The Race To The Bottom: Finding Value in Teams Tanking

NBA betting update

Kevin Stott

Sunday, September 17, 2017 4:10 PM GMT

Sunday, Sep. 17, 2017 4:10 PM GMT

We’ve reached that sad point in NBA history where we actually have to worry about teams Tanking—intentionally losing games in order to try to land the #1 pick in the following year’s NBA Draft

Proposed NBA Draft Reformation Change May NBA Teams From “Tanking” Games

Late Friday it was announced that the Competition Committee had recommended changes to the way future NBA Drafts be held, according to sources reported by ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, sending proposal to the NBA Board of Governors for a vote and presumed final approval at its Sept. 28 meeting. And the news is good for anyone who is a fan and/or an NBA bettor, as the Competition Committee also recommended doing something about the league’s more competitive teams and the premeditated resting of some of its (healthy) players as progressive Commissioner Adam Silver continues to try to make his professional sports league a better view for fans sooner rather than later. With a nasty and now seemingly perennial imbalance which sees maybe two (Warriors, Cavaliers) to five teams (Rockets, Spurs, Celtics) dominating the NBA and defending champions Golden State unheard of below-Even Money Favorites to win the 2017-18 NBA Championship (-160, Bovada) before the Regular Season has even tipped off (Tuesday, Oct. 17), change is desperately needed.

 

And that change is needed soon, but maybe more so because of what has been happening at the bottom of the NBA Standings in terms of teams tanking games, maybe devolving to the point where tanking seasons may be a hidden dirty secret with a couple of franchises, although little Jimmy living in South Florida not being able to see his favorite player LeBron James ply his hardwood wares in April when Daddy bought him tickets to see King James in January when Cleveland comes to Miami isn’t a good look for a product. NHL players and GM’s would scoff at the concept of resting key players or “tanking games” while MLB rests players but that league plays a grueling 162 games in a regular season, and, unlike all other leagues, MLB teams usually play 6 to as many as 7 games a week. The NBA Competition Committee recommended teams in the league try to rest players for Home games and not Road games in the future if they continue to choose to employ this practice and to not rest key players (read stars) for nationally televised games. In the proposal, Silver would now have the power to fine teams for resting players.

 

 

Nobody wants to pay or live in an NBA city where the home team’s expressed intent is to go out and lose either, as that’s just premeditated bad product, whether or not if it works in the long run as we will one day see with teams like the Philadelphia 76ers tanking two seasons ago in an effort to one day be able to have a more formidable and competitive Roster in the Eastern Conference of the NBA now possessing a halfway decent team with Joel Embiid, Jahlil Okafor and Ben Simmons and oddsmakers currently having the 76ers priced at 75/1 to win the 2017-18 NBA Finals (Bovada). In 2014, the NBA Board of Governors voted down a similar reformation of the NBA Draft process.


 

The proposed changes would need two-thirds vote and currently, the team which finishes last in the 32-team league has a 25% chance of winning the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft Lottery while the 31st and 20th teams have a 19.9% and 15.6% chance respectively of nabbing that No. 1 pick, this year University of Washington G Markelle Fultz (8/1 to win NBA Rookie of the Year, Bovada) who was chosen by those aforementioned reloading-by-tanking-back-then Sixers. Should the changes happen, and conventional wisdom says that they will, those bottom three teams would all then have a 14% chance of winning that top pick in the NBA Draft, theoretically trying to stop the weakest-of-the-weak from intentionally losing (tanking) in order to try to lock in the highest odds possible (25% now) to snag that perceived and valuable top pick. And the new system would also reportedly create a reality where the worst teams could even drop a slot in the NBA Draft Lottery than they do in its current format. Better play to win boys. Some of these people lovingly have posters of you on their walls at home and paid $7 for a hot dog.

