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Thread: Drawing parallels between these Raptors and the 2002 Pistons

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    Default Drawing parallels between these Raptors and the 2002 Pistons

    Sometimes you get that feeling that you just realized something important and you want to share it! And although, to yourself, it appears to be so obvious, it's really hard to lay out these thoughts in a comprehensive and convincing manner, especially when you're speaking of something abstract. So you start drawing parallels, do comparisons... but it ain't easy. Some smart guy in the room, who's among the first ones to get a grasp of what it is that you're trying to say, will stand up and drop it: "...but that's like comparing apples to oranges..."

    That's the problem with comparisons of abstract things. Like a comparison of the qualities of two basketball teams. It's not science and it's something that is subjugated to your personal opinion until you get the facts. And in case of team sports, it's the results.

    Results is exactly what we're lacking as of right now with this team. Who can say for sure, that this current Raptors success is sustainable? Will it last over the next couple of games? A month? This season? Is it something we can build on for years to come?

    I honestly don't know. I'm just excited with what is going on. The Raptors are playing exceptional basketball since the Rudy Gay trade and they make me feel like, you know, I met this amazing new girlfriend a couple of weeks ago.

    And while my hormones are going wild, I try to figure out who she reminds of. Oh, yes... it feels a little like the Detroit Pistons in 2002!

    Apples and oranges?

    To me it's more like comparing apples in Ontario to apples in Michigan. You see, there are a lot of links here. Ontario produces about 40 per cent of Canadian grown apples and Michigan got it's first apple tree from Canada all the way back in 1796. Now they got a vast variety of apples growing in that area.

    Apples are great, but more important - at least basketball wise - is that the Pistons got Chauncey Billups in 2002 and they won the NBA Championship in 2004. A team devoid of any real superstars, featuring a couple fringe all-star players, terrorized the Eastern Conference with their unspectacular but gritty play-style for a better half of a decade and in the process, as mentioned above, won a ring for the hard nosed people of the city of Detroit.

    Kyle Lowry - our Billups?

    The situation isn't exactly the same. But it's similar. Billups came off his breakout season in 2001/2002 with the Timberwolves. They won 50 games before they were swept by Dallas in Round 1 of the playoffs, with Billups averaging 22 points per game in the series. After his breakthrough season, Billups became a free agent. Billups had wanted to return to Minnesota, however the Timberwolves were engulfed in salary-cap issues. In June 2002, Billups ended up signing a six-year, $35 million contract with the Detroit Pistons to be the team's new starting point guard. He and the Pistons never looked back from that point on.

    Should we extend Kyle Lowry and hope he becomes "the Billups" to our "own Pistons"? We sure do not have the same salary-cap issues that the Wolves had. Even though the Wolves still had Garnett, they never won anything and eventually also lost Garnett. Can we realistically replace Kyle Lowry with someone better before the trade deadline or in the upcoming free-agency this summer? Do we want to follow the Pistons model? Do we end up as the Timberwolves who failed to re-sign Chauncey and missed out on a possible chance to win it all?

    Assuming that it's too late to go into a full tear-it-down mode (which it obviously is), Masai has to seriously consider extending Kyle before it's too late for that too. He won't be able to sign him to that same moderate contract that the Pistons were able to sign Billups to, but I trust Masai to do the right decision and he just might be able to convince Lowry to accept a reasonable amount of money and stay with the Raptors. Maybe Masai has some other tricks up his sleeve, but I don't see too many options when it comes to covering the PG spot, especially when considering the Raptors are NOT tanking anymore.

    Drawing parallels

    So comparing these Raptors to the 2002 Pistons basically starts and ends with Kyle Lowry. We lose him, we go another way. But if we keep him, can we really pull it off and succesfully copy the Pistons model?

    Raps have their perimeter players playing tenacious defense and their bigs are protecting the rim like it's a sacrilege, grabbing boards on both ends. The team as a whole seems to play tenacious defense for the entire 48 minutes. On offense the ball is being shared without getting stuck in someone's hands for too long. They're knocking down open threes and they also got that mid-range game going with their SG, PF and some bench players doing some damage from there. Their sophomores are coming into their own and look more and more like some young players with all-star potential. To me, they look and sound like the Pistons of old, only more exciting, more athletic and more capable on offense.

