By Calder Barnard
Every year, in nearly every sport, there is that age old question for the teams that are no longer in contention for a title:
Do you tank for a better draft pick, or do you keep going all out and play hard for the fans?
With so many big time players coming out in the drafts, it’s making more and more sense to look at the future and try to get a Zion Williamson or Nick Bosa with the (likely) top pick. As a 49er fan, I will regretfully admit that I hope the Cardinals win this week and we lose and get that 1st pick. A guy like Bosa only comes around so often. He’s a dominating Defensive End, one that could anchor a defense for 10+ years. He has a strong family pedigree with a lot of his family playing in the NFL, even his brother Joey looks like a top DE in the league when healthy. Now don’t get me wrong, I love watching my guys compete and play their tails off. I was so excited when we beat the Seahawks a few weeks back. You could tell it meant A TON to Richard Sherman to beat the team who no longer believed in his skill set.
But the question continues…. Is it ok to tank, and at what cost?! The Philadelphia 76ers have had the most talked about tank job in recent history. They even made a catchphrase out of it, calling it “The Process” and they promised the fans they would have a successful franchise a few years later. Because of some injuries to Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons (the top 2 picks in back to back years), this “Process” took some time, however they are one of the top teams in the NBA nowadays and have a very promising future. Sticking in the NBA, you have teams that never tank, never rebuild, they only reload. The Spurs come to mind here. Yet save for the Spurs model of consistency, most teams never get GREAT enough to actually win a championship, so as a fan, what would you prefer?
The truth is, there isn’t a right and a wrong way to tank, and it is unfortunately part of “the process” and a necessity in building a championship contender. Although, the young and “cheap” talent can’t always bring you a title, as seen in Los Angeles with the Lakers. They have, let’s face it, made some questionable choices early in the draft in recent years, and had a future of mediocrity…until they signed the best player in the league. Sometimes you need a combination of top picks and high profile signings.
Or, you could be the Brooklyn Nets: Be terrible, but trade all of your draft picks away. Thus, you’re left with no reason to tank, but you still aren’t good enough to win. They went 20-62 last year, not drafting until the 29th pick because of the robbery the Celtics pulled on them years ago.
This is the Brooklyn Nets in a nutshell.
Don’t be the Brooklyn Nets.