A non-tanking year for Pistons smart, too much competition

Victor Wembanyama (Photo by PHILIPPE DESMAZES / AFP) (Photo by PHILIPPE DESMAZES/AFP via Getty Images)
Victor Wembanyama (Photo by PHILIPPE DESMAZES / AFP) (Photo by PHILIPPE DESMAZES/AFP via Getty Images) /
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Detroit Pistons, Scoot Henderson
; G League Ignite guard Scoot Henderson (0) . Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports /

‘Tank, tank, tank’ is the motto for many NBA teams, but not Detroit Pistons

Weaver can read the tea leaves of what other NBA teams are doing. While in the past few years, the Pistons only had a couple of other teams truly losing on purpose in the race for No. 1, this year, there appears to be a lot more.

It’s like 76ers ‘Process’ legend Sam Hinkie has been simultaneously named general manager of six different teams.

Maybe the lure of getting a chance at 7-foot-4 Frenchman Victor Wembenyama, or standout guard Scoot Henderson is too inviting for small-market franchises, who would never have a chance otherwise at such talent. Or, some teams simply have thrown up their hands and admit their current rosters can’t compete for a title, and want to tear it all down.

(The fact they are ‘rebuilding’,  also means they can convince the owner it takes a few years to accomplish, so general manager’s and coaches are not on the hot seat for a while. That is a factor that can not be underestimated.)

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There are two tiers to tanking teams this NBA season: ‘ 0-82 is fine with us’ and ‘we probably stink but let’s see’.

Tier 1 (outright tanking)

  • Utah
  • San Antonio
  • Orlando
  • Houston
  • Oklahoma City (in perpetuity)

Tier 2 (If bad start, we tank)

  • Indiana
  • Charlotte
  • Sacramento
  • Washington

Exacerbating the situation is that the West is very top-heavy, while the Eastern Conference is very deep.

To be a true contender in the Western Conference, a team would have to topple the likes of Phoenix, Dallas, Golden State, Clippers, Nuggets and (if healthy) Lakers to get a decent seeding. That takes a lot of talent

Why crawl into the playoffs as a No. 7 seed to get crushed by the Warriors in the first round? Wouldn’t it be better to lose, and have a shot at a franchise-changing draft pick?

In the East, there are really no horrible teams, outside of maybe Orlando. Every game in-conference will be a dogfight. A team that goes .500 in the West and make the playoffs, could end up 30-52 if in the East.

The East is so tough, maybe some teams decide they need to add a real blue-chipper in the draft to fight their way up the standings, and start losing on purpose (could see Wizards giving Bradley Beal a nice, long rest at end of the season).

So, there very well could be 8-9 teams looking to tank this upcoming season. And, remember, the bottom three teams only get a 14-percent chance of getting the No. 1 pick. That is a lot of losing with an 86-percent chance of not getting the first pick.

Pistons fans know the heartbreak of counting on the draft lottery to save the franchise. Detroit waited 51 years before getting No. 1 in 2021.

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Detroit only had the second worst record when they got Cunningham at No. 1. There is some luck involved, and the Pistons (except once) never have had any draft lottery luck.