I’ve done season previews for the past three years. Loyalists are well familiar with my MO. The goal is to win a championship. To that end, arbitrary win totals or thresholds such as “making the postseason” are (were) not of direct relevance and only serve to blur the issue. The question to be asked each year is “did this team get closer to positioning itself to win a championship?”
For example: had the Rockets made the playoffs last season, that would not have necessarily been an indicator of success. They were heavily relying on veterans (Scola, Dalembert, Camby) who didn’t fit into the grand scheme of things. It wasn’t value that carried over and helped the team’s trajectory.
This year, things are different. There is not a single veteran of consequence on the roster (aside from Delfino, depending on his role), a fact which brings a smile to my face. The team has the best of both worlds, regardless of outcome. If they’re bad, they’ll get a high lottery pick. But if they’re good, unlike in past years, it’s actually a good thing! For the first time, winning won’t contribute to the franchise’s state of stagnation because it will mean the young players were actually good! It won’t be a case of Kevin Martin and Scola filling it up with nothing to show for the next year.
So what would have to happen for you to call this year a success? As aforementioned, obviously making the playoffs would fit that rubric because it would mean that a good number of the young players exploded.
What if all four of the rookies (that phrase will never get old) struggle (or are even terrible) but the team lands the #1 pick? You could argue that would be a success. (Though it would be a very disturbing reflection upon the scouting department.)
What if Lin is terrible? What if Lin explodes but everyone else is terrible? What if Asik becomes Gortat 2.0? There are many combinations.
Let’s make this easier. How many of these five players (Marcus Morris, Terrence Jones, D-Mo, Royce White, and Jeremy Lamb) would need to have a good year for you to be happy? That’s a tough question. I’d say two.
What do you hope happens? That’s also tough because it can go a number of ways. I think the dream scenario would involve making the postseason (meaning a good number of the young players exploded), Toronto netting a top pick, and then signing Bynum or Harden in the offseason. One can dream can’t they?
I’m curious to hear your take.