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Thread: "...the draft is arguably the smallest part of building a successful team."

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    Raptors Republic Superstar Puffer's Avatar
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    Default "...the draft is arguably the smallest part of building a successful team."

    Doug Smith, who I respect, unlike some RR citizens, made a comment in his blog where he disagreed to a suggestion about changing the ping pong ball distribution. "...And since the draft is arguably the smallest part of building a successful team, I donít know that anything has to change." http://thestar.blogs.com/raptors/

    Just wondered about peoples perception of that. As I recall, in the past he has pointed to the continuing success of some franchises as an indication that good management and team culture are more important (good teams get crappy picks, but continue to be good). good coaches tend to have good results from teams that play hard and properly.

    Given how picking up a super-star in the draft will generally improve team results the very next season. And two good picks in a row definitely move you out of lottery territory, hard to argue with him. Just wondered about others thoughts.

    I think that Bryco's "Hit the ground running" mantra for next season supports Doug's assertion. They had a bad year, got a good pick, managed to get a little relief by not having their pick play for them this year so they get a bonus good pick this spring, and then it's all about management making the right moves, and coach creating the right culture as they grow together over the next two - three years.

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    Raptors Republic Icon mcHAPPY's Avatar
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    I think you could argue the draft effect one way or the other.

    One would think good basketball management would include good business practices on the operation side and good personnel decisions on the basketball side. A good decision in the draft would be a result of good management.

    A good coach might over achieve with a mediocre roster but a good coach is not going to take a team with the talent of a 7/8 seed to a championship.

    The culture of a team generally is a result from their success. Positive attitudes and work habits are needed to be successful - yet you are usually not successful without them.


    I could argue this either way. For my own belief, I disagree wtih the statement - especially heading in to the era of the new CBA and punitive tax system. Productive players on rookie contracts are going to be more valuable than ever (OKC immediately comes to mind).

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    Raptors Republic Superstar Puffer's Avatar
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    Quote Matt52 wrote: View Post
    ...Productive players on rookie contracts are going to be more valuable than ever (OKC immediately comes to mind).
    No argument there, but if you get to pick #3 year one, #10 year two and #18 year three, from which point one would hope you are stuck in the bottom 25% of draft selections, the rookies selected should be less and less impactful, based on pure luck in selecting.

    I am guessing that good trading for your team and careful money management, making decent free agent acquisitions possible, become more and more important than simple management decision making on draft night (better scouting, seeing possibilities others miss etc.).

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    I've posted my take on this in the past and I'll stand by it: Smith's statement is bullshit. Now I'm going to operate here on the assumption that 'successful' team means one capable of competing for a championship. His definition may be different, but that's mine.

    First off, we need to acknowledge that building a team of complimentary parts that works well enough to compete for a championship is, statistically speaking, a fluke. It almost never happens, and when it does the team needs significant breaks in order to make it to the top (ie Detroit). Talent wins championships in the NBA, typically two to three transcendent stars carrying a team full of complimentary roll players. This has been true for decades and the only thing that has changed is that championship teams are no longer quite as stacked 4 through 12 as they used to be (unless you spend like LA or Dallas).

    There are essentially three ways to build a championship team: through the draft, through free agency and through trades. Obviously you can combine those three in any way you choose, but the key is to acquire sufficient talent through these processes. If Toronto had the free agency allure of a New York, a Boston, or Florida and California, then there would be some logic to Smith's statement. But Toronto doesn't, so this idea that you can build a successful team by trading and free agency is flat out false. Now you can debate the idea that Toronto isn't a FA destination all you want, but until the team manages to lure a top player, it'll be the truth. That doesn't make it a bad city or a city that players don't like, but you have to remember that it will always be in the second tier of destination because the franchise doesn't have the combination of history, cache around the league, weather and taxes that makes a first tier destination. Maybe one day it will, but it doesn't right now.

    Now to give an example of how misguided Smith is, let me submit this:

    Say you're Toronto's GM. You decide that you've got to make a play next year to make a deep playoff run, so you decide to see what your current roster is worth on the open market and make a push in free agency. We'll assume it's after the draft and the Raps have taken Harrison Barnes, since that seems the most likely best-case at this point.

