As the NBA season continues to wind down, certain teams at the end of the standings should be looking to get an elusive lottery pick in the 2017 NBA Draft by hopping onto the tank train.
The term coined for a team who semi-purposely decides to lose as many games as possible is, of course, tanking.
Throughout a tanking season, teams develop their young prospects while also losing enough games to end up with a top-14 pick in the upcoming year’s draft, where they presumably add another young talent.
The latest example of a tank job leading to some success has been the Philadelphia 76ers, who lost so much throughout the years that they ended up with centers Nerlens Noel, Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor, as well as forward Ben Simmons in consecutive years from 2013 to 2016.
With all these players in their arsenal and another key selection coming in the 2017 draft, they should be a playoff team in the coming years.
For the most part, teams know they should begin their tank job once the season is half over. By trading away veteran assets and deciding to increase minutes for young players, bottom-feeder teams are basically wrapping up their season early.
The problem for other teams, who are seemingly between a playoff berth and a losing record, is the decision of whether to push for the playoffs, or just tank.
That time of year to decide is now. Teams like the Sacramento Kings, who are two games behind a playoff spot, must decide whether they should add an elite young prospect to their roster by tanking, or risk a first-round playoff exit at the hands of the Golden State Warriors.
This is what makes the tanking topic interesting because this decision cannot be made lightly, especially as the upcoming draft is touted as one of the most talented in a while.
With players like North Carolina State’s Dennis Smith Jr., Kansas’ Josh Jackson, as well potential impact rookies like Washington’s Markelle Fultz and UCLA’s Lonzo Ball all available for the upcoming draft, teams should carefully make the right decision.
As Maverick’s owner Mark Cuban said per the Star-Telegram’s Dwain Price, “I’d say if I had to guess, there will be a lot more teams that tank in order to get to a tanking point.”
Tanking this season seems to be a hot commodity for many organizations, so which teams will be willing to take the dive?
Of course, organizations have players and fans to appease, but this can also be detrimental to a team’s long-term development because of a lack of talent going forward.
The decision is necessary and with about 25 games left in the season, teams should seriously be considering which of these two will be the more beneficial for their team in the long-run.
So, to tank or not to tank? That is the question.