Three teams in the Pacific Division, the Kings, Lakers and Suns, have shed off their pretender status or the illusion of trying to win games and all three have embraced losing for winning. They have either traded gifted players (Kings), sat down veterans (Lakers), or embraced a 70 point performance in a losing effort, happily (Suns). That all three are in the same division makes it even the more pathetic or strategic, depending on if you are a glass is half full person or not. Two of the three teams, based on odds alone, should be in the top 5 of the lottery but that only matters if the organization picks the right player for the right reason and if they have a little luck.
Playoff History: The Kings haven’t been to the playoffs in eleven years, not since the 2006 season. The most wins for the Kings in eleven years was last season, 33 wins. For the Kings to match that number this year they will have to finish 6-4. Good luck with that. They have to play the Clippers twice, the Grizzlies, Jazz and the Rockets. Give it your best shot trying to beat playoff teams looking for seeding.
Recent Lottery History: 2016. Georgios Papagiannis via trade (Suns). 13 games. 3.2 points. 3.5 rebounds.
Tanking Strategy: Trading DeMarcus Cousins cleared room for Willie Cauley-Stein to show what he can do. The Kings returned to the fold a not the same player Tyreke Evans who is giving them 14 points a game and 2.4 assists. Buddy Hield is shooting 44% from three. The trade is the best thing to happen to Hield. But Evans and Hield are not enough to offset the loss of Cousins and Rudy Gay.
Los Angeles Lakers
Playoff History: The Lakers haven’t been to the playoffs in four years, not since Dwight Howard got tossed in his last game as a Laker in the playoffs versus San Antonio in 2013. The most wins they have in their non-playoff years was 27 wins when they were coached by Mike D’Antoni. For the Lakers to match that mark this season they will have to finish 6-4 which isn’t happening. They play the Blazers, Wizards, Clippers, Grizzlies, Spurs and Warriors. Celebrate your ineptitude Lake Show and pray you can keep your top-3 protected lottery pick.
Recent Lottery History: 2016. Brandon Ingram. 72 games. 9.0 points. 4.1 rebounds.
Tanking Strategy: The Lakers gave their veterans and 2016 free agent acquisitions Timofey Mozgov and Luol Deng vacation for the rest of the year. So it’s the kids running the asylum. Not too many wins if you are depending on D’Angelo Russell and Brandon Ingram.
Playoff History: The Suns haven’t been to the playoffs since Steve Nash was doing his thing. It was 2010 when they lost to the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals. Seven years have come and gone without a taste of the playoffs for the Suns even though they offered a max contract to one of their own- Eric Bledsoe. In 2012-13 the Suns won 25 games. To match that season they would have to go 3-6. It is not happening. They have to play the Hornets, Hawks, Clippers, Blazers, Rockets, Warriors, Thunder.
Recent Lottery History: 2016. Dragan Bender. 38 games. 3.2 games. 2.2 rebounds. Marquese Chriss. 73 games. 8.8 points. 4.0 rebounds.
Tanking Strategy: The Suns benched their max player star point guard Eric Bledsoe after moving Brandon Knight to the bench and then not playing him either. They put the games in the hand of uber scorer Devin Booker. Why was anyone surprised that the wet behind the ears crew cared more about getting Devin Booker to 70 points than winning the game?Because they all know it is losing games that matters.
photo via llananba