1. Welcome! Please take a few seconds to create your free account to post threads, make some friends, remove a few ads while surfing and much more. ClutchFans has been bringing fans together to talk Houston Sports since 1996. Join us!

tanking or not

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by deshen, Apr 20, 2012.

  1. deshen

    deshen Member

    Mar 28, 2006
    Likes Received:
    I disagree about tanking. Here is a good article that you may like.

    Tanking used to work in the NBA
    Posted on April 13, 2012 by Devin Dignam

    We’ve been talking a lot about tanking in the NBA recently. Devin’s decided to go a completely opposite direction and instead, gives us a history lesson
    Recently I wrote about how tanking doesn’t work in the NBA. While the evidence supports this conclusion, it also supports another conclusion: once upon a time, tanking actually worked.

    First, a recap. Since 1985:

    After four years — the amount of time on rookie scale contracts — about 31% of teams with top three picks hadn’t made the playoffs even once.
    Almost 26% of these teams’ best showing was only the first round.
    A further 22% of these teams topped out in the second round.
    Only 17% of these teams have managed to do better than the second round
    Only two teams have managed to win an NBA championship within four years of drafting their top three pick (Tim Duncan and Darko Milicic, who barely played during that season
    Only five players taken in the lottery have ever won a championship with the team that drafted them (Duncan, Milicic, David Robinson [11 years], Sean Elliott [9 years and after being traded away and reacquired], and Jason Kidd [16 years and after being traded away and reacquired])

    But remember, this data is only for the lottery era — from 1985 until present. How did “lottery picks” — players taken within the top three picks — perform prior to 1985?

    Table 1: Results within 4 years of drafting a top three pick (1966-1984)
    Criteria Absolute Percentage
    Total # of players: 57 100.00%
    Teams missing playoffs: 8 14.04%
    Teams losing in 1st round: 8 14.04%
    Teams losing in 2nd round: 20 35.09%
    Teams losing in Conf. Finals: 6 10.53%
    Teams losing in NBA Finals: 9 15.79%
    Teams winning Championship (1st 4 years): 6 10.53%
    Teams winning Championship (career with team): 10 17.54%

    Before 1966, the NBA had a territorial draft rule which allowed teams to take players within their catchment area. This makes data from before 1966 different enough that we can’t include it in our sample, as some years there was both a number one pick and a territorial selection. But the period from 1966-1984 had 57 top three picks, and the results are clear: these players made a difference. Only 14% of teams drafting in the top three missed the playoffs during each of their draftee’s first four seasons. Only 14% of these teams’ best showing was in the first round. And a full 35% of teams managed to hit the second round at least once during their draftee’s first four seasons. About 37% of these teams managed to do better than the second round, with about 11% of these teams winning an NBA championship during at least one season. Going even further, about 18% of these teams won an NBA championship with their top three draftee at some point during their player’s career.

    Table 2: Results within 4 years of drafting a top three pick
    Criteria Percentage (66-84) Percentage (85-2011)
    Total # of players: 57 81
    Teams missing playoffs: 14.0% 30.9%
    Teams losing in 1st round: 14.0% 25.9%
    Teams losing in 2nd round: 35.1% 22.2%
    Teams losing in Conf. Finals: 10.5% 3.7%
    Teams losing in NBA Finals: 15.8% 11.1%
    Teams winning Championship (1st 4 years): 10.5% 2.5%
    Teams winning Championship (career with team): 17.5% 6.2%

    All this can only lead to one conclusion: from 1966-1984, a top three pick was more useful than it is today.

    But why is that? There are several factors leading to this discrepancy:

    On average, top three picks have been playing on worse teams in the lottery era than they did pre-lottery, which means they don’t advance as far into the playoffs
    There are more teams in the NBA today than there were in the past
    Players are entering the league at younger ages than in the past

    Editor’s Note: We’ve definitely hit differences in the league over time and differences in the draft over time before.

    The teams are worse
    Before the lottery was instituted in 1985, draft order was determined with a coin flip. The worst team in each division would compete, with the winning team getting the first pick and the losing team getting the second pick. Because the teams that were participating in the coin toss were the worst teams in their respective divisions, it was possible for the team with the second-worst record to be shut-out if they played in the same division as the team with the worst record in the league. That means that this coin toss wasn’t really “fair”, in the sense that the worst teams weren’t always participating. For example, in the 1967-68 season, the four teams with the worst records in the league were the San Diego Rockets (15-67), the Seattle Supersonics (23-59), the Chicago Bulls (29-53), and the Baltimore Bullets (36-46). But because the Rockets, Sonics, and Bulls all played in the Western Division, the coin toss was between the Rockets and the Bullets. The Rockets won the toss and picked first, while the losing Bullets got to pick second, and the Sonics and the Bulls were left picking third and fourth, respectively. While this was relatively unfair, it would have been even more so had the Bullets won the 50-50 coin toss.

