The Art Of Tanking And Proper NBA Management By The Hornets

Published: March 30, 2012

Tanking is an art form these days, but are teams going about it the wrong way? Do they plan for all alternatives? What are the Hornets doing in their quest in Operation Tank?

A recent ESPN article went in depth about the growing trend of teams trying to “tank.” It’s no secret here that fans are openly rooting for “Operation Tank.” I myself am one of those as depicted on my twitter feed.

The only way NBA teams compete for a championship is by drafting or obtaining Hall-of-Fame calibre players. There’s no if’s or and’s about it.

Critics of tanking are usually found in the larger markets, where they sit up high and wonder why. The truth of the matter is that teams need quality players to build around, gut the rest of their roster and try to add smart pieces around them.

The heart of the ESPN article is that there are many teams who have failed consistently and are yet to wade their way out of it. Take the Kings, Wizards, Bobcats, Nets and Raptors, teams that always at the top of the draft.

Yes some of it is down to drafting the right players, building around the right guys and that’s the way I view it too. But as we dig deeper, these teams are simply lacking quality players. There are a few here or there, but for the most part a lot of these teams rosters are made up of players that are bench players on good teams.

This also can apply to the Hornets. The difference is that in Demps’ quest to “tank” (that is gut salaries), he’s tried to get young talent with future prospects that can be groomed by the team.

Al-Farouq Aminu and Xavier Henry are both 21, Gustavo Ayon is a rookie, Greivis Vasquez is in his second season and even the Hornets best player is in his young 20’s.

Moving forward there is flexibility, the difference between the aforementioned teams and this one, is that eventually Demps is going to play his hand with a couple of core players. It’s going to happen. The problem seems to be how we’re going to get there.

It always leads me to believe that no matter how planning is done, if you aint lucky in the lottery then what can you really do?

I think the answer lies is the system and organisation you try to create.

Solid coaching, good youthful player development, hunt for bargain players and don’t overpay for average talent. It’s easier said than done, but it’s what the Hornets are trying to do.

Rather than mimic the Thunder situation, which so many are trying to do, the Hornets are going the San Antonio route (the more modern one). Have Tim Duncan and surround him with a supporting cast. Granted, the Spurs got lucky by actually getting him, but once they did the surrounded him with the right system.

Another dynamic to this situation is the whole ownership debate. Having a strong, bold and supportive owner can instill confidence in management, sometimes can lead to overconfidence. I want an owner who is always questioning things, but in a constructive way. An owner who understands to keep his distance from General Managers, trust their judgement but make sure the leash isn’t too long.

The Hornets goals will change in the next year or two from shedding salary to adding it around two or three new rookie contracts.

The transition to a new owner will be an exciting, new, apprehensive and even a nervous one. Either way you slice it the Hornets will need to maintain their management and coaching staff.

We don’t want to fall the way of the lost and doomed franchises.


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