    And I have to stop here. I will not start comparing the two teams or their players in more detail. I think I was able to get across whatever it is that I'm trying to say. Maybe this is it. Maybe this a team is capable of winning it all after some tinkering with the bench and a year or two of internal growth?

    Maybe not at all. Me personally, I need more time. I need this kind of play to continue until the February deadline to convince me that this team is for real. Then I need the success to continue still... to convince me that re-signing Lowry is the right thing to do. I hope Masai will be more decisive either way. It's tough though.

    But right now, I just love these apples and I hope the crop is going to be good this year come April and that we'll be spared of bad crop due to bad weather over years to come.

    What do you think? Can we successfully follow the Pistons model? Is it worth it? Re-sign Lowry? Only minor changes to the bench? Discuss.
    Last edited by BadDinosaur; Thu Jan 2nd, 2014 at 09:29 AM.

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    I would guess Lowry wants the biggest pay day he can get. Raps can extend him for three. He can get a four year deal after his contract is up. So the Raps would have to give him a very large chunk of cash over the three years in an extension. Alternatively they give him a four year deal in free agency, competing with any other team that is after his services.

    Kyle will be 28 this March. He isn't going to want a three year deal, I'm guessing. Anyone who plays with his reckless abandon can't assume they will still be playing at 32. Taking the charges he does every year just has to be shorting his career :-)

    So his next contract could well be his last. He will rightfully want to maximize it. Four years at 8 million each? Or three years with the Raps at 11 million each? Would the Raps want to eat up cap space like that, for a player who will likely be done in three years?

    I think if I am Masai, I try and sign him for 4 at $8 million. PG position is set for a strong Raps run. You've got time to find a younger PG prospect to come in and prepare to take over in a few years and move Lowry to the bench or reduce his minutes in years three and four, which could prolong his career.

    Move DeRozan and future picks for a better (more efficient) player at his position. And then count on internal growth from JV, TR, and this and next years draft. That growth, with Lowry at PG makes you a player in the East for the next 3-4 years. I think a regular Eastern Conference Finals threat.

    Maybe I will feel different when I come down of this New Years high.

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    The raptors do have an ace up their sleeve in any negotiations with Lowry: Full Bird Rights.

    LARRY BIRD EXCEPTION -- This exception allows teams to exceed the cap in order to re-sign their own free agents, up to the player's maximum salary. Teams are said to have "Bird rights" to players who qualify. To qualify for this exception a player essentially must play for three seasons without clearing waivers or changing teams as a free agent, however there are nuances to this rule, which are explained in question number 32. This means a player can qualify by playing under three consecutive one-year contracts, a single contract of at least three years, or any equivalent combination. It also means that when a player is traded, his Bird rights are traded with him, and his new team can use the Larry Bird exception to re-sign him. These contracts can be up to five years in length, with raises up to 7.5% of the salary in the first season of the contract. Players who qualify for this exception are called "Qualifying Veteran Free Agents" in the CBA, and this exception is formally a component of the Veteran Free Agent exception.
    http://www.cbafaq.com/salarycap.htm#Q25

    So the Raptors are showing a chance to win - check
    They can offer longer deal and larger raises - check

    How I fear the contract year
    "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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    you gotta pay to play Matt.

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    I don't like how the Pistons are dismissed as a team without a star. I get what people are saying, but I disagree.

    For a few years there, Ben Wallace was a phenomenally dominating defensive player. All five starters were well above-average players - four of them were All-Stars, and Wallace was DPOY! How can anyone say this was a team without star power?

    The claim is only true in that they didn't have a guy who was previously tagged as a franchise guy. But four All-Stars and a DPOY? That's far more "star power" in the starting unit than many teams who do have a franchise guy.

    They also had a HOF defensive coach in Larry Brown, and played in a grind-it-out era that perfectly suited their strengths.

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    Quote Matt52 wrote: View Post
    The raptors do have an ace up their sleeve in any negotiations with Lowry: Full Bird Rights.



    http://www.cbafaq.com/salarycap.htm#Q25

    So the Raptors are showing a chance to win - check
    They can offer longer deal and larger raises - check

    How I fear the contract year
    I hear you, but as Craig says "you gotta pay to play..."

