"Championships are what we live for, now lets go win them."Tim Leiweke
Basketball has clear winners every night --except at the draft, which is all homework, politics and chance.
The only active team that had a multi-season tank work out for them was OKC (unless you think the Warriors tanked to get Curry, Barnes and Klay... the latter two of whom are the 5th and 6th best players on the team).
In fact looking at the 16 playoff teams, the only ones you could say built by tanking are as follows:
Miami: (Wade 5th in 03)
Chicago: (Rose 1st in 08... probably the luckiest #1 pick ever, I think they finished just outside the playoffs)
OKC: (KD, Westbrook)
Spurs: (Duncan... this was an accident. They had D-Robb who averaged 25-12 the previous season on their way to a 59-23 record. They also added Nique before that year who was still a high teens scorer. That team was set to win 50+ maybe 60 games if not for injuries
Clippers: Blake #1 in 2009
Usually a team with a #4 Pick (Bosh), #8 Pick (Ford) and #1 Pick (Bargnani) all under 23 who appear to have star talent, isn't just going to keep tanking. Especially if with those 3 leading the way you win 47 games.
As for the rest the Bobcats did not tank for a decade. They were an expansion franchise, and by nature 'rebuilding' immediately. Then they were prematurely fighting to make the playoffs (and did make it one year) until they realized that their team was going no where.
Don't confuse losing or not being successful with tanking - they are very different.
In reading the last few pages in this thread, a few other things have stood out to me, which really only serve to further muddy the water with regards to my own opinion on tanking.
All those draft history examples that Xixak pointed out, show just how big a difference there is between a top-3/top-5 pick and a lottery pick beyond the top-3/5. It shows the uncertainty of drafting and just how easily/quickly a team can get stuck in the dreaded 'treadmill' or 'false hope' situation.
Pro-tankers would take that fact as a reason to push even harder for tanking, especially in a deep draft year where difference makers should be available for the top 4-6 picks. Anti-tankers would take that fact as a reason why tanking is unproven, since there's no guarantee that the tank will be successful, or that the lottery balls will reward you (regardless of the 'success' of the tank).
If anything, I think it proves that the draft can be extremely valuable to long-term team building, especially if you have one/multiple top-3/5 draft picks. However, given the uncertainty of the draft lottery and the uncertainty of the player you draft (several 'bust' picks in hindsight in those examples Xixak provided were widely considered 'good' and/or 'safe' picks at the time), the most effective, sustainable team building strategy should be one that doesn't rely solely on the draft to be successful.
One is the difference between tanking and being naturally bad, or bad as a result of injuries - intent.
The trade deadline adds another dimension, where a team that was honestly competing decides that they're a 'seller', so they make a trade. Most trade deadline trades are definitely not a swap of equal current talent, but rather a swap of better 'now' talent (from the seller to buyer) for better 'later' talent (from buyer to seller, in terms of any combination of draft picks, young players and improved financial flexibility). I've been wondering if that approach, which is common every year in every major sport, isn't actually a widely accepted form of mid-season tanking?
The second is the issue of scouting/drafting prowess. That's a whole other issue that could (and has) filled threads on its own!
2004: Picked Okafor 2nd - Could've picked Deng or Iguodala
2005: Picked Felton 5th & May 13th - Could've picked Bynum, Granger, or Lee
2006: Picked Morrison 3rd - Could've picked Roy or Gay
2007: Picked Wright 8th - Could've picked Noah
2008: Picked Augustin 9th - Could've picked B.Lopez or Hibbert
2009: Picked Henderson 12th - Could've picked Holiday or Lawson
2011: Picked Walker 9th - Could've picked K.Thompson or K.Leonard
2012: Picked MKG 2nd - Could've picked Beal, Lillard or Barnes
Getting top picks is only half the story. The other half is having a competent management/scouting department.
"I don't lie. I willfully participate in a campaign of misinformation." - Fox Mulder
2011: Kemba, Biyombo
2010: picks traded away (it got Minnesota Luke Babbitt)
2009: Gerald Henderson
2008: DJ Augustin (mostly a bust)
2007: Brandan Wright, Jared Dudley (Wright traded away for Jason Richardson; Dudley traded WITH Richardson and pick for Boris Diaw + crap)
2006: Adam Morrison (enormous bust)
2005: Raymond Felton (left because Charlotte was hopeless), Sean May (bust)
2004: Emeka Okafor (trraded in 2009 for Tyson Chandler, who the Bobcats then traded away for nothing)
Put this another way: say you had a team, right now, just composed of Bobcats picks since 2004.
PG: Kemba, Felton, Augustin
SG: Henderson, Dudley
PF: Okafor, Wright
C: Biyombo, Zeller
That's honestly pretty close to a playoff team right there. It's lean at small forward, obviously, and it probably tops out at 7-8 seed without the star player Charlotte's never really had. But Charlotte kept trading away valuable and promising assets for win-now. Look how well that worked out.
