With a loaded draft class ready to enter the NBA in the summer of 2014, many teams were seen to be tanking the season with some of their offseason moves in order to have more ping-pong balls and therefore, have a greater chance of landing one of the many franchise-level players plying their trade in college this season.
It’s a sexy way of saying, “we are going to absolutely suck this year and hopefully one day have a superstar to bail us out.” And fans, bloggers and writers buy in. A long-term vision. Rebuilding. All buzzwords from general managers that stripped veterans from their sides in favour of younger assets and draft picks.
And sure, it probably is the best way to build a contender for a mid-to-smaller market team. They can’t go out and sign a LeBron James or Dwight Howard in free-agency. Look at what Oklahoma City Thunder have done – two top-10 talents in the same roster, without having to spend a dime on mostly overpriced free-agents.
So yes, the long-term rewards are tantalising. Having one, or two, years of being really bad can allow a franchise the time to build a pool of younger players; give them playing time, and hopefully watch their seeds grow into a healthy flower. Or All-Star. Whichever you prefer.
The Philadelphia 76ers are one of the teams said to be tanking. They famously traded away star point guard Jrue Holiday for Nerlens Noel and a 2014 first round pick, in a move to stockpile future assets and make the current team worse. So, fans and writers now have to sit back for a season, and watch a team with at least five or six players on that probably shouldn’t be in the NBA. Or at least, if I said to you that they weren’t in the league anymore, you would not be surprised. I’m thinking of the likes of Daniel Orton.
Fans and bloggers alike have, for the most part, bought in. However, it just isn’t as easy as it seems. To watch your team go out there every night and in the back of your head, subconsciously hope they lose, is draining. It almost tests your allegiances. Why should I claim to support a team that doesn’t even want to support itself?
Watching every game is almost a lose-lose situation: “The Sixers won? Oh, they are just worsening their draft stock!” “Philly lost? Why the hell should I keep watching?!”
I guess I should finish by just saying that under the current rules, I’m fully behind Sam Hinkie’s move to rebuild via the draft. It’s the best way to do so. With Michael Carter-Williams, Nerlens Noel, and two probable lottery picks in 2014, the chances of the Sixers being the next Oklahoma City Thunder look pretty good to me. However, it isn’t that easy for every team. And even with the Sixers, it is a chore to follow them for the this season. Having said that, the future is bright. Tanking has long-term gains, hurts like hell in the short-term, but on the balance, is probably worth it. It’s a sexy vision, that can really try to poison a fans’ love for a franchise.
My advice for any fans of teams tanking? Watch the other team playing and hope they catch fire and put on a show. For example, Joe Johnson‘s three-point barrage was one of the highlights for the Philly faithful thus far.