The Art of NBA Tanking: The Philadelphia 76ers Have No Shame
Sports analytics is no longer the wave of the future. It is most assuredly here, however, as evidenced by the explosion in the growth and coverage of the annual Sloan Sports Analytics Conference at M.I.T. in Boston.
Down the crapper on purpose?
During the basketball analytics portion of the event, this weekend, former Toronto Raptors president and general manager Bryan Colangelo made a revelation that wasn't all that stunning (although the actual admission of it might have been to some) -- his team attempted to tank games for better draft position in 2011-2012.
I know, I know...GASP, right?
Colangelo's "revelation" was fun, but it was nothing compared with former Orlando Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy's thrashing of this season's Philadelphia 76ers (pipe bomb in BOLD):
Van Gundy tendered a perhaps more radical suggestion: eliminate the draft entirely, let all rookies enter the league as free agents going to the highest bidder. This, the coach argues, would get rid of the sort of teardown underway in Pennsylvania, where the Philadelphia 76ers have traded away virtually all of their viable veterans save for Thaddeus Young and, as a result, have lost 12 straight games, 15 of their last 16, and 22 of their last 25. Van Gundy called the ploy, undertaken by new general manager Sam Hinkie, who was in attendance at the session, "embarrassing."
"I don't care," Van Gundy said. "Adam Silver can say there's no tanking or what's going on, [but] if you're putting that roster on the floor, you're doing everything you can possibly do to try to lose."
Indeed, far less surprising than Colangelo's admission of "losing in an attempt to eventually win" was a Van Gundy taking direct aim at league policy and offensive tactics deployed by another team, especially with that team's general manager sitting a few yards away.
It's why we all love the Van Gundys, and if you don't, it must suck not being American.
The fact of the matter is that they should have had Hinkie conducting his own breakout session at the Sloan Conference on the art of extreme tanking, because Van Gundy is right -- the Sixers have taken overt intentional losing to a new level this season, specifically since January 31.
How historic is Philadelphia's burning desire to lose? Well, consider the following: