For the past few weeks, ever since the Rudy Gay trade, I have been trying to figure out how the Toronto Raptors could make the playoffs. I have been calculating the amount of wins, winning percentage, away games and opposition tendencies. Then it happened. The Raptors lost five in a row. My thoughts have now turned to firing coach Dwane Casey to think of the future.
I am talking about tanking. Yes, I want the Raptors to lose their remaining 21 games. I want the team to finish with a 23-59 record meaning an approximate winning percentage of .280. This way the team has the best chance in getting the highest draft pick in 2013 NBA Draft. Wednesday night the team did something they haven’t done much of: they beat the Phoenix Suns.
The association has changed the rules to this year’s lottery with every team that doesn’t make the playoffs having a chance at the number one draft pick. The Raptors have to finish as low as they can so they can get the most ping pong balls in the hopper and that means losing all of their remaining games. What would a winning percentage of .293 get them?
During the past five NBA seasons, that lowly of a winning percentage would have the Raptors finish with the fourth worst record on average. That is the worst the team can do this year. That would mean if the ping pong balls all fell the right way they would get the fourth overall pick in the draft. That definitely is better than any pick in the teens, which is what they will probably get if they continue to play out the season the way they are.
What can the Raptors get with the fourth pick? In 2008, the Seattle Supersonics selected Russell Westbrook from UCLA. 2009 saw the Sacramento Kings take Memphis guard Tyreke Evans. The Minnesota Timberwolves took Syracuse swingman Wesley Johnson in 2010. The Cleveland Cavaliers ended up with Canadian and Texas product Tristan Thompson and then last year got, another Syracuse alum, Dion Waiters.
Other than Johnson, every player selected has made his mark in the league. This year the draft doesn’t have a franchise changing player in it, but it is a deep and talented one. The Raptors could do well with the fourth pick. Sorry, they could do well with that pick as long as general manager Brian Colangelo isn’t making it, but that story is for another discussion.
Having the highest pick in this year’s draft will only add to the talent that the team is starting to assemble. The most glaring weakness on the team this year is a pass first point guard and a big man with athleticism. The draft has those players in abundance.
I am asking the Raptors to do something they have been doing a lot this year. They have been doing it a lot for the past few seasons. All they need to do is lose and lose some more. The Raptors don’t attract big name free agents so the best way to build a quality team is through the draft. Once those draft picks come of age then the free agents will come. The Los Angeles Clippers, Indiana Pacers and Golden State Warriors are prime examples of that.
If it is so hard for the Raptors to win, why don’t they just lose? It would make everyone’s job with the franchise a lot easier and might even make the fans happier. Beating the teams they should, like the Suns Wednesday night, would have been nice two weeks ago, but that ship has sailed off into playoff suburgatory.
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