Every time I've read the forums or listened to an interview or watched a Raptors game inevitably the narrative of "we are a young team" gets mentioned. Every time I read or hear this I want to scream. This is why it was so refreshing to read the RR interview with Jack Armstrong earlier this week:
When looking at straight average age, the Raptors are around middle of the pack in the NBA at 13th and 26.2 years.Iíll say this: Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan are in the primes of their career. This is not a young team. I donít buy into that whatsoever. Jonas Valanciunas and Terrence Ross are going into their fourth year, theyíre the only two guys that are young and even play.
When looking at experience, the Raptors are again middle of the pack at 15th with 4.6 years. Source: http://en.hispanosnba.com/teams/comparison
However when you break down the Raptors roster, the guys who actually play are mostly all in the prime of their careers or the tail end of prime:
DD: 25 (26 in August)
JV: 23 (just turned)
Bebe is just 22 (23 in July) and Bruno is 19 (20 in September).
*Amir is the oldest 28 year old I've ever seen.
But the only thing that made me scream louder than the false "we are young" narrative is the you need VETS to win. I'm tired of this. You don't need vets - you need talent.
For anyone who follows forums, it should be no secret I want to see Lou and Amir walk with Lowry and/or DeRozan traded. People assume this is going to lead to "tanking". I don't agree it is a guaranteed outcome. They might not make the playoffs next season (especially if Lowry is traded) but a step back in the short term is really the only chance to get beyond the current situation of 1st round hiccup**. Houston is a great example of building with youth:
2011-12: Starting in the lockout shortened season, the Rockets finished 34-32. 10 of the 19 players who played on the roster that season were younger than 25 with 14 being 25 or younger. For the players who actually played though, they were all the vets. The Rockets did not make the playoffs though - victim to the West dominance over last number of seasons.
2012-13: This is the beginning of the Beard. Using their youth, vets on manageable contracts, and draft pick stash the Rockets traded for James Harden. Yet again this was a young roster with 14 of 20 guys who appeared that season were younger than 25. More importantly 5 of their top 7 rotation were younger than 25. Despite the increased reliance on youth the team managed to increase their WP to 45-37. They also made the playoffs where they lost in 1st round to OKC 4-2 with 2 losses decided by 3 points each.
2013-14: Combined with their star guard, youth, and cap space, the Rockets managed to sign a max contract in Dwight Howard. Despite this, the Rockets still had a young roster with 8 of 18 players on roster that season under 25. As younger guys have grown older over course of last 2 seasons, we now see 12 of the 18 roster players 25 or younger. The Rockets increased their regular season wins to 54-28. They lost once again in first round 4-2 to Portland with 3 games going to OT (1-2) and the final game a 1 point loss.
2014-15: With significant cap space, Rockets add a veteran Ariza to team. 9 of 20 roster players are still under 25 and 10/20 are 25 or younger. The rotation is now older due to injuries, free agent signings, and younger players who developed getting older. The team had 56 wins and now is in West conference finals where, through use of DLeague, a player like Clint Capela (20) develops and makes an impact in the playoffs when called upon.
This is how a young team grows and develops in to a winning team.
Again, the Raptors are NOT a young team.
Hopefully the Raptors start to make the fictitious narrative of being a young team a reality. It might require a small step back now but, with the majority of the Raptor rotation 28 or older, the expiration date on this core is sooner than later. Attempting to stick with this core is only going to ensure a bigger and longer step back in the near future.
**If you disagree, please explain how the Raptors get better with letting all FA walk and $16M in cap space OR keeping Lou/Amir and working with exceptions and minimum contracts. I just don't see it....doesn't mean I'm right though!