Need for QUALITY DEPTH on an NBA roster

Each season in the NBA, some organizations make an effort to slide by with something less than a full comportment of capable, high calibre players on their roster … e.g. see the Toronto Raptors this season, as Exhibit A … while still seemingly trying to make some noise in the post-season tournament.

In sharp contrast to this strategy, other top notch outfits, in the NBA, either (i) at The Apex of the League already, or (ii) in The Up-and-Coming category … e.g. see the Celtics, Lakers, Pistons, Hornets, Rockets, Jazz, Suns, Spurs, Mavericks, Magic, 76ers, Cavaliers, etc., as Exhibits B thru some-other-letter-in-the-alphabet … seem to understand implicitly the basic folly involved with this method of operation, in a League where injuries, both minor & major, are a constant hazard over the course of an 82-game regular season schedule pock-marked with back-to-backs, mini-stretches of 4 games in 5 nights, and extended road trips. 

How important is it to have outstanding QUALITY DEPTH on your roster, if you hope to ever compete legitimately for a Final Four spot in the NBA?

——————————————-

Webster out at least eight weeks with foot injury
The euphoric aftermath of the Trail Blazers’ electric start to the exhibition season was dealt a somber dose of news Wednesday when Martell Webster, the front-runner to start at small forward, was diagnosed with a stress fracture in his left foot.

——————————————-

Pretty darn important, according to this corner.

When one of a team’s key players goes down with an injury … the only squads that can survive & eventually conquer are the ones with a plethora of 1st-class NBA players on their roster, ready, willing, and capable of stepping-up to meet the challenge when the opportunity presents itself.

It says here that the Portland Trial Blazers will still be able to give a good account of themselves this season, primarily, because they now fit firmly into The Up-and-Coming category of Top Notch teams in the NBA with outstanding QUALITY DEPTH on their roster … which should allow them to replace a solid young player, like Martell Webster [No. 6 (overall) Draft Pick, 2005], with yet another solid youngster, like Jerryd Bayless [No. 11 (overall) Draft Pick, 2008], and insert him into the mix with the other burgeoning talents they have right now in the form of Greg Oden, Brandon Roy, Travis Outlaw. Rudy Fernandez, LaMarcus Aldridge, Channing Frye, Sergio Rodriguez, Ike Diogu, Nicolas Batum, etc.

It is pure nonsense for anyone … e.g. a casual fan, a so-called NBA Expert, or a real life GM … to think or suggest that an NBA team could conceivably have too many talented [and, therefore, highly serviceable] players on its roster … at any point in time, given the nature of the competition in this League, on a game-to-game basis.

Anyone who trys to tell YOU that Less is somehow equal to More, in this League … in regards to the overall QUALITY DEPTH on a specific team’s player roster … is quite simply doling out the KOOL-AID, big-time, to you.

Fore-warned is fore-armed; and, shame on you, if you choose to drink it.

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10 Responses to “Need for QUALITY DEPTH on an NBA roster”

  1. Arsenalist Says:

    I can’t argue with what you’re saying except point out that the Raptors are pretending contenders. They “hope” to contend rather than “expect” to contend. They’re hoping for many things to go right in order for them to have an outside shot at success. As Jack Armstrong pointed out in his article a couple days ago, we need two of Bargnani, Kapono and Humphries to have career years to be good. That’s a reach, not something to be expected.

    I agree that many franchises just walk into the season hoping to gather momentum, get some respectability and mount a decent win total. Winning titles is not in their mind and I think the Raptors are one of these teams. I think BC in his moment of truth will never tell you that he expects the Raptors to win the East, but hey, you can always hope.

    I know its a farce but its a farce that’s widely accepted as the norm.

  2. Dan H Says:

    “It is pure nonsense for anyone … e.g. a casual fan, a so-called NBA Expert, or a real life GM … to think or suggest that an NBA team could conceivably have too many talented [and, therefore, highly serviceable] players on its roster”

    Well, yeah. But given a limit on the amount of money to spend… (which regrettably is the case with MLSE) which would you prefer? A concentration of talent in the top 5? Or 12 equally talented players?

    For example, look at Boston. The key depth players last year: Powe, T. Allen, Posey. Two of those were on the team the year before. By EXPORTING depth and expiring contracts and IMPORTING starting lineup quality players (all star quality in fact) they went from… well you know.

    Obviously their depth was key to success last year as injuries hit during the season.

    However, the point I wish to raise is that for quality depth to have ANY value, it must be of LOWER quality than that of the starters/big minute players on the team. Usually SIGNIFICANTLY lower quality, for financial reasons.

    Evidence: 2007-2008 Raptors. At the start of last year, it had been argued by many that the Raps had one of the best benches in the league, with quality depth such as Jose, Garbo, Rasho, Delfino, etc.

    However, since so many pieces in the starting lineup were of ‘depth’ quality (Bargs, Kapono, TJ), that is the same or similar quality to those backing them up, the year was a failure.

    Yes, injuries occurred, but isn’t that what depth is for?

    While I agree that LESS is never better than MORE, or even equal, I contest that having MORE in your starting lineup is worth having LESS on the bench. In that sense LESS depth spending allows MORE star power.

    “Celtics, Lakers, Pistons, Hornets, Rockets, Jazz, Suns, Spurs, Mavericks, Magic, 76ers, Cavaliers”

    What else do all these teams have? Besides quality depth? (and I would have to contest the Cavs – they barely have enough talent in the starting lineup to keep LBJ happy)

    STARS. Here’s my top three players for each team.
    Garnett, Allen, Pierce.
    Kobe, Gasol, Odom
    Sheed, Billups, Prince
    Paul, Chandler, West
    Yao, McGrady, Artest
    Williams, Boozer, Kirilenko
    Nash, Amare, Shaq
    Duncan, Parker, Ginobili (no he doesn’t count as depth)
    Dirk, Kidd, Howard
    Dwight, Turk, Rashard
    Iggy, Brand, Young
    Lebron. Period.

    Now here’s a question: you are the GM of each of these teams. There’s an expansion draft. You are given the unorthodox choices:

    1. Keep the top three players on your team, and lose ALL of your depth.

    2. Keep everyone else, all your depth, but not protect your top three.

    Among those ‘Exhibit B’ teams, I think the answer is quite obvious.

    It’s a simple keep one or the other. Which do YOU value more – DEPTH or STAR POWER?

    So, can a LESSER quality depth be worth more than high quality depth? I say, it can. It isn’t always. But to say: “shame on you,” you’d better be absolutely certain that there’s NO possibility of significant benefit to having less quality depth.

  3. khandor Says:

    Dan H,

    If you need me to write it THAT way … I can do that, too. 🙂

    ——————————————————–

    There is absolutely NO possiblity of significant benefit to having less QUALITY DEPTH on your roster … when your team is legitimately trying to win the NBA championship.

    Zip. Zero. Zilch. Nada. The Big Egg-O …

    despite what you might think differently about this subject. 🙂

    ===============================

    One of the problems with composing a detailed entry/article/message/reply/comment on-line, IMO, is the difficulty it presents when also containing more than a few desputable/problematic notions, either about the game, in general, or the specific reasons certain things are the way they are in the environment of the NBA …

    cause it creates a complicated situation which is difficult to unravel in a single reply. 🙂

    For example:

    [from your comment above]

    * But given a limit on the amount of money to spend… (which regrettably is the case with MLSE) which would you prefer? A concentration of talent in the top 5? Or 12 equally talented players?

    This is a non-starter, IMO … as every team in the League has the same $ amount with which to work annually.

    * For example, look at Boston. The key depth players last year: Powe, T. Allen, Posey.

    This is a non-starter, IMO … as these were not the only key depth players on the Celtics’ roster last season. If you think they were, know that you are mistaken in this belief.

    * By EXPORTING depth and expiring contracts and IMPORTING starting lineup quality players (all star quality in fact) they went from… well you know.

    This is a non-starter, IMO … as the Celtics did not JUST ‘export depth and expiring contracts and import starting line-up quality players (all star quality in fact)’. They did much more than THAT.

