in by a heads-up coach in situational offense should be easier.

    If you could get players to operate in a TEAM concept that emphasizes taking the right shot you might then have a bench that wouldn't cough up leads, that might even gain a few points on the other teams subs.

    Finding those under appreciated role players, and getting them in on lower value contracts would give you more room for the 3-4 large salaries you need to contend.

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    Every time I see a post with a Tapatalk signature, I keep reading Tapatank. Is that normal?

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    Quote S.R. wrote: View Post
    Every time I see a post with a Tapatalk signature, I keep reading Tapatank. Is that normal?
    haha. That's why I changed my Tapatalk signature.

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    Super Moderator CalgaryRapsFan's Avatar
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    I am NOT trying to turn this into another 'tanking' thread. I repeat, I am NOT trying to turn this into another 'tanking thread'!!! lol

    I just wanted to point out that when I present my preferred team-building strategy, the 'tanking' I support is really all about undoing BC's mess, to allow MU to implement a proper, well thought out, methodical team-building strategy that follows one/several of the options in the OP. I want MU (whoever the Raps' GM might be) to stick to a plan that is sustainable, rather than bounce around from one approach to another in a knee-jerk way, that is more about saving his own ass than actually building a sustainable winner.

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    Raptors Republic Superstar Axel's Avatar
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    Quote CalgaryRapsFan wrote: View Post
    I am NOT trying to turn this into another 'tanking' thread. I repeat, I am NOT trying to turn this into another 'tanking thread'!!! lol

    I just wanted to point out that when I present my preferred team-building strategy, the 'tanking' I support is really all about undoing BC's mess, to allow MU to implement a proper, well thought out, methodical team-building strategy that follows one/several of the options in the OP. I want MU (whoever the Raps' GM might be) to stick to a plan that is sustainable, rather than bounce around from one approach to another in a knee-jerk way, that is more about saving his own ass than actually building a sustainable winner.
    Agreed, tanking is not a team building strategy, it's an exit strategy for an existing pile of crap that gets you back to a decent baseline. From there, we invoke a strategy.
    Last edited by Axel; Fri Nov 22nd, 2013 at 09:27 AM.

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    Super Moderator CalgaryRapsFan's Avatar
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    Quote Axel wrote: View Post
    Agreed, tanking is a team building strategy, it's an exit strategy for an existing pile of crap that gets you back to a decent baseline. From there, we invoke a strategy.
    Did you mean that "tanking is NOT a team building strategy"? I assume so...

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    Octothorp, maybe you can get a temporary assignment of moderator controls permitting you a more drastic (delete/edit) capability of posts deviating from your OP intents.

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    Raptors Republic All-Star stooley's Avatar
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    Quote Axel wrote: View Post
    Agreed, tanking is a team building strategy, it's an exit strategy for an existing pile of crap that gets you back to a decent baseline. From there, we invoke a strategy.
    The strategy should always be to assess all available strategies and adopt the one that best suits the team's current situation.

    The goal should be to create a franchise that no matter the situation, will be able to adapt. I believe that a strong staff/culture are far more important than picking the right strategy.

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    Super Moderator CalgaryRapsFan's Avatar
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    Quote stooley wrote: View Post
    The strategy should always be to assess all available strategies and adopt the one that best suits the team's current situation.

    The goal should be to create a franchise that no matter the situation, will be able to adapt. I believe that a strong staff/culture are far more important than picking the right strategy.
    I absolutely agree. I think most GM's set out with this in mind, but other factors wind up causing them to deviate - ie: poor evaluation of talent (be it draft picks, free agents or trade targets), overpaying as a result of supply & demand (several years later, nobody remembers or cares that the amount offered to a free agent made sense during that particular offseason), or on an expiring contract (or under extreme pressure from ownership and/or fans) that leads to drastic 'save my ass' decisions.

    I find GMs to be similar to governments, in a lot of ways. They get hired/elected based on their proposal/platform, and spend the first year or two adhering to it and heading in the right direction. However, a few years in their contract is coming due (election around the corner), so they abandon the long-term strategic plan in favor of shorter-term extension/re-election maneuvering. Even if that switch is successful and they are able to keep their job, they often face the realization that such a decision has actually set them back, messed up their plan and screwed up their budget and/or timeline for success.

