Should The Toronto Raptors Tank The Season?

LeBron James and Dwight Howard were No. 1 picks in the NBA draft

By Dan Levine

Many people will hate Michael Grange’s notion that it would be best for the Toronto Raptors to finish dead last this season. It’s true, nobody likes cheering for the home team to lose, especially when they’ve spent their hard earned cash to see it live.

It’s also true that nobody knows what the future may bring. Anti-tanking folk will correctly argue that it makes little sense to waste an entire season on a single unknown draft pick, who could turn into, say… Greg Oden.

But for the most part, NBA drafts produce superstars that impact franchises at a higher level and at a faster pace than in other professional sports. That Oden draft saw Kevin Durant go second, and he’s turned the Thunder into real contenders. Dwight Howard, LeBron James, Derrick Rose, Blake Griffin.. these players are almost impossible to sign, but they just became easier to keep down the road. It’s just a matter of finishing in the basement at least once.

Of course, the Raptors did get a No. 1 pick in one of the weakest classes ever, and Andrea Bargnani is another prime example for the anti-tanking crowd. The good news here is that 2012 should be loaded, provided nothing changes with age limits. There will be superstars for the picking, and it might be a good thing if Toronto ends up with one of them, even if it stings a bit along the way.

In the end, it might be best that Toronto simply doesn’t need to intentionally tank this season. The roster is plenty bad enough, especially with Jonas Valanciunas stuck in Europe until the following year. Fans should be content with a good defensive effort under new head coach Dwane Casey, and should hope for progression from guys like DeMar DeRozan, Ed Davis, Jerryd Bayless and maybe even Bargnani.

The future could be very bright, very soon, with the talented Valanciunas and a second potential lottery pick on the way. And no, I’m not trying to paint a picture that is too optimistic – but to properly rebuild without a current superstar, one must usually fall to the bottom to get one. It’s not only great management that makes a team like the San Antonio Spurs a dynasty.

That being said, I’ll cheer for the Raps when I watch but I won’t be disappointed when they lose. The worst thing here would be a year of mediocrity and a 10th place finish in the East.

Where do you stand on tanking, both in general and specific to the Raptors this season? What are you expecting out of the team this year?

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Brad
Brad
November 28, 2011 3:47 pm

WOW…Are you kidding me? This is so wrong, and I can’t even believe Grange would write it, let alone Sportsnet publishing it!
Tell this to the family who spends close $500 for a Raptors game.
Tell this to the people who watch the game on tv.
“Hey, let’s watch the Raptors for two hours on tv, and pray that they lose so they can get a high draft pick.” Not even maybe!
This is just another example why Sportsnet will NEVER take over as being the number one sports channel in Canada.

Another Steve
Another Steve
November 28, 2011 4:07 pm

I don’t see how this an example of anything regarding Rogers. Grange is writing an opinion piece about how a team can be better off in the long run by getting the top pick – he doesn’t work for the Raptors. To me this response is just another example of one of the many knee-jerk anti-Rogers rants that appear far too often in the comment threads here.

If they are thoughtful basketball fans, they will know the potential value of a number one pick. Will some get alienated? Sure. But Grange doesn’t owe them anything, nor do other people who want to see the team improve in the long run.

The idea is hardly radical – you need only see the excitement behind the “suck for Luck” phenomenon that is taking place in the NFL, where it is much harder for one player to change the course of a team.

fifa
fifa
November 28, 2011 4:50 pm

is this headline a joke!?

PBI
PBI
November 28, 2011 5:13 pm

They already are tanking the season. Just look at the roster and notice Colangelo’s use of the word “rebuild” whenever he’s interviewed.

Daniel
Daniel
November 28, 2011 5:48 pm

Brad – seriously?

Of course they should tank. Getting a top tier draft pick is the Raptors best chance at a rebuild.

john
john
November 28, 2011 6:19 pm

yes they should….end of discussion

darrell b
darrell b
November 28, 2011 6:38 pm

Drafting in the top three is the only way to rebuild in the NBA, especially in this market.

Brawley
Brawley
November 28, 2011 7:16 pm

If it means getting a franchise player/star attraction for this team then they might be better off tanking to get him. My only concern is that even if they finished last, the lottery for the draft would get “tweaked” such that they’d get jipped out of getting the 1st overall pick.

dennis
dennis
November 28, 2011 9:35 pm

Tank tank tank…that’s the way to go …welcome aboard Harrison Barnes and maybe another lottery pick thru a trade [Bargnani?..or taking on a bad contract, then amnesty the player?]..this is the only way we have hope of becoming a contender…

Real Raptors Fan
Real Raptors Fan
November 28, 2011 11:08 pm

You can tell who really follows the Raptors by seeing who supports. Whoever supports tanking clearly does not watch the Raptors through good and bad times, and really only watch basketball when their team is winning. From a more broad perspective, this is what I say to anyone who supports tanking on any level:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IMk5sMHj58I

Mike S
Mike S
November 28, 2011 11:33 pm

Hopefully the people who want the Raptors to lose on purpose in order to finish last are aware that there is a draft lottery in the NBA and the team that has the worst record has a much better chance of picking 4th than picking 1st…………………the Raptors should concentrate more on making this a place where people really want to play than tanking games…………..if no one wants to play here it won’t matter if they get a good player in the draft because they won’t be able to keep him

Jason S
Jason S
November 29, 2011 12:51 am

100% agree that the Raptors should tank the season. We have paid the price with a mediocre product over the last 10 years with the Blue Jays. You need star players to win a division or make it to the championship. You need depth. Trying to win the #8 seed is not something the Raps should shoot for this year. Get Harrison Barnes and then use the money in the offseason to get a point guard like Deron Williams.