    Now let's assume that for reasons of pure insanity, OKC decides to trade Durant to you for DeRozan, Ed Davis, Barnes, and next year's first round pick. Never happen, but that'd be roughly the minimum asking price, since dealing away a superstar always returns young players and picks. Realistically the package would have to include Bargs and Val instead of Ed Davis and DeRozan, but I'm being generous here to prove a point.

    Now let's also assume that the Raps then manage to convince Deron Williams to sign for a max deal. Ignoring the cap here, the team would look pretty solid, right? Deron, KD, Bargs, Val and random defensive 2-guard as your starting 5 with Jose, Bayless, James Johnson, Kleiza and Amir as your bench. That team would take you far, would make you a contender in the East.

    Now here's the problem: nearly everything you just accomplished was based entirely on what you were able to draft. You drafted Bargs and Val. And everything you traded for KD was based on the draft. The only thing you didn't manage to do in the draft was convince Williams to sign, which we've already established is pretty damn unlikely unless your club is one piece away from contending.

    And that's the problem with Smith's statement. The asking price for a superstar in the market is young players and picks, ie assets acquired through the draft. You can't just yankee swap your way to a quality team like that kid who went from a paperclip to a new car swapping with people on craigslist. At some point you need to acquire elite level talent, and the only way the Raps will manage that is drafting it or trading draft assets for it, and if you don't draft well then you don't have the assets to trade. That's also before we get into how trading away all your young assets leaves you with nothing left in the cupboard (think New Jersey).

    So if by successful Smith means a middling playoff team like the Bucks or just a classy, stable organization in the front office as his definition of success, then sure I'm suppose he could be right. But that's not my definition.

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    Raptors Republic Starter omgsomuchpotential's Avatar
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    "...the draft is arguably the smallest part of building a successful team."
    In one way, I might agree because there are quite a few of other factors that come to mind such as good team management or team legacy / brand. Both good management and well developed brand (Lakers comes to mind) can attract TALENT.
    Last edited by omgsomuchpotential; Sat Mar 17th, 2012 at 11:21 AM.

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    Quote Puffer wrote: View Post
    No argument there, but if you get to pick #3 year one, #10 year two and #18 year three, from which point one would hope you are stuck in the bottom 25% of draft selections, the rookies selected should be less and less impactful, based on pure luck in selecting.

    I am guessing that good trading for your team and careful money management, making decent free agent acquisitions possible, become more and more important than simple management decision making on draft night (better scouting, seeing possibilities others miss etc.).

    I agree that setting and culture have more to do with team success than the draft, but drafting a stud wouldn't suck either. The thing that I didn't see discussed here is the willingness of the ownership group to overspend to achieve their success. The Raptors are between 25 and 35 million dollars lower than any team with a realistic chance to win the championship. Maybe with the more punitive rules coming in to play in the next several years things will level out a bit more, but when you consider the discrepancy in payroll how can a team not prepared to pay this luxury tax compete when there are so many teams that are?

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    Raptors Republic Starter omgsomuchpotential's Avatar
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    Mavs got Cuban, Nets got Prokhorov & Blazers got Paul Allen. Raptors should sell some shares to David Thomson, no?

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    Quote Lark Benson wrote: View Post
    There are essentially three ways to build a championship team: through the draft, through free agency and through trades.
    I'm sure you know what you're talking about and all, but using this statement as the opening flush to long dissertation on team-building in the NBA is a bit weak. I'm pretty sure that drafts, free agency and trades are the ONLY ways that you can build ANY team in the NBA (not just the championship-level ones). Unless there is some way to make players magically appear on your roster that I wasn't aware of.

    And as for Smith's statement -- I think he meant that having high picks alone will do nothing for you, and that you need to have good scouting, good coaching, and generally a supportive infrastructure that develops high picks properly and accentuates their talents. Good recent examples: Thunder, Bulls. Bad examples: Wizards, Kings, Clippers (until this year).

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    Raptors Republic Starter SuperRaptor's Avatar
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    Quote pistolpete wrote: View Post
    I'm sure you know what you're talking about and all, but using this statement as the opening flush to long dissertation on team-building in the NBA is a bit weak. I'm pretty sure that drafts, free agency and trades are the ONLY ways that you can build ANY team in the NBA (not just the championship-level ones). Unless there is some way to make players magically appear on your roster that I wasn't aware of.