    I guess Masai has to ask himself the question, "If I don't give the money to Lowry, where else can I spend it that will have as big an impact?" As you have said consistently Matt, without Lowry, the Raps fall apart. With Lowry, if he is engaged, and if his conditioning and strength work is managed by Alex M, and if he believes he is part of something worth being part of (see comment regarding engagement above) I don't "fear the contract year."

    Kyle seems to show a commitment to winning. There is a distinct difference to his demeanour this year, even before the Gay trade, and even more so since. He wants to win and I think he would be happy to stay on the Raps team, with Masai driving the bus to a destination he wants to get to.

    Where could Masai spend the money Kyle will want, and get as big an impact as what Kyle will provide. That is the key question to me.

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    We need to sign Lowry. He is the heart and soul and the leader of this team now. Look at how many charges he gets on the other team. He sacrifices his body like Amir used to do 2-3 years ago. He stands tall against the bigs of the other team and let them run into him so he can get the ball. The man is amazing. Is 9-10 million a year too much to ask ? I think NOT ...

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    Quote S.R. wrote: View Post
    I don't like how the Pistons are dismissed as a team without a star. I get what people are saying, but I disagree.

    For a few years there, Ben Wallace was a phenomenally dominating defensive player. All five starters were well above-average players - four of them were All-Stars, and Wallace was DPOY! How can anyone say this was a team without star power?

    The claim is only true in that they didn't have a guy who was previously tagged as a franchise guy. But four All-Stars and a DPOY? That's far more "star power" in the starting unit than many teams who do have a franchise guy.

    They also had a HOF defensive coach in Larry Brown, and played in a grind-it-out era that perfectly suited their strengths.
    Agreed. Sometimes, people often equate "star" with "star scorer".

    The 2004 Pistons didn't have a player capable of dropping 40 points on any given night, but that doesn't mean they were void of "stars".
    "I don't lie. I willfully participate in a campaign of misinformation." - Fox Mulder

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    Quote Jamshid wrote: View Post
    We need to sign Lowry. He is the heart and soul and the leader of this team now. Look at how many charges he gets on the other team. He sacrifices his body like Amir used to do 2-3 years ago. He stands tall against the bigs of the other team and let them run into him so he can get the ball. The man is amazing. Is 9-10 million a year too much to ask ? I think NOT ...
    I'm as impressed as anyone by the way Lowry is playing lately. But where was all this last year?

    You have to admit, the timing of Lowry's "ascension" is suspect. Extending Lowry is a gamble.
    "I don't lie. I willfully participate in a campaign of misinformation." - Fox Mulder

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    Quote Nilanka wrote: View Post
    I'm as impressed as anyone by the way Lowry is playing lately. But where was all this last year?

    You have to admit, the timing of Lowry's "ascension" is suspect. Extending Lowry is a gamble.
    I love how Lowry's playing and feel like he's not getting nearly enough credit. But.

    Like you say, the timing is hard to swallow. Contract year red flag alert. Also, he's only proven to be able to play like this when he's allowed to be the catalyst on the team. When he's had to come alongside higher profile players and play a more supporting role, he hasn't been nearly as effective. This would be a concern for me for a team that eventually needs to have more talent in the starting five to think about championships. Eventually Lowry's role would become supporting cast again.

    At this point, I'm almost tempted to just keep him and shoot for the 3rd seed and the second round. Is that short term success worth more to the franchise than whatever Lowry'd bring back in a trade? I guess it depends what's available.

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    Quote Nilanka wrote: View Post
    Agreed. Sometimes, people often equate "star" with "star scorer".

    The 2004 Pistons didn't have a player capable of dropping 40 points on any given night, but that doesn't mean they were void of "stars".
    Had the Raptors played at the same level they're playing right now from the start of the season (let's say the Gay trade happened before the season started) and we were that 0.750 team from the start, I think many people would consider Kyle Lowry and maybe DeRozan or even Jonas for the All-Star game. Does it mean they really are all-star caliber players? Or is it the team concept and the overall success that pushes them into that all-star conversation?
    I think a player being considered an all-star is again one of those subjective things. Some consider players as all-stars the ones who independent of their team success are ALWAYS able to put up all-star numbers (perennial all-stars like Kevin Love, Carmelo Anthony etc. = elite), for others it's more flexible and the qualification depends largely on team success (i.e. players like those team members of the Detroit Pistons who might have never made an AS game had they played separately on other mediocre teams in their careers).

