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Thread: Is it pointless to try and win in a season where you can't win a championship?

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    Member rabid's Avatar
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    Default Is it pointless to try and win in a season where you can't win a championship?

    Let's just have a thread about the basic question because it seems to be the theme or undercurrent of a large number of the threads on posts this season.

    I haven't posted much so far this year but I've been lurking here and watching as many games as I can on League Pass and I've had some time to chew on our current situation.

    Just to get the point: this is one of those years where a championship run is out of the question for any reasonable objective observer. Even making the playoffs will be a real challenge. Having said that, I (as a fan) really would prefer to see this organization fight and compete and let the chips fall where they may, rather than tank and pretty much intentionally lose games in order to try and secure a better draft pick.

    I will admit there is a gray area here. I'm not suggesting you bench the young guys and forego the future of the team just to wring a few more quality minutes out of vets etc. like Carlisle and JOB were accused of doing in the tough years. I'm not saying you treat your trade and free agent situations the same as you would if you were in "win now" mode. But I just don't think this organization or this market is wired to endure years of intentional bad basketball so we can accelerate a rebuilding project. In fact I think one of the things I think Donnie Walsh did right in his tenure was to re-tool on the fly as much as possible instead of going into full tank mode and risk a slippery slope of losing seasons that can easily result in s chronic losing culture.

    I get that the fact that PG is coming back next year makes it very tempting to compare this to the late 90s Spurs when Robinson went down and they got Duncan. But even in that situation the Spurs got very lucky. And I also think it's really early in the season this year for so many of the forum folks to be automatically assuming we should throw in the towel this early.

    Personally I would love for us to get the eighth seed, fight hard, do something very clever with next year's pick (draft or trade) and proceed from there with PG back. I don't get why that would be so terrible. Some of you will probably think that is insane but I think in the long term it really is better for the franchise to always try to win and to generally have a winning culture.
    Last edited by rabid; 11-18-2014 at 03:28 AM.

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    Default Re: Is it pointless to try and win in a season where you can't win a championship?

    Also watching a team that isn't really trying to win is just a drag. It gets old fast. Very hard to maintain an emotional investment. JMHO. So far this team has been the opposite of that this year and it's been great, even in most of the losses.

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    Default Re: Is it pointless to try and win in a season where you can't win a championship?

    I will always be a Pacers fan. But I really, REALLY want for my team to be one that has (or is genuinely trying to instill) a winning culture.

    There are very few circumstances in which I would want the Pacers to lose a single game, never mind many of them. For me it's a matter of pride and principle. If it were the last game of the season, and a loss would give us the worst record in the league, I would desperately hope for a win to avoid that distinction. Even though it would mean fewer ping pong balls. I just can't bring myself to feel any differently. It's just not in my fan DNA.

    I don't begrudge folks who feel the opposite though. I understand my views may be perceived as a bit radical I suppose. As long as others respect my desire to see the team win every chance they get, I will respect their desire to see them lose. Lol.
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    Artificial Intelligence wintermute's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is it pointless to try and win in a season where you can't win a championship?

    I think it's because it's easy to see the benefit of tanking (having the #9 pick is clearly better than #10), but it's not so easy to see the benefit of making the playoffs (growth in players and coaches, but there's no easily visible number for that).

    What people don't realize is that lottery positioning just isn't that valuable. The Cavs for instance had 3 #1 overall picks in the last 4 years, but it took LeBron's decision to vault them into contender status. On the flip side, teams like the Spurs and Griz built their teams mostly without the benefit of high lotto picks. Scouting matters more than draft positioning. Everybody likes to point to OKC with their high picks, but the truth is other than Durant they absolutely nailed those other guys (Westbrook and Harden) when other teams were drafting busts at the same draft positions. And of course OKC drafts well outside of the top picks too (Ibaka, Jackson, Adams), so they would have been fine without top picks anyway.

    Here's a fun exercise. List all 30 teams in the league, and choose the top 3 players for each team. You'd be surprised by how many of those guys were drafted outside of the top 10.

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    Default Re: Is it pointless to try and win in a season where you can't win a championship?

    Is it pointless to try and win in a season where you can't win a championship?
    The way our guys have been scrapping and playing hard, I wouldn't be at all
    surprised if Vogel has them believing that they can compete for a championship.

    These players are a good group of thoughtful professionals who are coming
    out and trying to play the best basketball they can, and continue getting
    better at it; exactly as they should be doing. Any nonsense about being
    pointless to try, or tanking is an insult to their desire to win, their intelligence,
    their professionalism, and their desire to be the best that they can.

