Andrew Wiggins is already a topic with Raptors fans and he has yet to play a game in the NCAA let alone the NBA. He is the number one prospect set to take his talents to college basketball out of high school this year. Florida State seems to be the place this will end up happening.
Wiggin’s impact on the Raptors has been so much so that you have fans convinced the Raptors should strip the franchise down to nothing and play to finish last next season. Yes the tanks are back and they have a clear mission and clear target to land.
I don’t want to get into a tanking debate with this. That said, for the record the odds of the success of tanking to land a specific player is 25%. That is if you achieve the less than exciting goal of being the worst team in the NBA. Which if you look around might be harder than being the best team in the NBA these days.
We could also get into a side debate on the NBA Lottery and its strange and whacky history that causes many to question its legitimacy. We are not going to get into that issue either here.
Wiggins is perhaps the diamond of a generation of kids that have grown up with the Raptors and a more realistic goal of one day being NBA players. Many of these young men as kids watched Damon Stoudamire and Vince Carter with the ultimate dream to be playing for the Raptors in the NBA. Something Myck Kabongo has admitted freely in interviews with me in the past.
The common theory seems to be the Raptors need to draft these kids and that is how we build the Raptors with some home grown talent. If the talent is to the level of Wiggins it takes winning the NBA Lottery to do so. He is the clear favourite to have his name called first at the NBA Draft in 2014.
While this is the simplest way to secure these players it is not the easiest or the only way to do it.
Here is what the true focus of the Raptors should be. The Raptors should focus on continuing to build their franchise and be the best they possibly can be. If they make the focus being on building the franchise the best it can be eventually these talents will enter the free agency market.
The ultimate goal is making the Raptors as attractive a destination for all of these Canadian talents emerging to strongly consider the Raptors moving forward. The Raptors have had many disadvantages against their success in the past. In terms of players like Andrew Wiggins, Tristan Thompson, Andrew Nicholson and a list that is growing every year this is an advantage for the Raptors with these home grown talents.
The downside is this is a very long range plan for the Raptors. That said it is a plan that makes sense and likely has a higher success rate than the 25% you have by dismantling your franchise hoping for lottery balls to fall your way.
You also have a clear picture of what you are getting in terms of a talent in the NBA. These young men will have established their NBA legacies to some degree. In a world of big three’s and fours in the NBA who is to say in the next decade the Raptors could not have a super team power by Canadians to lead them to places they have not been in 18 years of existence.
What those 18 years have taught us is the answers for this franchise are far from simple ones.
That said one of the goals at the very start of it all was to grow basketball in Canada. The nation may get to experience that before the Raptors do with the potential team that Canada Basketball could put on the floor in Brazil in 2016 at the Olympics. After that basketball and all of these young men should have a much bigger profile with the average Canadian. Look at the Women’s Soccer Team as an example of that.
After those Olympics if some of those newly made household names become Toronto Raptors it becomes a win both from a marketing standpoint and from a basketball standpoint moving forward. In the meantime the Raptors can focus on building a franchise that guys like Andrew Wiggins and others can feel is worth coming too beyond the nationalistic appeal.
This isn’t a sexy or quick road to success but it is a pretty viable one if you keep it as the ultimate goal down the line. If you did somehow wind up lucky enough to land one of these emerging Canadian stars along the way it could accelerate the time table. That said if you destroyed the franchise to roll the dice to land Wiggins you are taking a far more risky approach and potentially a far more painful future should you not succeed.
So don’t go Tank For Wiggins….instead show him a franchise that is growing in the right direction and could be the perfect place for him to one day come and lead it to levels it has never seen before. While you’re doing that you are improving your odds of getting other lesser Canadian talents along the way. Who knows you might even get good enough to attract anyone by building a franchise that wins consistently.
Easy to say all this, but very hard to accept for fans that have experienced more pain than joy in 18 years of giving their loyalty to the Raptors’ franchise That said if you want the ultimate joy this might be the most logical way to achieve it.