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    Quote BadDinosaur wrote: View Post
    Had the Raptors played at the same level they're playing right now from the start of the season (let's say the Gay trade happened before the season started) and we were that 0.750 team from the start, I think many people would consider Kyle Lowry and maybe DeRozan or even Jonas for the All-Star game. Does it mean they really are all-star caliber players? Or is it the team concept and the overall success that pushes them into that all-star conversation?
    I think a player being considered an all-star is again one of those subjective things. Some consider players as all-stars the ones who independent of their team success are ALWAYS able to put up all-star numbers (perennial all-stars like Kevin Love, Carmelo Anthony etc. = elite), for others it's more flexible and the qualification depends largely on team success (i.e. players like those team members of the Detroit Pistons who might have never made an AS game had they played separately on other mediocre teams in their careers).
    Yes, but....these Raps are definitely on a hot streak. The Pistons performed at that level for 4 or 5 consecutive seasons. Some of their "star power" -
    - DPOY - Ben Wallace - 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006
    - All-NBA 2nd Team - Ben Wallace - 2003, 2004, 2006; Billups - 2006
    - All-NBA 3rd Team - Ben Wallace - 2002, 2005; Billups - 2007
    - All-Defensive 1st Team - Ben Wallace - 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006
    - All-Defensive 2nd Team - Billups - 2005, 2006; Tayshaun Prince - 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008; Clifford Robinson - 2002
    - 6th Man of the Year - Corliss Williamson - 2002
    - Coach of the Year - Rick Carlisle - 2002
    - Executive of the Year - Joe Dumars - 2003
    - Finals MVP - Billups - 2004

    - Lost in Conference Finals - 02/03, 05/06, 06/07, 07/08
    - Lost in Finals - 04/05
    - Champions - 03/04

    - Won 50+ games for 7 consecutive seasons

    - All-Star appearances - Ben Wallace - 02/03, 03/04, 04/05, 05/06; Billups - 05/06, 06/07, 07/08; Rip Hamilton - 05/06, 06/07, 07/08; Rasheed Wallace - 05/06, 07/08

    Yeah. I'd call that "star power."

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    Those Pistons and the current Raps had their success due to the same thing, defense. We are playing as a team at an elite defensive level right now, which is why we have put this streak together, and why we are competitive against just about everyone we play. The loss of Rudy and the subsequent ball movement is certainly a major contributor as well, but this also has had an overall positive effect on the team that has transcribed into solid defensive intensity for 48 minutes. We can beat most teams playing defense the way we do.

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    Quote S.R. wrote: View Post
    Yes, but....these Raps are definitely on a hot streak. The Pistons performed at that level for 4 or 5 consecutive seasons. Some of their "star power" -
    - DPOY - Ben Wallace - 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006
    - All-NBA 2nd Team - Ben Wallace - 2003, 2004, 2006; Billups - 2006
    - All-NBA 3rd Team - Ben Wallace - 2002, 2005; Billups - 2007
    - All-Defensive 1st Team - Ben Wallace - 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006
    - All-Defensive 2nd Team - Billups - 2005, 2006; Tayshaun Prince - 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008; Clifford Robinson - 2002
    - 6th Man of the Year - Corliss Williamson - 2002
    - Coach of the Year - Rick Carlisle - 2002
    - Executive of the Year - Joe Dumars - 2003
    - Finals MVP - Billups - 2004

    - Lost in Conference Finals - 02/03, 05/06, 06/07, 07/08
    - Lost in Finals - 04/05
    - Champions - 03/04

    - Won 50+ games for 7 consecutive seasons

    - All-Star appearances - Ben Wallace - 02/03, 03/04, 04/05, 05/06; Billups - 05/06, 06/07, 07/08; Rip Hamilton - 05/06, 06/07, 07/08; Rasheed Wallace - 05/06, 07/08

    Yeah. I'd call that "star power."
    My point is that all of these stats, selections and achievements happened with the start of the 2002/2003 season for Pistons.

