Full Court Digress: It’s Tank Season, Baby!

Full Court Digress takes a good, hard look at tanking.
By    March 9, 2018

Art by Sean Davis

Atticus Grinch is a big fan of the tennis ball hair/beard combo.

We are now in the final quarter of the regular season and as compelling as the East and West playoff races are, they’ve got nothing on the race to the bottom. Let’s talk tanking!

Ideally, tanking wouldn’t be a thing in the NBA and the owners would agree to a lower league (like the Premier League) and relegation, but seeing as that’s as likely Allen Iverson not loving his little guys, I’ve decided to appreciate the art form for what it is.

Unlike Iverson the other night, these disaster artists aren’t operating irrationally while high on what my sources say was approximately two Xans, one warm Busch Lite, one pack of 20-year old Big League Chew, and a pint of mint Listerine. No, these teams are seizing the last great opportunity any NBA team may ever have to lose their way to winning.

After this year’s upcoming draft, the NBA will implement new rules that reduce the worst team in the league’s odds of a 1st overall pick from 25% to 14%.  This won’t totally fix tanking but it does give this year’s crop of crap a bit of an added incentive.

Impromptu Tanking

There are a few forms of tanking, the first of which is the Impromptu Tank and leading the pack with this very technique are the Memphis Grizzlies. The Griz are adorning the cloak of capitulation surprisingly well considering their seven season long playoff streak prior to this year and the fact that they hadn’t decided to tank until a bit later than their competitors.

The Impromptu Tank all began when then coach David Fizdale benched his grumpy and chubby center Marc Gasol for being, well, chubby and grumpy. Largely due to Mike Conely’s knee falling off and Chandler Parson’s general existence mirroring that of a well-coifed herpe (or is a single herpe a herp?), the Griz had lost their spirit and lost 11 of their last 13. Gasol went on to pout Fizdale out of town and just like that the Griz’s front office made “Insurance Fraud for Dummies” and “The Economics of Arson” mandatory reading for all of their employees.

As of writing this, the Grizzly’s have lost 15 games straight. 15 fucking games! Tanking sounds easy in concept but considering that every player that sees the court in a given game is out to prove their worth in the league and to exhibit their superiority over any hypothetical player the team could draft, it becomes immediately apparent that tanking is hard, methodical work.

Last night the Grizzlies started Kobi Simmons, Dillon Brooks, JaMychal Green, Ben McLemore, and Quincy Jackson. What’s even wilder is that only one of those players is made up.

Things look good for the Bottom-Top-Dog Griz, as they’ve got a few pieces already in place such that after drafting the likes of Luca Doncic, DeAndre Ayton or Jaren Jackson, they’ll be able to reboot somewhat quickly and get back to middling success.

Of the Grizzly’s remaining games, only three seem plausibly winnable, as they play the Jazz, Blazers, and Wolves all twice, along with OKC, New Orleans, and Philly on the road. Yet Tankathon.com (the authority in tanking) peg the Grizzlies as only having the 19th hardest strength of schedule remaining.

The Pre-meditated Tank

This brings us to the two teams tanking better than many have tanked before: the Suns and the Hawks. According to FiveThirtyEight, the Suns are projected to have as few wins as the Griz by the end of the season.

Thanks largely in part to having the second hardest remaining strength of schedule, the Suns are well equipped to muddy their diaper. But what may be even more impressive than watching TJ Warren chuck 25 shots a game is the very real possibility of the Suns having three picks in the top 16 this year.

Essentially, if my Fucks crawl into the playoffs, which I fully expect them to despite the fourth easiest strength of schedule the rest of the way, the Suns will get their pick (via the Eric Bledsoe trade). On top of the Fucks’ pick, the Suns already have Miami’s 1st round pick (via the Dragic trade) and their own.

If things play out as I think they will, the Suns, who still get to play the Warriors three times, will have a great chance at Ayton or Doncic and the assets to get back into the top 10 should they so choose.

While the Suns have embodied dysfunction to a tee for years and have become the closest thing to a Sam Hinkie spirit animal, it may all be finally paying off.

The Hawks have been going about their awful business wonderfully since last off-season when they merely shrugged as their best player, Paul Milsap, walked away after four successful seasons with the team. The Hawks looked around the room at that point and said one word, “Schroder.”

Dennis Schroder is an over-inflated jizz bag of a point guard masquerading as a franchise cornerstone. Say what you will about his lack of a supporting cast and the Hawks’ intentions, this piss-haired point guard has a Real Plus-Minus below that of Michael Carter-Williams and ranks 63rd overall out of all point guards. Schroder also ranks 144th out of 200-some eligible guards in True Shooting %.

If handing the keys over to Schroder wasn’t enough, the Hawks have actively encouraged Dwayne Dedmon to shoot threes and bought-out everyone of their trigger-happy Europeans last week.

So as Lillard detonates the league and Anthony Davis does the worm on opposing centers, remember that the tankers can be just as much fun, if you’re a masochist.

Baptism of the Week

Since I spent last week in a cryo-chamber I thought I’d end things today with a few extra Baptisms of the finest vintage.

Poetl on Drummond:

This Baptism is fantastic more so for the reaction, or lack thereof, on Poetl’s face, than for the Baptism itself. Sure, Poetl threw it down on Drummond’s big, dumb, brace-face, but the most painful aspect of this whole thing for Drummond has to be that Poetl looks like he plays tuba in a high school marching band. Sometimes the more casual a Baptism the more offensive it really is.

Nance on Plumlee:

Truthfully, I’m not that wild about this Baptism. I mean, honestly, who hasn’t dunked on a Plumlee? What makes this Baptism so great is Nance’s celebratory homage to Shawn Kemp/Shooter McGavin, two great American Heroes of Sport.

NBA Street Create-A-Player on some Finnish guy:

This is hands down a contender for Baptism of the Year. What makes this Baptism so spectacular is this Finnish guy’s decision to pretend to be an erect penis/bowling pin just a moment before contact. Like, why the fuck would that be your instinct?  The second best thing about this Baptism is the slow-mo replay moment when you can see the NBA Create-A-Player’s bellybutton slam against the pasty baby face of this Finnish guy just before he’s launched to the court floor.

Ultimately, this Baptism is about the dominance of one sad ass team over another, and considering how much dirt Robin Lopez has done in the name of Baptisms this year, it seems only fair that a Bull’s player finally got his.


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