Toronto Raptors v Charlotte Bobcats

I don’t think anyone thought the 2012-13 Raptors were going to contend for anything more than a low seeded playoff berth, but most of us thought they’d still be playing meaningful basketball in late March. Even despite the torturous 4-19 start to the season, the Raps still managed to get within 2.5 games of a playoff spot in early January and within four games of the top-eight in late February after an impressive run over Rudy Gay’s first few weeks in Toronto.

Unfortunately, a week of losses to teams like the Wizards and Cavs immediately following that run sent the Raptors crash-landing back to earth, and for the most part, they’ve been playing pretty meaningless games since then. Throw in the fact that Andrea Bargnani is done for the season (though we’re still not sure when he even checked in) and the recent news that Rudy Gay is a candidate to be shut down with some nagging back issues and the final three or four weeks of this season are going to be painful to watch.

Yet again, another Raptors season is going to end with games that mean more to the bottom of the standings and draft positioning than they do to playoff positioning. Forget looking forward to late April. As Raptors fans, we’ve become all too familiar with looking ahead to the off-season and next season while the current season is still dragging on.

It’s all the more painful this year, since the Raptors likely won’t have a high draft pick to fall back on come June. The 2013 draft class is one of the weakest we’ve seen in years, so losing out on a pick isn’t the end of the world since late lottery picks and even mid-to-late first round picks in 2014 will likely be better than many top-10 picks in 2013. But lottery picks have value far beyond just the draft itself, as they can be useful assets in engineering significant trades. And from that perspective, with the playoffs and meaningful games well out of reach, Raptors fans might be considering hopping on the tank again.

Personally, I’d actually prefer if the Raptors lose their pick this year so that they get the compensation from the Kyle Lowry trade out of the way in a weak draft year and have their own first round pick again in the coming years. But the chances of Toronto suddenly slumping into their own pick increase with every depressing loss. Remember that the Raptors need to land a top-three pick at the Draft Lottery (or make the playoffs) to keep their pick this year.

Charlotte and Orlando are all but assured of a bottom two finish and the best odds at a top-two pick. After that, nine teams are separated by just 4.5 games, meaning the Raptors could realistically finish anywhere from the 11th-worst record (20th place) in the league to the third-worst record (28th place). The 76ers and John Wall-led red hot Wizards have pulled slightly ahead of Toronto in the standings, and if the Raps continue to free fall, they’ll likely be in a “fight” for the third-worst record with the Cavs, Suns, Pistons, Hornets, Kings and Timberwolves.

While being leapfrogged by all of those teams seems unlikely given that most of them will be “inadvertently” tanking, it’s not out of the question. Seven of the Raptors’ final 12 games are against playoff teams and the other five are against the Pistons, Wizards and Timberwolves, all teams that I mentioned above.

As a refresher, here are the lottery chances of landing a top-three pick based on where a team finishes in the standings. I’ve only included the percentages for the places in the standings the Raptors can realistically finish in.

28th place – 46.9% (Cleveland – 3.5 games behind Toronto)

27th place – 37.8% (Phoenix – 3.5 games behind Toronto)

26th place – 29.2% (Detroit – 3.0 games behind Toronto)

25th place – 21.5% (Sacramento – 1.5 games behind Toronto)

24th place – 15% (New Orleans – 1.5 games behind Toronto)

23rd place – 10% (Minnesota – 0.5 games behind Toronto)

22nd place – 6.1% (Raptors’ current standing)

21st place – 4% (Washington – tied with Toronto but ahead on tiebreaker)

20th place – 2.9% (Philadelphia – 1.0 games ahead of Toronto)

It may seem ridiculous that we’re even talking about this seriously, and I maintain that forfeiting a first round pick this year is better than losing it in more plentiful draft years, but you can already hear the Tank Nation rumblings starting up again among some Raptors fans, and it’s hard to blame them for that.

After all, that fact that a group of fans thinks losing as many games as possible at this time of the year is what’s best for the franchise shouldn’t be seen as a negative representation of their loyalty. The fact that fans have been reduced to this yet again instead of being able to watch meaningful games in March and April is the real issue, and that’s an indictment of the need for change at the top of this organization.

Comments (51)

  1. What a disaster this team has become within a matter of months. Just awful front office decisions by Colangelo, especially recently, and he’s solely to blame for that. Passing on Drummond, extending DeRozan, trading for Gay, keeping Bargnani, etc.