    That analogy is why I really like the way TL brought it MU on a 5-year contract, openly saying that he understood the expected results wouldn't happen overnight, giving MU time to properly evaluate and build his team (internal management, coaching staff and roster).

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    Raptors Republic All-Star slaw's Avatar
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    Trying to move away from the tank/ant-tank debate, I think the new repeater tax rules that kick in next season are going to have a profound impact on the way teams operate. Going into the tax is going to be so punitive to an owner that the reluctance to push beyond that line is going to increase for all teams - even the Nets.

    Potentially, it could have enormous implications for how teams are built and how long they can stay together. The premium on cheap second round picks, undrafted free agents and rookie contracts is going to skyrocket. It should also narrow the window for being able to field a competitive team, in particular, for small and mid markets. The big markets will always find guys willing to take a discount to play for them but teams like our beloved Raps won't have that luxury.

    Will be very interesting to see how the smart organizations adjust and exploit the inefficiencies created by the new rules. It will also be interesting to see what teams like Toronto do, too.

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    Raptors Republic Starter jimmie's Avatar
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    Quote stooley wrote: View Post
    The strategy should always be to assess all available strategies and adopt the one that best suits the team's current situation.

    The goal should be to create a franchise that no matter the situation, will be able to adapt. I believe that a strong staff/culture are far more important than picking the right strategy.
    Agreed 100%. Unfortunately, this team has a lot of mistakes to undo just to get back to the Mendoza line, mistakes that limit the ability to embark on a different strategy. The current situation is that Toronto has very little ability to adapt on the fly, given the contracts and players in hand. Ujiri has to look a few years down the road (post-divestiture of those contracts/players, whether it's a tank this year, trade the expirings next year, whatever), vs. what can we do to compete NOW, when contemplating the end goal and his strategy to get there.

    The point being, there's a lot of work to be done before this will be a Finals-calibre team, and finding some flexibility needs to be Job #1.
    Definition of Statistics: The science of producing unreliable facts from reliable figures.

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    Raptors Republic Starter Quirk's Avatar
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    Don't forget this strategy:


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    Quote Quirk wrote: View Post
    Don't forget this strategy:

    The Trank? You can spot the second when the dart hits him.

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    The thing that kills most long term thought is the speed that teams fire coaches. How can a team build a philosophy when teams dump coaches in a heartbeat? That was BC biggest crutch -- fire the coach. And now even good teams are firing coaches for no reason (Memphis). IF the Raptors can find a long term head coach then the threat of benching players becomes real...

    Maybe there should be a build a team around a coach strategy? Would anyone say Thibideau (m/s), Karl teams fit in this category?

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    Quote blackjitsu wrote: View Post
    The thing that kills most long term thought is the speed that teams fire coaches. How can a team build a philosophy when teams dump coaches in a heartbeat? That was BC biggest crutch -- fire the coach. And now even good teams are firing coaches for no reason (Memphis). IF the Raptors can find a long term head coach then the threat of benching players becomes real...

    Maybe there should be a build a team around a coach strategy? Would anyone say Thibideau (m/s), Karl teams fit in this category?
    I think that's a great strategy as one of the most important things a GM needs to do is find the right coach. Unfortunately MU never really had the experience in finding a coach since Karl was already there in Denver. But the Raptors are in a bit of a predicament with Casey right now - do they keep him, let him go, or do they fire him? Casey seems like a lame duck coach to me (in his final year, MU watching what he does, etc).. but MU has to decide on whether or not he wants to rebuild now or retool before he even looks at another coach.

    If he wants to rebuild, you're going to have a lot of trouble finding a veteran coach like Hollins or Thibs to come here. Those guys will want to win now. If you want to retool then you may have a better chance of luring a top rated coach and it would make sense to get their input on roster decisions. However I just don't see how the Raptors retool with the lack of flexibility that they have going for them. Maybe if they unloaded picks in trades but that's probably against MU's m.o.

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