Ok first, teams like starting on the road. Its always blown up, but really, the only thing on the road that is really bad is the crowd. Second, if you can look at the schedule and not see that easily two thirds of the teams in the NBA are better than Toronto, than I kinda don't see the big news that the schedule is tough. The "toughness" in the schedule has zero to do with home or away, back to back, or potentially easy or hard games. The "toughness" comes from the fact that Toronto is a terrible team, had been pretty much from the start, and is always playing teams better while they start, yet again, with a pretty much new team, or, new coach, or, new GM, or, new ownership....etc.
So yeah. No sympathy, no surprises. Set um up and see how they fall!
If you consider a 15 game stretch where we play Atlanta, Milwaukee, Boston, Utah, Portland, Washington and Charlotte as a tough one.... We're probably in for a long year.
I'm torn. Just the thought of another mid-season coaching change and mid-season roster turnover gives me a headache. Anything can happen to any team over a 15 game stretch - it's such a small sample size. I think Ujiri has to wait longer than that.
Also, the whole schedule is "tough" when you're a lottery team. Even best-case scenario, about 2/3 of this league is better than the Raptors. Bleh.
(And those 16th and 17th games are away at Houston and Memphis, so yeah, they don't help much.)
Extreme case with last year's Heat (HEAT!), I know, but re: sample size - they played 0.571 ball for a month and a half. 15 games is absolutely a small sample size.
One thing I was thinking about, contrary to my original thoughts, is whether Ujiri would be MORE likely to make moves if we are doing well. Think about it: he's a wizard at getting good value in trades, but if the team is struggling, he's dealing from a position of weakness.
However, if the team is doing well (e.g., 6-8th seed), that likely means at least two of Lowry, Gay, Derozan are playing quite well. That could make them highly coveted assets. Imagines if he can turn Gay into a young stud AND get a top-10 draft pick as well.
He's job is to make this team better. If we're shockingly good (top-5 in the East), then sure, I say be patient no matter what. If we're only moderately good (again, 6-8th), I say he listens to offers and will negotiate to try to make the team better in the long run. His short-term leash is immense ó everyone knows he inherited the personnel and cap limitations we have.
So some fans might freak out if Ujiri starts making moves when we're actually doing well, but if we win those trades I am all for it. Especially if it means a REALLY bright future. I'd rather have the OKC type of situation (not comparing the model, mind you) where ALL our elite players are young and about the same age, than have some studs in their prime now and some (e.g., Big Val) nowhere near it.
In other words, I'd be happy with consistency right now if: A) We're crazy good (top-5 in the East); or B) No deals that make us better are available. We wouldn't actually know if B was the case, of course, but if we're only doing okay and stay the course, so far I trust Ujiri enough to assume that no great deals were available.
That's not to say that he wouldn't make deals if we struggle. But those deals would be less favourable, because our assets will seem/be less valuable. Which is why I say I'm retracting what I said before: this season isn't exactly a win-win no matter what. The team doing well is probably the ideal situation no matter what, given that we now have Ujiri at the helm.
Fortunately, I'm expecting good things from the team this year. Lowry and Gay being in contract years means they'll play to their utmost potential; Demar is not the type to take his foot off the gas once he gets a contract, so he should improve slightly; and Valanciunas and Ross should both improve (especially JV).
And before someone says Gay isn't in a contract year, keep in mind I'm talking about how he is likely to approach the season; I can't see him saying to himself, "I might be mediocre this year, so I'll probably opt in." He's more likely thinking, "I want to kill it this year to prove all the haters wrong, and get myself another juicy long-term contract." The goal is never mediocrity, so in the back of his mind he is likely approaching this as a contract year (with a nice fallback option, granted). That means he might not have another gear if he starts out struggling, but if he's playing well to start I expect that to continue for most of the season.
It really is a catch 22
to reiterate some of the post above me.
Raptors play like shit - you are dealing from position of weakness
Caveat: We dealt Bargnani from a position of weakness and landed 3 picks and a useful role player
Raptors play well 7th - 9th - In the hunt for a playoff spot (this is actually the optimal point to blow it up)
Raptors exceed expectations 4th - 6th - you start talking to a few peoples agents and seeing where this goes long term.
Ironically though, you will never get more value for your assets than if we do this well.
Breaking up OKC's "big four" was stupid (there's no way they would have lost money making yearly trips to the WCF, at least); breaking up this squad to make it better in the long run is VERY reasonable.
And yes, you caveat is very true and appropriate to the discussion. I just hope it doesn't come down to Ujiri HAVING to fleece another GM (because our players' values are so low). Imagine what he could do from a position of strength?
Lets assume the team is doing well to start the year, and that increases the players value (I don't think the two are as linked than we like to believe, but none the less not relevant to the point I want to make). Now the question isn't just 'do we really want to shake things up because of how well we are doing'? Its also should we shake this up given we have greatly decreased our odds at a great draft pick anyways?
If this team's goal is to build through the draft whether this year or next, it makes little sense to wait The opportunity cost of hoping potential trade pieces increase in value, is ping pong balls.
No team is given up a high lottery pick for anyone on this team (aside from perhaps Jonas, who I doubt too many want included in a deal anyways). At best, maybe the team could get a late lottery pick
first 15 Raps will be 9-6 Book it.
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