NBA Betting Advice: Beware Tanking Teams after All-Star Break
We're beyond the NBA trade deadline. There is still plenty of NBA action left to be played, but for several teams we are at a key time in the schedule - the time when bottom dwellers really commit to tanking. And tanking is a particularly attractive thing to do this year because this is a deep and talented draft with a small handful of players who have the potential to really move a team forward.
For handicappers, knowing which teams are tanking is always handy - tanking teams don't win many games, so betting against them is often a good idea. So, as we sit here nearing the middle of February, which teams have clearly lost the will to live? It's important to differentiate between teams that are clearly throwing in the towel and those that just aren't very good but are still showing signs of a pulse. The Lakers are an example of the latter, and there are at least eight examples of the former we'll look at.
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Before we get to that, though, we have to point out that my favorite team right now is the Nets. They have the worst record in the league over their last 10 and are doing few things well - and don't seem too bothered by it. They fit the profile of a tanking team perfectly except for one thing - the Cavs own their pick. They don't have their own second-rounder, either. The Nets are such a pathetic mess that they can't even tank right. Now, on with the show - and buckle in, because the list is long this year:
Sacramento Kings: Zach Randolph is approximately 384 years old. And he is the team's leading scorer. While averaging what will be the third-lowest total of his career. That is embarrassing in more ways than I could possibly count. This team committed to tanking the day they traded DeMarcus Cousins away. Or about five years before that, really.
Phoenix Suns: The Suns are so bad that Steve Kerr let the Warriors coach themselves the other night - and they still beat Phoenix by 46. The team has lost 11 of 12 and is just completely directionless. They are employing a classic technique of a tanking team - installing an interim coach who has absolutely no chance of sticking around long term. They have allowed, by a wide margin, the most points in the league - which is what happens when you don't even attempt to play defense.
Dallas Mavericks: They hoped that Harrison Barnes and the ghost of Dirk Nowitzki would be enough to make this team respectable with some strong coaching. Shockingly, that wasn't the case. I want to believe that this isn't a completely incompetent organization, so I have to believe they went into this season with eyes wide open, knowing that all that they were playing for is ping pong balls in the lottery.
Memphis Grizzlies: This team had the tanking decision made for them when Mike Conley went down for the year. They were too thin of a team even with him there, but without him they are lost. Marc Gasol just has to do too much with too little help. Tyreke Evans has scored well, so they pulled a nice tank-friendly move with him - they sat him for several games before the trade deadline so he didn't get injured before they traded him, and then they didn't trade him. That way they didn't get his impact, and they didn't get any help in the future form the trade. Truly masterful tanking.
Atlanta Hawks: Atlanta has their own pick, and first-rounders from Houston and Minnesota as well, so they are positioned to really throw some weight around in this draft - either by taking 10 percent of the available players or packaging for a trade. All you need to know here is that Dennis Schroder is the only player on the roster averaging more than 13 points per game. When Schroder is your marquee player, you aren't even trying.
Orlando Magic: Trading away Elfrid Payton was the last signal that they realized that their last batch of loading up with youngsters wasn't going to get them where they wanted to go, so now they are committed to getting a piece or two to go with Aaron Gordon and trying again.
Chicago Bulls: They have their own first-round pick and one from New Orleans this year, so they are another team with some weight to throw around. And, as we have seen is a recurring theme, they don't have a roster that resembles anything close to a contending group. Heck, they are so far away from anything that you have to wonder if landing the top pick will even make a ripple. This team is a mess.
New York Knicks: Fate is cruel - after all this team has been through, did the team really deserve a crippling injury to their best player in a decade? I don't truly know if this team is actually tanking or is just this bad and incompetent. Whether intentional or not, this is a masterclass in tanking.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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