The 2013-14 NBA season will be uniquely competitive. There will be the usual playoffs race to win an NBA title as 29 teams will attempt to prevent a three-peat by the Miami Heat. However, several teams will devote next season to plummeting in the standings in order to maximize their chances of winning the Andrew Wiggins Sweepstakes, otherwise known as the 2014 NBA draft lottery.
“Tankapalooza” has several layers. There are teams—the Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers and Utah Jazz—that are not being discreet about their intentions to tank next season.
Matt Moore of CBS Sports wrote that it’s not just the actions of teams that show signs of tanking, but also their inaction:
But it's clear judging from the draft and free agency that nearly half the league has the same thing in mind, to various degrees. For some, it's not about what teams did; it's what they didn't. The Suns and Magic did almost nothing in free agency. They just hung out. That's subtle tanking.
The Orlando Magic and Phoenix Suns had lottery picks in the 2013 NBA draft but didn’t land any major free agents. Both teams finished last in their respective divisions last season, and on paper they are on pace to be on the outside looking in on the playoffs next year.
The third category is one with teams who either unsuccessfully tried to improve this offseason or disguised their intentions of tanking by mediocre signings. Whether these teams intend to or not, tanking is definitely an option next season if they get off to a slow start.
The Milwaukee Bucks signed O.J. Mayo, Zaza Pachulia and Carlos Delfino in addition to drafting 18-year-old Greek shooting guard Giannis Antetokounmpo. That's not exactly an inspiring offseason for a franchise that has lost in the first round of the playoffs in nine of its last 10 postseason appearances.
The Charlotte Bobcats, soon to be renamed the Hornets, signed free agent center Al Jefferson, who averaged 17.8 points and 9.2 rebounds per game last season. However, Jefferson has built a reputation for being a defensive liability, which won't help a Charlotte squad that finished 29th in points allowed per game last season.
Here's a segment about Jefferson's defense (or lack thereof) that Grantland's Zach Lowe wrote in an article about the Utah Jazz last year:
I pointed out last month that Utah was having its bigs jump out hard on pick-and-rolls, even though Jefferson especially isn’t very good at that, lacking the foot speed and general awareness to run out beyond the 3-point arc and recover in time.
Here is how the top "tankers" in the NBA have positioned themselves to potentially win next year's draft lottery.