The Warriors and Cavaliers Have Caused a Tanking Problem
Tanking may very well be the most controversial topic in the NBA. While some believe teams should do whatever it takes to build a championship core, even if that means tearing it all down and being a terrible team, others don’t believe anybody should ever lose on purpose. But the fact of the matter is, regardless of how difficult it can be for fans, tanking is the only possible route to contention for many teams. And with the utter domination of the Warriors and Cavaliers, many teams have finally opted to bottom out. Because everyone in the league knows that there amount of teams that can challenge Cleveland or Golden State can be counted on one hand. The problem is, though, more teams are tanking than ever before. And that makes it harder for those teams to obtain top picks to try and get a superstar. While on the surface it would seem like a good time to tank and restock on assets, everybody doing so might hurt.
The NBA imbalance is truly at an all-time high. With the stacked teams like Golden State, Cleveland, Boston, Houston and San Antonio come the lackluster rosters. The Nets, Pacers, Bulls, Hawks, and Knicks all are expected to be awful, and that’s just in the Eastern Conference.
While the West doesn’t have nearly as many bad teams, the crowded list of teams aiming for the top spots hurts a team like the Phoenix Suns, who are young and exciting. Normally a team like Phoenix would be hoping for a chance to grab a playoff spot, but they’re going to have to wait at least a year or two. The Pelicans might have the two best bigs in the entire league, and will likely be the seventh or eighth seed at best. The Trail Blazers have one of the best backcourts in the league and one of the highest payrolls and aren’t even favored to make the playoffs. The Chris Paul-less Clippers, who would likely be hosting a playoff series if they played in the Eastern Conference with the trio of Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan and Danilo Gallinari, also aren’t favored to make the postseason out west. For a young and exciting team like the Mavericks, the playoffs don’t even seem like a feasible possibility.
The Eastern Conference is a wasteland. The amount of teams getting ready to tank is the same as the amount of teams projected to win more than half of their games- five. While out West, a young team like the Suns is going to have their growth halted, an Eastern Conference riser like the Philadelphia 76ers could very well make the playoffs because of how weak the East is. The Detroit Pistons and Charlotte Hornets would be better off rebuilding, but one of them will likely find themselves stumbling into a playoff spot, becuase in the East, mediocrity will be rewarded with a postseason appearance. But in the West, excellence is required.