DJ’s Three-Point Take: The Tanking Speculation

Michael Carter-Williams

Michael Carter-Williams

There’s been a lot of speculation about teams apparently “tanking” for the past few years. “Tanking” is the term used for teams that are said to be losing on purpose to get the top pick in the draft. It has been said that this strategy by teams has been around for a while but it has made its way into the spotlight in the past year with a lot of people beginning to talk about it. The Philadelphia 76ers have been the latest team rumored of throwing games so that they could be at the top of the list to get the #1 pick in the draft. The 76ers were 19-63 in the 2013-2014 season which was the worst record behind the Milwaukee Bucks ,and this season they are currently winless with a 0-16, which stands as the worst record in the NBA.

Earlier this season, a proposal was written to try and change the draft lottery process so that the worst teams had a lower chance of winning the top pick. But it was voted against, only winning 17 out of 23 votes needed to pass. Mark Cuban, one of the NBA’s most outspoken owners, came out and made a statement on the topic when asked what about the situation of the Oklahoma City Thunder. Cuban was quoted in saying, “The question I don’t think anybody has asked is why don’t they pull a David Robinson and try to get Tim Duncan.” He went on later to say that he’s not suggesting anything but just wanted to know why the question hasn’t been asked. It’s hard to tell if he’s for or against the idea of tanking, but going forward, tanking may be something the NBA might want to address before it tarnishes the brand.

  • But are teams really tanking? In my opinion, I find it hard to believe that owners and coaches are relaying a message to their players to lose on purpose. The players of the National Basketball Association have a lot of pride in themselves and have fought very hard to get where they are today. The league is filled with guys that have high egos where some players try to fill their stats and others have an “I can’t accept losing” mentality.
  • This is also a league where coaches don’t last long if their team isn’t producing wins, so tanking could be career suicide for some coaches. Fans pay a lot of money to see their favorite teams play at a high level every night but if teams aren’t giving it their all, it may cause some fans to lose interest in the NBA. The tanking speculation is up in the air and has not yet been proven but it may be something that fans will never truly know the answer to. Some say they are and some say they aren’t, and I’m not sure but I just can’t picture an owner telling his coach or even a coach telling his players, “work hard but not too hard, we want a top draft pick.” As a coach and an organization you always want to instill a “work hard, play to win” mentality in your players. However, if teams are really tanking, something should be put in place to discourage teams from doing so.
  • Even though the last proposal didn’t get enough votes, they should continue to work on something that can be agreed upon to stop the speculation. As a true fan of the game, I want to see every team and every player going on the court working hard, playing to win and I’m sure most basketball fans would agree.


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