Who Among Us Hasn’t Tanked?

It’s been a week since the (probably) forced resignation of Sam Hinkie, ending the great tanking experiment of the Philadelphia 76ers and inspiring one last wave of think pieces about the “Process”. Fear not, this won’t be yet another profound critique of Hinkie’s three-year reign. Besides nothing can top Hinkie’s own rambling, TED Talk-esque manifesto of a resignation letter.

Instead, something that Zach Lowe said on his podcast piqued my interest and I’d like to explore it further. In the Lowe Post episode that followed his podcast with Hankie (weirdly, one day prior to Hinkie’s resignation), he pointed out that just about everyone has tanked at some point or another, so it’s somewhat hypocritical to say what Hinkie pulled was some sort of radical new ground. Perhaps the Sixers went overboard with the strategy, but no NBA team is above tanking. Not the Celtics, not the Lakers, not even the high-class Spurs. Below, we’ll go through each NBA team, examine a season in which they tanked and what came of each tanking. See the Warriors’ section to understand the successful tanking equation: one part sheer luck meets one part smart drafting. Hinkie had neither ingredient, hence why he is out of a job – bottom line.

A History of Tanking

Atlanta Hawks | Tanked Season: 2004-05 (13-69) | Last 20 games: 2-18

Rationale: The Hawks had promising rookies (at the time) in Josh Smith and Josh Childress but needed a cornerstone player if they were going to truly compete in the East. There were several great prospects in the 2005 draft, so the Hawks played the young guys (and Antoine Walker) and angled for a top draft pick.

Fruits of the Tank Job: They landed the No. 2 pick and took…Chris Paul. Just kidding! The Hawks famously passed on the Point God and selected Marvin Williams with the pick. It’s an interesting thought experiment to imagine what Paul would’ve done for the Hawks in the East, but alas, it was not to be.

Boston Celtics | Tanked Season: 2006-07 (24-58) | Last 20 games: 6-14

Rationale: Two potentially franchise-changing players figured to be taken with the top two picks of the 2007 draft – Kevin Durant and Greg Oden. The Celtics, having been propped up for years by Paul Pierce, Antoine Walker and not much else, were desperate for an infusion of superstar talent.

Lasting Tanking Image: Brian Scalabrine averaged 19 minutes over 54 games and posted a 6.6 PER. Also, Michael Olowokandi was involved.56904781

Fruits of the Tank Job: Portland (5% odds) shockingly won the Lottery and took Oden. The Sonics then took Durant, while the Celtics’ pick fell to No. 5. The Celts took Jeff Green, whom they eventually traded for Ray Allen, a master stroke that helped win them the 2008 NBA Finals. Green would later be traded back to Boston.

Brooklyn/New Jersey Nets | Tanked Season: 1989-90 (17-65) | Last 20 games: 2-18

Rationale: Basically, they were a crappy team and every prognosticator in the world thought Derrick Coleman was going to be the next NBA superstar. Plus 1990 was the first year that the NBA would give more weight to teams in the Lottery with more losses, so it was a perfect time to tank for New Jersey.

Lasting Tanking Image: Fitting that a player nicknamed “Joe Barely Cares” played a role for this team.

Joe-Barry-Carroll

Fruits of the Tank Job: The Nets landed the No. 1 pick and got their man Coleman, but he never achieved the great heights projected onto him and the Nets never won anything of consequence during his tenure.

Charlotte Hornets/Bobcats | Tanked Season: 2011-12 (7-59) | Last 20 games: 0-20(!)

Rationale: The Bobcats have always kept a public stance under Michael Jordan’s reign that they would never tank, thanks in large part to MJ getting burned by the Kwame Brown No. 1 overall pick in 2001. However, their “performance” during the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season was pitiful enough to qualify as a season that may as well have been tanked. It was the worst winning percentage over a season in NBA history.

Lasting Tanking Image: 

Knicks Bobcats Basketball
The Bobcats finished the season with the worst winning percentage in NBA history. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

Fruits of the Tank Job: Charlotte got the No. 2 pick and selected Kentucky’s Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. MKG is a superb defender but his shot has never come along and the Hornets had a great season this year despite MKG missing most of it with shoulder injuries. They passed on Bradley Beal, Damian Lillard, Harrison Barnes and Andre Drummond to select MKG.

Chicago Bulls | Tanked Season: 2000-01 (15-67) | Last 20 games: 4-16

Rationale: In the post-Jordan era, the Bulls were the laughingstock of the NBA. After being transcendent and the league’s marquee franchise for most of the 90s, Bulls brass needed to find their “next Jordan,” which perhaps was the impetus for some rash decisions that further hampered the franchise (see below).