    What I've been seeing so far has been quite inspiring, and is a far far cry
    from being pointless. Now if there were a bunch of knuckleheads on the
    team that didn't care, then it would be a different story, and yes would
    be pointless.
    Last edited by RamBo_Lamar; 11-18-2014 at 07:37 AM.

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    Default Re: Is it pointless to try and win in a season where you can't win a championship?

    Quote Originally Posted by RamBo_Lamar View Post
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    The way our guys have been scrapping and playing hard, I wouldn't be at all
    surprised if Vogel has them believing that they can compete for a championship.

    These players are a good group of thoughtful professionals who are coming
    out and trying to play the best basketball they can, and continue getting
    better at it; exactly as they should be doing. Any nonsense about being
    pointless to try, or tanking is an insult to their desire to win, their intelligence,
    their professionalism, and their desire to be the best that they can.

    What I've been seeing so far has been quite inspiring, and is a far far cry
    from being pointless. Now if there were a bunch of knuckleheads on the
    team that didn't care, then it would be a different story, and yes would
    be pointless.
    This is what I was going to say but you did it so well.

    I will add both Miami and San Antonio won championships and neither of them had Paul George on their team. I think it can be done without him. That's why they play the games.

    Go Pacers
    Last edited by hoopsforlife; 11-18-2014 at 07:52 AM.

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    Artificial Intelligence wintermute's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is it pointless to try and win in a season where you can't win a championship?

    Quote Originally Posted by hoopsforlife View Post
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    I will add both Miami and San Antonio won championships and neither of them had Paul George on their team. I think it can be done without him. That's why they play the games.
    Um, both Miami and SA had players who are better than Paul George. Might have something to do with that.

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    Default Re: Is it pointless to try and win in a season where you can't win a championship?

    It's not pointless. Championship or bust would be an incredibly fun-sucking way to be a fan to me.
    My prediction: Solomon Hill is going to lead the team in Surprisingly Good Plays for the year. -10/29/2014

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    Default Re: Is it pointless to try and win in a season where you can't win a championship?

    Quote Originally Posted by wintermute View Post
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    Um, both Miami and SA had players who are better than Paul George. Might have something to do with that.
    True but I am saying it doesn't have to be Paul for us. It may be someone already on the team or a player we trade for, or a draftee, who steps up and give us that edge needed to win it all.

    We won't know who until it happens.

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    Default Re: Is it pointless to try and win in a season where you can't win a championship?

    Yes there is a point to try to win. Winning a title doesn't happen overnight. You need to build and develop a culture, and that is tough to do when you lose 55 games a year for draft picks.

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    Default Re: Is it pointless to try and win in a season where you can't win a championship?

    In all fairness this is absolutely the wrong forum to ask this question. By far and away our membership hates the idea of tanking and therefor you are not going to get an accurate representation of whether or not it is beneficial.

    Tanking is a very common and widely respected way of advancing a team outside of the confines of the Pacers Digest. I listen to NBA radio all of the time and I can tell you without fail the majority of the paid columnist working for major publications either endorse it or at the very least acknowledge it as a legitimate way of improving your club. To a man every one of the NBA on TNT guys have endorsed the idea of not being mediocre and either going for it all or dropping back.

    BTW, I'm as guilty as the rest of you are. I don't believe in the idea of tanking as a guaranteed way of improving the club, however I freely admit that around the NBA it is an accepted and even respected policy.

    But to play devils advocate everybody wants to point out all of the teams who have failed with the tanking but none of us want to point out the teams who have refused to do it and have toiled away in mid level hell for years. The Knicks are the most prominent of these teams and even did it again this year by bringing back Melo at a max deal when many people argued they should have cut ties, cut contracts and attempted to rebuild through the draft and future free agents.

    To me there is no one way to build a title contender, if there was everybody would do it.


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    Artificial Intelligence wintermute's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is it pointless to try and win in a season where you can't win a championship?

    Quote Originally Posted by Peck View Post
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    however I freely admit that around the NBA it is an accepted and even respected policy.
    Accepted, yes. Respected, no. The absolute derision the Sixers get from the media should be proof enough. The "6-76"ers, they're being called now, etc. It's not a respected strategy by the actual NBA either - remember that the league tried to pass lottery changes that penalize tanking? It didn't pass, but the vote was 17-13 in favor, and a lot of the no voters voted that way because they were afraid of unintended consequences, not because they supported tanking.

