City Sports Report

The Lakers Tanking Could End In Disaster Or Success

Byron Scott has the look of frustration on his face(www.guardianlv.com)

The Los Angeles Lakers are a team that is in transition. Kobe is still there, but he is on the shelf at with a torn rotator cuff and is nearing the end of his career. As for the rest of the team, they are trying to develop some of their younger players along with keep the cap number low for the summer. But another thing that the Lakers have been doing is lose games. The Lakers are sitting currently at 16-42 and currently sitting at the bottom of the NBA’s Western Conference, just three games ahead of the Minnesota Timberwolves. Where the Lakers finish is very important to them and if they get their first round pick. If they win too much, they could lose their pick and not be able to further build their team back up. If they lose, they could be drafting a franchise-changing pick. But in the NBA Draft, tanking is not guaranteed to give you the player you need for a boost to your franchise.

The thought of losing is never fun for fans of a team. It can be a drain on the players as much as the fans of the franchise as well. But losing can help create something good in some instances. For example, let’s take a look at the San Antonio Spurs. In the 1996-1997 season, the Spurs had one of their worst seasons they had in a while. They started the season 3-15 under head coach Bob Hill. And after Hill was fired, then front office guy Gregg Popovich took over the team. The team went 17-47 under the leadership of Popovich and it was obvious they were in the running for the first pick of the 1997 NBA Draft. What made it even more obvious was the way the Spurs went about it. They intentionally sat out players like Sean Elliot and center David Robinson to ensure that they had a shot at the first pick in the draft. The Spurs, with their tank method in full display, ended up tanking so bad they got the first pick in the draft that year. And there just so happened to be a young big man from Wake Forest University that they had their eye on. With the first pick of the 1997 NBA Draft, the Spurs selected forward Tim Duncan. The Spurs would go on to make it to the second round of the NBA playoffs in Duncan’s rookie season when he teamed up with David Robinson to form the Twin Towers. And in his second season, Duncan would bring home a championship to the Riverwalk. Duncan and the veteran cast of players that surrounded him took down the New York Knicks in five games and brought the championship trophy home. This would not be the only time the Spurs would bring home the championship home. Duncan has been a part of four more championships since the first one in 1999 (2003, 2005, 2007, 2014) and has been an integral part of the championship attitude that now resides there in San Antonio. In this instance, tanking worked for the Spurs.

This is one of the great stories that can come with tanking, even though it can be a rough thing for the fans to watch. But there are other instances where tanking does not do you any good at all. The Philadelphia 76ers are a team that evidently are on the tanking bandwagon. Although their tanking is not a complete story, it has not been as pretty to watch. The 76ers tanked in the 2013-2014 season. They ended up going 19-63 under coach Brett Brown and it looked as if they were going to cash in some with the picks they had in the 2014 NBA Draft. The play of Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams and forward Thaddeus Young had some feeling they were going to start moving in the right direction. But little did Philly fans know what was in store for them. The team drafted a player that will not play this year, Kansas center Joel Embiid, with their third overall pick and traded their tenth pick, guard Elfrid Payton, to the Orlando Magic. Add to this move that they traded Young to the Minnesota Timberwolves and it seemed like this team may be starting to tank yet again. They have used 2013 first round pick Nerlens Noel to hold together their front court this season, He, like Embiid, missed his official rookie season in the NBA. And eventually a piece that many thought would stick around, Michael Carter-Williams, was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks. The 76ers also collected some more picks from smaller trades they made, but it was a complete shock to see them unload Carter-Williams. And after almost two years of tanking in Philly, there has not been much in the way of hope. The 76ers currently have only 13 wins so far and it seems like they may be on pace for the same record they had last season. And what is even worse, all the losing has not helped them get the correct players in their eyes, to build a core group to lead this team. Instead, tanking has given them a look at players that could potentially be bench players on a good team. And honestly, Philly deserves better than this.

The Lakers are in the driver’s seat and appear to be headed towards tanking. They had previously won two games in a row until Sunday night versus the Oklahoma City Thunder, but for the most part, they have been in tank mode. With this draft, they could get lucky and get one of the crown jewels in this draft in Karl Towns Jr. or Jahlil Okafor and change their franchise. Or they could end up getting a pick in the Top 5 like when Detroit picked Darko Milicic. The Lakers are hoping they land a diamond and not a lump of coal when the draft rolls around. Only time will tell if tanking pays off for them in the end. The combination of a good pick and lots of cap space could turn them around quickly. We shall see what happens and if tanking pays off for them.

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One Comment

  1. ASR

    March 2, 2015 at 5:49 pm

    We will find out if the Lakers’ plan is successful but they will sign very capable free agents and Julius Randle will also return.

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