Lasting Tanking Image: Hey, Fred Hoiberg played 74 games for this team! Freddie’s bringing back the good ‘ol days. dc5c8a8d8a4046e68d45b9c21192a332

Fruits of the Tank Job: GM Jerry Krause thought he staged quite the coup when he drafted high schooler Eddy Curry at #4 and traded his one decent player, Elton Brand, for another rookie prep star in Tyson Chandler. This ambitious plan to build around two 18-year old centers shockingly never came to fruition. The Bulls would suck for another several years and Krause was soon out of the picture.

Cleveland Cavaliers | Tanked Season: 2002-03 (17-65) | Last 20 games: 6-14

Rationale: No-brainer here, you tank to get a better shot at a talent like LeBron James, whose star was already bright before his senior year of high school. Plus he was from Ohio (as we all have been reminded ad nauseum by now) so the only prudent route was to tank.

Lasting Tanking Image: While the Cavs were tankin’, Bron was drivin’ Hummers to class. Help was indeed on the way.lebron_zoom

Fruits of the Tank Job: The Cavs won the Lottery and got their man. James has taken them to two NBA Finals but they still search for that elusive ring.

Dallas Mavericks | Tanked Seasons: 1993-94 (13-69) | Last 20 games: 5-15

Rationale: The Mavs may be one of the only NBA teams that never truly tanked. While they were terrible in 1992-93 and 1993-94, wining a total of 24 games, it was more a function of just being bad. The Mavs were a lackluster franchise for most of their history up to this point. Three straight strong drafts and the eventual Dirk Nowitzki pick, along with Mark Cuban buying the team, changed the Mavs fortunes. It should be noted that Cuban did come out and say this past offseason that the Mavs were going to tank if they didn’t sign DeAndre Jordan. Of course, that didn’t happen as the Mavs made the playoffs for the 15th time in the last 16 season. C’mon man, you know you can’t tank with Rick Carlisle coaching and Dirk out there Dirking.

Lasting Tanking Image: FAT LEVER! 180878004

Fruits of the Tank Job: The Mavs selected Jason Kidd, who quickly brought relevance to Dallas’ franchise. He combined with Jim Jackson and Jamal Mashburn to make Dallas competitive before being traded to Phoenix.

Denver Nuggets | Tanked Season: 2002-03 (17-65) | Last 20 games: 5-15

Rationale: A historically loaded draft awaited the worst NBA teams in 2003, with LeBron, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Carmelo Anthony, who had just led Syracuse to a national title as a freshman. In an effort for prime Lottery placement, the Nugs lost their last eight games, scoring just 65 points in a 30-point loss to Phoenix on April 1. That’s some great tanking hustle.

Lasting Tanking Image: This season featured Chris “Birdman” Andersen before he acquired his tattoo powers. Seems like a swell kid! ChrisAndersonMiamiHeat1999ImageviaGetty_crop_north

Fruits of the Tank Job: Carmelo Anthony and immediate relevance. The Nuggets had the third pick and got lucky when Detroit took all-time bust Darko Milicic at No. 2.

Detroit Pistons | Tanked Season: 1993-94 (20-62) | Last 20 games: 4-16

Rationale: By 1993 the Bad Boy era was a distant memory and the Pistons had incrementally become less and less competitive, winning 50, 48 and 40 games leading up to 1993-94. So they bottomed out to a 20-win season, losing their final 13 games, as studs like Grant Hill, Juwan Howard, Jason Kidd and Glenn Robinson were entering the NBA draft.

Lasting Tanking Image: It was the final season for Isiah Thomas and Bill Laimbeer, signifying the end of the Bad Boys. So here’s a weird picture from happier times. BCW0qVeCMAAlewv

Fruits of the Tank Job: The Pistons landed a star in Duke’s Grant Hill, who spent six seasons in Motown as the face of the franchise. Hill was traded to Orlando for Ben Wallace and Chucky Atkins in 2000, where he would suffer multiple career-hampering injuries.

Golden State Warriors | Tanked Season: 2011-12 (23-43) | Last 20 games: 3-17

Rationale: Sometimes teams tank for a chance at the No. 1 pick, and sometimes it’s a more pragmatic decision. The Warriors were set to give up their 2012 1st Round pick to the Jazz if it fell outside the top seven. So they traded Monta Ellis and did everything they could to have their Lottery ball selected in the top seven. Both Stephen Curry and Andrew Bogut were shelved with injuries, so a typical late season lineup looked like this: Klay Thompson, Charles Jenkins, Jeremy Tyler, Dorell Wright, Mickell Gladness. Things have come a long way for Klay, huh?