    I’ll be incredibily disappointed if MLSE doesn’t fire him this offseason. Colangelo doesn’t deserve any more time with the Raptors, not even his team option should be picked up for next season.

    Hopefully we can get rid of that owed pick to OKC this year, get a new GM, and move on.

    • I’m not sure that even the most optimistic Raptor fan can create some hope out of this mess when you take certain aspects of our situation (virtually capped out, no draft pick, low team ceiling, etc.) into account.

      The most depressing situation in the league.

      • Only two words are needed to be said at this point in time because of RaptorBlog’s silly length of comments rule.

        Fire BC

      • @PBI

        Stop following the team if that’s how you feel.

        My reasons for optimism:
        -Jonas Valanciunas
        -a full year with Rudy Gay
        -an emerging and improving Demar Derozan
        -hope for a new gm
        -more Ross dunks (and hopefully some game to go along with them)
        -Amir Jonhson’s consistent play
        -hope for a new coach
        -the start of a new season that won’t be anywhere near a 4-19 start
        -the chance to finally to make the playoffs
        -a new chapter moving forward without Bargnani and Calderon (although I would be open to the possibility of briging Jose back)

        and I could go on…….

        And when they make the playoffs next year, it will be pretty hard to say they’re in the most depressing situation in the league when 14 other teams will be on the outside looking in.

        • “and I could go on…….”

          Then why didn’t you continue?

          You can say those things about every franchise in the league, anyone can rave about young players without star upside or hope for organizational change. Very few of those things are actually specific to the Raptors situation.

          • Is PBI your real name? When your parents saw you for the first time they said “This was a Pretty Bad Idea”. Pure Born Idiot.

          • Again, it”s just optimism for the sake of optimism on your part. None of those things are impactful enough to lead to significant enough improvement other than a coaching change or GM change and we’ll have to wait years to see the impact of those particular moves if they are made. People like you will always find something to latch onto.

            I don’t understand why you revert to the personal attacks just because someone else points out your stupidity.

    • *sigh*

      Why was the Derozen extention a bad thing?!?! His value on the market is actually higher after this season then what he was signed for. Drummond would have been nice but was thought to be a gamble as he was raw. Analysts didn’t know if he was the next Dwight Howard or the next Kwame Brown. The raptors had Amir, Davis, JV in the front court at the start of the season, where would he have got minutes? The Raptors need was in the back court. Rudy Gay makes this team better and his presence helps those around him. He plays D, understands how to play “winning” basketball, can put up decent numbers on a consistent basis. He’s still adjusting from going Memphis style Defence and offence to the Raptors scheme. Hopefully he buys in and plays more team basketball and develops more of a post up game. Bargnani will be gone this offseason….calm down kids…..

      If the Raptors do NOTHING this offseason then yes we will be over the salary cap. However, if Kleiza retires or doesn’t and we use the Amensty then that’s 4.6 mil gone. We trade Bargnani and that’s 11 mil gone. Clear both of those and we’re @ approx 50 Mil and 8 million under the cap. If we package a TRoss or JL3 or whoever it creates more cap room. I still belive the team just needs a strong veteran presence as the Raptors are too young and inexperienced. Someone that can come in and keep them focused and in line. We also need someone to run the second unit.

      Everyone always loves to focus on the offensive numbers but this team needs to focus in on Defence. There still isn’t a strong defensive culture with this team. I think they have started to go the opposite direction in that regards. The Raptors score enough to win the games. Defence is currently ranked 23rd in the league. Offence is ranked 14th in the league.

      If anyone’s job is on the line it would be Casey over BC. How many games have been deceided by 5 points our less!?!?! How many times have the raptors had a lead in the 4th, even a double digit lead and lost. The talent has been there, some of the rotations and inbound decisions have been questionable. I like Casey and would like him to stay but I want him to go back to his strengths which is Defence. Good Defence leads to easy Offence, this team is too athletic to not get more fast break points off of their defence.

      All this talk of starting over or Tanking the season is pointless. Stay the course, it’s not as bad as everyone likes to think.

      • Demar’s value is higher now, based on what exactly? Ty Lawson had been vastly superior to DeMar (yes different positions, still a much better player) heading into this extension deadline and he got $12 mil while Demar got $10.5. To have the type of impact on a game that Lawson does, DeMar would have to up his game significanctly to warrant that kind of money and if he did, then great, sign him for that amount.

