Apr. 21, 2018
Reactions to the new NBA reform
Recently, the NBA passed a new reform to disincentivize tanking in the NBA.
Now, before I get going, I must admit I am a 76ers fan hoping to reap the benefits of our 3-year tanking project. I, like most Sixers fans, hated the tanking at first. Calling for Sam Hinkie's job, sighed at our loss after loss but now tell everyone to "Trust the Process" and am very excited to watch the FEDS take off. Just wanted to share that for the sake of transparency, do with that information what you will.
With that being said, I have some major issues with the anti-tanking stance the league has taken and for really only one reason: competition.
Adam Silver has said, “We are gonna have to react and change incentives a bit. I do think it’s frustrating,” in regard to tanking in the past. He has also cited the lack of competition tanking teams bring but here's the issue, the issue isn't tanking, the issue is superteams.
The last three NBA finals have been the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers trading titles and it looks like we're on a collision course for a fourth. The Warriors are still overwhelming favorites out west despite the Thunder, Rockets and Timberwolves all making major moves this offseason and Cleveland and Boston might be closer in competition, keep in mind, no one is even considering Washington or Toronto in this mix, but no one believes LeBron won't be in the Finals anymore until he isn't.
Teams like Philadelphia of old, who have a 0% chance of winning can't be competitive. What's the point in building a mediocre team when in reality, that's only going to hurt you in the long run. NBA drafts are not that deep. You're potential superstars and HOFers, true needle movers are typically in the 1-4 range, you're potential future all-stars and complementary stars we'll say 5-8. Picks 9 to 14 are generally your role players, your Andre Iguodala's and Brook Lopez's of the world, guys who could put up big numbers on a decent team but are more suited for secondary roles on good teams. 15 and up are generally bench guys and guys who will be your fill-in guys.
I know there's your middle round gems, the Kobe Bryants and the John Stocktons of the world. However, there's a reason they are considered special. *Hint: it's because it's not the norm.
So let's take Philadelphia and their history for a second. Pre-2013-14 (the first full year of tanking) the Sixers finished in between the 6th and 9th seed 8 out of 9 times from 2004-05. Meaning a very consistent stream of middle first round picks. Then you just look like the post-Carmelo Denver Nuggets, a team of guys who deserve to be on a team, but no one's good enough to lead a team.
How's that supposed to compete with the Cleveland superteam? Or Miami before them? Or even Boston before them?
Most teams in the NBA right now are playing for 2020. What I mean by that is they know the next few years it's more of the same and until LeBron let's go of the stranglehold he has on the East and Golden State inevitably breaks up (they have to at some point right?) then that's when teams can start competing again.
But all this reform does is punish teams for knowing their limits and wanting to sacrifice attempting to compete now when they can be competitive in the future instead of being mediocre from now until they find a rabbit in the hat. While NBA executives might be alright with the latter, as the arc that is the Sixers fans attitudes, fans just may prefer the former.
If you want competition to improve, don't make it difficult for bad teams to improve, make it difficult for superteams to be born.