The Philadelphia 76ers will most likely set an NBA record for futility Saturday night when they lose to the Detroit Pistons. It’ll be Philly’s 27th loss in a row, eclipsing Cleveland’s record of 26 set a few years ago. From coast-to-coast, the 76ers are being hammered for tanking this season. I’m 100% on board with the tank job, and it makes complete sense. Let’s count the ways:
1) Anytime a new leader takes charge at an organization, change happens. Sometimes, it is slow change, so as not to upset too many folks. Many people are deathly afraid of sudden change. Other times, as has happened in Philadelphia, the teardown is swift, and the gutting quite brutal. The 76ers ripped off the band-aid instead of slowly taking it off. In sports, this makes complete sense. Still, teams are terrified they’ll “lose” the fanbase. That’s criminally dumb. Build a winner. Fans will come.
2) This is how you go from the dreaded middle of the NBA (or below average), to the basement, quickly: Since losing game seven to Boston in the 2012 Eastern Conference semifinals, Philadelphia has traded its best player (Andre Igoudala) for a player who didn’t play one minute (Andrew Bynum), fired a coach (Doug Collins), hired a new GM (Sam Hinkie), traded its 2nd best player (Jrue Holiday) for a draft pick who was injured and sat out the entire year (Nerlens Noel), and traded away its former No. 2 overall pick (Evan Turner) for essentially nothing.
3) No team goes into the 2014 NBA draft – a very, very good draft, not just at the top, but into the 2nd round – in better position than Philadelphia. As of today, it looks like they’ll have two lottery picks (absolute best-case: 1 and 6) and four or five 2nd round picks. Before you scoff at 2nd round picks, enjoy watching these recent 2nd round picks play a role in the upcoming NBA playoffs: Chandler Parsons (Houston), Draymond Green (Golden State), Patrick Beverley (Houston), Danny Green (San Antonio) and Lance Stephenson (Indiana). Oh, and you’re not locked into using all of them – you now have flexibility to make a trade. Flexibility, cap room, high draft picks … these are good things.
4) After Cleveland lost 26 games in a row, guess what the result was? It got Kyrie Irving, a very talented point guard who they thought they could build around (still can, if you ask me). Why is Cleveland still a mess? Because it didn’t follow up that draft pick with any good moves. Drafting Dion Waiters 4th (over Harrison Barnes or Andre Drummond) and then Anthony Bennett 1st (over Victor Oladipo) is what set the Cavaliers back.
5) You know what’s worse than tanking? The Knicks being stuck in cap hell, not having any draft picks, and being just bad enough to miss the playoffs. When the 76ers land Andrew Wiggins and Aaron Gordon in the draft, and then pick up Russ Smith, DeAndre Kane and Nick Johnson in the second round, let me know if tanking was a bad idea.
Related: Jim Boeheim Doesn’t Think Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker Are Worth Tanking For
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Related: NBA Trade Deadline Snoozer: Tanking and Bench Fortifying for Fringe Playoff Teams