    But the draft lottery changed this. Since 1985, all of the teams that miss the playoffs have a chance at winning picks one through three. Since 1990, this process has been weighted, which means that the worst teams have higher chances of winning picks one through three than the best non-playoff teams. This weighted system is much “fairer” than a coin toss — “fairer” in the sense that it is more likely that the worst teams will end up with the better picks (although the draft remains an inherently unfair process). This means that the top three picks are now more likely to end up on the worst teams than they were in the past.

    There are more teams

    In the 1965-66 season the league had eight teams; assuming that the teams were of equal quality (obviously wrong, but stay with me), that means that each team had a 50% chance of making the playoffs (4/8) and a 12.5% chance of winning the championship (1/8). Last season the NBA had 30 teams; assuming that the teams were of equal quality, that means that each team had a 53.3% chance of making the playoffs (16/30) and a 3.3% chance of winning the championship (1/30). That means that, while it’s now slightly easier to make the playoffs, it’s also much harder to win a championship. It also takes more wins to advance deep into the playoffs: in the 1965-65 season a team only had to win seven games to advance to the Finals and only eleven games to claim the title. Last season a team had to win twelve games to make it to the Finals and sixteen games to win it all. In the past, winning a championship was much more a factor of random chance due to the small sample size. Bad and mediocre teams had a much better chance of doing well in the playoffs than they do today, which means that draftees had a better chance of doing the same.

    The players are younger

    Today’s players enter the league at younger ages they did in the past. Prior to Spencer Haywood in 1971, potential draftees had to wait until four years after their high school graduation before they were eligible to join the league. Haywood famously challenged this in court, and from then on an increasing number of players have entered the league before their 22nd birthday. While the NBA re-instituted a higher minimum age in 2005, the best NCAA players still enter the NBA before they’ve graduated college, so players are still younger today than they were before the lottery was put in place. This can be both a blessing and a curse for today’s teams. It’s a curse because 18-20 year olds are about four to six years off their most productive years, meaning that the team that drafts these players may not get the full benefit of drafting these players. But before anyone uses this argument to support increasing the minimum age restriction, it’s also a blessing. Sometimes these players are very productive even before their prime seasons. In the past, these very productive seasons would be “lost” to the NBA, as the young players would be playing in the NCAA or somewhere else. But I’d much rather that these excellent players play in the NBA.

    Summing up

    Once upon a time, tanking actually worked in the NBA. Teams knew this, and one famous bout of tanking drove the league to create rules aimed at preventing tanking. It didn’t exactly work — teams still try to tank to this day — but at least tanking is no longer an effective strategy.
  2. gmoney411

    gmoney411 Member

    Jan 11, 2008
    Likes Received:
    What about Pierce, Kobe and Dirk? Is he not counting Bryant and Dirk because they were acquired through draft day trades?
  3. DCkid

    DCkid Contributing Member

    Oct 15, 2001
    Likes Received:
    All I know is I hate the fact that about 50% of teams in the NBA have a large amount of fans who are actively hoping their team loses. I'm not even saying those fans are wrong, I'm just saying I hate the set of circumstances that bring that type of fandom into existence.
  4. solid

    solid Contributing Member

    Apr 10, 2001
    Likes Received:
    Stick a fork in them, they are done. They are likely to lose the rest of them, might as well, not going to the playoffs.
  5. MadMax

    MadMax Contributing Member

    Sep 19, 1999
    Likes Received:
    I don't know if this is true or not...but it's extremely misleading for the point he's trying to use it to make.

    So the Magic couldn't hold on to Shaq...the people of Orlando wanted him gone in a big way after they were swept out of the playoffs in 1996. But the franchise made it to the Finals for its first time ever the year before with him...and had they just signed him, he would have been there for his prime. It's far better to have that guy on your roster and try to resign him than it is to draft at 14 and never have a guy like that on your roster at all. Ridiculous argument.

