Tanking, or the notion that the NBA teams need to be bad in order to ultimately be good, has been a major topic of discussion lately. The league believes they have an image problem thanks to teams making moves designed to make them worse so that they can improve their draft lottery odds in the hopes of landing the next superstar. Even the once-mighty Los Angeles Lakers
Unfortunately, for players on bad teams, tanking isn’t a welcome endeavor. NBA athletes have been competing across various levels for the majority of their lives, and have been taught that losing, regardless of draft implications, is not a good thing.
That’s why some, like Lakers power forward Larry Nance Jr., make their disdain for tanking known, as he did in a recent interview with Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times:
“Hearing all that tanking talk [last year] is like nails on the chalkboard to a competitor. I don’t even want to play if tanking is on the table. … This season is about improvement and wins. And getting to be the best team and having the best chemistry that we can possibly have and getting everybody to play the best that they can play. That’s what I’ve been waiting for. … I, for one, am ecstatic. I’m eager. I wish the first game was tomorrow.”
Nance has endured three straight losing seasons with the Lakers, and his desperation to play winning basketball should serve the team well next season.
Given the lack of experience on the team as well as the incredible collection of talented amassed in the Western Conference, it’s unlikely that the Lakers make it into the playoffs this season, but they should be able to play entertaining basketball while winning more than last year.
It also helps that the Lakers will not have a first-round pick this season, as it will be headed to either the Boston Celtics or Philadelphia 76ers as the last commitment from the disastrous Steve Nash trade. As such, there is no reward at the end of the season for losing games, so we shouldn’t expect to see any tanking out of the team this year.