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Thread: The Conference Finals and the 73%

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    Raptors Republic All-Star ezz_bee's Avatar
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    Default The Conference Finals and the 73%

    Every once and awhile I come across something that exemplifies my frustration with this team, and what my expectations as a fan are, with this post I share with you the example, and then elaborate on my expectations are and what gives the Raps the best chance of meeting my expectations.

    Spoiler Alert: My expectations are getting to the conference finals, and we need to do it by stock piling young talent.


    THE EXAMPLE
    Here's a list of all the Conference Champions and Runners up since 2000. I could have gone back all the to 1996, but I didn't really think that would be fair to the Raps. In 2000 they set league records for attendance and made the playoffs for the first time. It was also when I started watching the Raptors seriously, I was 16 and we finally got TSN at my house. Plus, 2000 is a nice round number.

    Year Champion Result Opponent
    EASTERN CONFERENCE
    2000 Indiana Pacers 42 New York Knicks
    2001 Philadelphia 76ers 43 Milwaukee Bucks
    2002 New Jersey Nets 42 Boston Celtics
    2003 New Jersey Nets 40 Detroit Pistons
    2004 Detroit Pistons 42 Indiana Pacers
    2005 Detroit Pistons 43 Miami HEAT
    2006 Miami HEAT 42 Detroit Pistons
    2007 Cleveland Cavaliers 42 Detroit Pistons
    2008 Boston Celtics 42 Detroit Pistons
    2009 Orlando Magic 42 Cleveland Cavaliers
    2010 Boston Celtics 42 Orlando Magic
    2011 Miami HEAT 41 Chicago Bulls
    2012 Miami HEAT 42 Boston Celtics
    2013 Miami HEAT 43 Indiana Pacers

    WESTERN CONFERENCE
    2000 Los Angeles Lakers 43 Portland Trail Blazers
    2001 Los Angeles Lakers 40 San Antonio Spurs
    2002 Los Angeles Lakers 43 Sacramento Kings
    2003 San Antonio Spurs 42 Dallas Mavericks
    2004 Los Angeles Lakers 42 Minnesota Timberwolves
    2005 San Antonio Spurs 41 Phoenix Suns
    2006 Dallas Mavericks 42 Phoenix Suns
    2007 San Antonio Spurs 41 Utah Jazz
    2008 Los Angeles Lakers 41 San Antonio Spurs
    2009 Los Angeles Lakers 42 Denver Nuggets
    2010 Los Angeles Lakers 42 Phoenix Suns
    2011 Dallas Mavericks 41 Oklahoma City Thunder
    2012 Oklahoma City Thunder 42 San Antonio Spurs
    2013 San Antonio Spurs 40 Memphis Grizzles

    For those you who don't want to make your own checklists here are the teams you DON'T see.

    EAST
    Atlanta
    Toronto
    Charlotte
    Washington

    WEST
    L.A. Clippers
    Houston
    Golden State
    New Orleans

    In the Eastern Conference I don't think any of those teams are likely to make the conference finals this year, or even in the next 3 years (Sorry Atlanta!). In the Western Conference though, 3 of those 4 teams are up and comers and all of them have been predicted by one analyst or another as a conference finalist this year. Of course we need to take predictions with a grain of salt (Right Knicks and Nets?) and all these teams have flaws, but there's probably at least a 50% chance that at least one if not two (and possible all three!) of Clips, Rockets, Warriors will be able to scratch their names of this list in the next 3 years.

    I don't want to turn this into a tank anti-tank debate, because I honestly don't care how we get there, but it's about effing time that we do!!! Even joke teams like the Bucks, Kings, T'Wolves (although they're maybe not a joke anymore?) have at least one appearance on this list.

    Since the first time the Raps made the playoffs 22 different teams have made it to the Conference Finals at least once. If you do the math that 73.3%. If that many teams can do it there's no excuse.

