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  • Playoff Picture

    When the NBA's offseason began a few weeks ago, the general consensus seemed to be that the Raptors were poised to be a 7-8 playoff seed in the East if they chose to return the bulk of their lineup from last season. This was largely based on the Raptors potential for internal improvement, mixed with the assumption that the bottom half of the Conference would be jockeying for ping pong balls in the lottery process instead of regular season wins. However after watching the first week of free agency play out, that no longer appears to be the case.

    A quick rundown of next year's playoff picture...

    Locks:
    Miami
    Chicago
    Brooklyn
    New York
    Indiana

    In barring a major surprise:
    Atlanta

    The Hawks seemed like a good candidate for a rebuild with the departure of Josh Smith looming over their heads this offseason. However they've replaced him in the starting lineup with Paul Millsap and are reportedly close to adding Monte Ellis or Brandon Jennings in exchange for Jeff Teague. Some would argue that they're actually an improved team heading into next year, and I have them as a playoff team barring a major injury or an internal meltdown.

    Playoff Contenders:
    Washington
    Cleveland
    Milwaukee
    Toronto
    Detroit

    Most people, myself included, expected that at least two of these teams would be content with toiling near the bottom of the standings for at least one more season for a shot at one of the big prizes in the 2014 draft. Think again.

    Washington is a quickly improving roster that is already getting some sleeper buzz going into next season. Cleveland has added more top end young talent (Bennett) and a veteran presence (J. Jack, Earl Clark, maybe even Andrew Bynum) to their already impressive young core. Milwaukee doesn't seem deterred by the potential loss of Reddick/Ellis/Jennings as they're on the market signing players (Delfino, Pachulia, Mayo, Teague) with an eye on staying competitive. Detroit is adding Josh Smith and the 8th overall pick to their lineup and rumours continue to swirl that Dumars isn't finished.

    You also have the Raptors in this group, who as of now, have made the least amount of on-paper improvements compared to the teams that they will be battling for the last two playoff spots.

    Not impossible, but not likely:
    Boston
    Charlotte

    Tanking and Proud of it:
    Orlando
    Philadelphia






    I think we can all agree that the worst case scenario for 2013-14 would be another 9-11 finish in the East, which of course would equal another 8-15 pick in the draft. The chances of the Raptors landing in that range has gone up significantly in just the last week and a half.

    With a lot of teams bucking the prediction that they'd be actively trying to lose games next year and the road to the 2014 post season a lot more crowded than many expected, I'm maintaining that the Raptors best course of action is to sell off as many pieces as possible in exchange for picks, prospects and financial freedom. Watching other teams improve all around us only reaffirms this for me.

    I don't want this to diminish into another tinkering vs. tanking debate. It's more to discuss the playoff picture for next season and where you feel the Raptors fit in. Also, for those who were advocating that Ujiri "stay the course" with this group... has the last week of free agency shifted your opinion at all?

  • #2
    I agree that spots 6-11 are wide open in the East. It will be interesting to see how the lineups for those 6 teams (Toronto included) come together next season, given the combination of roster turnover and young player development that each team has gone through since last year's trade deadline.

    With all the roster moves that so many of the traditional lottery teams have made (ie: Charlotte, Detroit, etc...), I think the window for success for some degree of tanking by Toronto has increased. Personally, I'm still not in favor of an all-out tank, but am starting to lean toward a bigger retool than minor retool - trade big name/contract players for younger/cheaper talent and draft picks.

    ---

    I think an expanded analysis would be even better, to include the Western Conference breakdown as well. It seems like there's a lot fewer teams 'tanking' for the 2014 lottery now, than there were prior to July 1st.

    Comment


    • #3
      First quick thought....Charlotte is tanking, they're just not proud of it. Also Milwaukee was a bad playoff team last year and lost their 2 most talented players. They can try to compete...they'll fail. Cleveland is a hard one to figure, because even with all that young talent now amassed, they have no winning experience at all, and have shown basically no improvement as a team in Irving's first couple of years.

      I would divide it more like this.....

      Ok, first off, the top 5 are pretty obvious, so I'll just leave htat.

      Playoff Contenders, or hopefuls lets say (in no particular order):
      Atlanta
      Toronto
      Milwaukee
      Detroit
      Cleveland
      Washington

      Either "competing", or putting on a good show for the sake of selling season tickets, but inevitably tanking:
      Boston

      Then the 3 tankers
      Charlotte (but don't tell them that)
      Orlando
      Philly

      So in that group the Raps are in, there will be 3 playoff spots available. As things stand now, I'd say 3 of the teams will be from these 4: Toronto, Washington, Atlanta and Cleveland. I don't see the talent level being that good on Milwaukee or Detroit, and both could have serious question marks going into the season.

      But for the 4 I picked, they all have fairly talented and/or balanced rosters. I also think Toronto has a fairly good chance among those 4. I'd put them and Washington as favorites. Atlanta I see as the most likely to miss. They've been aggressive, but haven't really upgraded the talent of their team, which was already pretty mediocre. Cleveland I see as the biggest wildcard because of their abundant youth. Could struggle to put things together again this year. Could explode and easily go from a 20-25 win team to a 40+ win team.

