Jul 23, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; First round draft pick center Nerlens Noel addresses the media as 76ers general manager Sam Hinkie listens during a press conference at PCOM. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Talking About Tanking

Whether you agree with tanking or not, that’s what the Sixers are doing. It became clear of that once they traded away their franchise star, Jrue Holiday. I’m still in denial for some reason but I’m getting through it.

This post is going to talk about the concept of tanking and why it’s logical.

Let’s start off by understanding how to win in the NBA. Obviously, you need players. Very good players at least. The question is: How do you get these players? I’ll use current teams as examples. One way is free agency. Sign the player(s) you want. That’s what the Heat did when they go LeBron James and Chris Bosh. Another way is to build your core through the draft. That’s what the Spurs did. Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker were all drafted by the Spurs. And then you have a trade. It’s not the best recent example but the Lakers got Kobe Bryant in a trade from the Hornets Pelicans. It was a draft night trade so some may say that you’re building by draft but I’ll go with trade.

And so, the Sixers are looking to build by draft. As you may already know, the worse your season record, the better chance you have of getting a high valued pick. The idea is suppose to be like a cycle. The good teams draft not so good players while the bad teams draft franchise players. In time, the good teams go over the hill by an aging star or something and the bad teams grow their player into a star. The good become bad and the bad become good. That was the cycle. Some teams seem to always dominate, like the Celtics and Lakers, while some teams never really make noise, like the Raptors and Bobcats.

The Sixers were in the middle. We know this. Never really good enough to contend but good enough to not get a worth while star in the draft. When you’re in this spot, you either need more talent to get to contention (trade, sign, and/or perhaps even draft) or you need to blow the team up and see if you land a future star in the draft.

That’s kinda what tanking is. You have blown your team up and all that’s left is a bunch a rubble. At this point, you clear out the debris and start over with a new foundation. That’s what the Sixers are doing.

But it only works if they lose.

The reason why people encourage tanking is because of a lose now to win later. Before we talk about why the Sixers are tanking, let’s make sure we understand this: In their current state (pre Jrue trade), the Sixers were not going to be a contender. Andrew Bynum wasn’t working out and most likely never would. Jrue Holiday and Thad Young were the two other pieces that mattered. The Sixers were not a tweak away from contending. They needed work. They had some money. They could’ve signed somebody but the issue with that was that big names weren’t drawn to play in Philly. Plus, you don’t want to gut your roster for a couple of stars and then the rest is a bunch of nothing. Your stars better be monster like LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.

Okay, so the Sixers really had one option left. An option that they have been left with since Iverson was traded. Many times, they blew the team up only to bring in players that…okay I’m going to wrap it up here: They brought in mediocre players.

Sam Hinkie came in and immediately set the team up for a lose now; win later approach.

Now look, tanking is something that you never admit to. Remember, in a sense, you’re losing on purpose. As a coach and player, tanking is the last thing on your mind. You’re going out there to play your hardest. You want to at least live up to your contract and get paid later. It’s up to the GM to make the moves. Set the team up for failure.

In the end, the team will be bad, not because they aren’t trying, but because they are simply not good enough. That’s how anti-tankers should look at it. Yup, the team was constructed to lose on purpose. But, as a fan, that’s not your problem. As a fan, you cheer your team on.

But…

It is for the team’s best interest that they lose. I get it, there’s no guarantee in the draft. But hey, there was no guarantee in the Bynum trade. Nothing was set in stone they signed Elton Brand. They tried trading and signing and it didn’t work. Time to try the draft.

But for you anti-tankers out there, I want to see if I can play this card: Cheer for player development while they lose. I hate watching a losing team. But, I can feel more comfortable with the losing if the players are getting better. I’ve been saying this for a while. With Collins running the show, he wasn’t trying to hear about player development. He was trying to make the playoffs. Nothing wrong with that but the Sixers need something different. Odds are, their coach is going to be a young new guy who will grow alongside the team like Scott Brooks and the Thunder.

Scott Brooks played for the Sixers.

It’s hard. Nobody wants to see their team embarrassed each time they step on the court. And I can’t blame you for wanting to see your team win. For me though, I’d rather see them go 0-82 and then win multiple championships vs win 35-45 games and have a decent first round in the playoffs before losing in the second or barely making the playoffs at all. I guess it’s a manner of preference.

So that’s it really. For me, I will be cheering for players to develop. I don’t want to see them lose by 40 per night. The best case scenario is they lose a lot of good games. They played well but still need work type games. Those games always get me excited for the future.

Okay time to hear from you. Let me know where you stand on the tanking. Love it? Hate it? In between? Hit the comment button! And thanks for reading.

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