When number-crunching and acumen point in the same direction

For the benefit of those who may not have read it yet …

Can Toronto Build a Winner Around Bosh
When we put the entire picture together, it doesn’t look too good for fans of Toronto.  The Raptors will still employ the services of Calderon and Bosh, and these players produced about 21 wins last year.  And it’s possible that Turkoglu, Jack, Evans, and Johnson can contribute another 15 wins.  After these players, though, who else is going to produce significant quantity of wins?  And if no one else produces much, how will Bosh believe that the Raptors are building a contender?

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is a first-rate take by David Berri on the Raptors’ current situation.

Since his arrival in the NBA, 6 seasons ago, Chris Bosh has firmly established himself as one of the very best Big Men in the League … with an individual game that’s unique, as an under-sized Center, and in need of support from a group of talented teammates. Unfortunately, what has also happened during this same time-frame, repeatedly, is that the team’s ownership group [i.e. MLSE] and upper management have demonstrated an inability to make sound basketball-related decisions around him, based on an over-riding Plan of Attack geared toward the building of a championship-winning calibre team in Toronto, through the proper acquisition and retention of Top Notch NBA talent, which includes executives, coaches, support staff and players.

Understanding exactly what the Boston Celtics actually did 3 summers ago to transform their team into a legitimate title contender:

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1. Retain the services of a very good and already-proven NBA head coach;
2. Hold onto their already-established franchise player [i.e. Paul Pierce];
3. Trade an upcoming top draft pick for a 2nd established franchise player [i.e. Ray Allen];
4. Include their younger burgeoning talent [i.e. i. Al Jefferson, ii. Ryan Gomes, and iii. Sebastien Telfair] in a major trade for a 3rd “stud” player [i.e. The Big Ticket];
5. Keep a bedrock player like Kendrick Perkins [C], as a building block for their future team;
6. Draft another young stud at the PG position [i.e. Rajon Rondo], who other teams over-looked/under-valued; and, then,
7. Filled out the remainder of its roster with very serviceable players with great attitudes who were committed to winning a championship above all else.

———-

means that all is NOT lost for the Raptors, as long as they begin to identify accurately what their actual strengths and weaknesses are, relative to their competition.

What “regular Raptors fans” need to do is spend some more time figuring out who on their team fits properly into the corresponding roles of Wyc Grousbeck [i.e. MLSE?], Danny Ainge [i.e. Bryan Colangelo?], Doc Rivers [i.e. Jay Triano?], Paul Pierce [i.e. Chris Bosh!] and Ray Allen [?], Kevin Garnett [?], and Al Jefferson [i.e. Andrea Bargnani!!!], etc., and less time putting down the 5th best player in the brief history of the team [i.e. CB4] and his designated running mate [i.e. El Matador].

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PS. Those who think that Danny Ainge [GM] was operating without an over-riding Plan of Attack, based on his Basketball Acumen, simply do not know how the NBA actually works, or how a team needs to go about building a championship-winning organization, at the highest level of competition.

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21 Responses to “When number-crunching and acumen point in the same direction”

  1. David Says:

    You forgot the most important point. Out spend almost everyone else.
    I don’t understand people like you. You try to make these profound
    arguments. Why don’t you check the salaries of each team.
    The teams that spend the most are generally at the top. The teams that
    spend the least are generally at the bottom.
    For the NBA to become competitive it needs a hard cap.

  2. MC_B-rad Says:

    Well at least you didnt misquote or spin something the original article said. Good on ya!

  3. J.dubz Says:

    “The Raptors will still employ the services of Calderon and Bosh, and these players produced about 21 wins last year. And it’s possible that Turkoglu, Jack, Evans, and Johnson can contribute another 15 wins. After these players, though, who else is going to produce significant quantity of wins?

    wait… Bargnani, our starting center, 16 points a game, 1st overall draft pick still plays for us right!?! (sarcasm)

    after reading that pitiful quote which totally omits a key member of the team, ur article became completely void of any argument, and became completely useless.

  4. Marz Says:

    So… what you’re saying is we should’ve traded Bosh for a “stud” (Rasheed Wallace?) like Vince asked?

    I dunno, the Celtics got pretty lucky in my opinion. In a very weak draft class they picked up Rajon Rondo who is now rounding out to be an elite point guard. They also completely *stole* Ray Allen… I mean, comeon Delonte West + Wally World for a premiere shooter? AND they got Glen Davis in the deal? Sure they lost out on Jeff Green, but Delonte is a head case and Wally doesn’t have a job atm.