      For the Raptors, I think they're pretty easily a 40ish win team. Just under if they underachieve. Between 40-44 would probably be about right if they play well to pretty good...and maybe higher if they overachieve (which would likely including someone having an unexpectedly strong individual season). They really need to address bench issues at PG and PF though. I'll keep hoping for Chauncey Billups. I'd say if they sign Billups, I'm confident they'll make the playoffs. His presence will make it hard for them to underachieve.

      This could all change, and I'm sure there'll be another thread like this in a couple of months. It's hard to make even educated guesses while signings haven't even officially started.

      Comment


      • #4
        I think it's fairly obvious Boston is tanking. Orlando isn't exactly tanking; they're just sucking and in development, but they're not going to do any more rebuilding trades this year. Maybe they move Davis, he might get something for them and he's hardly a vital cog.

        Charlotte is, by all accounts, trying to compete. Barring a miracle, they won't make playoffs, but they're gonna try.

        Currently the hot rumour is a double-sign-and-trade where Milwaukee and Atlanta basically exchange Jennings and Teague. If that happens, Milwaukee gets significantly better: Teague and OJ Mayo are at least as good as Ellis/Jennings if not superior, but are cheaper. Milwaukee basically added a bunch of good roleplaying players and are still doing so, and are doing the Milwaukee thing of "no stars, but maybe we make low end of playoffs."

        Atlanta would be worse with Ellis at point than Teague, but frankly Millsap replacing Josh Smith was an upgrade for them in many ways (Smith is a better player on his strengths, but he loves throwing bricks; Millsap knows his limits). Maybe they run Dennis Schroeder as a rookie at point and move Monta to SG. Either way (resigning Teague or getting Ellis), they're in the same boat as Milwaukee, except better because they have Horford and Lou Williams and resigned Korver. I agree they're a playoff lock.

        And I've been vocal that we aren't going to snag one of the two final slots after the six locks (Miami, Chicago, Brooklyn, Indiana, New York, Atlanta) make it in. Washington pounded us last year when John Wall was back and they've only gotten better (Otto Porter, Eric Maynor). Milwaukee beat us to the 8th seed last year and they've gotten better as well. Detroit isn't a good playoff team, but they're a good regular season team that will punish people with their sheer size (and again, we went .500 against them last year). Cleveland is much better as well. And who's to say one of these teams won't trade for Omer Asik?

        A few weeks ago, some people were arguing that we should zig when everybody else zags, on the theory that whole loads of teams would be tanking for Wiggins. But it looks like the reverse is holding true: only three teams in the East are tanking at present, and in the West right now it's just Phoenix - even Sacramento is making moves! (They're going after Monta too. God knows why there is a bidding war for Monta Ellis, but there is.) The time to rebuild is NOW.

        Comment


        • #5
          magoon wrote: View Post
          A few weeks ago, some people were arguing that we should zig when everybody else zags, on the theory that whole loads of teams would be tanking for Wiggins. But it looks like the reverse is holding true: only three teams in the East are tanking at present, and in the West right now it's just Phoenix - even Sacramento is making moves! (They're going after Monta too. God knows why there is a bidding war for Monta Ellis, but there is.) The time to rebuild is NOW.
          Good point. You missed Utah as a definite 'tanking' team next season.

          I think right now there are at least 6 teams destined for the lottery, be it by tanking, rebuilding process or just sucking:
          - Boston
          - Philly
          - Orlando
          - Charlotte
          - Utah
          - Phoenix
          Last edited by CalgaryRapsFan; Mon Jul 8, 2013, 04:20 PM.

          Comment


          • #6
            white men can't jump wrote: View Post
            First quick thought....Charlotte is tanking, they're just not proud of it. Also Milwaukee was a bad playoff team last year and lost their 2 most talented players. They can try to compete...they'll fail. Cleveland is a hard one to figure, because even with all that young talent now amassed, they have no winning experience at all, and have shown basically no improvement as a team in Irving's first couple of years.

            I would divide it more like this.....

            Ok, first off, the top 5 are pretty obvious, so I'll just leave htat.

            Playoff Contenders, or hopefuls lets say (in no particular order):
            Atlanta
            Toronto
            Milwaukee
            Detroit
            Cleveland
            Washington

            Either "competing", or putting on a good show for the sake of selling season tickets, but inevitably tanking:
            Boston

            Then the 3 tankers
            Charlotte (but don't tell them that)
            Orlando
            Philly

            So in that group the Raps are in, there will be 3 playoff spots available. As things stand now, I'd say 3 of the teams will be from these 4: Toronto, Washington, Atlanta and Cleveland. I don't see the talent level being that good on Milwaukee or Detroit, and both could have serious question marks going into the season.

            But for the 4 I picked, they all have fairly talented and/or balanced rosters. I also think Toronto has a fairly good chance among those 4. I'd put them and Washington as favorites. Atlanta I see as the most likely to miss. They've been aggressive, but haven't really upgraded the talent of their team, which was already pretty mediocre. Cleveland I see as the biggest wildcard because of their abundant youth. Could struggle to put things together again this year. Could explode and easily go from a 20-25 win team to a 40+ win team.