    This is why, when anti-tankers say, "What about the Cavs, Nuggets, Magic, or T'Wolves they drafted a superstar, what did that get them?" The answer is easy. The Finals or Conference Finals. If you've got Dwight, Howard, Lebron James, or Kevin Garnett in their prime, you've got about a 90% to get to Conference Finals, at least. Melo, a VERY flawed superstar, took the Nuggets to Conference Finals in 2009. Chris Paul is probably the only generational talent/Legit MVP Candidate/best player at his position, who HASN'T been to conference finals in this era, and he's still got a couple of seasons left to do it.

    So anytime someone says, "Let's see what this current team can do." I just shake my head. Who is our generational talent? Who is our big three? The short answer is we don't have either. Unless you count JV as a generational talent, but even if he is, are the other guys around him still going to be here when he becomes that player? The reality is that JV has got a good chance at being part of a big three, but he's only 1, you still need a lot more talent to go with him. Are any other perennial all-stars on this team that you need as your supporting cast?

    So get rid of them, and get us a team that CAN. Although I don't think the raps can get their within the next 3 years regardless what they do, IF they don't start moving on that path this season, it's only going to push that timeline out even further, and haven't we been patient enough?

    I trust Masai to find us those two other players, hopefully one if which is a top 10 player in the league. Unfortunately, I think the only way we get it is by drafting young players or trading a bunch of young players for a disgruntled superstar (the Boston/KG, Melo/NYK trades). Either way it starts with young talent. I'm willing to admit that we be SOL on this draft (too many wins, too many crap teams) but that doesn't mean we shouldn't be pulling the trigger on any Derozan/Lowry/Gay trade that brings back either young players, and or draft picks even if it isn't for this year's draft.

    I know there's a lot of anti-tankers out there who think that you can make trades for young players that don't necessarily make us worse, and I'm okay with that, if Ujiri can make that happen. I am skeptical though.

    I also am worried that the sniff of getting some wins in the playoffs (We could have as many as six imo) is good enough for Ujiri this year. I'm worried that he will forgo pulling the trigger on trades that will give us the best shot at a conference finals within the next five years, to have a 50-50 shot at winning a playoff series this year.

    Even if the top 5 spots or even top 10 spots in this year's draft aren't within our reach, I still think there are enough team's under-achieving and in "win-now mode" that there should be some young talent and draft picks available (again they might not be in this draft), that makes it worth giving up a lowry or Gay or derozan (or all three, or anyone else other than JV or Ross) to get that young talent, EVEN at the expense of home court in the playoffs, (which isn't a sure thing, and is still unlikely, as we'd have to have a better record than anyone other than HEAT, Pacers + 1 other) and a playoff series win (also not a sure thing, especially without homecourt). For those you who are excited about the possibility of a division banner, remember that although it guarantees a top four seed it DOES NOT guarantee home court advantage. I know this makes no sense, but that's how the NBA works since 2006.

    For me, anything less than a conference finals appearance within the next five years is a failure. The fact that MLSE's talking head (TL) seems to have the same opinion makes me less patient not more. Again, I don't see it happening for at least 4 years anyway, but better 4 than 15, or never.

    Another poster (I forget who) posted the following quote, which sums up my feeling on the matter.

    "The best time to plant a tree in your backyard is 50 years ago. The second best time is now." I'm not sure what MU and TL have planned for this weekend, but hopefully they'll start planting our NBA championship tree.
    "We only have one rule on this team. What is that rule? E.L.E. That's right's, E.L.E, and what does E.L.E. stand for? EVERYBODY LOVE EVERYBODY. Right there up on the wall, because this isn't just a basketball team, this is a lifestyle. ~ Jackie Moon

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    Raptors Republic Hall of Famer mcHAPPY's Avatar
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    Great post.

    Regardless of personal views, it is well thought out and I learned something new.

    Thanks.
    "Championships are what we live for, now lets go win them."
    Tim Leiweke

    Basketball has clear winners every night --
    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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    Wow, great stat find. I honestly didn't think that many teams had made it to the conference finals. Even the eternally-mediocre Bucks have made it at some point.