Lasting Tanking Image: Here’s Mark Jackson being introduced by Warriors’ owner Joe Jacob. There were few smiles after this, as Jackson butted heads with many in the organization and now resorts to taking awkward shots at Golden State from the broadcast booth.

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Mandatory copyright notice: Copyright NBAE 2011 (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Mark Jackson;Joe Lacob;Larry Riley

Fruits of the Tank Job: It was quite the nail biter, but GSW clung to the No. 7 pick and kept it for themselves, selecting Harrison Barnes. Barnes is now a starter on the greatest team in history and a key cog in the Death Lineup that scorches the Earth whenever deployed. This is the essence of successful tanking: get a little luck in the Lottery and nail your draft pick.

Houston Rockets | Tanked Season: 1983-84 (29-53) | Last 20 games: 5-15

Rationale: This was before the Lottery was implemented, and the two worst teams would flip a coin to determine who got the No. 1 overall pick. It was the obvious move considering Michael Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon led a loaded 1984 draft class. But the blatant tanking of 1983-84 led commissioner David Stern to reform the draft by instituting the Lottery.

Lasting Tanking Image: A 38-year old Elvin Hayes played 81 games for this tank-tastic bunch.

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Generated by IJG JPEG Library

Fruits of the Tank Job: The Rockets took Olajuwon No.1 overall, and he’d lead them to two titles a decade later. They passed on Jordan, but at the time Olajuwon was the safest pick and the Dream is now a legend in H-Town.

Indiana Pacers – Never truly tanked that I can tell. Basketball is so authentic in Indiana!

Los Angeles Clippers | Tanked Season: 2008-09 (19-63) | Last 20 games: 4-16

Rationale: You can make an argument that the Clippers tanked during just about the entire Donald Sterling era. The NBA’s worst franchise for decades has only recently turned things around, so I decided to look at just their 21st century. The clearest tanking example was 2008-09, just three years removed from a trip to the Western Conference semis. The Clips had two young assets in DeAndre Jordan and Eric Gordon but stale stars Baron Davis, Zach Randolph and Marcus Camby were on the way out. The uber-talented Blake Griffin awaited whomever could nab that year’s No. 1 pick. The Clippers shut the engines down in the last two months of the season.

Lasting Tanking Image: I love the Internet because a picture of Donald Sterling and Ricky Davis shaking hands exists…

566047157
DeAratanha, Ricardo –– – PLAYA VISTA, CA – SEPTEMBER 29, 2008

Fruits of the Tank Job: The Clippers won the Lottery and drafted Griffin, who has teamed with Chris Paul and Jordan to make the team perennial contenders in the West. The clock is ticking, however, after multiple years of playoff heartbreak.

Los Angeles Lakers | Tanked Season: 2015-16 (17-65) | Last 20 games: 5-15

Rationale: The Kobe Bryant farewell charade had a happy ending but everything else about it was miserable. The Lakers knew they had a limited team and Bryant was going to hinder more than help their chances. So once Bryant announced this would be his final season, it gave the front office the perfect smoke screen to tank to their heart’s content. Coach Byron Scott may be the one person who didn’t realize this season was an elaborate tank job. Hilariously, he did his part anyway, burying D’Angelo Russell for much of the season and giving Kobe the greenest of green lights.

Lasting Tanking Image: A picture says a thousand words.

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Fruits of the Tank Job: To be determined. For now we can bask in the afterglow of Kobe’s 60-point finale.

Memphis Grizzlies | Tanked Season: 2008-09 (24-58) | Last 20 games: 8-12

Rationale: This team, looking back, actually had a lot of talent. A young Mike Conley, Marc Gasol, Rudy Gay and Kyle Lowry were on the roster. This was more an example of a multi-year tank effort (Memphis won just 88 games over three seasons) a la Hinkie, with an eye on building through multiple high draft picks.

Fruits of the Tank Job: The Grizz were awarded the No. 2 pick and drafted Hasheem Thabeet. Ouch. They would become a perennial playoff team shortly after, but no thanks to Thabeet. The continued development of Gasol and Conley and the acquisition of Zach Randolph and Tony Allen ultimately got Memphis out of the muck.