    The Knicks are absolutely a bad example for a so-called treadmill team. They re-signed Melo not so as to tread water, but in order to sign another big name FA next year when Amar'e's $23m and Bargs' $12m come off the books. That's pretty much the polar opposite of a treadmill strategy.

    Let's consider some other teams that were more appropriately considered "treadmill". How about those Raptors? Lost in the first round last year. Their big offseason move was re-signing Kyle Lowry. It's early yet, but they're playing very well and leading the East, and it's coming entirely from internal development.

    Or how about the Bucks, the poster child for treadmill teams. So ok, they drafted Jabari Parker, but he's been pretty crappy to be honest. He's not even their best young player! That would be one G. Antetokounmpo, drafted 15th (classic treadmill draft position). No, the Bucks are doing it with defense, which is strangely reminiscent of another Central Division team. The future is looking brighter for these Bucks, and it's not because of the losing they did last year (and apparently it wasn't deliberate - by all reports the Bucks were trying to make the playoffs last year).

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    Default Re: Is it pointless to try and win in a season where you can't win a championship?

    Quote Originally Posted by wintermute View Post
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    I think it's because it's easy to see the benefit of tanking (having the #9 pick is clearly better than #10), but it's not so easy to see the benefit of making the playoffs (growth in players and coaches, but there's no easily visible number for that).

    What people don't realize is that lottery positioning just isn't that valuable. The Cavs for instance had 3 #1 overall picks in the last 4 years, but it took LeBron's decision to vault them into contender status. On the flip side, teams like the Spurs and Griz built their teams mostly without the benefit of high lotto picks. Scouting matters more than draft positioning. Everybody likes to point to OKC with their high picks, but the truth is other than Durant they absolutely nailed those other guys (Westbrook and Harden) when other teams were drafting busts at the same draft positions. And of course OKC drafts well outside of the top picks too (Ibaka, Jackson, Adams), so they would have been fine without top picks anyway.

    Here's a fun exercise. List all 30 teams in the league, and choose the top 3 players for each team. You'd be surprised by how many of those guys were drafted outside of the top 10.
    But you are including all the teams that will never win a title, a better and more relevant game would be look at the teams that have won titles over the last 20 years and see how many of them did not have a top draft pick. You mention the Spurs but the anchor of that team was a high pick that happened because they had a terrible injury filled year a ton of luck and the basketball gods apparently deciding that Rick Pitino belongs in the college ranks and they needed to send him a sign.

    Clearly LeBron was a high pick, Wade was a lottery pick as well. Tim Duncan has how many titles now? How many teams have a title without Jordan Shaq Kobe Dream Magic Bird Isiah all high picks. Do you know how many top 10 picks were on the Mavs.
    Last edited by Ragnar; 11-18-2014 at 09:47 AM.

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    Default Re: Is it pointless to try and win in a season where you can't win a championship?

    Quote Originally Posted by wintermute View Post
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    and it's not because of the losing they did last year (and apparently it wasn't deliberate - by all reports the Bucks were trying to make the playoffs last year).
    Yeah, their horrible record had a lot more to do with injuries than with a desire to tank.
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    Default Re: Is it pointless to try and win in a season where you can't win a championship?

    I will not watch a team that refuses to give any effort. That is the sole reason last year was so painful. You knew the capability and talent were there, it was the desire to win that wasn't down the stretch.

    If the team didn't attempt to win any games, I would simply stop watching. No reason to pay for FSI at that point. So there would go one customer.

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    Default Re: Is it pointless to try and win in a season where you can't win a championship?

    I get tired of this topic.

    But to answer the specific question. Of course it is not pointless. How many teams go from 20 wins to a championship. You have to build a team, get to .500, learn what works, get the right coach, tweek the roster every year and try and try again.

    I wonder why this is even a topic

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    Default Re: Is it pointless to try and win in a season where you can't win a championship?

    Quote Originally Posted by Peck View Post
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    In all fairness this is absolutely the wrong forum to ask this question. By far and away our membership hates the idea of tanking and therefor you are not going to get an accurate representation of whether or not it is beneficial.

    Tanking is a very common and widely respected way of advancing a team outside of the confines of the Pacers Digest. I listen to NBA radio all of the time and I can tell you without fail the majority of the paid columnist working for major publications either endorse it or at the very least acknowledge it as a legitimate way of improving your club. To a man every one of the NBA on TNT guys have endorsed the idea of not being mediocre and either going for it all or dropping back.

    BTW, I'm as guilty as the rest of you are. I don't believe in the idea of tanking as a guaranteed way of improving the club, however I freely admit that around the NBA it is an accepted and even respected policy.

