It has become pretty obvious following the NBA over the last decade that if you don’t have superstar talent on your roster, you have virtually no chance to contend for an NBA title.
If you are a smaller market team or a team stuck in NBA purgatory in the middle of the standings with little leeway to move up or down the standings, usually the best course of action is to blow it up and tank.
The Utah Jazz are an organization that has never done that and they didn’t this off-season after they lost their star free agent, Gordon Hayward, to the Boston Celtics.
It has paid off as they are the hottest team in the NBA and currently in the No. 5 spot in the western conference.
Their defensive player of the year candidate and defensive anchor Rudy Gobert exemplifies that attitude as he made it clear how he feels about the effectiveness or worth of tanking over the weekend.
Here is that he told USA Today:
“Just try to teach players how to make winning plays, not only good basketball plays but winning plays,” Gobert said in explaining coach Quin Snyder’s system. “Teach every single one to help the team win games. A lot of teams are very good doing skill work, strength work. But if you want to win, you have to teach a player how to win. That’s why I don’t believe in tanking, all that stuff. I believe you learn how to win by winning. You don’t learn how to win by losing on purpose to get a 19-year-old who you’ve never seen.”
Taking out the whole respect for the game and the spirit of competition argument (players aren’t actually tanking with their play), I can buy the residual effects of tanking and all of that losing negatively impacting young players NBA careers and futures, but the reality is, tanking is the best way for a team to acquire star level talent and hold its rights to be able to build a team that is capable of entering the NBA’s elite tier.
What the Jazz are doing this season is enviable, but you don’t have to tank when you draft a future star late in the lottery like it appears the Jazz have with Donovan Mitchell.
The 76ers are the test model for extreme tanking and it appears they are headed for a bright future, including maybe acquiring the league’s best player this summer.