Tuesday night’s State Farm Champions Classic in Chicago featured two highly anticipated college basketball games in which 68 NBA scouts attended (yes, sixty-eight).
Wait, there were actually 68 scouts in attendance of these two games? I know all 30 NBA teams don’t plan on drafting Kansas’ Andrew Wiggins, Duke’s Jabari Parker, or Kentucky’s Julius Randle.
Well, okay. Those three names may have been the center of attention. However, there were other highly talented prospects such as Michigan State’s Gary Harris, Kansas’ Wayne Selden, as well as Kentucky’s James Young and Andrew Harrison. On top of that, there are a few names I didn’t even mention.
So, yeah…these two games were basically the equivalent of the NBA Draft Combine. But still, the public and media shifted most attention toward Wiggins, Parker, and Randle. Therefore, NBA teams’ objective to “tank” the season were brought up. Coach K was quoted saying he “can’t fathom tanking” and Michael Jordan said “tanking games is no way to build.”
But hold on just a second. The word “tanking” is way too often thrown around casually. When Coach K and Michael Jordan criticize teams for “tanking,” they make these teams seem like they’re making an unethical decision.
The Bobcats are going into their fourth year in which they’ll very likely be a top eight pick (at lowest). If tanking is “no way to build,” then should we just take away Kemba Walker and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and replace them with unsigned veterans such as Gilbert Arenas and Corey Maggette?
Okay, you may or may not have caught me by now. Michael Jordan didn’t intentionally tank the past few seasons which ended in poor results. The Bobcats were just that bad. They simply did not have the talent to be a competitive NBA team anymore.
And that is exactly my point. The word “tanking” is often mistaken for a team intentionally losing games. Teams do not intentionally lose games.
Celtics GM Danny Ainge isn’t holding team meetings and saying, “okay guys…remember, anything more than 20 wins is unacceptable. We want to draft a great player (because you guys are a bunch of bums).” That is not how it goes down.
What Brad Stevens’ Celtics or Tyrone Corbin’s Jazz do is put inferior talent out on the court. They give everyone on the roster a chance to play significant minutes. They call up players from the D-League to play the remainder of the season with the team. They start players who are 21, 22 years old and not yet on a level to compete with the league’s best players.
“What the hell is going on with the Sixers? I thought they were supposed to tank and pick Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker?”
While that may be their plan, coach Brett Brown’s job is still to coach his athletes to become better players and try to beat the opposing team. It’s just a matter of the product that’s being put out on the court.
Philly actually happens to have two great players in Evan Turner and Thaddeus Young as well as a point guard who’s quickly taken the front seat for Rookie of the Year, Michael Carter-Williams. The three guys can play. You think they want to be humiliated with an awful winning percentage?
The fact of the matter is that “tanking” is often misinterpreted as, “we encourage our team to lose every game possible.”
Philly’s James Anderson and Tony Wroten torched the Houston Rockets the other night. We applaud them for that brilliant performance. Their job is to play the best basketball possible while the team is in a rebuilding phase.
Last year, the Magic put inferior and youthful talent on the floor and they were rewarded with Victor Oladipo. That’s not to say they didn’t try their best to win games. It’s just the system: teams who feel they don’t have the tools to win games put out what they do have.
Most of the time, that translates into one of the top five picks of the NBA Draft.
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