Saving The Skyhook Roundtable: A Discussion on Tanking

The topic of tanking has been talked about a lot recently, especially since there isn’t much else to discuss in the NBA world in August and September. The Sixers’ blatant tanking campaign and the Bucks’ stubborn resistance to the tactic have been the main catalysts of the discussion.

Jul 23, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; First round draft pick center Nerlens Noel poses with his jersey during a press conference at PCOM. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Here at Saving The Skyhook, we decided to offer our opinions on tanking. Basically this roundtable is our opinions on whether or not we’re okay with the idea of a team purposely losing in order to gain a chance at a higher draft pick.

Jack Maloney (@jmaloney9)

Part of the reason I put together this discussion was to try and figure out my feelings on tanking, which I’ve never been able to get a firm grasp on. Sometimes I hate the idea, but other times I’m perfectly okay with it. In general, I’m against losing on purpose – but when the stakes change to championships and millions of dollars, my feelings change. We’ve seen teams tank successfully and completely turn their franchise around, while we’ve also seen teams take a middling approach and make it work. Any time there are über-talented prospects waiting in the next draft class, there will be teams willing to sacrifice a season in hopes of ending up with an Andrew Wiggins. In the end, my personal feelings on the topic are as murky as ever, but I can certainly understand the appeal.

Matthew Hochberg (@MatthewHochberg)

I am a competitor. No matter what I am doing in life, whether it is playing a game of Scrabble, a round of Temple Run or an intense pick-up basketball game, I am always trying to win. To win in the NBA, however, sometimes losing is necessary. Let’s take the Philadelphia 76ers for example. Do they have any realistic shot of winning the 2013 – ’14 NBA Championship? Not at all. But will they have a chance if they can land Andrew Wiggins in the 2014 NBA draft? Maybe, just maybe. To go along with the possible Wiggins selection, they have young studs in Michael Carter-Williams and Nerlens Noel.

This past summer, Philadelphia GM Sam Hinkie traded away the team’s top talent, Jrue Holliday for Noel and a 2014 first-round pick. By opting to go that route, he sent a clear statement to the rest of the league that the 76ers are a team to watch – just not this season.

Of course, however, some good fortune must come your way as well. After two straight disappointing seasons in 2005 and ‘06, the Seattle Supersonics decided to scrap their team. On draft night in 2007, they traded away Ray Allen, the most prolific three-point shooter the NBA has ever seen. Moments after the deal, they drafted Kevin Durant. Fast-forward one year later, to 2008, and the newly transformed Oklahoma City Thunder selected both Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka. Just like that, the team went from a disappointing franchise in Seattle to an instant NBA title contender in Oklahoma City.

Am I pro-losing? No. But am I in favor of making a few sacrifices along the way in order to achieve greatness? Certainly.

Michael Wesson (@iamwesson)

Tanking has become the biggest known secret for next year’s NBA Draft, which features the best draft class in years. The idea of teams tanking brings a few things to mind and makes me wonder, why hasn’t the NBA done something about it by now? In my opinion, it is never good to tank for a better draft pick because you are betting on the hope that a young college phenom will turn the fortunes of your franchise around. Just ask the Wizards how that turned out when they took Kwame Brown in the 2001 Draft. As long as the NBA keeps the current structure of the draft lottery and does not try to prevent tanking, that will be the hidden strategy for dreadful teams trying to turn their failures into success.

Quentin Haynes (@Haynesenberg)

I’m okay with tanking, the measures teams take to tank, and ultimately, how it effects the regular season. There aren’t many ways a team like Charlotte or Milwaukee can improve the team, so why be mad if they decide that positioning themselves for a higher draft pick is the best way to improve quicker? Most of the teams that could be tanking this season, sans Philadelphia, aren’t big free agent destinations, and tend to overpay for talent. Why should teams cripple themselves with a poor contract (Al Jefferson to Charlotte)? All in all, I think tanking isn’t a big issue because the league can’t control it, and for teams in smaller markets, it’s actually a strategy that allows them gives them a chance to win moving forward.