Miami Heat | Tanked Season: 2014-15 (37-45) | Last 20 games: 9-11

Rationale: In Miami’s first year post-LeBron they were forced to recalibrate. Additionally, they owed their 1st Round pick to Hinkie’s 76ers if it fell outside the top 10. Things serendipitously culminated with a who-can-tank-harder final game of the season against Philadelphia. The Heat did their best but Philly dug deep to pull out 105-101 loss. Of course, this being the Heat, the luckiest team in the world, they still kept their pick.

Lasting Tanking Image: Your Miami Heat starting lineup for Game 82 against Philly:

Michael Beasley – Henry Walker – James Ennis – Tyler Johnson – Zoran Dragic

Fruits of the Tank Job: Drafted Justise Winslow after Charlotte chose Frank Kaminsky over the Duke star. Winslow looks great, and the Heat are back in the playoffs with eyes on Kevin Durant in the offseason. Freakin’ Pat Riley…

Milwaukee Bucks | Tanked Season: 2013-14 (15-67) | Last 20 games: 3-17

Rationale: This is a bit unfair, since the Bucks were technically trying their best for most of the 2013-14 season, at least according to ownership. But man, was this a horrid season that just so happened to line up with one of the most highly touted draft classes in history. Team brass had to know it was in their best interest by the end of the year to lose.

Fruits of the Tank Job: The Bucks landed Jabari Parker from Duke with the second pick. The talented forward lost most of his rookie season to a torn ACL but made strides in his second year, playing Robin to Giannis Antetokounmpo’s Batman.

Minnesota Timberwolves | Tanked Season: 2005-06 | Last 20 games: 7-13

Rationale: In one of the more famous examples of blatant tanking, the Timberwolves owed their pick to the Clippers if it didn’t land in the top 10. So in the final game of the season they gave seldom-used big man Mark Madsen the green light from three, where he went 0-7 in a double OT loss to Memphis.

Lasting Tanking Image: Mr. 0-7 Himself

mark-madsen-traded-to-clippers2-300x209

Fruits of the Tank Job: The Wolves kept their pick and drafted Brandon Roy, immediately trading him for Randy Foye. Oof. Minnesota still hasn’t made the playoffs since, though things are looking up thanks to recent draft picks Karl Anthony-Towns and Zach Lavine, and a savvy trade for Andrew Wiggins.

New Orleans Hornets/Pelicans | Tanked Season: 2011-12 (21-45) | Last 20 games: 10-10

Rationale: One year removed from a 46-36 season and a playoff appearance, the Hornets nosedived in 2011-12. Fortunately, there just so happened to be a generational talent available in the 2012 draft. Toward the end of the season Monty Williams was regularly playing 11-12 guys, mostly no-namers like the immortal Gustavo Ayon.

Fruits of the Tank Job: With a little Lottery luck, the Hornets landed the No. 1 pick, drafting Anthony Davis to bring on a new era of basketball in the Big Easy. Trouble is, GM Dell Demps has utterly failed to surround his star big man with adequate talent.

New York Knicks | Tanked Season: 2014-15 (17-65) | Last 20 games: 5-15

Rationale: With Phil Jackson at the helm and Carmelo Anthony on the shelf with a knee injury, it was high time for the Knicks to tank for a top draft pick. Knicks fans are savvy, and most were bought in to the idea that the team needed to be as bad as possible. So when the Knicks messed up and won two late season games in a row, coach Derek Fisher said, “I’m sure people are upset with us.” Blatant tanking at its finest.

Lasting Tanking Image: Is Bieber wearing a blouse? 1414650675957_wps_61_2014_RAMEY_PHOTO_310_828_

Fruits of the Tank Job: The Knicks didn’t get a top three pick so they took the “Lativian Gangbanger” himself, Kristaps Porzingis at No. 4. Knicks fans booed the pick mercilessly. That is, until the 7’3″ Zinger proved to be an instant star. What did I say about Knicks fans being savvy? Yea, maybe scratch that.

Oklahoma City Thunder/Seattle Supersonics | Tanked Season: 2006-07 (31-51) and 2007-08 (20-62)

Rationale: It was a race to the bottom in 2006-07, with Greg Oden and Kevin Durant waiting to be drafted. The Sonics stunk enough to grab Durant after Portland regrettably took Oden with the top pick. Seattle then traded Ray Allen to Boston and got even worse in Durant’s rookie year. In the Sonics’ last season in Seattle (’07-’08), ownership had little incentive to put out a great product for a city that hated them. They did have incentive to pair another young star with Kevin Durant for their first season in Oklahoma City.

Lasting Tanking Image: Presented without comment.

