Hirschmann’s Hoops: Is NBA tanking an unsolvable problem?

March 27th, 2014

The NBA playoffs are quickly approaching, yet, the story dominating the NBA isn’t the end of the year playoff races, but instead the Philadelphia 76ers continued losing streak.


At the time of my writing this, the Sixers have lost 23 straight games, just four away from the 27 straight loses by that infamous Antwan Jamison led Cleveland Cavaliers team.


I’ve been one to argue that tanking isn’t a problem, but a team with NBA talent does not just lose 23 straight games.


Tanking is a problem, but it’s not a player problem; it’s a front-office problem.


The idea that NBA players realistically go out there any night and try to lose is one of the most ridiculous ideas that I have ever heard. These guys are in the NBA because they live and breathe basketball; they want to win every game.


Unfortunately for the players, the front office and coaches set up certain teams to fail, hence what is going on with the Philadelphia Sixers right now.


Coming into this year, I have the utmost confidence that the Sixers planned to tank, but lo and behold Michael Carter-Williams blossomed immediately, Evan Turner and Thaddeus Young played liked the veterans they are, and Spencer Hawes turned into a legitimate inside-outside threat.


They kept this up for a while, but then the front-office took over. Over the NBA trade deadline the Sixers did all they could to ship out all of their veterans with legitimate NBA talent for a slew of second-round picks.


All that’s left of that Sixers team that was winning just a few too many games is Thaddeus Young, Carter-Williams, and a bunch of guys who probably wouldn’t be on a majority of other NBA rosters.


And just about every NBA fan, media member, and the rest of the league is fed up with teams like these laughable Sixers putting sub-par talent on the floor in order to get higher draft picks.

But can it be fixed?


I’m not so sure.


There have been plenty of ideas thrown around. There’s the idea that every 30 years the teams take turns having the first overall pick, there’s the idea of an unweighted lottery, changing the lottery odds and just about every other idea that somebody could come up with has been proposed.


But at the end of the day, tanking is unsolvable problem.


You need to reward the bad teams with good players or they are going to remain bad, it’s simple as that.


If you’re a bad team in Milwaukee or Toronto, the only way you’re going to get star players in through the draft.


All the stars in this league do one of three things when they become free agents: stay where they were drafted, go to one of the “meccas of basketball” in New York or Los Angeles, or they go where the good weather is.


That means team like the Bucks, Raptors and Timberwolves are never going to have a star flocking their way unless they are able to draft a star, and then he is be able to recruit other stars.


The odds of this happening are so low that you need to make the playing field level. You need to give the bad teams an opportunity to strike gold and get a star to become relevant again.


It’s a sad realization, but until somebody comes up with a revolutionary idea, there will never be any parity whatsoever in the NBA if we don’t reward bad teams.


And as long as we reward bad teams, tanking will exist.