Thursday, March 20, 2014

NBA Tanking Is in the Eye of the Beholder

Credit a recent piece by Zack Lowe of Grantland for this little gem:

“The wheel turns the NBA into a planning exercise that rewards smart organizations for being smart,” [Mark] Cuban says. “I just don’t know if that dovetails with the business we are in.”

The “wheel” refers to what is essentially a proposed equal-distribution system for the NBA’s draft intended to replace the lottery system and to cleanse the league of the scourge of tanking.

You might want to turn that quote over again in your mind before forging ahead.

Ready to go?

Assuming that the verb “dovetails” implies a correspondence or connection of some sort, just what is the Dallas Maverick’s owner saying here?

If intelligent decision-making, both long-term and short-term, is not the means to a successful result (i.e. reward), then just what should be separating the winners from the losers? Market size? The bounce of a ping-pong ball? Punxsutawney Phil?

At the eighth annual MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference earlier this month, former Toronto Raptors GM Brian Colangelo acknowledged constructing the 2011-2012 squad to perform poorly, even quipping that coach Duane Casey’s motivational skills proved “too good.”

New Commish Adam Silver bristles at the term “tanking” and prefers to think of a team’s dismantling (e.g. the current Sixers) as a “legitimate strategy” in the rebuilding process. Yet, Silver acknowledges a concern about the perception of such strategizing and an obligation to address that perception.

I think you solve the whole problem by throwing all the non-playoff teams into a single-elimination tournament, first prize the No. 1 pick in the up-coming draft. Here’s a more thorough explanation of the idea.