Wednesday, March 31st, 2010 at 9:00 am  |  29 responses

Should the Nets Start Tanking Games Now?

by Marcel Mutoni / @marcel_mutoni

The question above actually applies to all of the teams in the NBA’s bottom tier, squads that will be looking for a savior in the Draft this summer. For the New Jersey Nets and others, winning meaningless games at this point in the season may end up costing them in the long-run.

While most of the hoops world’s focus is on the battle for homecourt advantage throughout the Playoffs, it’s important not to forget about another exciting finish: the race to the bottom.

New Jersey and Minnesota need to set themselves up to snag John Wall with the first pick this summer. The Star Ledger explores how losing factors into all of this:

Even as they endure the final weeks of what Devin Harris calls “an abomination for a season,” the 10-64 Nets are suddenly only four games behind Minnesota — and the equally abominable Timberwolves (14-60) don’t appear very eager to win many more games this season, having lost 16 straight.

So for all the Nets have been through this season, they actually have guys who are still interested in winning — just for kicks, if not for pride — and with winnable games still on the schedule, they could easily blow the pole position for the NBA Draft Lottery.

“The way we’re playing, I think there’s a chance we can catch Minnesota,” said Brook Lopez, who might have had the best week of his career in leading the Nets to a 3-1 record. “You’ve got to look to achieve something.” In the complicated lottery system, the team with the worst record gets a 250-in-1000 chance of getting the top pick. The team with the second-worst record has a 178-in-1,000 chance of winning it. If the two teams finished tied, they would essentially have an equal opportunity. But the difference between 250 and 178 is huge when the services of Kentucky’s John Wall is at stake.

Draft lottery positioning is a total crap-shoot in some ways, but rebuilding franchises would be doing themselves a disservice by not setting themselves up to acquire the top spot (especially with a game-changer like Wall within sight.)

Nets players and management smartly refuse to acknowledge the possibility of tanking games, but the reality is that their fans will be — or should be, anyway — rooting for losses.

Besides, it’s not like there are any more memorable victories left for New Jersey this season.

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  • http://thegayestwebsiteever.com Big Ben

    Based on their performance all year, I don’t think they’ll have to try really hard to lose the rest of their games.

  • BackInBlack

    John Wall wouldn’t fit in with the nets rotation or the team

  • http://www.another48minutes.com Gerard Himself

    I’m a Nets fan, so people might expect me to say: “start tanking!” But if you’re a fan of the game, which I am, if you’re a fan of a team, which I am, hopefully your mind doesn’t work that way. If the Nets would win every single game from now on, I’d be happy. Of course, they will probably be annihilated tonight against the Suns, but you know what I mean. I think it was Harris or Terrence Williams who said something like this: whether you lose or not, it’s not like it’s 100% guaranteed you’ll get that no. 1 spot anyway. Also, reading all of beat writer Dave D’Alessandro’s articles, the guys have been practicing hard the last couple of weeks, finally playing with a sense of ugency. Now that they’ve won 3 out of the 4 last games, they finally remember how it is to win and regain some confidence. Again, tonight will be ugly, no doubt. But they’ll win 2 or 3 games in the next 2 weeks.

  • SylVain

    I agree with @BackInBlack John Wall would not fit with the nets rotation. I think the nets need a sf/pf type of player, Wes Johnson. He can shoot, rebound and he’s athletic. He plays above the rim, 6’7, 6’8 with a 7’0 wingspan? He’s worthy of a #1 pick

  • http://www.another48minutes.com Gerard Himself

    the Nets don’t need a small forward. John Wall could fit with the Nets, but Harris probably has to move. That’s a sad thing, because when healthy, Harris is a joy to watch. Even Harris himself think it could work with him and Wall in the backcourt, but I don’t believe that. Golden State’s doing it, but damn, those guys are small. What the Nets need is a decent power forward. Brook Lopez should be the no. 1 option, but you need a Luis Scola type of player next to him.

  • JOE!

    The Nets started tanking games back in November.

