Tanking in the NBA has been one of the more controversial topics over the past decade or so. It has been such a controversial topic because teams seem to purposely put a bad product on the floor in order to lose and increase their chances at a high draft pick. The NBA has been looking into reasons why teams do this, and ways to prevent it, but it seems like it is a system that has proven to be necessary for some teams. Take the Philadelphia 76ers for example.
The Sixers are the most prime tanking example because they were stuck in mediocrity with getting bounced early in the playoffs, year after year, with no change in sight. The Philadelphia fan base suffered through years of record-long losing streaks, players like Henry Sims and other alike assuming starting positions. Five years after the initial tank started to take flight, the Sixers have obtained four top three draft picks since 2014. It was a tough five years for the fans of Philadelphia to not have a quality team step on the floor every night, but it was necessary to get past that mediocre state that they were stuck in.
Tanking can be necessary for teams knowing that they have virtually no chance of making a push or teams that need to take a step back, in order to step forward past mediocrity.
Here are some teams who should be considering the “tanking” method this season.
1. Chicago Bulls
The Bulls remind me a bit of how the Sixers were before they decided to go down the tanking route. Chicago has made the playoffs eight out of the last nine seasons. The bad news is they have been to the Conference Finals only once, and have suffered five first-round exits during that stretch, including a 4-2 series loss to the Boston Celtics in this year’s playoffs. Two of the best players for Chicago are gone in Rajon Rondo and Jimmy Butler. Some of the new faces that will be in the fold include Justin Holiday, Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and Lauri Markkanen, the seventh overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. The last three names represent the trio of players the Bulls acquired in a trade for Butler. The likelihood of making the playoffs for Chicago are very slim, so with them getting a lot younger after the Butler trade, it is time for them to focus on asset collection and find out who can be the star among their young, new bunch. New York Knicks
2. New York Knicks
The Knicks are a team that finally has to get some really good return for how bad they have been since last season. With the way that Phil Jackson handled Carmelo Anthony, to the way that the Knicks sign Tim Hardaway Jr., a player who was already on their roster in previous seasons, to a ridiculously high paying contract. With Carmelo either being traded in the coming months or starting on the opening day roster, the Knicks are a team that NEEDS to tank. They have to find that young star to pair up with Kristaps Porizingis. Now, I think Frank Ntilikina will be a solid PG in the league, but the Knicks messed up on skipping over Dennis Smith Jr. He could be a guy who haunts the Knicks for years to come.The Knicks can look to plan ahead for their draft position in 2018 because they do not have much to look forward to this season. The key this season is for their upper management acquire more assets.
3. Atlanta Hawks
It’s crazy that only two seasons ago, the Hawks were a 60-win team looking to make a run at the NBA Finals. Now, this team is in full on tank mode with returning only one of their four scorers from last year after Millsap, Dwight Howard and Tim Hardaway Jr. left the team this off-season. And expecting the combo of Dennis Schroder and Kent Bazemore to carry an NBA offense is a laughable idea. It will be tough to get fans in the stands for this team. Atlanta won’t be able to recruit a new face of the franchise via free agency so it will be better to seek out one in the 2018 draft.
4. Orlando Magic
The Orlando Magic are a team that really shock me with their decision making. Their roster is currently constructed with young wings who have not proven themselves with their jump shot yet and they have seven young players who will fight for time in three frontcourt spots. Elfrid Payton has not been that promising of a point guard and his improvement has stalled. Vucevic and Aaron Gordon were the subjects of many trade rumors last season. They have yet to get anything out of No. 5 pick Mario Hezonja, but he could look to have a better season with new draft pick Jonathan Isaac. Besides that, the Magic do not have much to look forward to this season.
Tanking all can help these teams for their future, but let’s remember that there is a lot of risk with the tanking process. The Sixers’ tanking process didn’t seem like it was going to work with Nerlens Noel tearing an ACL his rookie year, then back-to-back season-ending injuries of Joel Embiid. All hope of the tank seemed to be out of the window. But once those major young stars that Philadelphia was waiting for took the floor, the tanking all seemed worth it. Many teams did not want to tank in the past, but now seeing what can happen, more GM’s around the league should be seeing the upside.