Despite Adam Silver’s empty threat to punish teams tanking for a top-3 lottery pick, teams are still tanking and there is nothing Adam Silver can do. It’s easy. Just put a lineup on the court that is overmatched and overhelmed. Rest key players with knee or groin tightness and then watch your team lose. Of course, it’s all a gamble. The worst record rarely gets the best player and top pick but it’s worth it if you are trying to snag a Joel Embiid wannabe or a Jayson Tatum clone. The only way you get better in the NBA is through the draft and through free agency. At some point, you have to acquire the services of the young and talented. The Tanking 8 (Brooklyn is not included because Cleveland has their pick) has a mother of God awfulness of 16-64 their last 80 games.
Who Are The Desperate?
Memphis. They haven’t won a game since January 29th. They have lost 13 games in a row. They have the worst record in the NBA. Mike Conley’s injury ruined their season. So did firing David Fitzdale. They need lottery talent because getting a star free agent in Memphis is Mission Impossible. Conley is coming back so they have some light at the end of this grotesque tunnel of old players and mediocre young ones. 2017-18 Wins Projection: 23 wins.
Phoenix. The worst front office of the lottery group. They opened their season trailing by 50 points and then their season swooned from there with their only highlight being the Eric Bledsoe trade. Since January 31st, they are 1-11. They are a team of lottery picks wanting more lottery picks. They are doomed for the near future. Too many kids. 2017-18 Wins Projection: 24 wins.
Dallas: Mark Cuban was punished by the league for being honest. He admitted tanking is the only way to upgrade talent. They have nice players in Dennis Smith Jr. and Harrison Barnes but after that the cupboard is bare. Word on the street is they will swing at the Julius Randle fences. Since January 13th, they are 4-16. But hey, Dirk is still active. 2017-18 Wins Projection: 25 wins.
Atlanta: The worst team in the East, Atlanta’s tanking strategy began when they traded Dwight Howard for a ham sandwich last summer. If the Dirty South and the Process had a baby, it would be the Hawks. Atlanta is building a state of the art arena. You will be able to play golf while the game is going on. Good thinking. The team is going to suck. Watching them will be like root canal surgery. Since January 20th they are 6-13. 2017-18 Wins Projection: 25 wins.
New York: The Knicks have found out the hard way that Derrick Rose wasn’t the problem and Carmelo wasn’t the problem and Phil wasn’t the problem. There is Kristaps Porzingis and nothing else. They need to find a worthy talent to pair him with. The Knicks ineptness has a point. They hope to lose their way into the top 3. Since January 19th they have won 4 games. They have lost 14. 2017-18 Wins Projection: 31 wins
Sacramento: It should be called the Sacramento Kings lottery. This will be their 12th year in the lottery. The only mega star they were able to grab was DeMarcus Cousins and then they traded him. Looks like a lot of lotteries in their future. Don’t despair Sac-town. The movie “Lady Bird”, filmed in Sacramento and with a Sacramento story line, may win Best Picture tonight at the Acadmey Awards. Since January 28th, they have won 4 games and lost 11. 2017-18 Wins Projection: 25 wins.
Orlando: Losing Shaq and losing Dwight and just plain losing has netted them so-so NBA talent. Aaron Gordon is good enough. Victor Oladipo was traded. So was Elfrid Payton. They have nothing to show for their misery and here they are again, still morose. They beat the Lakers on January 31st and have won 5 games since. They have lost 8. 2017-18 Wins Projection: 25 wins.
Chicago: The most hope out of the lottery teams because Lauri Markkanen looks terrific even as he is still a developing project. Kris Dunn has potential. Bobby Portis can do some things. But they still are a couple of players away. A scorer and a post presence. They are 3-13 since January 22nd. 2017-18 Wins Projection: 27 wins.