    If you think that’s ALL the C’s did last season, in order to win the NBA Title, then know that you are mistaken in that belief.

    * However, the point I wish to raise is that for quality depth to have ANY value, it must be of LOWER quality than that of the starters/big minute players on the team. Usually SIGNIFICANTLY lower quality, for financial reasons.

    I’d strongly encourage you to re-read what you wrote there and see if it really says what you were trying to say. If you do, I think you might realize on your own that it doesn’t say what he may have hoped [or intended] to say in the first place.

    As is, it too is a non-starter, IMO … cause it doesn’t make sense, both logically and from a real life perspective.

    QUALITY DEPTH, when it’s present on a roster NEED NOT be of a significantly LOWER standard than what exists at present amongst the HIGH END portion of a team’s roster, at least, if that team is a legitimate contender for the NBA Title.

    If this is not what you think right now, then, I’m sorry to have to inform that you are incorrect in your current perception of how this works at the TOP END in the NBA.

    * However, since so many pieces in the starting lineup were of ‘depth’ quality (Bargs, Kapono, TJ), that is the same or similar quality to those backing them up, the year was a failure.

    This qualifies as a ‘starting point’ for a legit discussion on this overall topic, IMO … except that you have mis-identified THE reason[s] last year’s Raptors team failed to win more games in the regular season and advance further in the NBA Playoffs, if you think that THE root cause for these occurrences was based upon the ‘lack of separation’ [i.e. in terms of actual Quality] between players like Bargnani/Kapono/Ford and the 2nd Unit players on Toronto’s team.

    This was not THE reason[s] for the Raptors’ failures last season … nor is it the chief reason for any team in the NBA failing to advance further in the playoffs any given year.

    * While I agree that LESS is never better than MORE, or even equal, I contest that having MORE in your starting lineup is worth having LESS on the bench. In that sense LESS depth spending allows MORE star power.

    The first sentence is a ‘good starting point’ for this topic, IMO … since it actually refers to a point made in the initial blog entry … BUT the second sentence is simply not accurate in the NBA.

    The REASON the Celtics could make the moves they did last season is NOT because they somehow eliminated or even reduced the overall QUALITY DEPTH on their roster.

    [Hint #1: In my NEXT comment I will show you how the notion that they did do this somehow last season is a fallacy.]

    * Now here’s a question: you are the GM of each of these teams. There’s an expansion draft. You are given the unorthodox choices:

    1. Keep the top three players on your team, and lose ALL of your depth.

    2. Keep everyone else, all your depth, but not protect your top three.

    Among those ‘Exhibit B’ teams, I think the answer is quite obvious.

    It’s a simple keep one or the other. Which do YOU value more – DEPTH or STAR POWER?

    Actually … I don’t think you realize just how incorrect YOUR answer to this seeming dilemma truly is.

    The best Exhibit B teams, in the NBA … in fact, do not accept the proposition that IT IS NECESSARILY a choice between which ONE to keep and which ONE to throw away.

    Ever heard of something called ‘The Kobayashi Maru‘?

    If not … then, you should know that the very best teams in the NBA are, in fact, Expert Practicioners, of this mostly ‘Lost Art of Self-defense & Opponent Annihilation’. 🙂

    If you believe that the best teams in the NBA are not Captained by James Tiberius Kirk types … then, know that you are mistaken in this specific perception … to the nth degree [and beyond].

    [Hint #2: Dan H, please do not take this the wrong way, but … there are extremely and specific good reasons THIS blog has the name it does, in the blue banner at the top of this page; extremely good and specific. 😉 – 😉 – 😉 ]

    ——————————————————–

    In general … instead of composing long, detailed comments … in retort to something which you’ve read or seen or heard on this blog … it is advisable to go with something shorter, instead.

