The Problem with Tanking

NBA Teams Should Reconsider Tanking to Get Draft Picks

By: George Burkert

The Philadelphia 76ers had ups and downs when they tanked. (Credit:

As the NBA Playoffs continue, teams that did not make the playoffs are getting ready for the draft lottery selection. These teams are hoping to get one of the top picks that are likely to be a future superstar.

Some of these teams at certain points during the season just gave up and decided to tank. In past seasons, other teams chose to tank to try and rebuild their teams for the future.

Tanking is when teams purposely lose games as long as they have a better chance of being in the NBA Draft lottery. While it sounds good for teams that want to rebuild with young players that have star potential, it sets a bad example and does not always work.

Tanking is unfair to the fans who are loyal to their teams and go to many games to see them compete. Even though they may recognize their team isn’t all that great, they still want to see them try.

Another problem is there is no guarantee a lottery team will get a future star. While some players live up to the hype, some end up being draft busts, which are players that are drafted high but do not play up to that potential.

One team that spent many years tanking was the Philadelphia 76ers, who had the slogan for those tanking years, “Trust the process.” However, some may argue that the plan pulled through because it got them Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, who have helped the 76ers become one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference the past few years.

Some also bring up that the other lottery picks the 76ers received were busts. Players like Michael Carter-Williams, Markelle Fultz, and Jahil Okafor did not play well and ended up being traded to other teams.

Another thing is that teams can rebuild without tanking, as long as their front office makes smart decisions. Some teams only miss the playoffs once, but bounce back right away. An example of this are the San Antonio Spurs, who missed the 1997 playoffs, but came back the following year after drafting Tim Duncan.

The Boston Celtics are an example of this. They missed the playoffs once in 2014 after trading their aging stars to the Brooklyn Nets. After that season, they got better each year and always made the playoffs, drafting well, making good trades, and good free agency signings. They also had a great coach by the name of Brad Stevens.

Another team being smart and not tanking are the Los Angeles Clippers. Last year, despite missing the playoffs, they still won 42 games and this year, they made the playoffs and won two games against the reigning champions, the Golden State Warriors.

Another problem with tanking is that young stars on those teams will get upset and want to be traded. This will cause major problems and even more drama for those teams.

For example, the Phoenix Suns continue to get high draft picks with lots of potential, but are still one of the worst teams in the league. Some people say shooting guard, Devin Booker is wasting his talents on the Suns and should demand a trade.

While it is unknown if Booker would demand a trade, he is clearly displeased with the loses he has experienced since being drafted in 2015. If something does not change for the better, he might demand a trade.

Kristaps Porzingis demanded a trade this season for similar reasons. Young players could follow his example.

The league had taken some measures to prevent less tanking, such as changing the top three draft picks selection, but teams will still find a way to tank. While some fans might be okay with it, the majority of them are annoyed and want their teams to be competitive again.

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