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Thread: The Conference Finals and the 73%

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    Raptors Republic All-Star ezz_bee's Avatar
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    Default The Conference Finals and the 73%

    Every once and awhile I come across something that exemplifies my frustration with this team, and what my expectations as a fan are, with this post I share with you the example, and then elaborate on my expectations are and what gives the Raps the best chance of meeting my expectations.

    Spoiler Alert: My expectations are getting to the conference finals, and we need to do it by stock piling young talent.


    THE EXAMPLE
    Here's a list of all the Conference Champions and Runners up since 2000. I could have gone back all the to 1996, but I didn't really think that would be fair to the Raps. In 2000 they set league records for attendance and made the playoffs for the first time. It was also when I started watching the Raptors seriously, I was 16 and we finally got TSN at my house. Plus, 2000 is a nice round number.

    Year Champion Result Opponent
    EASTERN CONFERENCE
    2000 Indiana Pacers 4–2 New York Knicks
    2001 Philadelphia 76ers 4–3 Milwaukee Bucks
    2002 New Jersey Nets 4–2 Boston Celtics
    2003 New Jersey Nets 4–0 Detroit Pistons
    2004 Detroit Pistons 4–2 Indiana Pacers
    2005 Detroit Pistons 4–3 Miami HEAT
    2006 Miami HEAT 4–2 Detroit Pistons
    2007 Cleveland Cavaliers 4–2 Detroit Pistons
    2008 Boston Celtics 4–2 Detroit Pistons
    2009 Orlando Magic 4–2 Cleveland Cavaliers
    2010 Boston Celtics 4–2 Orlando Magic
    2011 Miami HEAT 4–1 Chicago Bulls
    2012 Miami HEAT 4–2 Boston Celtics
    2013 Miami HEAT 4–3 Indiana Pacers

    WESTERN CONFERENCE
    2000 Los Angeles Lakers 4–3 Portland Trail Blazers
    2001 Los Angeles Lakers 4–0 San Antonio Spurs
    2002 Los Angeles Lakers 4–3 Sacramento Kings
    2003 San Antonio Spurs 4–2 Dallas Mavericks
    2004 Los Angeles Lakers 4–2 Minnesota Timberwolves
    2005 San Antonio Spurs 4–1 Phoenix Suns
    2006 Dallas Mavericks 4–2 Phoenix Suns
    2007 San Antonio Spurs 4–1 Utah Jazz
    2008 Los Angeles Lakers 4–1 San Antonio Spurs
    2009 Los Angeles Lakers 4–2 Denver Nuggets
    2010 Los Angeles Lakers 4–2 Phoenix Suns
    2011 Dallas Mavericks 4–1 Oklahoma City Thunder
    2012 Oklahoma City Thunder 4–2 San Antonio Spurs
    2013 San Antonio Spurs 4–0 Memphis Grizzles

    For those you who don't want to make your own checklists here are the teams you DON'T see.

    EAST
    Atlanta
    Toronto
    Charlotte
    Washington

    WEST
    L.A. Clippers
    Houston
    Golden State
    New Orleans

    In the Eastern Conference I don't think any of those teams are likely to make the conference finals this year, or even in the next 3 years (Sorry Atlanta!). In the Western Conference though, 3 of those 4 teams are up and comers and all of them have been predicted by one analyst or another as a conference finalist this year. Of course we need to take predictions with a grain of salt (Right Knicks and Nets?) and all these teams have flaws, but there's probably at least a 50% chance that at least one if not two (and possible all three!) of Clips, Rockets, Warriors will be able to scratch their names of this list in the next 3 years.

    I don't want to turn this into a tank anti-tank debate, because I honestly don't care how we get there, but it's about effing time that we do!!! Even joke teams like the Bucks, Kings, T'Wolves (although they're maybe not a joke anymore?) have at least one appearance on this list.

    Since the first time the Raps made the playoffs 22 different teams have made it to the Conference Finals at least once. If you do the math that 73.3%. If that many teams can do it there's no excuse.

    This is why, when anti-tankers say, "What about the Cavs, Nuggets, Magic, or T'Wolves they drafted a superstar, what did that get them?" The answer is easy. The Finals or Conference Finals. If you've got Dwight, Howard, Lebron James, or Kevin Garnett in their prime, you've got about a 90% to get to Conference Finals, at least. Melo, a VERY flawed superstar, took the Nuggets to Conference Finals in 2009. Chris Paul is probably the only generational talent/Legit MVP Candidate/best player at his position, who HASN'T been to conference finals in this era, and he's still got a couple of seasons left to do it.