    I will like this post as soon as a computer is reached. Great points all around.
    Twitter - @thekid_it

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    Raptors Republic All-Star JawsGT's Avatar
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    Great post, and I what I take from this is that you seem to fear that MU will behave like BC. IMO, that's not something you have to worry about. MU will not make trades that sacrifice the future just to temporarily beef up this team so as to increase the chances of a second round appearance. If trades can be made that make us better now without screwing us down the road, I bet he makes them. None of the moves he has made yet have done that, granted he hasn't made many. He will make this team better while maintaining flexibility, role with the roster we have for a playoff appearance and then scrap it in the offseason because it wasn't good enough, or scrap it this year for a higher draft position if things go south.

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    Raptors Republic All-Star ezz_bee's Avatar
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    Thanks for the positive feedback. I think a lot of times it's easy to look down on other franchises because during any given season there are teams whose future looks bleaker than ours; however, when you look at our history, there are VERY few teams that we are better than using pretty much any metric... depth in the playoffs, playoff wins, playoff appearances, season win percentage, we are in the bottom of them all.

    In response to this from Jaws:

    Quote JawsGT wrote: View Post
    ...what I take from this is that you seem to fear that MU will behave like BC...
    Well I think if this was still BC's team we'd be getting sound bytes about how this was part of the plan" and that the team is "living up" to his expectations, that the Raps will make "noise" in the playoffs.

    I do think that Ujiri will make the right moves, I'm just worried he'll but off those moves 1 full year to appease the fan base, and I'm sure there's a lot of fans here and in general who just want to experience the playoffs again. I also don't blame people for that.
    That might give him the breathing room he needs while we don't win for 2-3 years to build this team with the right personnel. I'm also not sure if you could blame him for going this route. Let's say we don't make any significant moves this year, and we either win or loss a closely contested first round. Just by not resigning Lowry and hoping Gay opts out you've got a pretty good chance to tank/rebuild/retool/acquire young talent for 2015. Derozan's stock is probably higher, plus Hansbrough and Amir are very move able, even if all they'll get on their own is a 2nd rounder, could be part of a deal to get young talent, from teams looking to "win now".

    I guess I still see the draft as a huge draw. As long as you have a lotto pick you've got a shot at the top 3, however slim that shot is. If this draft class wasn't amazingly good, I'd be more patient. I do think/hope there's enough win now teams, bucks/pistons/kings that you can find away to get good young players and also taking a small step back. I'd love to be in philly's/boston/utah's position right now. Lots of young talent, playing hard but whether they are overachieving (sixers) or underachieving (jazz) they've got a great shot at being really great teams even as early as 2 years from now.

    There's a couple of teams that probably should think about trying a 1 year tank due to injuries. D Rose isn't back until next year (Probably the saddest basketball news in 10 years!) they're current roster was designed to fit around him, maybe getting rid of boozer and deng, you've got a shot to pair D Rose with someone really special. Milwaukee, despite having ownership that says, "death before tanking!" they're doing soo poorly at the moment they might want to keep Sanders out awhile longer. However, neither has shown any real interest to do so.

    The only reason to trade now, as opposed to next year is because IF your team takes a step backwards, you increase your odds of something magically happening.

    Also in the words of Macbeth, "If it were done 'tis best if it were done quickly".

    Last edited by ezz_bee; Tue Nov 26th, 2013 at 09:24 AM.
    "We only have one rule on this team. What is that rule? E.L.E. That's right's, E.L.E, and what does E.L.E. stand for? EVERYBODY LOVE EVERYBODY. Right there up on the wall, because this isn't just a basketball team, this is a lifestyle. ~ Jackie Moon

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    Raptors Republic All-Star Craiger's Avatar
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    Nice post.

    (I think that last quote is a slaw classic )

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    Raptors Republic Superstar Axel's Avatar
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    I honestly forgot that the Bucks ever made it to the Eastern Finals, but it's not that surprising considering:

    Coached by George Karl to 52 wins and won the division.
    Had a 25 yr old Ray Allen and 28 yr old Glenn Robinson averaging 22 PPG.
    Had a 31 yr old Sam Cassell averaging 18PPG and 7.6 APG

    A big 3 and a good coach goes a long way.