    This serves at least two purposes:

    i) If it’s a great point you’re making … then it allows for a subsequently free-flowing dialogue to occur, back-and-forth, with two or more contributors simply exchanging ideas, WORKING TOGETHER to encompass all of the different angles and perspectives which might otherwise exist around a specific topic that is almost always more complex than many observers realize in the first place … as, much like a tidal wave, the full force of gathered thoughts can be infinitely more powerful than a single massive breaker heading towards shore;

    ii) If it contains a point or two which might be slightly off center … then it becomes much easier to discuss and rectify, at-first, in a manageable way … in contrast to something which can best be described as unwieldy [i.e. a reply comment like this one] … that hopefully stimulates more and better thinking about a topic subsequently.

    ——————————————————–

    Got to run for now … but will try to get back to this later on this evening.

    [Note: 1. Opening Night in the NHL; 2. Opening Night in the NLCS; 3. NBA Pre-season schedule is now in full swing; 4. NFL Week 6 is right around the corner. By Far, the busyiest time of year for this corner. 🙂 ]

  4. Dan H Says:

    “there are extremely and specific good reasons THIS blog has the name it does”

    And that is why I read and respond here. If I expected you would agree with me, why bother? I learn nothing that way. 😀

    But, my apologies for the long format. Will take your suggestions into account in the future.

  5. Dan H Says:

    “there are extremely and specific good reasons THIS blog has the name it does, in the blue banner at the top of this page”

    Those specific and extremely good reasons are why I read and comment. If I knew everything you knew, I would have no need to present fallible arguments 😉

    My apologies, I did get carried away with the length. I will keep my posts short and sweet from here on in.

    Thanks

  6. Dan H Says:

    So, in that regard, just a couple responses to the above (those parts I have even a half-decent response to…) 😉

    “This is a non-starter, IMO … as every team in the League has the same $ amount with which to work annually.”

    – True from an owner’s standpoint, but not a GM’s standpoint. GMs employed by owners such as Mark Cuban find themselves with more money to spend than those employed by owners such as MLSE.

    “QUALITY DEPTH, when it’s present on a roster NEED NOT be of a significantly LOWER standard than what exists at present amongst the HIGH END portion of a team’s roster, at least, if that team is a legitimate contender for the NBA Title.

    If this is not what you think right now, then, I’m sorry to have to inform that you are incorrect in your current perception of how this works at the TOP END in the NBA.”

    So, you are suggesting that among top tier teams, the ‘depth’ players are of similar or equivalent talent levels to those starting? I can’t personally think of an example, but I am admittedly less familiar with the general NBA than with the Raptors.

    Thanks

  7. khandor Says:

    Dan H,

    Please do not take what I said before to be a reprimand of any kind; it was not intended to be received in that manner … only as a suggested means to facilitate easier communication between all participants on this blog. 🙂

    In contrast to some other mainstrean/better known sites … that seem to advocate the submission of ‘phd like treatises’ in the guise on-line communication/commentary … this practicioner believes strongly in the benefits of shorter messages, in general, which allow for the back and forth exchange of ideas and the putting forth of novel concepts associated with non-conventional out-of-the-box-thinking.

    I appreciate the thought you’ve put into your contributions here, thus far, and sincerely hope you continue on in the future. 🙂

  8. khandor Says:

    Dan H,

    ————————————————-
    re: – True from an owner’s standpoint, but not a GM’s standpoint. GMs employed by owners such as Mark Cuban find themselves with more money to spend than those employed by owners such as MLSE.
    ————————————————-

    As regular readers of this blog know already, I am of the belief that the current malaise which exists with both the Raptors and the Leafs has its root cause at the highest level of decision-making within MLSE.

    IMO, the long term fortunes for both of these teams, in terms of ever winning a League Championship, would improve substanially with a sole owner.

    That said, I do not agree with the position you’ve presented in this specific comment.

    As far as I know, the Salary Cap is the same for Mr. Cuban & Donn Nelson as it is for MLSE & Bryan Colangelo.

    If some teams in the League choose to exceed the Salary Cap but not reach the Luxury Tax threshold, while others choose to exceed the Salary Cap PLUS then pay a Luxury Tax, and others choose to not exceed the Salary Cap at all … that is a decision made and endorsed by both the team’s owner and their GM.

    If this isn’t the situation then the GM should quit and find a different line of work, or seek employment with a different owner who shares his same philosophy.