        I think DeMar has improved this year but he’s still not worth that contract (maybe he will be in the future) and it was bad asset management, again, by Colangelo for several reasons in addition to the overpay:

        1. DeMar would’ve been an RFA so the Raptors could match any offer made.
        2. Colangelo stated at the time of the Gay trade that he’s been working on it for a long time. If you’re trying to bring in a similar style wing player, why would you extend DeMar and duplicate your teams skills so drastically. It makes very little sense.

        • The offers DD would have received would be more then what his current contract is. DD also puts in work every year to improve his game. I seem to recall a duo in Miami who have similar skills that seem to be tearing up the league. Raptors have the best SF/SG combo next to Wade/James in the East.

          I’m not sure where you are going with your Ty Lawson argument. Lawson has a better supporting cast, isn’t the number 1 or 2 option and like you said doesn’t play the same position. DD is arguably a top 10 SG….look at the stats.

          • @J May

            “I seem to recall a duo in Miami who have similar skills that seem to be tearing up the league. Raptors have the best SF/SG combo next to Wade/James in the East.”

            LOL. Maybe in terms of salary, yes. Talent wise, it’s day and night in comparison.

            That was funny though.

          • > Raptors have the best SF/SG combo next to Wade/James in the East.

            Two things: 1) I’d take Ellis/Ilyasova or Stevenson/George over Derozan/Gay. 2) It doesn’t matter because that’s a completely meaningless measuring stick.

          • Not necessarily. DD only got as much burn as he did this season because BC had to justify that massive over payment to DD starting next season.

            If he really believed in DD, why chase Ross with the draft pick? It seems that he had more faith in JV, who hadn’t played a single game for the Raptors, than he had in DD. And for some twisted reason, he still gave him that huge ass contract extension.

            Now, in hindsight, DD is approaching earning it, and if he keeps extending his range, he will actually be earning it at some point. But BC didn’t know he would improve this much this season. This is the biggest leap DD has made since becoming a Raptor. It looked like Gross Incompetence on BC’s part when he gave DD the contract, but luck for BC, DD bailed him out with respectable numbers this season.

            As for using the Amnesty Clause, use it on Bargs! That was another case of incompetence on BC’s part.

            I’d say trading for Gay was as well – but mostly because he kept Bargs. The team can handle overpaying one player by about $8 million per year, but it definitely can’t succeed if it has to do it for two players!

            That was just dumb. I say fire BC, hire a new GM for a mil/season, and use the extra $3mil that was going to go to BC to amnesty Bargs. MLSE will never recoup the $20 million that BC wasted (well, $40+ million) on Andrea’s contract. I just want to be clear that BC should be paying for his mistakes. Not MLSE, and Not the fans.

        • Not to mention he also drafted Ross. The worst part of it all is that I can see BC being extended.

      • The fact that all the moves you mentioned from the past year are defensible, doesn’t make them the right moves. It just means they can be justified, which likely isn’t enough to build a winner.

        A Kleiza amnesty is straightforward, but dumping Bargs and not taking salary back is a pipe dream. How are you even including a Ross and Lucas trade in the same sentence, as if they’re equivalent? Its unlikely Lucas would go out without salary coming back, and Ross would only be moved as a part of a bigger deal with salary definitely coming back.

        Most would admit that the Gay trade was an overall talent upgrade – that the team, left as is, will be better next year than this. But they’ll still have the upside of a capped out 6-8 seed, and even if you’re happy with that, you’re not likely to convince others to feel the same way.

      • 1. DeRozan’s contract was simply far more than he is worth. It was also very bad timing, since he would have been an RFA anyways, and the team had just drafted Ross as a potential replacement for him.

        2. Drummond was a gamble, but they NEEDED the BPA and someone with star potential, and that was Drummond.

        3. Have you seen Rudy Gay play at all for the Raptors? He’s has not made the team better and has also not made those around him better. So, where are you getting that from?

        4. I agree, the Raptors need a better defensive identity. So then, does it really make sense to have DeRozan, Gay, Bargnani as 3 of your starters? No, and that’s exactly what BC intended on doing.

        5. Both have not done a good job. But the blame is more on BC than it is for DC, and it’s not even close.

        • In what world Isn’t Rudy a definsive upgrade?

        • Good point about Drummond as the BPA. Colangelo says they had Ross higher on their draft board so if thats the case then fine but then it makes the DeRozan extension even more questionable

        • LOL have YOU seen Rudy Gay play. He attracts double teams which frees up other players like DD. He rebounds, plays good defence, and attacks the basket. What player did we have @ SF in the last 4 yrs that did all that?!?!