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    Raptors Republic All-Star JawsGT's Avatar
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    @ezz_bee: I understand your concerns, I feel the same way. It's a tough situation to be in, sort of middle of the pack and no clear way of going forward without going back, and a stacked draft on the horizon. The last thing anyone wants is to look back at this time in 5+ years and say, shit, if only we had to dump players and take advantage of that draft class. I think the reality is right now, that despite what moves can or will be made, we will not be good enough this season or next to beat the Pacers or Heat. But, is it possible to make moves now, that actually improves the team today while still allowing it to grow over the next few seasons in order to be a conference contender in 3-5 years? It seems unlikely, I'll admit, but I don't doubt it's possible, especially with the way the east is shaping up. MU may be able to take advantage of some of the more desperate teams, and actually bring in players that can be part of the future now. If we depend on the draft the time frame for contention is probably a little longer and whether it's more likely to succeed is really just speculation. The thing I fear the most about 'tanking' and looking for high draft picks, is that if you don't hit the jackpot you often end up having to go the tanking route all over again, and sooner rather than later. Right now, it's a risk vs. reward approach, but I am not ready to give up on the retool option just yet.

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    Raptors Republic All-Star Fully's Avatar
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    Very good post. That tree quote has also stuck with me since Slaw said it last year.

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    Raptors Republic All-Star JawsGT's Avatar
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    Something I just noticed is that the team with the most consecutive conference Finals appearances on the list was the Pistons teams that arguably had no bonafide 'superstar'. 6 appearances from 2003-2008. Just saying...

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    Super Moderator CalgaryRapsFan's Avatar
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    Quote JawsGT wrote: View Post
    Something I just noticed is that the team with the most consecutive conference Finals appearances on the list was the Pistons teams that arguably had no bonafide 'superstar'. 6 appearances from 2003-2008. Just saying...
    They may not have had any superstars, but they had multiple all-star caliber players in their prime (Billups, Wallace, Wallace, Hamilton & Prince) and an above-average bench of solid role players. Most importantly, their roster was extremely complimentary and they had fantastic chemistry. Their players also bought into the team-first concept and knew their roles.

    One of the big knocks against the Raptors roster over the past few years under BC, is that despite having some talent, it's been poorly assembled. There's been lots of redundancy and the pieces have never seemed to compliment each other very well.

    A truly good team = talent + fit + chemistry + buy-in

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    Raptors Republic All-Star JawsGT's Avatar
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    Quote CalgaryRapsFan wrote: View Post
    They may not have had any superstars, but they had multiple all-star caliber players in their prime (Billups, Wallace, Wallace, Hamilton & Prince) and an above-average bench of solid role players. Most importantly, their roster was extremely complimentary and they had fantastic chemistry. Their players also bought into the team-first concept and knew their roles.

    One of the big knocks against the Raptors roster over the past few years under BC, is that despite having some talent, it's been poorly assembled. There's been lots of redundancy and the pieces have never seemed to compliment each other very well.

    A truly good team = talent + fit + chemistry + buy-in
    Reminds me of the current Pacers.

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    Quote JawsGT wrote: View Post
    Reminds me of the current Pacers.
    More accurately, it reminds you of last year's Pacers, who were a bunch of above-average players having fun and playing high-IQ ball with a smart coach. This year's Pacers have at least one superstar-level player in Paul George and possibly a second in Roy Hibbert, and George is now quite rightly the apex around which the Pacers are going to build in future - he's the first true superstar the team's had since Reggie Miller and he's better than Miller ever was.

