I know this thread will earn a few groans, but a thought stemmed from the Everything JV thread, where Stooley made a comment to the effect of "JV playing more minutes doesn't help us win games but it does help his development"; which got me thinking, at this point, what matters more?
At the beginning of the season, it was all tank vs play-off experience. Now though, the question is, does it really matter which seed we get in the playoffs as long as it is 6th or higher?
If the best case scenario with not blowing the team up mid-season, was to get playoff experience and maybe win a series, does any of that really change if we finish 3rd or 6th? Shouldn't we want to develop JV and Ross for the future more than letting John Salmons, Chuck Hayes and Tyler Hansbrough log important minutes? Does winning the division this year significantly matter?
Now the gap from 3rd to 6th (as of today) is 3 games (with another 3 games separating 6th from 7th). So there is a 6 game window we are taking here. I'm not suggesting we throw games to finish with a lower seed, but I do contend, that the long-term success of this team needs more minutes for JV and Ross and less Salmons & Hayes, even at the expense of a few games down the stretch.
Yes, making the playoffs is important and not facing either Miami or Indiana is important too, but other than that, I don't care which slot we get and would rather see our young guys on the court than old guys who are very unlikely to be back next year (and certainly not beyond).
Right now, unless Charlotte can catch on of the 4 teams, the 3-6 slots are going to be Raps, Bulls, Wizards and Nets. I've seen a different poster saying that they'd rather face the Bulls, the Wiz and the Nets. At this point, I don't care, all 4 teams are formidable but with weaknesses. The Raps could just as easily beat or lose to any of the other 3.
Now the bonus…cue the groans...Draft pick, would you rather have #17 or #20? Playoff teams are slotted based on their regular season record, so the East will likely have the first 6 non-lottery picks (since #8 in the west is better than #3 in the east).
Since the 4 teams are equal on the court, I am willing to give up home court advantage, take our chances on the road and take the higher draft pick. Don't think the difference between 17 and 20 is that big? Well, look at the recent drafts. #17 has names like Josh Smith, Danny Granger, Roy Hibbert, Jrue Holiday, Iman Shumpert and Dennis Schroeder. #20 has names like Renaldo Balkman, Alexis Ajinca, Eric Maynor, Donatas Motiejunas, Evan Fournier and Tony Snell.
The ultimate thought behind all of this is I am looking long-term and hope the Raptors are too. Long-term, JV's development is more important to this team's success than anything Chuck Hayes or Tyler Hansbrough can bring to the court this year. Ross's development is more important to this team than anything John Salmons can do. So let the young guys play through the mistakes, accept the growing pains and embrace the fact that as long as you don't give up a 6 game lead to Charlotte, the team can afford to lose a few games and be in a better position as a franchise (more developed young players + better pick) moving forward.
Call it a stealth tank, call it long-term vision, call it what you will, just make sure you call #17 and #31 off the bench ahead of #25 and #44.