    Also you can’t really compare us to the Celtics. They play a physical and intimidating game. The Raptors play a finesse, pass the ball game.

  5. gal carps Says:

    Bosh as Pierce, no way! Sorry to say this but RuPaul will always be a complimentary player, not the main guy. I doubt it very much if he can lead any team to a championship, so it will be useless to build the Raptors team around him.

  6. khandor Says:

    David,

    re: You forgot the most important point. Out spend almost everyone else. I don’t understand people like you. You try to make these profound
    arguments. Why don’t you check the salaries of each team. The teams that spend the most are generally at the top. The teams that spend the least are generally at the bottom. For the NBA to become competitive it needs a hard cap.

    The fact is …

    1. In the NBA, the team that spends the most money in a given season is not necessarily the team that wins the League Championship.

    2. In the NBA, the team that wins the League Championship is frequently amongst the group of top money-spending teams in that specific season.

    3. There’s a very good reason you included the word “generally” in your comment, as a qualifier. :-)

  7. khandor Says:

    MCBR,

    “Misquotes and spins” are not my M.O. … despite your opinion to the contrary. :-)

  8. khandor Says:

    J.dubz,

    1. Welcome aboard! :-)

    2. re: wait… Bargnani, our starting center, 16 points a game, 1st overall draft pick still plays for us right!?! (sarcasm)

    after reading that pitiful quote which totally omits a key member of the team, ur article became completely void of any argument, and became completely useless.

    i. Hopefully, you understand that those specific words are David Berri’s.

    ii. IMO, the reason why David chose to exclude Bargnani is because … according to his “numbers” … Andrea failed to be a “positive” contributor last season in terms of “Wins Produced”.

    iii. Perhaps you should spend some more time understanding how exactly David’s “numbers” are created and what they “mean” before you try to slag his specific interpretation of the game. :-)

  9. rob Says:

    k…notice that most of the coments u get back start with a comment re your overall anti-rapti stance……. raptor repblic. pls stop with the k postings!

  10. khandor Says:

    Marz,

    re: So… what you’re saying is we should’ve traded Bosh for a “stud” (Rasheed Wallace?) like Vince asked?

    When exactly did VC make that specific request?

    ——————————————————–

    re: I dunno, the Celtics got pretty lucky in my opinion. In a very weak draft class they picked up Rajon Rondo who is now rounding out to be an elite point guard.

    That’s what happens sometimes when your organization has good Basketball Acumen.

    re: They also completely *stole* Ray Allen… I mean, comeon Delonte West + Wally World for a premiere shooter? AND they got Glen Davis in the deal? Sure they lost out on Jeff Green, but Delonte is a head case and Wally doesn’t have a job atm.

    Making good trades is a big part of building a high level organization.

    re: Also you can’t really compare us to the Celtics. They play a physical and intimidating game. The Raptors play a finesse, pass the ball game.

    The Celtics play a “physical” brand of basketball to be sure … primarily because they have individuals in their organization who place CONSIDERABLE VALUE on acquiring and retaining executives, coaches, support staff and individual players who have this [or an appreciation for it] aspect of the game.

    The history of championship winners in the NBA is replete with such teams.

  11. khandor Says:

    rob,

    re: k…notice that most of the coments u get back start with a comment re your overall anti-rapti stance……. raptor repblic. pls stop with the k postings!

    Notice how the poll running at RR which asks participants to:

    Compare which player has a higher ceiling, either Bargnani [71%] vs Bosh [21%]?

    is skewed in favoured of the former No. 1 [overall] Draft Pick/2006? … almost to the point of DISBELIEF for an experienced basketball person like Scott G. … when, IMO, the majority of credible NBA people would, in fact, actually hold the diametrically opposite opinion/assessment.

    Unfortunately, this fact alone tells you quite a bit about the nature of the team’s fanbase.

    ————————–

    If you think that solid commentors on this blog … e.g. like Flux, Scott G., Dave, Raps Fan, Tom Liston, Mike D, brothersteve, etc. … or, a range of other individuals, from Michael Grange [Globe and Mail] to JE Skeets [Ball Don't Lie], actually believe me to be someone with an “anti-Raptors” POV then, I would suggest instead that it’s you who needs to re-think your perspective on this. :-)

  12. khandor Says:

    gal carps,

    1. Welcome aboard! :-)

    2. re: Bosh as Pierce, no way! Sorry to say this but RuPaul will always be a complimentary player, not the main guy. I doubt it very much if he can lead any team to a championship, so it will be useless to build the Raptors team around him.