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    Raptors Republic All-Star JawsGT's Avatar
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    Quote magoon wrote: View Post
    More accurately, it reminds you of last year's Pacers, who were a bunch of above-average players having fun and playing high-IQ ball with a smart coach. This year's Pacers have at least one superstar-level player in Paul George and possibly a second in Roy Hibbert, and George is now quite rightly the apex around which the Pacers are going to build in future - he's the first true superstar the team's had since Reggie Miller and he's better than Miller ever was.
    lol, I was waiting for that. But, the Pacers didn't draft a superstar or trade for one (not sure how they acquired George at the moment), they developed one. Refer to the thread recently started "how to rebuild and NBA franchise" by Craig. Explains the importance of culture and how Morway understood the importance of developing and implementing off the court programs to grow and nurture their players. I'm not trying to take anything away from George, I'll admit he is a great player but he has exceeded anyone's expectations and has been able to that IMO because of the Pacers organization and the culture they have in place. The Pacers, just like those conference Finals Pistons teams, were able to get more out of their players because of their systems and cultures. The same can be said of the Spurs IMO. Put this current Raps team in the Pacers or Spurs organization, and you're gonna get 50 wins. Put the Spurs or Pacers team in the Raps organization, and you might get 40.

    My point, the organizations mentioned above are far superior to the Raps organization and are able to get more out of their players than we are because of it. In another way, the difference btw the talent levels of management is far greater than the difference btw the talent levels of the players, i.e. we CAN do much better than we currently are with the roster we have, but as long as management moves along like it has in the past we will remain mediocre regardless of the talent level.

    My hope is that TL and MU will change this MAJOR issue.

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    Raptors Republic All-Star slaw's Avatar
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    Once Toronto actually has a winning team we will look back on it and realize that it was a lot easier than anyone thought.

    The way it gets discussed around here and in the Toronto media, you'd think that getting to the second round of the NBA playoffs was the equivalent of inventing time travel, realizing cold fusion, and solving P vs NP, all at once.

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    Great post, this is the way that using historical precedent in sports arguments should be done. It really annoys me when people look at simply NBA champions when they're trying to build an argument, because the sample size is so small to be meaningless, and because too many other factors go into who the actual champion is. Looking at conference finals appearances makes far more sense because it addresses both these problems.

    However, I do disagree with one of your conclusions. I'm of the opinion that the focus shouldn't be to win a championship (even though that's the end goal), it's to give yourself a large window of contention, ideally in which you've left yourself enough flexibility to make the changes to put yourself over the top. A team like Minnesota, for example, didn't give themselves a long window of contention: no sooner did they reach the conference finals then everything started to fall apart for them the next season. One great year is almost never enough to give you a realistic shot. The Jazz and Nuggets both had one conference finals appearance too, but again no opportunity to improve on those results. In both cases, I think they were aided by their traditional home-court advantage that gave them excellent regular season results and early playoff advantage, but as soon as they lost home court advantage in the playoffs they almost always lost the series. They also didn't have the payroll to make the right improvements to the team (even though it was much easier to do in that era than it is now). Sustainability is key.

    Phoenix, on the other hand, never won a conference final, but they had a long window of contention where, with a few different moves made, they might have gotten to the finals. Part of the problem is that success at that high level expands the window, and failure shrinks it. Cleveland's window to win a championship with LeBron was pretty short, but if they had gotten to another finals in his last couple years there, maybe that convinces him to stay longer, and then they've got a larger window. So when I say that I don't like going forward with the current core, it has more to do with the fact that I don't think you could create a long window of contention around them. A couple good moves and you might make a team that would contend for a conference finals berth this year, but I don't see the opportunity to do that without sacrificing long-term sustainability. Building from the ground up allows you to put in place a roster that can be sustained both talent-wise and salary-wise.

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    Raptors Republic Starter Pele's Avatar
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    Quote octothorp wrote: View Post
    Great post, this is the way that using historical precedent in sports arguments should be done. It really annoys me when people look at simply NBA champions when they're trying to build an argument, because the sample size is so small to be meaningless, and because too many other factors go into who the actual champion is. Looking at conference finals appearances makes far more sense because it addresses both these problems.

    However, I do disagree with one of your conclusions. I'm of the opinion that the focus shouldn't be to win a championship (even though that's the end goal), it's to give yourself a large window of contention, ideally in which you've left yourself enough flexibility to make the changes to put yourself over the top. A team like Minnesota, for example, didn't give themselves a long window of contention: no sooner did they reach the conference finals then everything started to fall apart for them the next season. One great year is almost never enough to give you a realistic shot. The Jazz and Nuggets both had one conference finals appearance too, but again no opportunity to improve on those results. In both cases, I think they were aided by their traditional home-court advantage that gave them excellent regular season results and early playoff advantage, but as soon as they lost home court advantage in the playoffs they almost always lost the series. They also didn't have the payroll to make the right improvements to the team (even though it was much easier to do in that era than it is now). Sustainability is key.