    And as for Smith's statement -- I think he meant that having high picks alone will do nothing for you, and that you need to have good scouting, good coaching, and generally a supportive infrastructure that develops high picks properly and accentuates their talents. Good recent examples: Thunder, Bulls. Bad examples: Wizards, Kings, Clippers (until this year).
    The raptors had a number 1 overall pick 5 years ago (Andrea Bargnani), a few years before that they had a top five pick (chris bosh), before that they had a top five (vince carter), also damon stoudamire, marcus camby. I haven't seen us win any championships ... the value of a high draft pick is obvious but sometimes overblown, drafting is not the only way to build a championship team, it takes a combination of FA, drafting, and internal growth to win.

    People pretend like getting a top 5 pick is the only way we are gonna win a championship in 3-5 years thats simply not the case just look at history, the raptors have sub .500 career winning percentage as a franchise. That means that we have almost always been a lottery team, it also means we have had several top 5 picks, and we have drafted many franchise players. We still do not have a championship, so that means that it takes a LOT more than just good drafting to win a championship.

    That being said, having a top 5 pick in the draft never hurts =P

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    Raptors Republic Veteran ceez's Avatar
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    Doug Smith is an idiot.

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    For markets like New York, LA, Miami, Boston, Dallas, etc., the draft is a part of the puzzle in building championship teams because they can acquire players via free agency since they want to go there. In addition, the mega-stars, like Dwight Howard, usually have a say in where they want go if they want to leave the team that drafted them. Since most of them are only willing to be moved to big market teams, that gives them another avenue to pursue. Unfortunately, for less popular destinations, like Toronto, the draft is where you can acquire that stud player. Each time the Raptors have had some success, it's because they've had a franchise or very good player like Stoudemaire, Carter, and Bosh; all acquired via the draft/trade in the case of Carter for J. Howard. In addition, via the draft, you can control the player for 4-7 years depending on whether they resign with you when they're restricted. Or, if you want, you can trade him for another young talent. The other point to keep in mind is that once that caliber of player is here, it makes it a bit more easier to attract high tier talent as well. Until the NBA adopts a system more similar to the NHL or NFL and adopts more of a hard cap salary system, this will always be the case.

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    Super Moderator Joey's Avatar
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    Quote omgsomuchpotential wrote: View Post
    Mavs got Cuban, Nets got Prokhorov & Blazers got Paul Allen. Raptors should sell some shares to David Thomson, no?
    I'd love to see Galen Weston purchase the Raps.
    Pretty sure PC already sponsors Raptors games, so its not completely crazy.
    "That was Nasty right? Cocked that Joint back and banged on 'em." -James Johnson

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    Administrator Apollo's Avatar
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    With the new CBA rules it's going to become more and more about the quality of management and less about having an owner willing to bailout management or fork over extra coin to give them an edge when they can't get it done under the tax or cap thresholds.

    Draft picks are extremely important to a rebuilding team. To a team built that is looking to improve, draft picks don't have that same value. For a team like the Raptors who are still ripping out pieces and laying new foundation, draft picks mean the world. Check around this board and see the excitement around JV and the 2012 lotto pick. We the fans know all too well that development and coaching won't take you anywhere if the GM isn't bringing in the right guys. If you want to talk long term growth you need to hit homeruns in the draft.

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    Raptors Republic Veteran Bendit's Avatar
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    Distinction without a difference as far as I am concerned. All elements mentioned are important. All successful teams who have a legitimate chance to go deep in the playoffs and sustain that capability for a few consecutive years cannot do so without being having a high quality position in all of them. While fully recognizing that having a successful draft is weighted towards the upper portions there are teams who have successfully mined the mid to lower regions of the draft process as well (San Antonio and Chicago are examples)....and is what sustains their continuing success. I disagree that the draft is the lightest/smallest factor to building a successful team.

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    Quote SuperRaptor wrote: View Post

    People pretend like getting a top 5 pick is the only way we are gonna win a championship in 3-5 years thats simply not the case just look at history, the raptors have sub .500 career winning percentage as a franchise.
    Can you name the last team to make the finals that didn't have a top 5 pick on it? It's the Utah Jazz of the Stockton/Malone era, '97-'98. Nearly 15 years ago. Before that Portland in '91-'92 and '89-'90 nearly qualifies since it had Buck Williams as it's only top-5. Before that, Philly had Bobby Jones as it's only top-5 from '81 - '83.