090211_bitter_sonics_fan

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fruits of the Tank Job: Durant one year and Russell Westbrook at No. 4 the next. They also got Serge Ibaka in the 2008 draft. It was insult to injury for the people of Seattle, but the building blocks were suddenly in place for an OKC team that would compete for titles for the next decade.

Orlando Magic | Tanked Season: 2003-04 (21-61) | Last 20 games: 4-16

Rationale: Grant Hill missed the entire season due to injury and a fed up Tracy McGrady openly sought a trade. This team never had a chance given those two factors, and they tanked accordingly down the stretch, with high school phenom center Dwight Howard entering the 2004 draft.

Lasting Tanking Image: Injuries suck…images

Fruits of the Tank Job: The Magic won the Lottery and picked Dwight. Their fortunes soon changed for the better. After Stan Van Gundy came aboard and made some nice personnel moves to surround Dwight with talent, the Magic made it all the way to the Finals in 2008-09.

Philadelphia 76ers | Tanked Seasons: 2013-16 (The Hinkie Years)

Rationale: In order to build through the draft, the Hinkie Sixers systematically tanked multiple seasons for high draft picks, while largely sitting out free agency to hoard cap space. Hinkie made a variety of trades to acquire draft picks, while drafting project players that were either injured or overseas to keep the tank running smoothly.

Lasting Tanking Image: A sad shot of Hinkie scrolling through his phone like a guy alone at a bar at 3 am desperately swiping right.dlvjuvlyvyn9simzoh4c

Fruits of the Tank Job: Call it karma or just plain bad luck. The Sixers never won the Lottery under Hinkie despite having one of the three worst records in the league each year. So they missed out on Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Karl Anthony-Towns and D’Angelo Russell. Instead they did a draft day trade for injured Nerlens Noel, selected Joel Embiid who hasn’t played a game in his first two year due to injury and Dario Saric, who still plays in Europe. Sixers ownership ran out of patience with the Hinkie Plan when they brought in Jerry Colangelo in December. Hinkie lasted four more months before resigning last week.

Phoenix Suns | Tanked Seasons: 2015-16 (23-59) | Last 20 games: 7-13

Rationale: Everything just went wrong. The Suns surprisingly competed in 2013-14, just missing the playoffs at 48-34. GM Ryan McDonough made several curious moves in an effort to build on that season, first forming a three-headed point guard attack and then trying desperately to lure LaMarcus Aldridge in free agency. The fallout? Two of the three point guards became upset and were traded (Goran Dragic and Isaiah Thomas), they traded for another point guard (Brandon Knight), the other point guard blew out his knee (Eric Bledsoe), they traded Marcus Morris to clear cap space which alienated brother Markieff Morris and they signed washed-up Tyson Chandler to a bad contract in order to entice Aldridge. All of these things combined to make 2015-16 a nightmare season. Markieff was traded after sulking all year and coach Jeff Hornacek was fired. The only thing left to do was tank.

Lasting Tanking Image: “Don’t worry, I’ll get even with McDonough by crapping all over this season.”

Markieff Morris, Marcus Morris
Phoenix Suns forward Markieff Morris and and his brother Detroit Pistons forward Marcus Morris (13) talk before an NBA basketball game, Friday, Nov. 6, 2015, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Fruits of the Tank Job: TBD. But one bright spot from this lost season is rookie Devin Booker, the youngest player in the NBA, looks like the next great 2-guard in a league starved for them. The Suns got a 1st Round pick in the Markieff trade, giving them three 1st-Rounders this year.

Portland Trail Blazers | Tanked Season: 2005-06 (21-61) | Last 20 games: 1-19

Rationale: The last vestige of the Jail Blazers era went out with a whimper. This team would rely heavily on two prep-to-pro guards that never panned out, in Sebastian Telfair and Martell Webster, as well as college stars that couldn’t find the magic in the NBA (Steve Blake, Jarrett Jack, Juan Dixon). The veteran “leadership” would have to come from Zach Randolph and Darius Miles (LOL). Even the ever-loyal Portland fans were sick of this team, which desperately needed a new star to build around.

Lasting Tanking Image: When you look up “irony” in the dictionary…51--BG8dzjL._SY450_

Fruits of the Tank Job: The Blazers made two great draft-day trades, acquiring Lamarcus Aldridge for Tyrus Thomas and Brandon Roy for Randy Foye. Roy was awesome until knee injuries derailed his career and Aldridge turned into a future Hall of Famer, but left in free agency to San Antonio in 2015. Still, solid tanking here.