    Phoenix, on the other hand, never won a conference final, but they had a long window of contention where, with a few different moves made, they might have gotten to the finals. Part of the problem is that success at that high level expands the window, and failure shrinks it. Cleveland's window to win a championship with LeBron was pretty short, but if they had gotten to another finals in his last couple years there, maybe that convinces him to stay longer, and then they've got a larger window. So when I say that I don't like going forward with the current core, it has more to do with the fact that I don't think you could create a long window of contention around them. A couple good moves and you might make a team that would contend for a conference finals berth this year, but I don't see the opportunity to do that without sacrificing long-term sustainability. Building from the ground up allows you to put in place a roster that can be sustained both talent-wise and salary-wise.

    There was a time, not long ago, when it was thought that Bargnani and Bosh with Derozan, Davis, Amir etc would provide a basis for a long "window of contention". Nice solid parts, enough to win enough to lure a stud FA.

    Problem is, BC overpaid for the parts, and didn't leave enough room to attract an FA. Poor management.

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    Raptors Republic All-Star ezz_bee's Avatar
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    Quote octothorp wrote: View Post
    Great post, this is the way that using historical precedent in sports arguments should be done.
    Thank you.

    Quote octothorp wrote: View Post
    It really annoys me when people look at simply NBA champions when they're trying to build an argument, because the sample size is so small to be meaningless, and because too many other factors go into who the actual champion is. Looking at conference finals appearances makes far more sense because it addresses both these problems.

    However, I do disagree with one of your conclusions. I'm of the opinion that the focus shouldn't be to win a championship (even though that's the end goal), it's to give yourself a large window of contention, ideally in which you've left yourself enough flexibility to make the changes to put yourself over the top.
    My initial reaction was to agree with you. To a great extent I think that winning a championship is comprised of a significant amount of luck; therefore, the longer you are a contender the better your chances are of actually winning.

    However, if I actually had to compare hypothetical outcomes it's gets tricky... for instance would I rather field a team that was guaranteed to get to the finals one season and one season only, or a team that was guaranteed to get to the conference finals four times with no guarantee of making it to the finals... I don't know which one I'd choose. Of course, this is just an intellectual exercise because we can't know what the outcomes will be so there are no guarantees either way. It's tricky because, if you have the choice for a larger window of contention versus a small one, obviously you would choose the large one. However, there are so many variables and luck does play a significant part that if you have the chance to put together a team that can be a serious contender, even if it's only a season or two that might be the best chance to maximize your chances.

    I think the Nets are a great example of this line of thinking. Even though there's a good chance it's all going to blow up in their faces, the ownership has demonstrated that they are willing to pull out all the stops to be a contender. Of course it's just one example so if they get to the conference finals or win a championship it doesn't justify going all in on a 1 to 2 year window of contention. The flip-side is that even if they crash and burn it doesn't mean that wasn't the best odds of contention they would ever have within the immediate five year period. So hard to tell. But I do concede the point that management should be trying to maximize the period of contention.

    Quote golden wrote: View Post
    Appreciate the effort ez_bee - I love it when guys research stuff. However, there are 21 teams on your list out of a possible 30, and teams like the Kings have been in the lottery for years AFTER they had their lone WCF appearance. Hate to be a wet blanket here, but seems to be a lack of correlation here between sucking, getting high picks and subsequent improvement with those high picks to become consistent ECF/WCF contenders. I could be wrong, but that's the linkage I would need to see to make this argument valid, IMO.
    Not a problem, I like blankets.

    Seriously though, I don't care HOW we get to the conference finals. Really, really, really I don't. If the raptors get to the conference finals once every 15 years, and win 1 championship in my lifetime, I die a happy fan. Watching the blue jays playoff series where they won back to back world series is probably my favourite sports memory, and don't even like baseball. That said, I would prefer the raps to be a serious contender for years and years and years. Who doesn't want their team to have a dynasty?