            For the Raptors, I think they're pretty easily a 40ish win team. Just under if they underachieve. Between 40-44 would probably be about right if they play well to pretty good...and maybe higher if they overachieve (which would likely including someone having an unexpectedly strong individual season). They really need to address bench issues at PG and PF though. I'll keep hoping for Chauncey Billups. I'd say if they sign Billups, I'm confident they'll make the playoffs. His presence will make it hard for them to underachieve.

            This could all change, and I'm sure there'll be another thread like this in a couple of months. It's hard to make even educated guesses while signings haven't even officially started.
            We'll all have varying opinions on how the 6-11 teams rank. Those who are adamant that we push forward with this core will naturally be more bullish on the Raptors outlook next season while those who think this team's ceiling is a mediocre first round playoff team will be a lot more negative about them. No sense in arguing over the specifics, but I do think we're relatively on the same page.

            I don't to put words in anyone's mouth, but some of the larger arguments that I've heard from those who are against rebuilding this team are as follows:

            - We would be dismantling a playoff team if we chose to strip this thing down now.
            - The aforementioned trip to the playoffs next season would begin to establish a "winning culture" that would set the franchise up for the future.
            - The competition to tank would be just as fierce as the race to make the playoffs next season, therefore making a top five selection improbable.

            However after the last week of transactions, those lines of thinking appear to be taking major hits.

            -The playoffs are far from a foregone conclusion, and the chances of the Raptors missing out on the postseason another year is growing with every improvement that their immediate competitors make.
            - Any chance of a winning culture being established in Toronto would be delayed (or even take a step backwards) if the Raps were to fall short in yet another season where their mandate was playoffs or bust. The opportunity costs of spending another year on the treadmill would also be painful.
            - Most of the teams who finished below the Raptors last season have improved their rosters. Even teams like Charlotte, who realistically have no shot at the playoffs next year, are making big splashes this offseason in an attempt to improve. The conference will not be the widespread push over that many suspected, and the teams who will be blatantly losing games will be minimal.

            Comment


            • #7
              like i said, we're probably gonna end up at the bottom of the lottery whether we actively tank or not!

              Comment


              • #8
                iblastoff wrote: View Post
                like i said, we're probably gonna end up at the bottom of the lottery whether we actively tank or not!
                In the lottery perhaps, but the bottom of the lottery (picks #1-6) is highly doubtful, at least without extreme help from the lottery balls.

                Comment


                • #9
                  magoon wrote: View Post
                  A few weeks ago, some people were arguing that we should zig when everybody else zags, on the theory that whole loads of teams would be tanking for Wiggins. But it looks like the reverse is holding true: only three teams in the East are tanking at present, and in the West right now it's just Phoenix - even Sacramento is making moves! (They're going after Monta too. God knows why there is a bidding war for Monta Ellis, but there is.) The time to rebuild is NOW.
                  Yup, I was one of those guys. I'm honestly shocked that some of the teams that clearly should be tanking are instead trying to do a half-ass rebuild on the fly. I'm not yet in the 'tank' camp, but it looks a lot more appealing right now than it did even a week ago. As much as I keep eagerly checking for Raptors rumours about once an hour, I really like that Ujiri is just letting everything else play out.
                  I imagine him sitting in a dark room, his face lit from beneath by the glow of the nba transaction tracker on his phone, his fingers tented ominously; and as his phone vibrates with each new ambitious and misguided signing, he nods, and in a voice somewhere between the Emperor in Star Wars and Marlon Brando in Apocalypse Now, simply says 'good, good.'

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Maybe this means we dont necessarily have to sell all our players to get a top 10 pick next year. Though a year like that would still be highly depressing and not so good for the morale of our players.
                    The Baltic Beast is unstoppable!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      CalgaryRapsFan wrote: View Post
                      In the lottery perhaps, but the bottom of the lottery (picks #1-6) is highly doubtful, at least without extreme help from the lottery balls.
                      Maybe he means the bottom as in the lower picks. You could easily call 1-6 the top of the lottery.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        don't sleep on Boston they are still capable of 40 wins with their current roster
                        For still frame photograph of me reading the DeRozan thread please refer to my avatar

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          thead wrote: View Post
                          don't sleep on Boston they are still capable of 40 wins with their current roster
                          seriously?
                          They've got shit all organized by a rookie coach
                          The Baltic Beast is unstoppable!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            thead wrote: View Post
                            don't sleep on Boston they are still capable of 40 wins with their current roster
                            I was thinking the same - if they can work things out with their new coach then Boston cannot be considered out of contention.
                            Don't follow me. @AngryRaptorsFan

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Rajon Rondo is a triple double waiting to happen
                              Jeff Green was coming into his own towards the end of the year
                              Gerald Wallace is no joke
                              Marshon Brooks is a talented rookie buried on the bench in BYK
                              Bradley, Lee and Bass are no jokes either when it comes to a bench squad.

                              You think Danny Ainge would sign a random shit coach to a 6 year deal?
                              For still frame photograph of me reading the DeRozan thread please refer to my avatar

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