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Old 12-24-2011, 11:42 AM   #1 (permalink)

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Default Colangelo learning the virtue of patience

Good article by Eric Koreen.

Instead of chasing a free agent who could do much to alter that, Colangelo signed three players nearing the end of their careers (Jamaal Magloire, Rasual Butler and Anthony Carter) and two 20-somethings with no history of significant NBA success (Aaron Gray and Gary Forbes). Instead of drafting a marquee college player such as Kemba Walker to ignite a tired, beaten-down fan base, Colangelo selected Lithuanian centre Jonas Valanciunas with the No. 5 pick in the June draft. The centre cannot come to the Raptors until next year because of a pre-existing contract.

“Clearly there were players on the board that would have yielded instant gratification, or more potential instant gratification,” Colangelo said. “But this is about a long-term pick, and it clearly is the right long-term pick.”

For Colangelo’s Raptors, this is a major sea change. Bosh was a significant enough piece, in Colangelo’s eyes, to try to build around. He went from one extreme (defensive-minded centre O’Neal) to another (playmaking forward Turkoglu) in an attempt to do so, and he certainly failed in the process. But he felt as if he were only one move away from legitimate contention.

Obviously, the lack of a franchise fulcrum has been the biggest factor in changing that mindset, but it is not the only one. Truly competing for a championship now requires a sturdier foundation, something more than Bosh and parts ever could have been.

The NBA is full of teams with multiple superstars, and there is no shortcut to acquiring those types of players if you reside in the NBA hinterland. You either have to find a megastar in the draft (see: Oklahoma City and Kevin Durant) or acquire enough quality assets (again, usually through the draft) to turn them into a pillar through a trade.

That explains away the talent imbalance on this roster. Of the five most intriguing Raptors players, four (Andrea Bargnani, Ed Davis, Amir Johnson and Valanciunas) play up front. Logically, it would be very difficult to give all of those players the minutes they need to develop properly. The 2012 draft, as it figures, is particularly heavy on front-court players, which only complicates matters.

“It’s a stacking principle,” Colangelo said. “You want to have guys that are there at various positions, and even if there is [positional] duplication, you can decide which one fits best and move on and possibly move a piece and convert that into something else.”

It is another short-term problem that Colangelo hopes will become a long-term advantage
Once upon a time, Colangelo bet on the evolution of the game. Now he is betting on three traditional building blocks of basketball success: a defensive emphasis, the regenerative powers of the draft and the positive effect of time on youth. As his team conforms to that transformation, the present will persist, with no months-long scouting trip in sight.
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