5 NBA Teams That Are Better off Playing for Draft Picks in 2012-13
Simply put, there are a handful of NBA teams that are better off tanking the 2012-13 season. For a variety of reasons, these are teams that have no realistic chance of moving up the NBA pile in their current incarnations.
Some of these teams have lost their star player and center-piece, needing to rebuild from the ground up. Others have had a forgettable off-season and have failed to make a large stride forward in the draft and at the trade table. While for others, well, they are just simply bad. Horrible in fact.
In today's NBA, if you're not contending you may as well be losing. It really is that simple. Keeping your head above water and remaining in the playoff hunt may be admirable for teams with mediocre talent stocks, but it's simply not the way to move forward if you're serious about winning a championship.
With teams such as the Lakers, Heat and Thunder being stacked with elite talent, it's plain foolish to believe that a roster without significant star-power is capable of genuinely contending.
With that being the case, there are a number of NBA teams that can forget about winning, and focus on acquiring elite talent in the next NBA draft.
Here's five of them.
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In regards to tanking, the Orlando Magic really are the most obvious choice in the league. And you better believe that's exactly what they are trying to do.
Dwight Howard was always leaving Orlando, it was just a matter of when. All of those around the Magic knew that when that day occurred, it would be time to bottom out. After attempting to assemble a team around the league's most dominant center, there simply is no way forward with that team after his departure.
Subsequently, the NBA's Most Improved Player and Orlando's second best talent, Ryan Anderson, was also traded. As were Chris Duhon, Earl Clark and Jason Richardson.
In return the Magic received Aaron Afflalo, Al Harrington, Gustavo Ayon, Nikola Vucevic, Moe Harkless, Josh McRoberts, Christian Eyenga and a host of picks. That's hardly a group that is going to experience winning.
Throw in the fact that Orlando fired one of the league's best coaches in Stan Van Gundy and hired a rookie, and it's clear that the Magic have no interest in attempting to be competitive this season.
New coach Jacque Vaughn's primary task will be to identify what the Magic can work with going forward and which pieces are worth hanging on to. Winning will be merely an after-thought. Orlando needs a lottery pick that they can turn into a star.
Until that happens, they'll be tanking.
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After riding Steve Nash's aging legs for so long, it's time to bottom out and start again in Phoenix. That being said, that the Suns remained in the playoff hunt last season was quite remarkable, but doing so again isn't helping them going forward.
While it must be acknowledged that Phoenix did make some good moves this off-season, the group they have assembled is still nothing more than a mid-conference playoff battler.
Drafting Kendall Marshall was a solid choice for the Suns, and combined with Goran Dragic, Phoenix have done their best to fill Nash's enormous shoes at the point guard position. However, it's simply unfair to expect these two to live up to Nash's lofty standards that will undoubtedly leave a huge void in Phoenix.
Additionally, with Nash no longer running the show, it's very likely that his old supporting cast is going to find it significantly harder on the offensive end. Marcin Gortat, in particular, is likely to see his production take a hit given how well Nash found him on the pick and roll.
Looking at the Suns' other pieces doesn't inspire confidence either. Shannon Brown, Channing Frye, Luis Scola, Jared Dudley and Michael Beasley will be the team's main options outside the already mentioned. That's not a group capable of contending anytime soon, nor does it leave Phoenix much to bargain with at the trade table.
While losing in 2012-13 will be miserable for the Suns, draft picks and elite talent is what they need going forward. They aren't going to find either of those in the middle of the Western Conference.
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The Houston Rockets have done nothing more than spin their tires in recent years, neither moving forwards or backwards in a rugged Western Conference. Despite constant reshuffling of the roster, the franchise has failed to land a star and it's time the Rockets accepted that the best way to win tomorrow is to lose today.
General Manager Daryl Morey took the right approach this off-season by going all-in for Dwight Howard. He accumulated draft picks, let Goran Dragic go to Phoenix, waived Luis Scola and traded Kyle Lowry to Toronto.
Despite the fact that Howard ended up signing with the Lakers, Morey wasn't wrong in his attempts to land the league's most dominant center. He had the right idea. His team wasn't going to win the way it was.
By drafting Royce White, Jeremy Lamb and Terrance Jones, the Rockets have some nice young pieces to go with new signings Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik. Although Morey overpaid to get the latter two, he has taken his team out of no mans' land and given the franchise a chance to rebuild.
After years as a middle of the pack team, Houston should now forget about winning and aim to find their next star through the draft. If that means losing for a year, so be it.
The team isn't going to contend as it is now, but if the current faces were to remain and become a supporting cast to a star, then things would all of a sudden look far brighter for the Rockets.
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Putting Charlotte on this list was a difficult one because in reality, the Bobcats don't really need to tank to ensure they'll be in the lottery again. They are that bad that they'll be there anyway.
The team that recorded the worst winning percentage in NBA history last season is likely to find itself in much the same situation again this time around. Although landing Michael Kidd-Gilchrist in the draft was a positive, the Bobcats missed out on the player they really wanted in Anthony Davis.
Although missing out on Davis was hugely disappointing, the moves that Charlotte have made since just smack of desperation.
Corey Maggette, who had an expiring deal, was traded for a rapidly declining scorer in Ben Gordon. In addition to his deteriorating impact, Gordon's expensive contract is hardly the type of deal a team like Charlotte needs.
Furthermore, signing Ramon Sessions, while not terrible, is a strange acquisition for a team that needs to give Kemba Walker as much time running the floor as possible. Walker is the type of talent that Charlotte needs more of, and depriving him minutes by signing Sessions is not the way forward.
The Bobcats would be far better served by acquiring draft picks that could potentially yield them a star player. Acquiring mediocre talent in the meantime isn't doing them any favors.
Portland Trail Blazers
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Things haven't worked out in Portland for quite some time. Much like Houston, the Trail Blazers have found themselves stuck in the middle of the Western Conference spinning their wheels.
Portland have been desperately unlucky in recent years, with most of their problems stemming from the immensely unfulfilled careers of Greg Oden and Brandon Roy.
With those two faces now gone, as well as the dispensed Gerald Wallace and Marcus Camby, it's time Portland went to the well in search of a star.
At best, the team as it's constructed now will be fighting for one of the final playoff births in the west. Although LaMarcus Aldridge has developed into the team's center-piece, he along with Nicolas Batum, Wesley Matthews and J.J. Hickson aren't capable of elevating this team into the elite bracket. And given how much money they spent on keeping Batum, the franchise has left itself with limited flexibility going forward.
Portland's fans at the Rose Garden are among the most passionate in the league and would hate to see their team tanking for draft picks. However, settling for a first-round playoff exit isn't the type of ambition you want your team to have either.
If the Trail Blazers want to regain their status as one of the NBA's best, then losing for just a year might not be the worst way to go.