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Simmons On Tanking

BillSimmons takes on the tanking problem in the NBA full force.  First with an article for The Mag, and next with a follow up blog entry.  His conclusions:

1. The lottery system was originally created to prevent teams from tanking for better draft picks ... which is exactly what's happening right now (as described in the magazine column). So they completely failed in that regard.

2. The lottery system also hoped to turn the fortunes of struggling franchises. Well, as we just proved, it completely failed in that regard, too. If anything, top-four picks have a significantly better chance of struggling for a few seasons, then getting traded before finally landing on a contending team. It's much, much, MUCH less likely that they will turn around their first franchise themselves.

3. We've had one major lottery success story so far -- the Spurs winning three titles with Duncan -- which was actually a complete fluke because the Spurs averaged 59 wins from '94 to '96, then dropped to 20 wins because their best two players (David Robinson and Sean Elliott) played a combined 45 games in '97. In the past 20 years, only two No. 1 picks won titles for their original teams: Robinson ('87) and Duncan ('97).

4. For everyone rooting for tanking franchises right now and dreaming of multiple titles with Oden or Durant ... just remember, you never know.

Hard to argue with any of his points.  I will, however, point out that this is one of those special years when you could get a Yao Ming or LeBron James type franchise-changing player.  In fact, there is one of each in this draft.  In addition, the teams with the tow worst records already have a star player in the fold (Gasol and Pierce), setting up a similar situation to when Duncan joined Robinson.  The top 2 picks will have an impact on the teams that draft them.

I agree the that the concept of tanking is a little obsurd, and I've maintained all along that the players and coaches are trying to win games.  However, I can't say that I blame the GMs of each of the teams for "being cautious" with their rosters and injury concerns given the current system.

Mini-prediction, the league will look at making some changes once again.

By the way, on a side topic, is there any reason why we have to wait a month after the season ends to get the Lottery results?  Hockey season just ended and they already know who is picking first.  The wait will drive me mad over the next 40 or so days.

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