One of the bigger events of the NBA Off-Season is approaching with the release of the NBA Schedule. We could make the standard jokes about the Raptors will play 41 games at home and 41 games on the road. Which is true, but how the Raptors schedule is laid out could influence the direction they ultimately decide to go.
The fact that Andrew Wiggins sits as the top prize in a NBA draft class that is expected to be deep looms large. The group that makes up the Raptors roster is not concerned with this fact. They will always be looking at the present for both their individual careers and the team as a whole.
The Raptors management are the ones that have to consider that bigger picture. So taking this back to the schedule release and what that could mean could greatly impact the direction. Traditionally the Raptors schedule has been front loaded. What I mean by this, they tend to see their tougher part of the schedule early on. Which means the challenge for this roster of players to keep their heads above water could be far greater.
If the Raptors find themselves with a losing record at the end of the calendar year it would be almost irresponsible to not look ahead to the draft and the future. While it has been a long time since the Raptors have seen the playoffs just getting there is not really enough. At least it shouldn’t be if the Raptors are going to deliver on the promises made by Tim Leiweke and Masai Ujiri about turning this organization around.
If the Raptors are on a path that makes them a fringe playoff team hovering around the 7-10 mark in terms of position in the standings that will not be enough. What Masai Ujiri has been able to do is build some flexibility into this roster to change direction and goal if need be. The key is figuring out who are the pieces of this puzzle going forward especially if things do not go well for this team early on.
It is not a case of tanking as much as it is evaluating the best path to being a consistent playoff participant. This is something this franchise has struggled with during its entire existence. There is no question that if the Raptors can land a talent like Andrew Wiggins that is a game changer for this franchise. That doesn’t require blowing your brains out to have the best chance to make that happen. The simple reality is that even the worst team only has a one in four chance of landing him. But to have a shot is likely more valuable than to finish seventh or eighth to be cast aside by the Heat or Pacers.
Life is all about timing and the key will be the Raptors making the right choices at the right time to maximize their chances in the future. A great example of a team that was able to get to that lower tier of the playoffs and only to return to losing is the Charlotte Bobcats. They are also a cautionary tail in why tanking does not exactly produce a winner.
In the end you need to, as the old Kenny Rogers song says, “You got to know when to hold’em, know when to fold’em,” not only applies to gambling and cards. Any good poker player will tell you it is all about maximizing your odds of winning. They will also tell you that you can do everything right and it still takes some luck at the end of the day.
One of my favourite people in wrestling CM Punk says that “Luck is for losers” which would make a good theme for the NBA Draft Lottery. There is another saying that states people create their own luck through hard work and dedication. The teams that excel while they may have caught lucky break here and there in reality do a solid job at scouting and have a good track record at projecting talent. Both scouting for the NBA Draft and scouting the players in the league that may not be getting utilized within the organization they are a part of.
While people will focus on the moves Masai Ujiri has made to roster some of the most important moves might be the ones off the floor. To build a solid foundation in scouting talent is vital to success. That is vital and important for maximizing the chances at success. Let’s say the Raptors find there way into lottery and get Andrew Wiggins, that is fantastic and a great accelerator to a great many things for the franchise. If they don’t “Get Lucky,” at least they need to have a solid foundation that can evaluate talent so they can still build and succeed. This down the line makes an attractive destination for Wiggins in the future. This is not just for him but for a generation of Canadian talent that could really make a difference and be a light to a way out of the dark for the Toronto Raptors.
At the end of the day it is important to see the forest and not just the tree. What happens in this individual season is not the point. It is the ability to evaluate the future and build a solid organization that can compete over the long haul not the short one. I don’t think I am saying anything that people don’t understand in saying that the Toronto Raptors will not win the NBA Championship in 2013-14. It is about can they in future seasons compete for that ultimately goal. That takes a lot of things to fall in place and that goes back to having some luck and some timing along with hard work, but ultimately putting yourself in the places to have those things happen.
Those are my thoughts, but we here at the Dino Nation Blog will be looking for some of your own on next Tuesday when the NBA Schedule is released. We are going to organize a google hangout to hear from you. So if you have a webcam, a mic and a pair of headphones and some thoughts on the Toronto Raptors you might be able to help us out and be part of this event. Will be picking some people to join us in the hangout and have a chat going as well so everyone can take part. We will talk about the schedule, but more the overall thoughts of you the fans for the upcoming season and future of the Toronto Raptors.
I am looking forward to hosting this event and sharing my knowledge and thoughts but this is more about hearing what you all have to say. So if you’re interested in being part of this give me a shout and will be select a bunch of people to make up are fan panel. I hope this will be a success and something we plan to keep doing at various points throughout the season. In order for that to happen it will take some people that have some entertaining and informed opinions. Which I see on Twitter all the time on a daily basis so please consider giving this your time and I think it will be fun. Even if you don’t have a webcam there will be a chat that you can take part of and interact with the show or just sit back and be entertained by it.
So that is about it the season is coming fast, but maybe not fast enough for some. Still we can all talk and voice our opinions in the meantime.