    Who says we won't have the same accolades over the next 5 or 6 years with the team that we have? You can try and convince me it's impossible and unsustainable and I might agree with you! But what if... if they can? You can never be sure or discount the possibility; just because YOU BELIEVE it's unsustainable!

    And again. I'm not sure myself we ARE or that we WILL be as good as the Pistons. I merely point out that it's a possibility and asking if this the kind model of a team that you would be ok with, or do you prefer to go for the more classical model where a team tries to get one or two superstars that you surround with proper supporting cast and go for the title...?

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    Quote BadDinosaur wrote: View Post
    My point is that all of these stats, selections and achievements happened with the start of the 2002/2003 season for Pistons.

    Who says we won't have the same accolades over the next 5 or 6 years with the team that we have? You can try and convince me it's impossible and unsustainable and I might agree with you! But what if... if they can? You can never be sure or discount the possibility; just because YOU BELIEVE it's unsustainable!

    And again. I'm not sure myself we ARE or that we WILL be as good as the Pistons. I merely point out that it's a possibility and asking if this the kind model of a team that you would be ok with, or do you prefer to go for the more classical model where a team tries to get one or two superstars that you surround with proper supporting cast and go for the title...?
    I don't disagree - just pointing out there's a massive gap between the current talent and performance of this squad and the 7-consecutive-50-win-seasons Pistons. Maybe that goes without saying.

    In terms of emulating their success - Ujiri kind of did that with team synergy but no "superstar" in Denver, without the same results. Again, the Pistons success was anchored by a four-time DPOY and multiple All-Stars, a talent level the one-and-done Nuggets didn't have.

    I think the "model" moving forward is just to continue to accumulate assets, win every trade, and maintain flexibility. It looks like that's Ujri's MO anyways. If that opens the door to landing a superstar one day, I bet he'll do that. If it means continuing to develop without an MVP-candidate, he'll do that.

    But yeah, overall the outlook for developing these current Raptors does make you think of the Pistons, Ujiri's Nuggets, or the current Pacers or Rockets. Many ways to improve without drafting a franchise guy, even though drafting a franchise guy is probably the best/most direct way to go about it.

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    Quote S.R. wrote: View Post
    I don't disagree - just pointing out there's a massive gap between the current talent and performance of this squad and the 7-consecutive-50-win-seasons Pistons. Maybe that goes without saying.

    In terms of emulating their success - Ujiri kind of did that with team synergy but no "superstar" in Denver, without the same results. Again, the Pistons success was anchored by a four-time DPOY and multiple All-Stars, a talent level the one-and-done Nuggets didn't have.

    I think the "model" moving forward is just to continue to accumulate assets, win every trade, and maintain flexibility. It looks like that's Ujri's MO anyways. If that opens the door to landing a superstar one day, I bet he'll do that. If it means continuing to develop without an MVP-candidate, he'll do that.

    But yeah, overall the outlook for developing these current Raptors does make you think of the Pistons, Ujiri's Nuggets, or the current Pacers or Rockets. Many ways to improve without drafting a franchise guy, even though drafting a franchise guy is probably the best/most direct way to go about it.
    The bold.

    I also think we have a couple guys who show all star potential. Ben Wallace wasn't an all star until he was (duh, )

    Jonas could very well be an all star one day. Ross? - maybe, if he develops and the team shows success.

    Lowry is playing like an all star over the past 12 games.

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    Quote Nilanka wrote: View Post
    I'm as impressed as anyone by the way Lowry is playing lately. But where was all this last year?

    You have to admit, the timing of Lowry's "ascension" is suspect. Extending Lowry is a gamble.
    While this being a contract year is definitely a motivator, I don't think that's the sole reason he's performing at the level he's at now. Last year:

    1) He was getting adjusted to DC's 'system' (you could see that he was trying to find a balance between being the scoring PG that he is, and being a facilitator like Calderon)
    2) He got injured which I don't think he ever fully recovered from last season.
    3) Time share with calderon
    4) The Rudy Gay effect

    All of those things hampered his play, so when comparing to how he's doing now, it looks like he's all of a sudden turned up the dial. Keep in mind that he was playing lights out at the start of last year before all of that happened.
    Last edited by Pong; Fri Jan 3rd, 2014 at 12:34 PM.

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