    But to play devils advocate everybody wants to point out all of the teams who have failed with the tanking but none of us want to point out the teams who have refused to do it and have toiled away in mid level hell for years. The Knicks are the most prominent of these teams and even did it again this year by bringing back Melo at a max deal when many people argued they should have cut ties, cut contracts and attempted to rebuild through the draft and future free agents.

    To me there is no one way to build a title contender, if there was everybody would do it.
    That's a different question. Some people like the idea of tanking but can see the worth in playing to won as much as you can. So these people, though they support tanking, would agree that its not pointless to try and win.

    There is a minority on PD that seems completely opposed to the idea of doing anything but losing while PG sits.
    My prediction: Solomon Hill is going to lead the team in Surprisingly Good Plays for the year. -10/29/2014

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  32. #18
    Artificial Intelligence wintermute's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is it pointless to try and win in a season where you can't win a championship?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ragnar View Post
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    But you are including all the teams that will never win a title, a better and more relevant game would be look at the teams that have won titles over the last 20 years and see how many of them did not have a top draft pick. You mention the Spurs but the anchor of that team was a high pick that happened because they had a terrible injury filled year a ton of luck and the basketball gods apparently deciding that Rick Pitino belongs in the college ranks and they needed to send him a sign.

    Clearly LeBron was a high pick, Wade was a lottery pick as well. Tim Duncan has how many titles now? How many teams have a title without Jordan Shaq Kobe Dream Magic Bird Isiah all high picks.
    So, championship or bust?

    The reality of the NBA is that yes, the most talented guys have outsized impact. TD, LeBron, Kobe, Shaq, and Jordan (just 5 players!) have all played a part in 16 of the last 20 championships.

    Now let me ask you, when you're drafting at #1 each year, what are the odds that you're drafting one of these 5 guys instead of someone like Oden or Beasley? Or perhaps more plausibly, someone who is merely very good, like a John Wall or Irving, instead of an actual once in a generation talent?

    What people miss is that tanking is a low percentage play, not just because of the low chance of getting the top pick, but also because of the extremely low chance of drafting an actual superstar.

    Now the "treadmill" way is a low percentage play too, no doubt about it. As Frank Vogel said in an interview recently, the idea is to hang around at the ECF level for a number of years (he specifically cited the example of the Pistons) and hoping for a lucky break that gets you past one of the superstar teams during one of those years. That's what happened for the Pistons, for the Mavs, and for the Celtics. It nearly happened for Reggie's Pacers. It might happen for George's Pacers too.

    As Peck says, there's more than one way to build a champion. Circumstances have led to us building in the slow, steady way. This method happens to suit my temperament, so I'm fine with it.

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    Default Re: Is it pointless to try and win in a season where you can't win a championship?

    Quote Originally Posted by wintermute View Post
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    I think it's because it's easy to see the benefit of tanking (having the #9 pick is clearly better than #10), but it's not so easy to see the benefit of making the playoffs (growth in players and coaches, but there's no easily visible number for that).

    What people don't realize is that lottery positioning just isn't that valuable. The Cavs for instance had 3 #1 overall picks in the last 4 years, but it took LeBron's decision to vault them into contender status. On the flip side, teams like the Spurs and Griz built their teams mostly without the benefit of high lotto picks. Scouting matters more than draft positioning. Everybody likes to point to OKC with their high picks, but the truth is other than Durant they absolutely nailed those other guys (Westbrook and Harden) when other teams were drafting busts at the same draft positions. And of course OKC drafts well outside of the top picks too (Ibaka, Jackson, Adams), so they would have been fine without top picks anyway.

    Here's a fun exercise. List all 30 teams in the league, and choose the top 3 players for each team. You'd be surprised by how many of those guys were drafted outside of the top 10.
    THIS! Drafting in the lottery year after year only helps when you draft the right guys. You can look at a team like MIN who has been very bad since the KG era as a reason not to tank. Outside of Kevin Love (whom they didn't draft, but received after drafting OJ Mayo) they have had HORRIBLE selections in the lottery.

    2009 - Ricky Rubio(5), Johnny Flynn(6). Could have drafted: Steph Curry and/or Demar Derozan
    2010 - Wesley Johnson (4). Could have drafted: Paul George, Gordon Hayward, Demarcus Cousins, Eric Bledsoe, Larry Sanders, Greg Monroe
    2011 - Derrick Williams (2). Could have drafted: Klay Thompson, Kawhi Leonard, Tobias Harris, Nick Vucevic


    I could go on and on. But yes I agree, scouting is extremely important

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    Default Re: Is it pointless to try and win in a season where you can't win a championship?