    So anytime someone says, "Let's see what this current team can do." I just shake my head. Who is our generational talent? Who is our big three? The short answer is we don't have either. Unless you count JV as a generational talent, but even if he is, are the other guys around him still going to be here when he becomes that player? The reality is that JV has got a good chance at being part of a big three, but he's only 1, you still need a lot more talent to go with him. Are any other perennial all-stars on this team that you need as your supporting cast?

    So get rid of them, and get us a team that CAN. Although I don't think the raps can get their within the next 3 years regardless what they do, IF they don't start moving on that path this season, it's only going to push that timeline out even further, and haven't we been patient enough?

    I trust Masai to find us those two other players, hopefully one if which is a top 10 player in the league. Unfortunately, I think the only way we get it is by drafting young players or trading a bunch of young players for a disgruntled superstar (the Boston/KG, Melo/NYK trades). Either way it starts with young talent. I'm willing to admit that we be SOL on this draft (too many wins, too many crap teams) but that doesn't mean we shouldn't be pulling the trigger on any Derozan/Lowry/Gay trade that brings back either young players, and or draft picks even if it isn't for this year's draft.

    I know there's a lot of anti-tankers out there who think that you can make trades for young players that don't necessarily make us worse, and I'm okay with that, if Ujiri can make that happen. I am skeptical though.

    I also am worried that the sniff of getting some wins in the playoffs (We could have as many as six imo) is good enough for Ujiri this year. I'm worried that he will forgo pulling the trigger on trades that will give us the best shot at a conference finals within the next five years, to have a 50-50 shot at winning a playoff series this year.

    Even if the top 5 spots or even top 10 spots in this year's draft aren't within our reach, I still think there are enough team's under-achieving and in "win-now mode" that there should be some young talent and draft picks available (again they might not be in this draft), that makes it worth giving up a lowry or Gay or derozan (or all three, or anyone else other than JV or Ross) to get that young talent, EVEN at the expense of home court in the playoffs, (which isn't a sure thing, and is still unlikely, as we'd have to have a better record than anyone other than HEAT, Pacers + 1 other) and a playoff series win (also not a sure thing, especially without homecourt). For those you who are excited about the possibility of a division banner, remember that although it guarantees a top four seed it DOES NOT guarantee home court advantage. I know this makes no sense, but that's how the NBA works since 2006.

    For me, anything less than a conference finals appearance within the next five years is a failure. The fact that MLSE's talking head (TL) seems to have the same opinion makes me less patient not more. Again, I don't see it happening for at least 4 years anyway, but better 4 than 15, or never.

    Another poster (I forget who) posted the following quote, which sums up my feeling on the matter.

    "The best time to plant a tree in your backyard is 50 years ago. The second best time is now." I'm not sure what MU and TL have planned for this weekend, but hopefully they'll start planting our NBA championship tree.
    "They're going to have to rename the whole conference after us: Toronto Raptors 2014-2015 Northern Conference Champions" ~ ezzbee

    "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 Icon mcHAPPY's Avatar
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    Great post.

    Regardless of personal views, it is well thought out and I learned something new.

    Thanks.
    "You don’t know the Bruno Caboclo......"
    Bruno Caboclo

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    Raptors Republic Superstar isaacthompson's Avatar
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    Wow, great stat find. I honestly didn't think that many teams had made it to the conference finals. Even the eternally-mediocre Bucks have made it at some point.

    I will like this post as soon as a computer is reached. Great points all around.
    Twitter - @thekid_it

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    Raptors Republic All-Star JawsGT's Avatar
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    Great post, and I what I take from this is that you seem to fear that MU will behave like BC. IMO, that's not something you have to worry about. MU will not make trades that sacrifice the future just to temporarily beef up this team so as to increase the chances of a second round appearance. If trades can be made that make us better now without screwing us down the road, I bet he makes them. None of the moves he has made yet have done that, granted he hasn't made many. He will make this team better while maintaining flexibility, role with the roster we have for a playoff appearance and then scrap it in the offseason because it wasn't good enough, or scrap it this year for a higher draft position if things go south.

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    Raptors Republic All-Star Craiger's Avatar
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    Nice post.

    (I think that last quote is a slaw classic )

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    Raptors Republic All-Star ezz_bee's Avatar
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    Thanks for the positive feedback. I think a lot of times it's easy to look down on other franchises because during any given season there are teams whose future looks bleaker than ours; however, when you look at our history, there are VERY few teams that we are better than using pretty much any metric... depth in the playoffs, playoff wins, playoff appearances, season win percentage, we are in the bottom of them all.