          BC was shopping Bargnani around and will probably ship him off in the offseason. I honestly believe he was starting when he came back from injury to improve his trade value.

          • @J May

            You also realize that Rudy also has a NEGATIVE OWS of -0.4 right now? And while Rudy is an above average defender, he isn’t a great one either.

            So, basically you’re paying a guy 1/3 of the salary cap who is as productive as a guy making $5M or less. Who’s good or average at a lot of things, but not great at anything.

            Being happy with Gay because he’s “the best SF we’ve had in years” isn’t a pretty good argument as to why the team should keep him.

          • Gay has not made other players around better. The trade was an upgrade on paper but Gay pounds the ball, runs the shot clock down, takes a lot of shots and leads the team in turnovers because he’s a bad decision maker. He’s not an allstar and Memphis is a better team without him.

          • Gay also leads the team in turnovers 35 in February 41 in March. His decision making sucks and he has the ball a lot.

          • I think you’re mixing up what Rudy Gay CAN do and what he ACTUALLY does consistently. Gay can be a great defender, but he’s not. He’ll have some games when he plays very good defense and other games where he does nothing. And his entire game is like that and it always has been. Colangelo would love for fans to focus on what he can do rather than what he actually does, kind of like Bargnani.

      • I agree with this post 100% , anybody who knows basketball( forget the talking heads on Canadian TV and radio) will recognize that Dwayne Casey is inept and has been able to cover this up by his charm. Brian Colangelo has run out of tricks, last we heard he is on another hunt for a European stud. I don’t know why he thinks he can build a team around European imports. His team plays in the NBA not in the Euroleague. Me thinks BC and DC should be giving their walking papers

    • Nobody in their right mind should have thought that the Raptors were capable of contending for a playoff spot after that abysmal first month of the season. Sure they played batter as the season wore on, but they was literally no way, short of a miracle that they were going to catch up with Milwaukee. I’d be happy they won at least 30 games, because it still shows some kind of improvement.

      As for u, BP, I have to fully disagree with you. Bryan Colangelo made possibly one the best trade in possibly Raptors History with the best possibly being the Raptors trading first round pick, Jonathon Bender for Anthony Davis. As for not trading Barnarni at the deadline, Colangelo did the right thing. He probably would not have gotten near equal value and it was probably best to keep Il Mago until the draft and try to work a deal there.

      I do agree with you that Mago needs to go, however, but not for your reasoning. Bargs is simply not relevant anymore now that Toronto has Ruday gay. he’s no longer the Raptors’ first option for a close and it looks as if the bulk offense is shifting towards Lowry, DeRozan and Gay with Amir and Jonas as cleanup men. He’d probably florish if he were in different surroundings. That’s my opinion anyways.

  2. no! no tank nation we need to let okc have this one !

  3. Nice subtle shot at Colangelo at the end of this piece. Firing Colangelo should be the first thing on the list for the Raptors.

  4. Might as well try and finish with the best possible record and five the pick to okc in a weak draft. Even if the raptors finish top 3 worst, no guarantee they will keep the pick. Also, they would be able to include future 1st rders in trades once this one is surrendered. Im not sure I want bc making those kind of trades though. His time is up.

  5. Colangelo held on to Bargnani because of his ego/pride. That was his 1st pick as a GM and also happened to be the 1st overall pick. Any REASONABLE person would have traded him 2-3 years ago.

    I hope they make a move on Bargnani this off season. As for Colangelo getting tossed, I think it’s time for a change yet again in the front office. He’s doing more damage now then providing a solution.

  6. Stuck in forever mediocrity.

  7. let’s go Marcus Smart

  8. Jonathan Givony at Draft Express keeps saying that this is actually going to be a very deep, strong draft … if you are late in the first round or in the second round. Of course, the top of the lottery is going to be shite (which pretty much guarantees the Raptors will win the lottery).

    • I think it is one of those drafts where you can get a decent player with a late pick.

      But chances are that you’re not going to get a star player with a top pick either. So it’s bad in that respect.

  9. Cry more. Pretty sure it could be worse

    • So because the team could be in a worse situation, we have no right to complain. By that logic, if I see someone crying after their house burned down with their family inside, I should tell them to suck it up because it could be worse. They could have been inside, too.

      You are exactly the type of fan Colangelo counts on to keep his job.

      • wow, quite dramatic.

      • Terrible analogy. Someone crying because their family died in a house fire is not the same as someone constatly crying because their favorite basketball team is a mess. The fact that you bit on a silly comment and went that far is hilarious.