  • LA Huey

    Really hope ‘Sota can get John Wall. They’re just a PG away from title contention

  • Sparty’s Law

    I think if the Nets just keep doing what they’ve been doing all season they will be just fine.

  • http://www.twitter.com/retepadam Peter Nygaard

    This is, what, the third straight Nets-related article that’s immediately followed up a comment by me on the same topic?

    Glad that I can continue to inspire.

  • http://www.another48minutes.com Gerard Himself

    What I should’ve included in my post are the following things: Rod Thorn, The Boss, would hate tanking. Marcel: it’s weird to read that an actual basketball fan like yourself writes that Nets fans “should be rooting for losses.” In 25 years it only happened 4 (!) times that the worst team in the NBA got the top pick. This is truly one of the weirdest thing I’ve read from a SLAM writer.

  • http://missjia.com meloMan2.0

    NO. because, First of all, the worst team hardly ever gets the first pick, well atleast not in recent memory. and 2nd, Evan turner would be a better fit for both of those teams

  • Nigel

    Why? They already got the worst record on lock.

  • Nigel

    EDIT: NVM They aren’t to far behind the T’Wolves who have been playing horribly.

  • kwame


  • Clayton Holloway

    Tanking doesn’t work.. You will get a great player in the top 5.

  • Stillballin

    If T’wolves have a chance to draft john wall.. Guarantee they will get him.. Because t’wolves love having point guards.. Remember last years draft.. Hehe!!

  • http://www.teflinprague.com SAB

    to tie the Wolves, the Nets will need to finish 4-4, and then Wolves will need to end the season with a 24-game losing streak. c’mon, how likely are both of those things? be serious now…

  • http://www.stonesthrow.com/madlib Michael NZ

    Remember, in 25 years of the lottery only four times has the team with the worst record ended up with the #1 pick. Four times!

  • lucas

    nets are dumb dumb dumb dumb had jason kidd and shipped him off like a boss

  • Logues

    watch out nets! them twolves are gunnin for that #1 pick!

  • Jake

    Why would the Wolves or the Nets want to get John Wall??He’s a point guard and last time I checked both of those teams are more than capable at the PG position.Maybe they could do a draft and trade or something but for either of them to pick Wall and keep him plus the other guards that they already have on board would be a big mistake.

  • Logues

    Jake: have u seen the twolves draft choices lately? they are not exactly good, and i would take turner #1 anyday

  • http://www.another48minutes.com Gerard Himself

    lucas: the Kidd trade had to happen. With all due respect, but do you know what you’re talking about?

  • http://www.kb24.com The Seed

    Hopefully not to get John Wall!!!

  • http://Yahoo.com 323 478 1884

    They should lose all of there games left. Let LOpez and Harris in the bench and let the bench players start. The lakers will never have to worry about going 10-64. The nets will be ok in 100 years. Call me up!!!!

  • Jose

    I like giving the bench playing time.lol but i mean minny is guna winat least another game.best case scenario 2 games. the nets should keep playin for the w’s till it’s done. I’ll laugh when neither team gets the #1. especially if g-state gets its and all dem guards. I’d rather have Wall in D.C. or minny just cuz they’ve gon so much ish .minny keeps gettin robbed of the no.1 pick and well D.C. freakin dismantled itself thanks to now Agent 6.

  • http://www.triplejunearthed.com/dacre Dacre

    Start tanking NOW? I thought the season was started with that intention…

  • mikhail_prokhorov_is_Jesus_4_the_nets

    Dear Marcel Mutoni: Wake up and smell the bacon, the Nets were tanking games since Game 1 of their season. Excuse me, but this is one of the most ridiculous titles ever written for a SLAM piece.

  • skip4life

    I agree with all of you that the Nets started tanking games in November. I am a Rafer Alston fan and it was EXCRUCIATING watching him play in a Nets uniform. His stay in New Jersey was unpleasant, to say the least. In fact, ESPN wrote an article on Alston’s departure from the Heat in which the article says “His stay in New Jersey was marked by a locker room squabble in which he questioned how hard some of his teammates were playing.” Enough said. Read the article here: http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?id=4980995