Tanking is one of the illnesses of professional basketball, professional sports in general. The chase for Andrew Luck in the NFL was another example of how the draft, combined with bad seasons, just doesn’t give these teams an incentive to win. The NFL doesn’t have a lottery, but usually, one player doesn’t change the fate of a franchise.
In basketball? With only 5 players on the court? One player, when there are great ones coming out of college, seems to be worth the deliberate losing. Well, as close to deliberate as you can get. Resting your best players, sudden drops to DL’s and inactive lists. Doing as much as possible not to win without actually telling your players – go out and lose this one, but make it look like you’ve tried.
Teams need to give their fans the best possible value for their money. Even if there’s no title at the end of the rainbow, even if there’s no playoff in the immediate future. Fans like when they see their players giving it their all. When they sense the team is doing everything possible to make the most of the situation. You know, like the Houston Rockets and not like the Charlotte Bobcats or the Golden State Warriors.
But what’s the answer? How do we fix this? First of all, teams that lose shouldn’t be rewarded. I mean, the lottery gives a better chance to the worse team to get the better player. A great and talented young guy gets thrown into a losing culture, and plenty of times sinks with the ship instead of turning it around. Don’t give Tim Duncan as an example, for example. The Spurs were a 50+ win team with David Robinson, who happened to get injured.
Why shouldn’t teams who barely missed the playoffs enjoy a superstar in the making? That is good for the league. Helping teams poorly run on a year-to-year basis, who find themselves in the lottery again and again isn’t good for the NBA and for its fans.
So, what’s the answer? A lottery, but with even chances for all 14 teams participating in it. No reason. Tanking doesn’t sound so good now. I don’t know if it’s a perfect solution, because it harms the parity that the NBA, among most North American leagues strives for, but if the cost of stopping teams from doing everything they can to lose for more than just a few games at the end of the season is ruining equality in the league, which isn’t equal anyway, I’m all for it.