    Someone a few years ago did a pretty good analysis (might have been either tbird or count55) of exactly where in the draft the players who have led their teams to championships came from. My PD-search-fu is failing me this morning; perhaps someone else can find it.

    I remember having taken away from this that very few teams drafting a top pick actually won a championship with that player - and most of the teams winning championships with a top player got him as a FA or in a trade.

    My position is this - winning is something in the hand. A draft pick, no matter where in the stack, is a gamble.

    For a team that is truly bad, that gamble is worth it. For a team that is either pretending to be bad or otherwise forcing themselves to be bad, how can it be so? If nothing else has shown itself it is that getting a single high draft pick has never taken a team from worst to first. So many other pieces have to come together - often multiple high draft picks numbering more than 5 - that the idea of doing this for a single year and coming out ahead astonishes me.

    If the Pacers are involved in a tight and hard-fought battle for 8th in the East come March and April, I want people to really look at how that is playing in the local market. I will guarantee you that the level of excitement from casual fans is going to be far greater than it would if we were cruising toward the lottery - and I'd love to see someone come out with a marketing plan that sells coming to a game to watch another notch toward a guaranteed 4th pick.
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    Default Re: Is it pointless to try and win in a season where you can't win a championship?

    And another thing (what, you think I only have a few opinions on this? ) -who decides a team isn't going to win a championship? Anyone not top 4 the previous year? Anyone not with a winning record 3 weeks into the season? Anyone who doesn't have Tim Duncan or Lebron James on the team?

    How do you have a competitive sports league if 75% of the teams are out to lose? How do you become anything but WWE where the point is to watch Kobe score 100 points and lose?
    BillS

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  40. #22

    Default Re: Is it pointless to try and win in a season where you can't win a championship?

    I don't want the Pacers to tank, but at the same time moving core pieces (not Hibbert or PG) for picks, expirings, etc. pretty much ensures that while our guys will give effort.... we won't "win ourselves out of a top 13 pick" at least.

  41. #23
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    Default Re: Is it pointless to try and win in a season where you can't win a championship?

    Quote Originally Posted by Grimp View Post
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    I don't want the Pacers to tank, but at the same time moving core pieces (not Hibbert or PG) for picks, expirings, etc. pretty much ensures that while our guys will give effort.... we won't "win ourselves out of a top 13 pick" at least.
    Because the talent drop-off from 13 to 14 is so significant?
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    Default Re: Is it pointless to try and win in a season where you can't win a championship?

    Looking at championship teams, and counting how many top picks they have, is a bit misleading.

    Yes, Wade was a high pick, but he doesn't win without Orlando's high pick or Cleveland's high pick. How did they get those other high picks? FA signings.
    Same goes for the Lakers. Without Shaq and without Pau, does Kobe win rings? The only recent exception to this is the Spurs, and a whole bunch of luck is the only reason they got to where they are, not to mention great drafting late in the draft.

    How can you say drafting high helps teams when here recently those high draft picks aren't staying with the teams that draft them?


    There is a lot more examples of high draft picks doing nothing for the teams that drafted them, than there are staying with those teams and winning. So in the end, what good did Orlando getting Shaq do for Orlando? Not much. Maybe a sticker saying "We drafted Shaq."
    Just because you're offended, doesn't mean you're right. ― Ricky Gervais.

    What if someone from a school of business or management school were to ask, How did you do this? How did you get the Pacers turned around? Is there a general approach you've taken that can be summarized?

    Larry Bird: Yeah, patience.

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  44. #25

    Default Re: Is it pointless to try and win in a season where you can't win a championship?

    Quote Originally Posted by BillS View Post
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    Because the talent drop-off from 13 to 14 is so significant?
    Not necessarily. Who we want/need might not be there at 14. Those slots make a difference. Teams want a guy, he is drafted 12th... they have the 14th pick. They call the team who drafted at 12th about a trade, that team says "no.. goodbye." And then you end up drafting your second choice, or just the best player available at 14. It doesn't matter talent wise, drop off is minimal. But need and want wise? It does matter. If you need a point guard or a center, but the best available is taken two slots ahead of you, if you can't work a trade you're screwed.

    I have faith in our front office though as far as scouting talent. Paul George of course, Lance, Solo seems to be blossoming, and K. Leonard was a great pick! We just had to trade him because we were in need of a point guard of some sort.
    Last edited by Grimp; 11-18-2014 at 11:10 AM.

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