    In response to this from Jaws:

    Quote JawsGT wrote: View Post
    ...what I take from this is that you seem to fear that MU will behave like BC...
    Well I think if this was still BC's team we'd be getting sound bytes about how this was part of the plan" and that the team is "living up" to his expectations, that the Raps will make "noise" in the playoffs.

    I do think that Ujiri will make the right moves, I'm just worried he'll but off those moves 1 full year to appease the fan base, and I'm sure there's a lot of fans here and in general who just want to experience the playoffs again. I also don't blame people for that.
    That might give him the breathing room he needs while we don't win for 2-3 years to build this team with the right personnel. I'm also not sure if you could blame him for going this route. Let's say we don't make any significant moves this year, and we either win or loss a closely contested first round. Just by not resigning Lowry and hoping Gay opts out you've got a pretty good chance to tank/rebuild/retool/acquire young talent for 2015. Derozan's stock is probably higher, plus Hansbrough and Amir are very move able, even if all they'll get on their own is a 2nd rounder, could be part of a deal to get young talent, from teams looking to "win now".

    I guess I still see the draft as a huge draw. As long as you have a lotto pick you've got a shot at the top 3, however slim that shot is. If this draft class wasn't amazingly good, I'd be more patient. I do think/hope there's enough win now teams, bucks/pistons/kings that you can find away to get good young players and also taking a small step back. I'd love to be in philly's/boston/utah's position right now. Lots of young talent, playing hard but whether they are overachieving (sixers) or underachieving (jazz) they've got a great shot at being really great teams even as early as 2 years from now.

    There's a couple of teams that probably should think about trying a 1 year tank due to injuries. D Rose isn't back until next year (Probably the saddest basketball news in 10 years!) they're current roster was designed to fit around him, maybe getting rid of boozer and deng, you've got a shot to pair D Rose with someone really special. Milwaukee, despite having ownership that says, "death before tanking!" they're doing soo poorly at the moment they might want to keep Sanders out awhile longer. However, neither has shown any real interest to do so.

    The only reason to trade now, as opposed to next year is because IF your team takes a step backwards, you increase your odds of something magically happening.

    Also in the words of Macbeth, "If it were done 'tis best if it were done quickly".

    Last edited by ezz_bee; Tue Nov 26th, 2013 at 09:24 AM.
    "They're going to have to rename the whole conference after us: Toronto Raptors 2014-2015 Northern Conference Champions" ~ ezzbee

    "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 Axel's Avatar
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    I honestly forgot that the Bucks ever made it to the Eastern Finals, but it's not that surprising considering:

    Coached by George Karl to 52 wins and won the division.
    Had a 25 yr old Ray Allen and 28 yr old Glenn Robinson averaging 22 PPG.
    Had a 31 yr old Sam Cassell averaging 18PPG and 7.6 APG

    A big 3 and a good coach goes a long way.

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    Raptors Republic All-Star JawsGT's Avatar
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    @ezz_bee: I understand your concerns, I feel the same way. It's a tough situation to be in, sort of middle of the pack and no clear way of going forward without going back, and a stacked draft on the horizon. The last thing anyone wants is to look back at this time in 5+ years and say, shit, if only we had to dump players and take advantage of that draft class. I think the reality is right now, that despite what moves can or will be made, we will not be good enough this season or next to beat the Pacers or Heat. But, is it possible to make moves now, that actually improves the team today while still allowing it to grow over the next few seasons in order to be a conference contender in 3-5 years? It seems unlikely, I'll admit, but I don't doubt it's possible, especially with the way the east is shaping up. MU may be able to take advantage of some of the more desperate teams, and actually bring in players that can be part of the future now. If we depend on the draft the time frame for contention is probably a little longer and whether it's more likely to succeed is really just speculation. The thing I fear the most about 'tanking' and looking for high draft picks, is that if you don't hit the jackpot you often end up having to go the tanking route all over again, and sooner rather than later. Right now, it's a risk vs. reward approach, but I am not ready to give up on the retool option just yet.

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    Raptors Republic All-Star Fully's Avatar
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    Very good post. That tree quote has also stuck with me since Slaw said it last year.

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    Raptors Republic All-Star JawsGT's Avatar
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    Something I just noticed is that the team with the most consecutive conference Finals appearances on the list was the Pistons teams that arguably had no bonafide 'superstar'. 6 appearances from 2003-2008. Just saying...