Brad
Brad
November 29, 2011 7:19 am

@Daniel:…I get that. But tell the family of four who goes to the games. The part time fan. They are the ones who WILL NOT GET IT!

Brad
Brad
November 29, 2011 7:29 am

@Daniel and anyone who supports the Raptors tanking:…answer me this question…
Are you going to spend your hard earned money to go to a Raptors game to watch them lose?

I DIDN’T THINK SO!

You go to a freaking game to watch your team WIN!…not hoping they lose!

Gerry (Burlington)
Gerry (Burlington)
November 29, 2011 7:29 am

I understand the concept of wanting to get the best pick possible, but this organization has had top ranked talent and not utilized it. Granted that was a previous regime, but essentially this team had a Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady and when those players left or were traded nothing of value was brought back in return.

Decisions made by this organization over the past few years haven’t been successful does getting the top pick guarantee success?

Tanking is a delicate subject, as you are telling fans keep spending while we suck, and trust that this time we’ll make the right pick. See Andrea Bargnani. (Yes I know not a good year, but Bargnani has done little to nothing)

Sure a top pick will be good, but this team has made some poor assessments of talent along the way, until it shows it can make the right trades/drafts and UFA signings a tank is not guaranteed to help.

Raptors Devotee
November 29, 2011 10:33 am

Firstly, Grange and I have been tweeting back and forth on this exact subject and are completely in accord with each other on it. Good on Grange for calling it like it is, although I would prefer that we lose quietly below the radar so as not to raise any alarm bells with the league. Bringing more attention to it can only work against us, but as per below, we don’t have much to worry about in that regard.

Any hardcore Raptor fan understands how essential it is to have as many lottery balls as possible going into the draft this year, and let lady luck take it from there. The Raptors going into the season are rated dead last to win the NBA title, along with Minnesota and Detroit plus are easily predicted to be dead last in the Eastern Conference. It is not like the Raptors will actually look like they are tanking this year. Given the youth and talent level, it will happen naturally.

Casey will install a defensive philosophy that will take time, as under Triano they were cut a lot of slack and he was way too soft on them. Casey commands immediate respect coming from Dallas and this is what he will work on. I can actually see Raptors practices being 90% focusing on the defensive end, along with offensive rebounding.

On the offensive end I actually want to see them have the ability to freelance and have fun out there. I love this approach and hope it is implemented. Bust their butts on the defensive end, while allowing them to have fun on the offensive end. This way we will be well set up for the hopefully superstar player we bring in while our win totals will be where we need them to be.

Most importantly, the product on the floor HAS to be pleasing to the fans. I have always been critical of MLSE for not wanting to do what it takes to win, but entertain, as it is stated in their mission statement. Well, now the Raptors can do both. Play streetball offensively, and learn how to play tight D as well. Let DeMar loose with complete freedon to go to the rim and work on those alley oop passes for a few slams a game.

If the Raptors follow my gameplan, everybody will win. Even if the Raptors played every game like Game 7 of the World Championship, they would at best finish 10th in their Conference, which would be a complete disaster.

Mike V
Mike V
November 29, 2011 12:11 pm

I think tanking is a terrible idea for three reasons.

1) Shows that the front office is completely out of ideas. So glad that we brought Colangelo back to hear his best plan is to suck.
2) Turns off all but the diehards. The Raptors are already declining in popularity with the last few seasons’ performance and the lockout. Being even worse will not help matters. People will go elsewhere and it is no guarantee they will come back.
3) Not nearly as successful as it seems. The last three teams to finish dead last were Minnesota, New Jersey and Sacramento. None of them are projected to do much this season. The team that finished last 4 years ago was Miami and their current success has little to do with finishing last.

dennis
dennis
November 29, 2011 6:44 pm

Teams that have tanked recently ?..Chicago…Memphis…Cleveland [Lebron]…Oklahoma…you win with stars…the only way Raps will get stars is thru the draft…how people don’t see this amazes me…as for fan support waning ?…they’ll be back when the raps start winning again baby !…2012 is the best draft class since 2003…bring on Harrison Barnes !

Mike V
Mike V
November 29, 2011 7:18 pm

But Chicago and Oklahoma didn’t tank to finish dead last, they were just bad teams that got luckey in the lottery. And Memphis was an 8 seed four seasons later.

I still think that if, in the face of declining attendence, TV ratings and general interest, the front office’s only idea is to intentionally suck from the start in the hope that everything works out in the end then this team is most likely going nowhere.

klondike
klondike
November 30, 2011 4:27 pm

Until the NBA fixes the imbalance there is no sense in even having a team in Toronto. By allowing the Miami Heat debacle that killed two franchises, there is no hope for a Toronto team to succeed for more than a few years at a time. That alone has made the Raptors irrelevant in Toronto sports.

dennis
dennis
November 30, 2011 7:56 pm

Mike V…I hear what you are saying but you know the NBA is a stars league..you don’t win without them…Toronto has proven again and again we can’t attract star players here…and to everyone that says we can’t keep them when we do draft them , please remember that Carter and Bosh did sign extensions, they just didn’ surround them with talent to make bthem want to stay longterm…drafting 8 or 9 every year won’t make us contenders…if there is a year to tank, this is the yr…Andre Drummond..Harrison Barnes…Anthony Davis..James McAdoo….Perry Jones etc…this draft is deep…glad to hear that Colangelo won’t make moves to save his job and keep us medoicre…be bad now to pay off later is the wat to go…

Jana
April 17, 2013 12:22 pm

I’d hate to be the Raptors on the losing end. Then again if they lose but they play a great game. People will still respect them for their effort.

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