    But let's turn our attention to the draft. You are not wrong. There are very few can't miss slam dunk draft picks that make you an instant contender (although they do exist, i've seen them!), and even then there's some luck involved (see Portland example below). There isn't even necessarily a can't miss prospect every draft (See 2006). I totally understand your skepticism with the proposition that tanking=contention. As the lengthy debates in several threads have demonstrated, the results of our inquiry into the merits of "tanking" are at best, mixed. However, I will elaborate on my position, which has remained consistent with my initial posts in the first tank threads.

    WARNING: THIS POST IS FAR TOOOO LONG, and I use the eff word. I suggest just skipping down and reading only the last two paragraphs, or just skip the whole thing! If you DO read the whole thing it will melt your eyes! YOU'VE BEEN WARNED!!!

    The difference is management.

    If you have bad management you are fucked.

    This is the first, last, and only time you'll see me type the eff word in it's actual form. In this case it's for em'f'asis.

    It doesn't matter how many lotto picks you have, or how many Lebron James or Kyrie Irving's you draft. If you have bad management you team is totally eff'd. Totally.

    Again, one more team, because I can't stress it enough, if you got bad management, you're S.O.L..

    BUT all things being equal, there is a correlation between draft position and talent/production of players drafted. Again it's not PERFECT correlation, because projecting player performance is not an exact science, and also because sometimes teams opt to pick the player they feel "fits" with there team best, the example, picking based on perceived positional need as opposed to best player available, also teams don't always want to wait for a player to develop, or for their overseas contract to end. Go through old draft lists, because of the above reasons and that sometimes individual teams make a bad pick (KAHN!!!), there are always players that if you did a re-draft would be higher; NEVERTHELESS, in general it's pretty easy to see that the best players go first. As an exercise in futility go back through old drafts and look at picks 51-60, and keep going back until you come across a name you recognize (I get Ramon Sessions, drafted 56th in the 2007 draft, but I didn't try very hard). When you do find impact players in the second round, based on my informal count, it's about 3 to one odds that it is an international player. Basically for every Paul Milsap (2006 #47), there's a Marc Gasol (2007 #48) Goran Dragic (2008 #45), and Omar Asik (2008 #36). With more emphasis and resources in international scouting, the odds of getting an impact starter in the second round is going to diminish. The better all teams get at scouting the MORE important it is to have lower picks because you lose the competitive advantage of being smarter.

    There will never be "perfect" evaluation of prospects. However,to highlight my point, IF there was the ability to perfectly project players, and that all players in the draft were assigned to teams based on BPA/most talented, isn't it pretty obvious that a team with the best combination of high picks and overall number of picks would have a competitive advantage over other teams? Or at least the team that had the most high picks in drafts when generational talent was coming in the league have a competitive advantage?

    To me, the simple reason why teams with lots of lottery picks have NOT transformed themselves into contenders is because of poor management (Wolves/Kings) and luck. If you look at the Portland Trailblazers they assembled a team centered around 3 potential perennial all-stars Roy, Aldridge, and Oden. That's a big 3 that gets to the conference finals at least once before their rookie deals end. Of course, we all know how that story ends. The blazers haven't gotten out of the first round. There are only two possibilities, that management made poor decisions in drafting Roy and Oden, and should have know better in which case they should have drafted Durant instead of Oden. So yes, having the number 2 pick in the 2006 draft and the number 1 pick in 2007 didn't translate into title contention for the blazers, but that doesn't meant that it still wasn't the best chance they had at contention. At the end of the day only 1 team in the 2007 had the chance to draft either Oden or Durant and that team either made the wrong choice; or was unlucky.

    If you have management that's good at evaluating talent you'll accumulate assets through trades and free agency. Like the guy who starts with a pencil and through a series of trades ends up with a car, you have the potential to start with the 2013 raptors and end up with a championship contender.

