March 13, 2018, 11:01 am

This year’s Tank Is good for the NBA

Just take a look at the standings and you’ll see why...

This year’s Tank Is good for the NBA

Tanking is bad for the NBA.

I don’t deliberation anyone would reason against that statement. Nor should they.

No one wants to ticker their team lose over and over and over again. Losing on intent does not conform with the goals and norms we as a social group have forbidden for our athletes and franchises. We want to win, and if we can’t win ourselves, then we want to win vicariously done someone or thing else.

You and I both would instead ticker Marc Gasol, Tyreke Evans, and Chandler Parsons be astir .500—perhaps a bit better—on a regular footing because you and I want to be pleased instantly as frequently as possible. We feeling exoneration from the time, effort, and medium of exchange we’ve exhausted on this team, and the easiest way to see that proof is done wins.

However, you and I both also know that abbreviated term satisfaction may heighten long term troubled and vice versa, which is why we ought to digest the actual losing run and broad immeasurable play the Memphis Grizzlies have shown over the course of study of 65+ games. We understand that there is a greater goal (the best odds of the number one pick in the draft are awarded to the worst team in the league) that could come from the team’s actual struggles; we therefore cast our hopes into the future where the unknown, we hope for better or worse, will improve upon the present.

All of that waxing poetic astir tanking in professional American basketball can be summed up thusly: although tanking for the league is bad, tanking for the Grizzlies is good.

In fact, tanking for any organization clearly not in contention for the playoffs is good for those franchises. As a result, this year there are more teams amidst the lowest of the low than we have seen possibly in the history of sport. The field has widened somewhat, but there are still nine teams within five and a half games of the worst record (which the Grizzlies actually own) and seven teams within two and a half games. It is an epidemic of tanking the likes of which we have never seen.

Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

The idea, then, would follow that if the league is experiencing a historic spat of tanking and if tanking is bad for the NBA, then that rash of calculated losing must be very bad for The Association.

However, I reason that the parity within this year’s race to the bottom is actually good for the league.

Before explaining why this year’s tankathon actually assists the NBA as opposed to ruining it, I’d like to clarify a few things:

  • I’m not arguing that tanking is fun. It most certainly is not.
  • I’m not arguing that tanking itself is good for the league. It dilutes the talent level (a.k.a. star power) of too many teams and manufactures a product on the court that is borderline unacceptably below average. Those things are bad, and I am not praising them.
  • That having been said, competition of any kind benefits the NBA, and this is the most wildly competitive race for the best lottery odds in basketball history. It is not the type of competition the NBA wants, but it is nonetheless a positive for the league.

    For example, as a Grizzlies fan, you would otherwise have no incentive to ticker the team if you knew they were going to get a top two or three pick. If the outcome of the season is relatively certain, and if that outcome is markedly not positive, then there’s no reason for you to indulge yourself in bad basketball unless you’re a masochist or a zealot (or both). I call this the “Reverse Golden State theory.”

    Nicole Sweet-USA TODAY Sports

    Before this season and doneout the 2016-17 campaign, fans harped astir the inevitability of the Warriors winning the Finals, complaining that their dominance took the fun out of the season since it was relatively obvious that Golden State would be the champion. But now that Houston, Boston, and Toronto have emerged alongside Cleveland as genuine threats for the 2017-18 title, the interest level for both the regular season and playoffs has increased.

    That theorem works in reverse as well. When the Philadelphia 76ers were in the deepest depths of Hinkie-ism, there was absolutely no one who could touch their tanking brilliance. And, at best, it was ludicrously boring; at worst, it manifested itself as hopelessness stemming from self inflicted flagellation. It was easy to pose Philly as a pariah because it was the only franchise daring enough to be that desperately bad.

    The Sixers paved the way for six or seven different teams to attempt that feat this year. As there’s not one team to single out as the leader of the pack, it’s harder to affix blame for the epidemic. But because there are a host of organizations that are still in the thick of things at the bottom, because the outcome of the draft order is far from decided, and because there’s a possibility for so much variation in that draft order, dedicated intrigue remains.

    Part of that intrigue, as a Grizzlies fan, should be knowing your enemy, which is the second main reason why parity in tanking benefits the NBA.

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