Opinion: Tanking in the NBA is not all that bad

By: Donnie Menke ~Staff Writer~

Photo courtesy of ftw.usatoday.com | 76ers Nerlins Noel and Jahlil Okafor have suffered through a rough season in Philly.

One of the bigger issues surrounding the NBA the past few seasons has been tanking and whether it will have an overall negative impact. To clarify, tanking is purposefully putting a bad team on the court in hopes of obtaining better draft picks and accelerating the rebuilding process.

The almost universal opinion is that tanking has no place in the league and should not be tolerated. One of the biggest arguments against tanking is that it makes for awful basketball and that people do not want to watch it.

It’s true that most people, instead of watching a tanking team, will watch a different game if available. However, it’s not necessarily true that tanking makes for bad basketball. The best example of tanking the last few seasons is the Philadelphia 76ers, and while they certainly aren’t a good team, they aren’t bad to watch.

Another point in favor of tanking is that if you can be patient enough to endure the process, you are almost certain to come out with a championship-caliber team. It may be hard to picture, but teams like the 76ers could be at a championship level if they draft well, instead of always being stuck in the middle. Right now, tanking teams may be difficult to watch and follow, but they could eventually reach elite levels.

Tanking may seem like teams are trying to put the worst squad possible out on the court every night, but in that regard it may be viewed incorrectly. In reality, what most of the tanking teams do is realize they have no chance at a title with their current roster and can’t obtain the necessary talent through the draft or free agency to become a championship team.

What they do next is tear the team down to the base and start over. To do this, you need to get rid of most, if not all, of your pieces that will have no value to you when making a title run and get as much as you can for them. This creates a faster rebuild and allows the younger players, who will be assets in the future, to develop.

Also, while tanking is purposeful, once the teams are playing, they are just like any other subpar team the NBA has to offer. The only difference, in my opinion, is that the tanking teams will be better before their opponents. Tanking, at its core, is an extreme and accelerated method of rebuilding a team. While it can be painful to watch and follow, the potential payoffs are enormous. Everyone who watches basketball wants to watch teams like the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers, and they more than offset potential revenue issues the 76ers and other bad teams might cause. All in all, tanking is not as bad as it seems.