    Here's why I think there are less things to screw up with the draft than with free agency

    1) No other bidders. In free agency you can pick your guy, and you know what he's worth, but that doesn't stop anyone else offering more, at which point you either over pay (the coangelo excuse) or your left living off other people's scraps (other people's scraps at fair value is preferable to over paying for the guy everyone wants imo). There's no contact negotiations, and rookie's don't make a lot of money and are easy to trade, so even if there's literally no one you feel is worth the money your draft position dictates there's little chance that will result with you being saddled with "the immovable contract" that happens so often in FA (although, perhaps less in future due to ramifications of new CBA) of course you could always just trade down as well, but that's more complicated, and just picking a player is very very very low risk.

    2) Free agents have to choose you, drafted rookies don't have a choice (mostly). If Durant had been drafted by the Blazers he'd probably still be wearing a Blazers uniform. What are the odds that if and when he reaches free agency he sign with them? Certainly they are less than the 100% odds Portland had of getting Durant in 2007 draft? The best chance you have to convince the best player available (either via draft or free agency) is through the draft because they have almost NO choice in the matter. Once they are on your team you've got a couple of years to convince them to stay long term.


    At the end of the day I think the easiest way to get elite talent is with high draft position. Good management increases a team's ability to evaluate that talent, but more importantly it increases the team's ability to surround that talent with the right pieces, so that you don't lose that player in free agency and actually become a contender.

    IF we had lots of value contacts, than I think we'd have a shot at trying to pull of a Boston style contender aka via trade, but I don't see what kind of pieces we have that get that done. We also don't have the equivalent of Paul Pierce on the roster. In order to get the assets needed to pull that of we'd need to get young players with potential that other teams with disgruntled superstars would want in exchange (aka high draft picks!!!)

    Again, good management is more important than draft position. You are totally completely 1000% effed without good management. BUT the higher your draft position the more return on talent your GM is going to get. No it's not 100% and there are business decisions (Bucks) that make enduring the cost of high draft position (3 losing seasons, 1 of which probably needs to be supreme losing) unpalatable. BUT that's making a business decision over a basketball decision (and in the case of the Bucks not necessarily the best business decision).

    From my perspective, the building block of a contender is elite talent. The higher the draft position and the more draft picks you have, the better your odds of getting the level of talent necessary to contend. Good management is going to increase the talent of any picks you have, and give you best chance at putting the best team around them. Good management is also going to get the right coaches who get players to play with the mental focus necessary to win the whole thing (I think the talent discrepancy is so little in the finals, that the team that has the most focus for the longest stretches of time wins) I think that both the Mavs beating the Heat, and the Heat beating OKC reflect this notion. I think the Spurs/Heat series is a toss up... and neither proves or disproves, my working theory that when it comes to the finals it's about which team has more mental focus/execution than which team has more talent. That said, for the regular season and the first two rounds, it's definitely about talent.

    Look, anyone who says winning a championship is a science is full of bull poo poo. It's more alchemy. BUT one of the few things that pretty much everyone on here agrees with is that it takes elite talent, and the most predictable way to get elite talent is through the draft.
    Last edited by ezz_bee; Fri Nov 29th, 2013 at 06:21 PM.
    "We only have one rule on this team. What is that rule? E.L.E. That's right's, E.L.E, and what does E.L.E. stand for? EVERYBODY LOVE EVERYBODY. Right there up on the wall, because this isn't just a basketball team, this is a lifestyle. ~ Jackie Moon

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    Appreciate the effort ez_bee - I love it when guys research stuff. However, there are 21 teams on your list out of a possible 30, and teams like the Kings have been in the lottery for years AFTER they had their lone WCF appearance. Hate to be a wet blanket here, but seems to be a lack of correlation here between sucking, getting high picks and subsequent improvement with those high picks to become consistent ECF/WCF contenders. I could be wrong, but that's the linkage I would need to see to make this argument valid, IMO.

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    Looks like I killed my own thread.
    "We only have one rule on this team. What is that rule? E.L.E. That's right's, E.L.E, and what does E.L.E. stand for? EVERYBODY LOVE EVERYBODY. Right there up on the wall, because this isn't just a basketball team, this is a lifestyle. ~ Jackie Moon

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