    My comparison of Bosh to Pierce is not based on a similarity between their individual games as bonafide scorers in the NBA [i.e. Pierce is; Bosh is not, even though he is a 20/10 Big who can get to the line with a high degree of frequency].

    Where Bosh can be considered as being to similar to Pierce is in the role he fulfils for the franchise that drafted him, as a cornerstone player … who has already established himslf at a fairly young age … with the right sort of attitude towards what’s important about the game and how it should be played.

    In the history of the NBA, championship calibre teams DO NOT trade high calibre players like THAT.

    What they do, instead, is gradually try their best to acquire MORE of them.

  13. Scott G Says:

    “I doubt it very much if he can lead any team to a championship, so it will be useless to build the Raptors team around him.”

    Funny… isn’t that what people used to say about PP, before he had a talented supporting cast? I think that’s the point here — CB4 is a LOT like PP in the sense that neither can single-handedly carry a team to the top, but each is a VERY talented player who can be a PART OF the core of a championship team.

    Sadly, Bargs woulda been a lot more attractive as trade bait before BC made him the FIRST player to be extended from his draft class… but I completely agree that he was the “promising young player” that would have been ideal to trade for a more established player. Should have happened early this summer, after the nice second half that Bargs had last year.

  14. Tim W. Says:

    I also think Ainge was incredibly lucky. If he hadn’t gotten Garnett, then they certainly not be in the position they are right now. And Ainge might very well be out of a job. It reminds me a little of the situation in Detroit, when I felt that Dumars was incredibly lucky to get Rasheed Wallace, who put them over the top. I simply don’t think either GM is as good as their reputation, and the recent moves by DUmars backs up that opinion.

    As for the Raptors, I certainly don’t agree with everything that COlangelo has done, I think he’s done what he could. He tried to sign others before Turkoglu, but couldn’t, so felt he had to do something.

  15. Marz Says:

    Vince Carter made the comment that we should have traded the #4 pick for a proven veteran. Can’t remember if he went right out and said Rasheed Wallace, but I know he was speculated as attainable for that pick.

  16. James Says:

    MCBR,

    “Misquotes and spins” are not my M.O. … despite your opinion to the contrary.

    That is the biggest load of crap you have ever posted. Spinning facts and posting propeganda is absolutely in your M.O and anyone who reads your posts will know that.

  17. brgulker Says:

    For the record, I’m with Berri on Bosh. I think he’s overrated. He’s not a max money guy who can take a team to the playoffs by himself — if he could, he would have done so already.

    Sure, he’s valuable — but max money? Pay a guy like Bosh max money, and you’ve got very little left to go after the 3-4 very good players that you need to go anywhere (with Bosh as our centerpiece).

    Seriously — if the cap falls to 50-52 million, and Bosh demands 20+ from the Raps? You’re hamstrung, my friends. Up the creek without a paddle.

    khandor: http://dberri.wordpress.com/2009/10/23/the-toronto-raptors-and-the-stats-revolution/

    Did you see this?

    P.S. I find Berri’s numbers very compelling. Not absolutely comprehensive, but very useful and very compelling. I’ve also read his book and studied how he arrives at them, though.

  18. khandor Says:

    Tim W.,

    Welcome aboard! :-)

    1. I like what I’ve read so far on your site.

    2. It’s interesting that you believe GM’s like Ainge and Dumars “got lucky” with their key additions of Kevin Garnett and Rasheed Wallace, respectively.

    In sharp contrast to that perspective, I’d suggest the following viewpoint is actually the more accurate one to hold, regarding the world of pro sports:

    “Luck is the residue of opportunity and design.”
    - Branch Rickey

    3. IMO, Joe Dumars personnel moves have not been inconsistent with the actions of a high end GM in the NBA.

    4. IMO, Bryan Colangelo’s tenure with the Raptors has been marked by a range of different error types, including:

    - doing too much, too soon
    - doing the right thing at the wrong time
    - doing the wrong thing at the wrong time
    - changing course too frequently
    - not prioritizing the winning of a league championship

    as opposed to “failing to do what he could”.

  19. khandor Says:

    Marz,

    IMO, it would have been the wrong move for the Raptors to trade for a player like Rasheed, in exchange for the 2004 No. 4 [overall] Draft Pick, given where the franchise was developmentally at that specific point in time.

    Prior to that Draft, I advocated, either:

    1. Selecting Dwyane Wade; or,
    2. Trading up to select Carmelo Anthony;

    as opposed to selecting Chris Bosh [given that Lebron James was a lock to go to Cleveland].

