Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Art of Tanking

So, I finally decided to look up the Leafs record, since after watching the Juniors, I am totally obsessed with the idea that JT NEEDS TO BE A LEAF. He is destined to be the Leaf messiah, and only Gary Bettman's hatred of Canada prevents that. Anyway, Richie pointed out that the Leafs are actually kind of close to a playoff spot, so their tanking wouldn't be as potent. BUT, I looked it up today, and the Leafs only have 6 more wins than the Lightening. Admittedly, i don't know much about hockey standings, but 6 games doesn't seem like that big of a lead. I think if Burke gets it together and starts shipping everyone out of town en masse, Tavares is still a possibility. Think positive thoughts, and hope against hope that JT will lead our lowly Leafs out from the wilderness (btw, anyone who watched the Juniors, and isn't convinced that the Leafs should do everything they can to throw enough games to get the chosen one, just isn't a true Leafs fan).

I have also read a several Raptors fan posts that our beloved Dinos should really start to give up on the season. Now, I am all for getting high draft picks, but unfortunately the Raptors are just too "good" (I use this term lightly) to get the top spot in the draft*. Oklahoma is historically bad, I mean, they are on pace to be the WORST TEAM IN THE HISTORY OF THE NBA. Seriously, they have won 4 games this ENTIRE season. The Raptors would actually have to shut everyone on their roster down to reach the same levels of incompetence as the Thunder, and we are talking about a team that employs Will Soloman as their backup PG. On top of that, this year's draft class looks like it might be one of the worst classes in the history of basketball. Did you know that Blake Griffen is widely considered to be the #1 pick in the draft. Did you also know that Blake Griffen is Kris Humphries with a slightly better J? Seriously, watching NCAA basketball this year makes me want to claw my eyes out. This isn't just going to be a weak draft, its going to be historically shitty. So I am definitely off the tank the season for a high pick bandwagon when it comes to the Raptors.

Now a much more realistic scenario is to trade JO for a guy like Matrix, so that they can free up their cap space one year sonner than 2010. What would getting a cap injection of $32 million (Matrix + AP + Garbo + Joey) mean for the Raptors? It would mean that we would own this summer's free agent market (especially now that Memphis seems determined to stick up Portland's ass and play Darius Miles in 10 games, you go Chris Wallace!). Getting rid of JO also let's the Raptors embrace a potential 2nd unit where Hump is the C, Joey is the 4, and Roko is the point guard! Scary? Definitely, but personally I would LOVE to watch it.

Either way, its clear that neither the Raptors nor the Leafs are going to do anything this year, but I think the paths back towards to prominence for each are DRASTICALLY different.

*as an interesting aside, when the Raptors have hit rock bottom in the past, they have had exceptional luck in winning or getting close to the top of the lottery. The Raptors have won the lottery twice (once was the Camby year when David Stern proved once again that he hates us, and took away the pick, and of course the Barney year, ugh), and have had two top 5 picks turn into superstars (VC and Bosh). In 12 years of existence the Raptors have drafted in the top 4, 4 times, and drafted in the top 7 twice. Ironically, the other 6 drafts that the Raptors have had, they were playoff teams. Clearly, the Raptors know that when you suck, it pays to suck huge!

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