    So in the last 30 years, a single team made it to the Finals without a top-5 player, and two others had a top-5 player in their starting 5 that wasn't among their team's 3 best. Every other team relied to some degree on a player that was drafted in the top 5.

    Obviously not every team that ends up in the draft year after year is going to be successful. After all there are 14 lottery teams and only two can make it to the finals every year. The lottery is just that, a lottery, and the talent pool available when you do manage to land a high pick is just as important as landing it in the first place (ie choosing Bargs 1st overall in a draft sandwhiched between Chris Paul and Deron Williams the year before and KD the year after). But yes, draft success is pretty freaking important. Just look at this list of high draft picks from the recent past: Bird, Magic, Jordan, Olajuwon, Shaq, Tim Duncan, Isiah. Those 7 players are primarily responsible for 24 of the 32 past championships. They were picked 6, 1, 3, 1, 1, 1, and 2 respectively. And they all played for the teams that drafted them, with the exception of Shaq.

    So talk all you want about history; it clearly favours those with high draft picks.

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    Raptors Republic Icon mcHAPPY's Avatar
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    Quote Bendit wrote: View Post
    Distinction without a difference as far as I am concerned. All elements mentioned are important. All successful teams who have a legitimate chance to go deep in the playoffs and sustain that capability for a few consecutive years cannot do so without being having a high quality position in all of them. While fully recognizing that having a successful draft is weighted towards the upper portions there are teams who have successfully mined the mid to lower regions of the draft process as well (San Antonio and Chicago are examples)....and is what sustains their continuing success. I disagree that the draft is the lightest/smallest factor to building a successful team.
    Good post.

    San Antonio and Chicago have definitely used the draft to find quality role players in the mid to lower regions of the draft which has helped them continue to compete. However, they have also used the draft to find a star talent to place those quality role players around.

    The draft is extremely important in building a team.

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    Super Moderator Joey's Avatar
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    Quote Matt52 wrote: View Post
    The draft is extremely important in building a team.
    Agreed. But I would add "Important to building and sustaining a team."
    I think Doug Smith is off on this one.
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    Quote Lark Benson wrote: View Post
    I've posted my take on this in the past and I'll stand by it: Smith's statement is bullshit. ...
    As I recall, the Raptors came within one basket of going to the NBA finals, and their only particularly successful selection in the draft to that point had been Vince Carter. McGrady was still only averaging 15 and 6 when he left. And that was a draft selection that yielded nothing to Toronto because of the decision not to trade him. I would call that a management mistake. Maybe you want to consider Peterson (selected 11th?) an example of drafting for success.

    The point has been made that you trade picks and young players for better players, so in than sense the draft is important, but acute management and scouting is critical for getting the right picks (best available players) and it takes smarts to put together the right packages to build up your roster with good trades.

    Obviously almost all players get into the league through the draft, but I believe Smith was talking more about drafting position...and examples of teams who have had 3-4 years of excellent drafting position and failed to create strong teams are numerous.

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    Quote Puffer wrote: View Post
    As I recall, the Raptors came within one basket of going to the NBA finals, and their only particularly successful selection in the draft to that point had been Vince Carter. McGrady was still only averaging 15 and 6 when he left. And that was a draft selection that yielded nothing to Toronto because of the decision not to trade him. I would call that a management mistake. Maybe you want to consider Peterson (selected 11th?) an example of drafting for success.
    Here's what you forget though: The Raps traded a former 5th overall (Bender) for Antonio Davis. They traded their former 2nd overall (Camby) for Oakley. So their starting 4/5 (arguably the reason they were able to compete so quickly around Vince), was acquired entirely by trading away high draft picks.

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    Super Moderator Joey's Avatar
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    Quote Puffer wrote: View Post
    As I recall, the Raptors came within one basket of going to the NBA finals.
    Hah, I wish. Basket away from the Eastern Conference Finals.
    Mind you, I think they would've beaten the Bucks that year in the Conf. Finals.

    Quote Lark Benson wrote: View Post
    Here's what you forget though: The Raps traded a former 5th overall (Bender) for Antonio Davis. They traded their former 2nd overall (Camby) for Oakley. So their starting 4/5 (arguably the reason they were able to compete so quickly around Vince), was acquired entirely by trading away high draft picks.
    Nice point.
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