Tanking. The art of purposely losing in order to secure a poor record, finishing well below postseason contention, and giving an organization the highest possible chance of landing a star-studded draft pick through the lottery.
Of course to some teams, tanking is involuntary, you can’t lose on purpose when a team is incapable of winning in the first place. Unfortunately, several teams fall into that bracket for the upcoming 2017/18 season, just like teams have been involved in a battle for the basement in season’s prior.
With that being said, a case can be made for each of the following teams as to who will finish this season with the worst record in the entire league.
Ah, the Brooklyn Nets. If there’s one organization you could put your hat on being one of the bottom battling teams, it would be Brooklyn. In fact, you could put your mortgage on it. Finishing last season with a ghastly 20-62 record, the Nets were firmly at the foot of the pile, and this season isn’t likely to see an immediate change in fortunes with a roster that looks no better than past seasons.
Although, Brooklyn looks as if they’ve finally found their franchise centerpiece. D’Angelo Russell was traded from the Los Angeles Lakers to Brooklyn in a draft night trade – with a lot to prove and a lot of faith put in him, Russell finally has a platform to shine.
Of course, this trade saw stalwart Brook Lopez swap Brooklyn for the spotlight as he headed to the Lakers. This will be a bitter pill to swallow for the Nets, who now will hope Timofey Mozgov, who was also involved in the trade, can fill the overwhelmingly large shoes that Lopez has left behind.
Once a 60-win, Conference topping heavyweight a mere few seasons ago, the Atlanta Hawks have since imploded. Their superstars have moved on to new pastures, the roster has been blown up and in its wake, a collection of young, inexperienced pieces remain.
Paul Millsap opted out of his player option and signed with the Denver Nuggets, leaving them with no real superstar at the pivot of their offense. As well as Millsap’s departure, Atlanta also dealt Dwight Howard to the Charlotte Hornets in return for Marco Bellinelli, Miles Plumlee, and the 41st pick in the draft (Tyler Dorsey). Of course, Dennis Schröder still dons a Hawks jersey, but he also lacks real star quality to make this team his own. While his usage was only 27.6-percent last season, that will be but a fraction of his involvement this year.
While it isn’t all doom and gloom over in Atlanta, they have signed a sturdy defensive stopper in Dewayne Dedmon and a promising rookie in John Collins, but ultimately their roster has gotten a lot worse.
New York Knicks
An outside contender, the New York Knicks are far from perfect. Quite the opposite, actually. While the Carmelo Anthony saga draws into its umpteenth day, it seems inevitable that he will search for pastures new, and even if he does choose to stay, the team chemistry and locker room atmosphere will be tense and toxic to say the least.
The Knicks, however, have something the other contenders on this list don’t, a genuine franchise cornerstone in Latvian forward Kristaps Porzingis. Although Porzingis missed his exit meeting at the end of last season due to the tumultuous demeanour of the front office, it appears that he will be plying his trade in New York once again.
Latvia beat Poland today in ‘friendly’ prep for Eurobasket.
Kristaps Porzingis finshed with 24 points & 12 boards. Here are some highlights: pic.twitter.com/WOH35rAnfT
— Tommy Beer (@TommyBeer) August 12, 2017
Frank Ntilikina was the prospect the Knicks opted with at the draft, hoping the Frenchman would carry the team forward after they chose not to re-sign Derrick Rose after previous speculation suggested so. While Ntilikina may fit the ‘triangle offense’ to a tee on paper, the fact Ntilikina competed in the French league against far from credible opposition leads little to be desired, whether he’ll be a hit in the NBA only time will tell.
After an abysmal offseason, the Chicago Bulls are in a heap of trouble, without sugarcoating it. Losing Jimmy Butler was the cherry on top of the metaphorical cake for the Chicago faithful, who are now inclined to expect a few torrid seasons while their rebuild takes shape.
In return for Butler, who was traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves on draft night, the Bulls received Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and the rights to Lauri Markkanen. Breaking this trade down, it appears obvious that Minnesota won this trade to sensational effect. They dumped Dunn, whose rookie season was nothing short of disappointing and looks unlikely to develop to the NBA level for a fair few years. They lost LaVine, who is coming off a serious knee injury that is likely to hamper his once well-renowned athleticism, his biggest asset. And finally, they surrendered the draft rights to Markkanen, who many consider to be the likeliest bust from the 2017 class.
With all this being said, Chicago have one of the weakest rosters going into the 2017-18 season, whether it’ll be the weakest, time will be the decider.
All in all, it’s going to be interesting to see which teams embrace the tank first. With the Western Conference getting stronger, it’s left a fair few teams scraping the barrel for scraps of talent – who will be the worst team is still very much up for discussion.
Who will finish with the worst record in the NBA this season?
— Hoops Nation (@HoopsNation_) August 10, 2017