Sacramento Kings | Tanked Season: 2015-16 (33-49) | Last 20 games: 8-12

Rationale: Another unintentional tank job, as the Kings wanted to compete for the playoffs this year. However, as things fell apart completely in January, the Kings had plenty of incentive to be as bad as they could be. If their pick lands outside the top 10 it goes to Chicago, so it was prudent for them to keep increasing their odds at a top 10 pick once the writing was on the wall. With a horrendous defense and a team that hates its coach, it’s not all that hard to lose games. But the Kings made sure to leave no doubt, by sitting down stars Demarcus Cousins, Rudy Gay and Rajon Rondo and even rotation guys like Omri Casspi and Marco Bellinelli even though all were healthy. What a disgrace of a franchise.

Lasting Tanking Image: “You know, Aubrey, I’m in the market for a radical coach to disrupt the established paradigm. You available? Hear me out.” images-2

Fruits of the Tank Job: We’ll see if they keep their pick; it’s highly likely they will. It’s also very likely they screw up said pick.

San Antonio Spurs | Tanked Season: 1996-97 (20-62) | Last 20 games: 5-15

Rationale: This one is well-documented and somewhat controversial. The Spurs had been a competitive team through most of David Robinson’s career, and had won 59 games the previous year. But in ’96 the Admiral suffered a broken foot and Sean Elliott went down soon after. The Spurs started 3-15 which got coach Bob Hill fired, and with four-year college star Tim Duncan coming available in the 1997 draft, it behooved bad teams to pad their losing resume for that No. 1 pick. Spurs fans will tell you they didn’t tank, they just had bad injury luck. But Spurs fans are crazy and defensive. It’s OK guys, you’re not too good to tank. It was the best thing for your franchise at the time, obviously.

Lasting Tanking Image: “Phase I: David Robinson breaks foot, is complete. Now watch me take over the world.” 1369273882000-AP-SPURS-POPOVICH-1305222153_4_3

Fruits of the Tank Job: Tim Duncan, five titles and 50-win seasons forever.

Toronto Raptors | Tanked Season: 2011-12 (23-43) | Last 20 games: 8-12

Rationale: Former GM Bryan Colangelo recently admitted he wanted to tank this lockout-shortened season at the MIT Sloan Basketball Analytics Conference. The Raptors needed a blue chip point guard and the cheapest way to acquire one was through the draft.

Fruits of the Tank Job: The Raptors won too many games and then lost a coin flip to the Warriors, falling all the way to the eighth pick. They could’ve gotten Damian Lillard with a few more losses to shore up their point guard hole. Instead Colangelo lost his job and thus was available to spill the beans on a Sloan Conference panel.

Utah Jazz | Tanked Season: 2013-14 (25-57) | Last 20 games: 4-16

Rationale: The kind of franchise folks sometimes point to as being too pure to tank. But pull back the curtain a bit and you’ll see that’s false. There are different levels of tanking. The Jazz quickly tanked in a low-key fashion and turned things around in a matter of a couple seasons. As Lowe pointed out on his podcast, they embraced losing by getting rid of Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson prior to 2013-14, while allowing youngsters Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors to get their feet wet with increased playing time.

Fruits of the Tank Job: With the fifth pick in 2014, they took 19-year old point guard Dante Exum from Australia. He had an up and down rookie year and tore his ACL prior to the start of his second year. They also made two savvy late 1st Round picks in successive years – nabbing Rodney Hood and Rudy Gobert, the latter in a trade with Denver. A quick and dirty tank job helped the accelerate their timeline by forming a solid young core. Much will hinge on Exum panning out.

Washington Wizards/Bullets | Tanked Season: 2000-01 (19-63) | Last 20 games: 5-15

Rationale: Michael Jordan came out of retirement to join the Wizards in 2001-02. While still a member of the Wizards from office in 2000-01, MJ knew he needed to discover a young talent to aid in his comeback effort. The three guys on everyone’s draft radar were prep players Chandler, Curry and Kwame Brown. Jordan and the Wizards fell in love with Kwame and made sure they were bad enough to get him.

Lasting Tanking Image: The future was once so bright…kwamejordan

Fruits of the Tank Job: Brown was the No.1 overall selection by the Wizards in 2001 and poor Kwame never had a chance. It turned out he wasn’t physically or mentally ready for the pros, and the added pressure of playing with Jordan submarined whatever remained of his confidence. A cautionary tale that is still pointed to as a justification for raising the age minimum for the NBA draft.

 

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