As the 2012 NBA season approaches its end, some teams are still competing for a playoff seed while others are still battling for pride. And it's no secret that some teams are purposely dropping games in hopes of acquiring higher draft positions. This not-so-uncommon phenomenon (some call strategy) raises the sport ethical question of is it right to play for the loss?
While every team wants a high pick in next year's talented draft pool, the stink for picks strategy can work out fine for some teams and have adverse effect on others.
The Bobcats' season is beyond repair. They have lost 21 games in a row and are on pace to becoming one of the absolutely worst teams in NBA history. Their seven wins and 57 losses cannot get any worse.
So at this point, they might as well do their best to lose the rest of the games. Pride is no longer a factor; the Bobcats lost most of their pride a month ago when they started this current 21-game slide.
Frankly, no one can blame them for stinking for picks. The Bobcats have never had a legitimate star in their brief existence. Kemba Walker is a promising future solid-starting-caliber player, but chances are he's not the one with the ability to turn a franchise around. So their only option for improvement is through the draft this year.
Do the math.
Anthony Davis, Bismack Biyombo and Kemba Walker equals no longer being the worst team in the NBA.
If there is one team in the NBA that shouldn't stink for picks, it's the Washington Wizards.
Despite their less than stellar record, the Wizards still have a collection of young and talented players led by former No. 1 pick John Wall. It is unfair to Wall that he has to play in a losing environment for the first two years of his career. Wall might have developed a losing mentality during these two years and that is potentially destructive to his future. This also applies to all the other young players on the Washington roster.
It would be nice to have a top three pick joining the Wizards next year, but at what cost? The cost of a potential superstar's confidence, happiness and commitment? If the Wizards think Anthony Davis is better than Wall, then yes, it's worth it. Otherwise, stinking for picks might just be the dumbest thing the Wizards management have done. Yes, even dumber than acquiring Rashard Lewis.
In the Hornets' defense, they have done a pretty good job with the departure of Chris Paul and the injuries of Eric Gordon. But with the possibility of losing Gordon this summer, the Hornets need to plan ahead. Stinking for picks is one of the options and they have done just that.
Getting Thomas Robinson or Andre Drummond or at least Harrison Barnes is a serious possibility. The Hornets' struggles will pay off.
It's baffling how the Kings are so bad with the amount of talent on their team.
Apparently the Kings' front office believes that they need another star to accompany all the potential stars already on the team. Maybe they are right, but Sacramento haven't had a satisfactory season in a long time and this could've been that season. They had the talent to win at least 10 more games than they did.
At the current stage, the Kings might end up with the fourth pick, which is widely believed to be Andre Drummond. But why would the Kings draft Drummond when DeMarcus Cousins is proving that he is an All-Star caliber center?
The Kings can also draft Bradley Beal or Harrison Barnes, but that would conflict with their established star shooting guard Tyreke Evans. Along with the emergence and potential of Isaiah Thomas, Marcus Thornton and Jimmer Fredette, the Kings don't even need a pick in this year's draft to improve the team.
So why should they stink for picks? No one knows.
Portland made it clear to the world that they were starting a rebuilding process when they traded away Gerald Wallace and fired Nate McMillan.
The first step to rebuilding is always through the draft. Portland chose a good year to stink because the draft pool of 2012 is steaming with talent.
Older teams in the NBA should learn from the Blazers and break up the team for a brighter future instead of clinging on for dear life.
I am looking at you Phoenix Suns.
I don't think the Cavs purposely lose games for higher picks, they just can't win even when they try. This team is inexperienced and shallow on the bench, but a good draft pick and some wise free-agent moves in the summer can fix both of these problems.
It's clear that Kyrie Irving will be in this league for a long long time, and all he needs is an equally talented running mate to push this Cavaliers team into the playoffs. And lucky for him, he might have a new partner next season by the name of Harrison Barnes. That will be fun to watch.
The Raptors are in the same but slightly less favorable situation as the Cavaliers. Although the Raptor will probably get a slightly higher draft position than the Cavs, they don't have a player of Kyrie Irving's caliber to build around.
The draft might not change much for the Raptors anytime soon. Unless they can squeeze into the top three pick and get Micheal Kidd-Gilchrist or Thomas Robinson, the Raptors will have a rough two years ahead.
The Suns' management needs to be realistic and start rebuilding. They need to drop their pride and free Steve Nash! The Suns are like Madonna, just clinging to the last bit of youth and refuse to face the cold hard fact that they are old and becoming incompetent.
The Suns are in the most difficult spot right now. Not good enough to contend for anything, yet not bad enough to get a top 10 draft pick. Once Nash and Hill leave the desert, the Suns will be left with a bunch of average to below-average role players who are only good because they fed off of Nash all these years.
The Nash effect has glorified the careers of players like Shawn Marion, Raja Bell, Leandro Barbosa and most recently, Marcin Gortat. Go read the stats of these guys after they leave Nash, they are average at best.
The departure of Nash is inevitable, and the Suns need some talented youngsters to keep them from falling to the very bottom of the power rankings. A rebuilding process, however painful, is necessary. The Suns not only have to stink for picks next year, they also need to trade for picks. Youth is an asset the Suns desperately need.
Oh did I mention, FREE STEVE NASH!