The last line in quote ties in to the point I was making above about 2007/08. The raptors weren't tanking. They were poorly run - which is easy to proclaim in hindsight but a number of people around here were right at the time, I ws not one. Once they extended Vosh and TJ they had little to no room to manoeuvre. A ceiling was set and reached in very short time. I feel current Raptor squad is in similar position but with older core pieces (gay/Lowry) and cap killing contracts with much less value (dd/fields/gay).
As I mentioned in a different thread, "projections" are just opinions of self-proclaimed internet experts. A good management team puts let's emphasis on DraftExpress, and more emphasis on their own hands-on research.
Why TRob was ever considered a top-5 pick, I'll never know.
"I don't lie. I willfully participate in a campaign of misinformation." - Fox Mulder
.Bad management will make bad decisions, and at that point its really irrelevant what decisions/direction a team makes. Charlotte did a real good job of tanking (collecting assets while losing), but has done, what I'll generously call a questionable job with what to do with their proceeds. Which is what really matters in the end.
EDIT: Did Pat Riley who's considered one of the best GMs in the NBA not select Beasley right before two all-NBAers in Westbrook and Love?
If LBJ stays in CLE and Wade walks to CHI as a result of not wanting to be surrounded by garbage any longer, are the Heat considered a team with bad management?
Is Presti considered a good GM if Portland takes KD and he gets stuck with Oden?
Last edited by Xixak; Wed Aug 14th, 2013 at 02:15 PM.
When a team lands a stud like LBJ, Durant, Griffin, Irving, etc... with a top-3 pick, then tanking is genius. When a team lands a solid starter later in the lottery, the rebuild is a success and scouts/GM get kudos. Same goes for a team getting a rotation player with a 2nd round pick.
The flip-side is that for every 'good' pick, there's at least an equal number of 'bad' picks. That's the real risk of tanking... but ohhh man, the potential reward is sometimes too good to resist.
But here is also my point: that proposed team in many ways mirrors the Raptors. At point guard they're better (Felton/Kemba probably better than Lowry/Buycks, and Augustin cancels himself out). At SG they're better (Henderson/Dudley is much better than DeRozan/Ross). At PF they're better (Okafor/Wright is better than Amir/Hansbrough). At centre Toronto is better (JV/Gray over Biyombo/Zeller). But all of these "betters" are not terribly dramatic either way unless JV really explodes this year (as we hope).
The only position where one team is definitively better than the other is small forward and that's mostly because of Rudy, and like I said: add a good small forward to Team Hypothetical Bobcats and they'd be competing for the low end of the playoffs. That would probably be their ceiling. It's definitely ours.
Now, take Team Hypothetical Bobcats but instead of having Michael Jordan's idiot-of-the-week drafting for them, maybe you have Masai and his draft team making decisions. In 2006 they draft, say, Rudy instead of Adam Morrison. In 2008 they draft just about anybody other than DJ Augustin - it could be Brook Lopez, could be Roy Hibbert, could be Serge Ibaka, could be George Hill, could be Nicolas Batum - hell, go into the second round of 2008 and there's Nikola Pekovic, DeAndre Jordan, Omer Asik, Mario Chalmers, Goran Dragic and Luc Mbah a Moute and all of them would be better than Augustin.
So now you have a roster of
We've just gone from "maybe a playoff team" to "definitely a playoff team."
tl;dr the Bobcats are historically just bad, and there's a difference between rebuilding smartly and being bad, and you keep refusing to recognize that.
Does being 'considered' one of the best automatically make one the best?
If LBJ stays and Wade walks, what does your machine that takes us to alternative realities tell you Pat Riley does instead? If Pritchard takes Durant, does Presti for sure take Oden? If he does, does he draft Westbrook and Harden or others instead? If he does he trade Harden or add other players?
I really don't know how asking impossible to answer questions gives us any sort of insight. But I think we can fairly look at a body of work and get a good idea of an answer.
My point is that even when tanking for multiple years it is possible to get continuously screwed in the draft. As I already said, all of those picks except Ammo (and tbh some people were comparing him to Bird... Lord knows why) were considered good picks at the time. Basic probability dictates that it is much more likely to get unlucky in the draft than to get lucky. That's just the nature of the process. You can drop in the lottery, a team might take a star right before you do, you might have a need that you want to address that ends up costing you a good player. There's many more things that could go wrong as well.
And of the playoff teams that acquired a star with a high lottery pick (MIA, CHI, OKC, SAS, LAC, GSW) only OKC actually deliberately tanked.
Miami: Alonzo Mourning missed the entire 02-03 season due to kidney disease.
Chicago: Bulls missed the 07-08 playoffs by 4 games, finished with the 9th worst record and won the lottery with 1.7% odds.
Spurs: David Robinson 76 games in the 1996-97 season (spurs won 56 games the year before AND added Nique).
Clippers: Elton Brand walked in free agency, after saying he would re-sign. They also signed Baron Davis who averaged 22-8-5 the year before. The idea was to form a tandem with Brand.
Warriors: The aforementioned Baron Davis had just left the team in free agency. They also signed Maggette and Turiaf to try and compensate. The team was still decent but Ellis missed games due to injury and a suspension which allowed them to pick Curry 7th.
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