#Betting101: Tank-Watching the Phoenix Suns

phoenix suns

Jason Lake

Thursday, March 1, 2018 12:33 PM GMT

Thursday, Mar. 1, 2018 12:33 PM GMT

Our tour of basketball’s worst teams continues in the desert, where the Phoenix Suns have taken losing to a whole new level. The NBA odds are never in their favor.

Last week, on #Betting101:

“Losing is our best option,” Cuban said. “Adam [Silver] would hate hearing that, but I at least sat down and I explained it to them.”

That was Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, admitting to “Dr. J” Julius Erving that he told his team that tanking the rest of the 2017-18 regular season was good for business. Shortly afterwards, NBA commissioner Silver fined Cuban $600,000 for having the temerity to say such words. And in case that wasn’t enough, Silver wrote a strongly-worded memo to the league’s 30 teams, warning everyone that tankers would be punished.

The Mavericks may have listened. They’ve covered all three games since Cuban got fined, even beating the Indiana Pacers 109-103 on Monday as 3-point home dogs. Dallas has other problems, too, including #MeToo problems, so this is one team that might actually back off the tanking a little bit. Everyone else at the bottom of the NBA oddsboard is fair game, though – especially the Phoenix Suns (19-44 SU, 29-32-2 ATS), who are showing everyone else how it’s done at 2-15 SU SU and 7-10 ATS over their past 17 games as of Thursday.

To Win Is to Lose

Despite Silver’s protestations, his NBA is built to reward the teams at the bottom of the standings. They want all their franchises to be healthy, so the ones with the worst records are given the best chance of winning the draft lottery – provided they don’t trade away their picks. Lookin’ at you, Brooklyn Nets. Phoenix owns its first-round pick (and Miami’s), and the Suns are one of eight teams at press time with between 18-20 wins. No wonder Silver has his Underoos in a wad.

Here’s the thing about tanking: You don’t ask your players to mail it in. Instead, you give disproportionate minutes to your least-qualified players. Regardless of the draft lottery, it’s the right thing to do; give your young prospects a chance to develop, prevent your veterans from getting injured, and if you happen to lose, oh well. Meanwhile, you tell everyone – including "Dr. J" – that you’re not tanking.

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Suns Learn From Mistakes Of 2017, Won't Tank Final Games https://t.co/vwUvyQr8F2

— RealGM (@RealGM) February 22, 2018

The proof is in the pudding. Phoenix has done a very good job this year of giving heavy minutes to Josh Jackson (minus-5.0 BPM) and Tyler Ulis (minus-5.7 BPM) and Dragan Bender (minus-2.9 BPM) and Troy Daniels (minus-2.9 BPM). The Suns also bought out Greg Monroe (plus-2.5 BPM) after he came over from the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eric Bledsoe trade and played much better than people expected. They’re going to be in tough this Friday when they host the salty Oklahoma City Thunder. Although there's actually a winnable game Sunday at the also-tanking Atlanta Hawks. Mark them down for your next batch of NBA picks, and may the sphere be with you.

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