The debate of tanking or not tanking is usually a critical issue that lottery bound teams face at this point in the season, in several sports for that matter. For some teams, tanking technically happens over the course of an entire season if they’re in a “rebuild” mode. For others, who are borderline playoff teams, don’t usually begin to use the strategy until they are mathematically eliminated from the playoffs.
However, this season in particular, is a unique situation for the Raptors in regard to their stance on tanking, and whether or not they should join in as well.
Obviously, with the Raptors now out of the playoff picture, the question is should they?
Well, it’s actually difficult to answer that this season in particular.
Normally at this point in the season, I would be a supporter of throwing in the towel and “tanking” to end the season, seeing that tanking does have its benefits for drafting purposes. That is of course, unless the team wasn’t already trying to tank the entire season in the first place.
But, going back to the Kyle Lowry trade last summer, the Raptors gave up their first round pick to Houston, which obviously belongs to Oklahoma City now. There was a catch to it though. Aside from the future restrictions on it, the pick will only go to the Thunder if it falls between 4-14th this season.
So, that means that the Raptors must get a top three pick in order to keep it.
In truth, I can see the arguments on both sides as legitimate ones.
On one hand, you get a chance at a top three pick, which is normally where you want to be drafting anyways. Considering the recent Raptors luck in the draft lottery, or rather lack thereof, it would be nice to finally add one of those picks to the Raptors, who haven’t gotten a top three pick since Andrea Bargnani.
It’s not exactly considered a “strong” draft class by any means because there does not appear to be a clear cut franchise player. However, there are still a handful of players who could end up being very good players at the NBA level. More importantly, there are players who would be a great help to the Raptors if they end up with one of the top three picks.
Obviously, luck will have to play a little bit of a factor as well. Considering that the Raptors are currently positioned to pick 10th, which means that it would go to the Thunder. That is also assuming that if the Raptors did get a top three pick that they would keep it. But unfortunately, it may be needed as a trade piece.
On the other hand, you still have to think long term. The Raptors could get that pick out of the way, and hope for a couple of things in the near future.
The first being that there is still a chance that Bryan Colangelo is fired. It seems like the odds are certainly in favour of MLSE keeping him around after allowing him to use up valuable team assets in his “win now” approach. But in the small chance that he IS let go, it would be nice to have a guaranteed pick moving forward.
The second being that if a new GM is brought in, it’s possible that he would be smart enough to realize that this roster isn’t capable of being a real NBA contender. Making that 2014 draft pick that much more important in terms of bringing in a potential franchise-changing player- Andrew Wiggins, perhaps?
Yes, it’s a pipe dream, but it makes a lot more sense to go after a player like that, than to continue down the current path of mediocrity- which would be the ceiling for this club in a best-case scenario.
In addition, with the poorly built roster that present GM Bryan Colangelo has assembled going into next year, it shouldn’t really surprise anyone if the team is a complete wreck next season. So, ironically, even though the team may be set up to try and make a playoff push next season, there is still a pretty good chance that it could even end up back in the draft lottery, similar to this season.
Technically, the team has improved from last season, and it has also improved from its awful 4-19 start to the year. But I don’t think anything is certain at this point, especially when looking at how inefficient the offense is, in particular since the addition of Rudy Gay.
That said, if you’re looking at all of the present and future circumstances surrounding the team, what I think it should come down to is what is going to help the team the most in the long term.
So, if you’re going to ask me what the team should do, I say that we try and get that pick out of the way this season.
We can’t say for sure what is going to happen this off season. But if we can get that pick out of the way, I think that we can be better prepared for whatever does happen.