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    Super Moderator CalgaryRapsFan's Avatar
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    Quote JawsGT wrote: View Post
    Something I just noticed is that the team with the most consecutive conference Finals appearances on the list was the Pistons teams that arguably had no bonafide 'superstar'. 6 appearances from 2003-2008. Just saying...
    They may not have had any superstars, but they had multiple all-star caliber players in their prime (Billups, Wallace, Wallace, Hamilton & Prince) and an above-average bench of solid role players. Most importantly, their roster was extremely complimentary and they had fantastic chemistry. Their players also bought into the team-first concept and knew their roles.

    One of the big knocks against the Raptors roster over the past few years under BC, is that despite having some talent, it's been poorly assembled. There's been lots of redundancy and the pieces have never seemed to compliment each other very well.

    A truly good team = talent + fit + chemistry + buy-in

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    Raptors Republic All-Star JawsGT's Avatar
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    Quote CalgaryRapsFan wrote: View Post
    They may not have had any superstars, but they had multiple all-star caliber players in their prime (Billups, Wallace, Wallace, Hamilton & Prince) and an above-average bench of solid role players. Most importantly, their roster was extremely complimentary and they had fantastic chemistry. Their players also bought into the team-first concept and knew their roles.

    One of the big knocks against the Raptors roster over the past few years under BC, is that despite having some talent, it's been poorly assembled. There's been lots of redundancy and the pieces have never seemed to compliment each other very well.

    A truly good team = talent + fit + chemistry + buy-in
    Reminds me of the current Pacers.

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    Raptors Republic All-Star Craiger's Avatar
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    Quote Brandon wrote: View Post
    Ben Wallace was a sensational player who got little or no credit. The Pistons lost 10 more games the year he left for Chicago. Such a rare and precious commodity: a player who can dominate an NBA game without even needing the ball.

    They benefited from a weak East and had a bulletproof starting 5. But when Lebron and Wade came along, that was the end of them.
    I absolutely agree.

    The guy won somethng like 4 straight DPOY awards, and consistently led or was in the top few in the league in rebounds, blocks and steals.

    Not only did he not need the ball to make a difference, when he had the ball he was smart enough to play his game. (only take a shot if it was a dunk/lay up or out of necessity). On top of that his athleticism meant a defensive player couldn't just ignore him (like say someone like Reggie Evans or Aaron Gray) because if you turned your back on him he would be at the net for an easy alley oop or positioned for an offensive rebound. No one should mistake him for a star offensive player, but a superstar defender - he definetely was.

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    Quote JawsGT wrote: View Post
    Reminds me of the current Pacers.
    More accurately, it reminds you of last year's Pacers, who were a bunch of above-average players having fun and playing high-IQ ball with a smart coach. This year's Pacers have at least one superstar-level player in Paul George and possibly a second in Roy Hibbert, and George is now quite rightly the apex around which the Pacers are going to build in future - he's the first true superstar the team's had since Reggie Miller and he's better than Miller ever was.

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    Raptors Republic All-Star JawsGT's Avatar
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    Quote magoon wrote: View Post
    More accurately, it reminds you of last year's Pacers, who were a bunch of above-average players having fun and playing high-IQ ball with a smart coach. This year's Pacers have at least one superstar-level player in Paul George and possibly a second in Roy Hibbert, and George is now quite rightly the apex around which the Pacers are going to build in future - he's the first true superstar the team's had since Reggie Miller and he's better than Miller ever was.
    lol, I was waiting for that. But, the Pacers didn't draft a superstar or trade for one (not sure how they acquired George at the moment), they developed one. Refer to the thread recently started "how to rebuild and NBA franchise" by Craig. Explains the importance of culture and how Morway understood the importance of developing and implementing off the court programs to grow and nurture their players. I'm not trying to take anything away from George, I'll admit he is a great player but he has exceeded anyone's expectations and has been able to that IMO because of the Pacers organization and the culture they have in place. The Pacers, just like those conference Finals Pistons teams, were able to get more out of their players because of their systems and cultures. The same can be said of the Spurs IMO. Put this current Raps team in the Pacers or Spurs organization, and you're gonna get 50 wins. Put the Spurs or Pacers team in the Raps organization, and you might get 40.

    My point, the organizations mentioned above are far superior to the Raps organization and are able to get more out of their players than we are because of it. In another way, the difference btw the talent levels of management is far greater than the difference btw the talent levels of the players, i.e. we CAN do much better than we currently are with the roster we have, but as long as management moves along like it has in the past we will remain mediocre regardless of the talent level.

    My hope is that TL and MU will change this MAJOR issue.