    Either way … the dilemma of which you speak is not caused by the League’s Salary Cap/Luxury Tax threshold, itself, as some teams seem to have the wherewithall to handle the ‘Kobayashi Maru’ expertly while others simply do not.

    [Note 1: IMO, it’s a ‘People Problem’ rather than a ‘Problem with the existing Rules’.]

    ———————————————–
    re: the seemingly disparate talent level between the HIGH END players on the roster of a Top Notch NBA team and the other players that comprise the QUALITY DEPTH of that same team
    ———————————————–

    * Comparing the separation which exists between the best 3 players on a team and the other rotational players is not an indicator of whether or not a specific team has QUALITY DEPTH

    * Comparing the best 3 players on a team to the other members of that team’s regular rotation is not the best way to measure how good the QUALITY DEPTH is for that specific team, in relation to the other top teams in the NBA … if you also believe that the team with a wider gap is the one with superior Quality Depth

    Exhibit A – The 2008-2009 Detroit Pistons

    Best 3 Players
    Chauncey Billups [8]
    Rasheed Wallace [8]
    Rip Hamilton [8]

    Remaining Rotational Players
    Rodney Stuckey [7]
    Arron Afflalo [6]
    Tayshaun Prince [7]
    Amir Johnson [6]
    Antonio McDyess [7]
    Jason Maxiell [7]
    Kwame Brown [6]

    Despite the reps of Misters Billups, Wallace & Hamilton … IMO, there is very little separation between the top 9 players on the Pistons roster this season.

    If you combine Billups, Hamilton & Wallace with Prince & Johnson, as the Pistons are about to do this season, to form their 1st Unit,

    it is simply not a given that this 1st group of 5 players could categorically demonstrate their clear superiority over a 2nd Unit composed of, let’s say … Stuckey, Afflalo, Hamilton or Prince, McDyess & Maxiell/Brown.

    Yet it would certainly be accurate to say that this year’s Pistons’ team has, both, 3 HIGH END PLAYERS & QUALITY DEPTH on the roster overall.

    [Note 2: IMO, this would also be the case for several other top teams in the NBA both last year and this season.]

    [Note 3: When you look at the 2007-2008 Boston Celtics … what you should begin to realize is just how good/solid their #4-15 players truly were, at their respective positions, in comparison to the #4-15 players on the other top teams in the NBA:

    Rajon Rondo [6]
    Sam Cassell [5] *
    Kendrick Perkins [7]
    Eddie House [6] *
    Tony Allen [6] **
    James Posey [7] *
    Big Baby Davis [6] *
    Leon Powe [7]
    Brian Scalabrine [5]
    Scott Pollard [5] *
    PJ Brown [7] *

    * New Additions
    ** Returned from an injury

    and, in comparison to the other 2nd rate teams across the League.

    IMO … what the Celtics did last season was not based solely on their acquisitions of

    Kevin Garnett [9] & Ray Allen [7]

    and their decision to retain

    Paul Pierce [8]

    but, in part, also based upon what they did with the remainder of their roster, by adding a slew of highly serviceable players into their mix, as members of either their 2nd or 3rd Units.

    IMO, there wasn’t even one dog on their roster last year.]

  9. Sam Says:

    Is it possible that Colangelo is willing to take a long-shot this year because of the cap situation and then try to build depth on the roster next year after Parker, Graham and Garbo’s $ comes off the Raptors’ books? Put another way, you (Khandor) and Colangelo may actually agree on this point but BC felt that getting someone with O’Neal’s potential was worth the one-year dearth of depth.

  10. khandor Says:

    Sam,

    In response to your initial query, please allow me to leave you with these two classics of Western Civilization:

    i) I made it Ma, Top Of the World;

    and,

    ii) The Wisdom of a Child [I suggest you watch the whole thing].

    and the thought that, IMHO … although you could well be right about this … as, in fact, Mr. Colangelo and I, might agree about a host of different things, in both Life & Basketball … 🙂 … so, too … is it true that The Devil is in the Details … which is where The Difference lies, as well. 😉

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