 


2017-18 NBA Championship Odds—(September 16, 2017, Bovada)

Golden State Warriors -160

Cleveland Cavaliers +450

Boston Celtics +750

Houston Rockets 9/1

San Antonio Spurs 12/1

Minnesota Timberwolves 25/1

Oklahoma City Thunder 25/1

Washington Wizards 50/1

Milwaukee Bucks 66/1

Philadelphia 76ers 75/1

Toronto Raptors 75/1

Los Angeles Clippers 100/1

Los Angeles Lakers 100/1

Denver Nuggets 150/1

Miami Heat 200/1 150/1

New Orleans Pelicans 150/1

Portland Trail Blazers 200/1

Utah Jazz 200/1

Memphis Grizzlies 250/1

Dallas Mavericks 300/1

Atlanta Hawks 500/1

Charlotte Hornets 500/1

Chicago Bulls 500/1

Detroit Pistons 500/1

Indiana Pacers 500/1

New York Knicks 500/1

Phoenix Suns 500/1

Brooklyn Nets 1,000/1

Orlando Magic 1,000/1

Sacramento Kings 1,000/1

 


Analysis: Tanking is Only Worth It If Coming NBA Draft is Really Deep at Top Or Has One Legitimate Superstar

In this industry, sportsbook directors Offshore and here in sunny Las Vegas have to react to teams who may be tanking—both in the Regular Season and Futures Book markets—or resting star players, often pulling games off of the betting board where pure tanking may be involved or having large Point Spread swings should a team be sitting stars out and letting it be known ahead of time, something that cheapens the overall product and at the root of Silver’s effort to make a league where both teams are playing hard to actually try to win the game and play to lose to theoretically get some teenage mirage to instantly make them contenders through winning the Draft Lottery, made up of the 14 teams who don’t make the Postseason. This isn’t smart. Players like Wilt Chamberlain, Michael Jordan and LeBron James only come around once every 20 years or so, and even then, there’s the inherent risk of getting the player you actually pick at No. 1 and then having someone like the No. 3 pick in the 1984 NBA Draft—one Michael Jeffrey Jordan out of North Carolina—end up being the stardust choice. And let’s not forget that Kobe Bryant was the No. 13 selection in the 1996 NBA Draft, although he had just graduated from High School (Lower Merion, Lower Merion, PA) when that golden nugget was panned by the Hornets but immediately traded to the Lakers. So No. 1’s can often be a bust and sometimes the future star you draft doesn’t even want to play for your team and/or in your city. The variables make even coveting a No. 1 pick silly if you analyze.

 

 

In the end, it’s just not worth it to tank. It’s not good for personnel, fans or a city. America was not built on losing or expecting to lose. When a dude named George Washington and his starving and shoeless troops were at Valley Forge, losing was not an option. NBA Drafts have been getting weaker

through the decades—a look at the 2018 Mock NBA Draft shows this trend continuing—with so many Freshman going to college for just one year in order to solely play NCAA Basketball—education be damned, brother—and then hopefully trying to cash in by being one of the instant-millionaires created every June by being selected in the 2-round NBA Draft. In this respect, every star High School and College basketball player wants to be like Mike or LeBron James and every NBA General Manager dreams of being lucky enough to be in that No. 1 spot when the next LBJ or MJ comes up the pike. But the mathematical reality in this actually happening to you as a GM and to your team and to your city is tantamount to seeing the Loch Ness Monster or Bigfoot—they are indeed out there to be seen and to be had, but investing 20 years or so of your Life and hoping to be in the right place and right time and hoping to accidentally land them seems like a grand waste of time and energy. Look how much Celtics GM Danny Ainge did in two months this Summer.

 

So where is the best place now to find perceived value in NBA teams thought to be tanking? Do you look at the Regular Season Team Total market or try to cherry pick individual games on the NBA Regular Season schedule? The best strategy would seem to be to wait until you actually thought a team was tanking and/or wanted to lose a specific game. A decent long-term strategy seems to be to find a normally decent team from a solid market which may have a horrible First Half and who may just not have the horses to even make a run at finishing in the top 8 spots in their conference. The Brooklyn Nets (1,000/1 to win NBA Championship, Bovada), Chicago Bulls (500/1 to win NBA Championship, Bovada), Atlanta Hawks (500/1 to win NBA Championship, Bovada) and Indiana Pacers (500/1 to win NBA Championship, Bovada) all come to mind as candidates in the Eastern Conference this season, while in the Western Conference, the Los Angeles Clippers (100/1 to win NBA Championship, Bovada) and the Utah Jazz (200/1 to win NBA Championship, Bovada) both lost their best players in the Offseason—PG Chris Paul and SF Gordon Hayward respectively—and may be better off rebuilding. If passed, these changes will go into effect in for the 2019 NBA season.

 


2017-18 NBA REGULAR SEASON TEAM WIN TOTALS TANKABILITY FUTURES BOOK PICKS: Brooklyn Nets Under 27½, Los Angeles Clippers Under 44½ (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook)

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