  10. IMO the moment we traded for rudy it set us back, RG/DD have same style (high volume – low %) but we have lost games in the last few minutes of games dozens of times this season, maybe with a different coach those games are won instead of lost, give or take 35 wins maybe? Fire DC&BC, give some actual experience to JV and Ross, and get some men on this team that will help inside that locker room, Anderson might be our most experience player and that’s only because of the QUANTITY of games, not the QUALITY of games (nba finals, conference finals etc.)

  11. If there’s a point to tanking then tank for Wiggins to something because really there’s no future franchise guy in this draft that we could immediately say is an all-star / superstar in the upcoming years. There are few this year that might but this class looks weak. Clearly bc needs to go so either new management comes and does a few things right and gets us to the playoffs, or they decide do just blow the team up and tank. Realistically, I could see us in the playoffs next year so the only way we would get Wiggins will be by free agency. Again tanking for this guy doesn’t mean it’s a guarantee you’ll get him and considering the bad luck raptors have faced in the past, anything is possible to go wrong for us.

  12. Is Dwayne Casey suited for this job?

  13. Please, please, please don’t give Rudy Carlton Gay Jr. an extension! If this team spends another 5+ seasons trying to force another non-franchise player into a “He’s our guy!” role, I will set myself on fire and stop following this team forever.

  14. Nice lil shot at Colangelo Joseph.

    But seriously what would getting a new president do?especially this offseason.
    The core is set & we really dont need another 20 year old draft pick.

    Let the team grow up together they are still young, man.

    Everyone just…Chill.

    • The core is set? THAT’S the reason not to get a new president? Never mind that he built a flawed core whose ceiling is probably 45 wins and perpetual 1st round victim. And never mind that the president habitually overpays mediocre talent so that next year the team will have the 6th highest payroll in the league, and might not even make the playoffs.

      Have you been watching the team the last 7 years? They are currently in the longest playoff drought in franchise history. Yes, the team started with nothing and took less time to get to the playoffs than Colangelo has spent getting BACK to the playoffs.

      And you don’t think it’s worth getting a new guy to run the organization?

    • Hmmm….

      If the core is set, then what kind of core exactly is it? I’d like to think that any team that is almost 20 games under .500 arguably doesn’t have their core exactly set.

      As for the Raptors being young and that they need to grow up together, well, Oklahama has an average age of 25.9 and the Raptors have an average age of 26.0. Do you honestly think the Raptors’ core can some how miraculosuly ‘grow up together’ to make a significant leap in performance? Maybe, but I doubt it.

      To put age and performance in an even larger perspective, the Houston Rockets are the youngest team at an average age of 24.3 years of age. They currently hold the 7th seed in the Western Conference, so its not strictly a matter of growing up, its a matter of talent. The Raptors, in comparison to the Rockets, simply don’t have as much of it.

      I think the Colangelo Reign of Error is at least two years past its expiration date. He should be the GM of a team more suited to his talents, the Washington Generals.

      • I dont know man…

        I could be wrong but I still think you leave this team as it is and add a couple veterans.

        You make some valid points about young teams and age but comparing the Raptors to the Thunder is a bit weird because KD is a f*cking superstar.

        But I see your point.

        Also, I think that the first year westbrook and KD played together wasn’t very good, record wise.

        Im sure if I did some research I can point to some examples of where teams improve when they spend a longer time playing together, and I think most people that know basketball would agree.
        Off the top of my head chemistry and length of play has improved the Grizzlies & Pacers. In terms of superstar teams look at the Lakers earlier this year and then Miami 2 years ago chemisty and maturity(in my opinion) played a big role in their success. There is actually a nice article about it & the Heat on Grantland today.

        When you have a core things start to be put in place. Coaches and strategies start to evolve. Players also get get better. please correct me if I’m wrong.

        I guess my point is to have some patience. But as this is a raptors blog i can see why most people would not comprehend that.

        As for having no core: Im not sure if you are trolling so im not going to respond.

        • You’re quite right that teams playing longer together tend to improve. The problem is that simply playing together longer doesn’t improve the talent level of the team. The core of this team is simply not good enough, no matter how long it plays together, to be anything more than mediocre. This team needs a lot more than just time. It needs an overhaul.

  15. Everyone keeps talking about how Demar and Gay are too similar. Would people accept a straight up trade of Klay Thompson for Demar (obviously with money to make it work)???

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