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    Raptors Republic All-Star Craiger's Avatar
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    Quote JawsGT wrote: View Post
    lol, I was waiting for that. But, the Pacers didn't draft a superstar or trade for one (not sure how they acquired George at the moment), they developed one. Refer to the thread recently started "how to rebuild and NBA franchise" by Craig. Explains the importance of culture and how Morway understood the importance of developing and implementing off the court programs to grow and nurture their players. I'm not trying to take anything away from George, I'll admit he is a great player but he has exceeded anyone's expectations and has been able to that IMO because of the Pacers organization and the culture they have in place. The Pacers, just like those conference Finals Pistons teams, were able to get more out of their players because of their systems and cultures. The same can be said of the Spurs IMO. Put this current Raps team in the Pacers or Spurs organization, and you're gonna get 50 wins. Put the Spurs or Pacers team in the Raps organization, and you might get 40.

    My point, the organizations mentioned above are far superior to the Raps organization and are able to get more out of their players than we are because of it. In another way, the difference btw the talent levels of management is far greater than the difference btw the talent levels of the players, i.e. we CAN do much better than we currently are with the roster we have, but as long as management moves along like it has in the past we will remain mediocre regardless of the talent level.

    My hope is that TL and MU will change this MAJOR issue.
    Just a note : they drafted George.

    That begs the unproveable question though - was George a superstar or did the Pacers make him one? There is no definite answer to that question as we can't compare parrallel universes, but given the number of players they have developed over their history (and all NBA teams at that), and how few superstars exist. Occam's Razor would seem tell us Paul George was a superstar, and Indy had little if anything to do with that (other than giving him an opportunity to be)

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    Raptors Republic Starter S.R.'s Avatar
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    Quote JawsGT wrote: View Post
    lol, I was waiting for that. But, the Pacers didn't draft a superstar or trade for one (not sure how they acquired George at the moment), they developed one. Refer to the thread recently started "how to rebuild and NBA franchise" by Craig. Explains the importance of culture and how Morway understood the importance of developing and implementing off the court programs to grow and nurture their players. I'm not trying to take anything away from George, I'll admit he is a great player but he has exceeded anyone's expectations and has been able to that IMO because of the Pacers organization and the culture they have in place. The Pacers, just like those conference Finals Pistons teams, were able to get more out of their players because of their systems and cultures. The same can be said of the Spurs IMO. Put this current Raps team in the Pacers or Spurs organization, and you're gonna get 50 wins. Put the Spurs or Pacers team in the Raps organization, and you might get 40.

    My point, the organizations mentioned above are far superior to the Raps organization and are able to get more out of their players than we are because of it. In another way, the difference btw the talent levels of management is far greater than the difference btw the talent levels of the players, i.e. we CAN do much better than we currently are with the roster we have, but as long as management moves along like it has in the past we will remain mediocre regardless of the talent level.

    My hope is that TL and MU will change this MAJOR issue.
    Joe Dumars looked like a genius putting that Pistons team together, but I think he's been smoking crack ever since he hired Flip Saunders.

    Even good management/leadership can seem so hit and miss. It's so rare to sustain success - here's to hoping TL and MU can do it.

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    Raptors Republic All-Star JawsGT's Avatar
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    Quote Craiger wrote: View Post
    Just a note : they drafted George.

    That begs the unproveable question though - was George a superstar or did the Pacers make him one? There is no definite answer to that question as we can't compare parrallel universes, but given the number of players they have developed over their history (and all NBA teams at that), and how few superstars exist. Occam's Razor would seem tell us Paul George was a superstar, and Indy had little if anything to do with that (other than giving him an opportunity to be)
    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 will say this however, that if you are in a situation as an organization that lacks an identity or a culture and you want to create one and put your stamp on the organization, then the easiest way to do it may be to start from scratch, and that means going to the draft with the best position possible, and removing as many players from the current roster as possible.

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    Raptors Republic All-Star JawsGT's Avatar
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    Quote Craiger wrote: View Post
    Just a note : they drafted George.

    That begs the unproveable question though - was George a superstar or did the Pacers make him one? There is no definite answer to that question as we can't compare parrallel universes, but given the number of players they have developed over their history (and all NBA teams at that), and how few superstars exist. Occam's Razor would seem tell us Paul George was a superstar, and Indy had little if anything to do with that (other than giving him an opportunity to be)
    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?

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    Raptors Republic Veteran white men can't jump's Avatar
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    Quote Craiger wrote: View Post
    Just a note : they drafted George.

    That begs the unproveable question though - was George a superstar or did the Pacers make him one? There is no definite answer to that question as we can't compare parrallel universes, but given the number of players they have developed over their history (and all NBA teams at that), and how few superstars exist. Occam's Razor would seem tell us Paul George was a superstar, and Indy had little if anything to do with that (other than giving him an opportunity to be)
    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.

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