  20. khandor Says:

    James/Steve,

    re: “That is the biggest load of crap you have ever posted. Spinning facts and posting propeganda is absolutely in your M.O and anyone who reads your posts will know that.”

    Anyone?

    Would individuals like Scott G., Flux, FAQ, Raps Fan, Dave, etc., fit properly into your working definition of “anyone”?

    If so, then, it would seem to be the case that what you said there happens to be untrue. :-)

  21. khandor Says:

    brgulker,

    re: dberri on Bosh

    Nowhere in his article does dberri suggest that he considers Chris Bosh to be over-rated, or unworthy of a “max contract”:

    e.g. “One might ask if it’s necessary for the Raptors to appease Bosh. Across Bosh’s career he has produced 51.7 wins and posted a 0.152 WP48 [Wins Produced per 48 minutes]. If we exclude his first two seasons we see in the past four seasons he has posted a 0.179 WP48; with a career high of 0.210 in 2006-07. In sum, Bosh is a good player. But he is not LeBron James or Dwight Howard. In other words, Toronto is going to need quite a bit more if it’s ever going to contend for a title.”

    What dberri does do, however, is call into question the appropriateness of anyone thinking that a player like Andrea Bargnani SHOULD rightfully be considered as one puzzle piece of the “quite a bit more” it will take for the Raptors to build a championship-calibre team around a “good” player like CB4.

    e.g. “Is that something more Bargnani? Bargnani was the first player taken in the 2006 NBA draft. Across his first three seasons he has produced -5.4 wins and posted a -0.043 WP48. Obviously these are very poor numbers. Fans of Bargnani, though, have argued that he played much better in the second half of the 2008-09 season. If we compare Bargnani in the first 41 games of 2008-09 to the second 41 games (i.e. split the season exactly in half), then it doesn’t appear Bargnani got any better. In the first half his Wins Score per 48 minutes [WS48] was 8.1. In the second half he posted a 7.6 WS48. To put that in perspective, an average power forward posts a 10.4 WS48; so Bargnani was very below average in both the first and second half of the 2008-09 season (for a power forward).

    Basketball-Reference.com does offer month-by-month performance data, and this view might make Bargnani fans a bit happier. Here is Bargnani’s WS48 by month last season:

    October: 14.4 WS48 in 50 minutes
    November: 9.1 WS48 in 401 minutes
    December: 2.0 WS48 in 392 minutes
    January: 9.4 WS48 in 569 minutes
    February: 7.2 WS48 in 441 minutes
    March: 11.5 WS48 in 399 minutes
    April: 5.0 WS48 in 201
    If a person focuses only on March, it looks like Bargnani is an above average power forward. To keep this belief, though, you have to ignore what happened in November, December, January, February, April, 2007-08, and 2006-07. So you have to ignore quite a bit to keep believing in Bargnani. But if one tries really hard, a positive view can be kept.

    Apparently, the Raptors were able to accomplish this feat. In the off-season, Bargnani was signed to a new $50 million dollar contract. If Bargnani can replicate what he did last March, he might live up to most of his new paycheck. Unfortunately one suspects that November, December, January, February, April, 2007-08, and 2006-07 were not a fluke. It seems likely that Bargnani is never going to live up to his new contract.

    Given the money paid, though, Toronto appears to believe Bargnani can be part of a winning team. And that will be true if Toronto acquires a few more players like Calderon and Bosh. Until that happens, though, Toronto is not likely to contend for a title. And keeping Bosh seems less and less likely.”

    ——————————————————–

    re: Bosh with a max contract will limit the franchise’s ability to succeed

    Whether or not a franchise has a “max contract” player like Kobe, Garnett, Duncan, Lebron, or Wade, etc. … who puts up big individual numbers … is not the determining factor regarding its ability to win a league championship.

    Although it’s essential to have “enough” high end players on your team to accomplish that specific goal, so too is it crucial how exactly you go about spending the remaining 30-50% of your available budget for player salaries, and that your team be prepared to exceed the LTT, if need be.

    ————————————

    re: Raptors and the evolution of stats

    Yes, I saw both the quote from Gladwell and the associated piece from dberri.

    What’s most interesting to me is just how often David’s “numbers” and Malcolm’s “perceptions about life” [including Sport, as a broad category] can be seen to actually support the views which I happen to hold already about the game and the players/coaches/GMs/etc. who play it, based on my Basketball Acumen.

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