    And this doesn't even begin to address draft day trades...where a guy is drafted by a team but never wears the uniform. Kobe's never worn anything but a Laker jersey for his entire career.
  6. CDave

    CDave Member

    Feb 23, 2012
    Likes Received:
    Kobe would be an overall poor example for tanking considering the Lakers acquired him in exchange for Vlade Divac and Kobe was the 13th pick of Charlotte's.

    Using that example, why tank? You can acquire your superstar and still make the playoffs.
  7. thetatomatis

    thetatomatis Member

    May 25, 2010
    Likes Received:
    Guys drafted
    Magic johnson
    Kobe was drafted by the Lakers. They traded for him on draft day. Morey so far has not pulled one of those off anyways.
    David Robinson
    Allen Iverson
    Vince Carter who took the Nets to the Finals
  8. CDave

    CDave Member

    Feb 23, 2012
    Likes Received:
    Missed this before. Regarding Shaq, don't understand your point.

    He was a free agent and Jerry Buss outbid Rich DeVoss for him. Simple as that. Comparable to Lebron leaving Cleveland I suppose or maybe more like Bosh leaving Toronto, but it had nothing whatever to do with a franchise deploying a tanking strategy.
  9. Pieman2005

    Pieman2005 Member

    Sep 30, 2009
    Likes Received:
    I love how the anti-tanking argument is "there's no guarantee" or "look at this team and this team". ..Yet at least there's a chance. It's like they think being mediocre is okay?
    Even if there's a small chance it's better than being an Atlanta Hawks, guaranteed to make the playoffs but unlikely to get past 2nd round. It's like people here are happy with that.
    Think of every contending team right now. They all became contenders because they sucked and drafted well.
    OKC got Durant and more.
    Chicago got Rose.
    SA got Duncan and TANKED obviously (yet people still try to argue against tanking?)

    Okay, now Miami didn't draft Bosh or 'Bron. But they drafted Wade. And guess who attracted 'Bron and Bosh to Miami? The guy they drafted.. Having a guy like Dwyane Wade makes people want to join your team.
  10. CDave

    CDave Member

    Feb 23, 2012
    Likes Received:
    And so apparently the pro-tanking camp's position is like Lloyd Christmas (Jim Carey) from Dumb and Dumber...."

    Lloyd " So you're telling me there's a chance!"
  11. thetatomatis

    thetatomatis Member

    May 25, 2010
    Likes Received:
    Evidence is actually a avalanche towards the rebuilding crowd by now. I still have no Earthly idea why the pro playoff people who have no playoffs by the way to show for it are even still talking.
  12. s3ts

    s3ts Member

    Jun 29, 2007
    Likes Received:
    lol, not many teams have had much success going after the lottery.

    good example is the Heat 2008 draft -- had the worst NBA record, still didn't get DRose... lol...
  13. BetterThanEver

    BetterThanEver Contributing Member

    Oct 9, 2007
    Likes Received:
    According to this stat, we would have had a 45.7% (22.2+3.7+11.1+2.5+6.2) chance of making the 2nd round within 4 years. I'll take 45% of making the 2nd round within 4 years, then year after years of first round exits and 13th-14th picks.

    Celtics won a championship after they broke up Pierce and Walker and traded their 5th pick for Ray Allen to form the Big 3 with Garnett and Pierce. This should count as a success for tanking, because they used their top draft pick to get better through trade.

    Heat won the 2006 championship after they broke up their core of aging veterans that made the playoffs and drafted Wade. Yet, Wade was not counted in the players that won a championship with their drafting team.
    #13 BetterThanEver, Apr 20, 2012
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2012
  14. davidio840

    davidio840 Contributing Member

    Jul 14, 2010
    Likes Received:
    I am sure being in Miami also helped out with that ;)
  15. amaru

    amaru Member

    Jun 25, 2009
    Likes Received:
    Its not fool proof to say the least.....but at least they didn't stay average for 3 seasons in a row.

Share This Page

  • About ClutchFans

    Since 1996, ClutchFans has been loud and proud covering the Houston Rockets, helping set an industry standard for team fan sites. The forums have been a home for Houston sports fans as well as basketball fanatics around the globe.

  • Support ClutchFans!

    If you find that ClutchFans is a valuable resource for you, please consider becoming a Supporting Member. Supporting Members can upload photos and attachments directly to their posts, customize their user title and more. Gold Supporters see zero ads!

    Upgrade Now