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Thread: The Conference Finals and the 73%

  1. #21
    Raptors Republic All-Star Craiger's Avatar
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    Quote JawsGT wrote: View Post
    My point was that it was irrelevant how he was acquired. They drafted George, they did not draft a superstar. Perhaps the Pacers saw a possible future superstar in him and that's why they chose him. Again, irrelevant, because just because he MAY be or has the POTENTIAL TO BE doesn't mean they are going to be. Remember Bargnani?
    Well that just begs the next question though - did some of those player (ie. Bargnani) truelly have the potential to be? There is no shortage of people who believed he could (can be) if X or Y happens (happened). But again, we can't run parrallel universes and compare what could have been or what will be, and we have to go right back to the simple answer. Given the information we have, he never actually had the potential to be a superstar/star. Rather someone (Colangelo) thought he did, and that someone was wrong.

    Don't get me wrong, anything is possible, but when we can't know all things we can only judge based on the things we do know.

    Every team develops a large number of player - a large (but decreasing) number of players are thought to have X potential - very few ever become X. There is only one logical conclusion that can be reached given what we know. Very few players ever actually had superstar potential to begin with.

    Still that last part is critical. I mean, compare it to the "opportunities" given to young players under Casey. Hard to believe their handling has maximized their growth opportunities (here talking at least about Ed, Ross and Jonas). Even when Ed played well leading up to the trade, I remember thinking that it still took way too long before Casey caved, started him and gave him a major role.
    I agree.

  2. #22
    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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  4. #23
    Super Moderator CalgaryRapsFan's Avatar
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    Quote JawsGT wrote: View Post
    a lot of the questions we ask ourselves are unprovable but ask yourself this: IF Paul George was drafted as a Raptor, would Paul George be the player he is today? If your answer is yes, then no need to go further.
    I always think of Rondo being the poster-boy for this type of thinking. Had he been drafted to an awful team without the coaching or veteran leadership that the Celtics had, where he was asked to be much more of a franchise savior, I don't think he would have developed into near the player that he has become.

    That's part of the reason why I expect MU to pursue at least some degree of a rebuild, simply to lay a new foundation for this franchise. There's a new owner, new upper management, new GM, overhauled internal management team and overhauled coaching staff, but a holdover coach on an expiring contract and a holdover roster (except for all the 1-year signings to fill out the roster). From where I'm sitting, the writing has been on the wall since MU was brought in and BC was [eventually] fired.

    A new Raptors image/identity/brand is going to be built, so why would TL/MU ever choose to build it on a faulty foundation?

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  6. #24
    Raptors Republic All-Star JawsGT's Avatar
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    Quote CalgaryRapsFan wrote: View Post
    I always think of Rondo being the poster-boy for this type of thinking. Had he been drafted to an awful team without the coaching or veteran leadership that the Celtics had, where he was asked to be much more of a franchise savior, I don't think he would have developed into near the player that he has become.

    That's part of the reason why I expect MU to pursue at least some degree of a rebuild, simply to lay a new foundation for this franchise. There's a new owner, new upper management, new GM, overhauled internal management team and overhauled coaching staff, but a holdover coach on an expiring contract and a holdover roster (except for all the 1-year signings to fill out the roster). From where I'm sitting, the writing has been on the wall since MU was brought in and BC was [eventually] fired.

    A new Raptors image/identity/brand is going to be built, so why would TL/MU ever choose to build it on a faulty foundation?
    Change is definitely coming. I just hope any revamped roster still includes JV, DD, Ross and Amir...I think those are great pieces going forward. Unfortunately, they are also amongst our most tradable assets.

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  8. #25
    Raptors Republic All-Star stooley's Avatar
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    Quote CalgaryRapsFan wrote: View Post
    I always think of Rondo being the poster-boy for this type of thinking. Had he been drafted to an awful team without the coaching or veteran leadership that the Celtics had, where he was asked to be much more of a franchise savior, I don't think he would have developed into near the player that he has become.

    That's part of the reason why I expect MU to pursue at least some degree of a rebuild, simply to lay a new foundation for this franchise. There's a new owner, new upper management, new GM, overhauled internal management team and overhauled coaching staff, but a holdover coach on an expiring contract and a holdover roster (except for all the 1-year signings to fill out the roster). From where I'm sitting, the writing has been on the wall since MU was brought in and BC was [eventually] fired.

    A new Raptors image/identity/brand is going to be built, so why would TL/MU ever choose to build it on a faulty foundation?
    Above in bold is what makes me optimistic moving forward. Good players come and go, it's management/support staff that really make a franchise.

    Also, great post OP. I agree with everything you said, and you did so in a very level-headed, informed manner.

  9. #26
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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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    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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    Raptors Republic Superstar isaacthompson's Avatar
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    Quote CalgaryRapsFan wrote: View Post
    I always think of Rondo being the poster-boy for this type of thinking. Had he been drafted to an awful team without the coaching or veteran leadership that the Celtics had, where he was asked to be much more of a franchise savior, I don't think he would have developed into near the player that he has become.

    That's part of the reason why I expect MU to pursue at least some degree of a rebuild, simply to lay a new foundation for this franchise. There's a new owner, new upper management, new GM, overhauled internal management team and overhauled coaching staff, but a holdover coach on an expiring contract and a holdover roster (except for all the 1-year signings to fill out the roster). From where I'm sitting, the writing has been on the wall since MU was brought in and BC was [eventually] fired.

    A new Raptors image/identity/brand is going to be built, so why would TL/MU ever choose to build it on a faulty foundation?
    All the more reason to let Casey walk at the end of this season, especially if we have a lottery pick joining the team.
    Twitter - @thekid_it

  12. #29
    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.

  13. #30
    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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  15. #31
    Raptors Republic All-Star ezz_bee's Avatar
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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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    Raptors Republic Superstar Puffer's Avatar
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    Quote ezz_bee wrote: View Post
    Looks like I killed my own thread.
    Looks like you summed up everything so perfectly there is nothing left to say.

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