The Art Of Tanking And Proper NBA Management By The Hornets

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.

31 responses to “The Art Of Tanking And Proper NBA Management By The Hornets”

  1. i agree they are pursuing the san antonio model, hoping to pair gordon with another top flight player and build around them with solid role players. I think the value of role players is understated right now. too many cooks spoil the stew (see ny knicks). a team is best served with a couple dominant players surrounded by a lot of dirty work know their role guys. worked for dallas last year with only one top flight player.

  2. There’s another great article in Sports Illustrated. I hope everyone finally realizes and accepts that Stern saved the Hornets by vetoing that crappy Paul trade to LA. The Hornets would be stuck with 3 old, overpaid players with no opportunity to improve for a long time. No owner willing to keep the team in New Orleans would have come forward and the team would have been relocated. Stern saved NBA basketball in New Orleans.

    • While I agree that the Lakers trade wasn’t the right one to make, I don’t think it would have doomed us either. We would have gotten:

      1) a young player in Dragic
      2)a potential 1st for Odom
      3)The Knicks 1st from Houston
      4)K-mart, who could have gotten us a nice 1st round pick
      5)Scola, who could be flipped for a middle to late 1st rounder or a young prospect

      I really don’t think we would have just rolled with the players we would have gotten from that deal. Demps isn’t dumb.

      • Houston hasn’t been able to give Martin away because of his contract. The Lakers traded Odom for Dallas’ first pick which will be low. Scola also would have been tough to deal because of his contract.

  3. Most insightful comment: “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.”

    Could not agree more! This is true in any organization. Alfred Sloan may have invented the decentralized organization (at GM), and Warren Buffett may decentralize to the point of abdication, but there is a point between where Sloan stood and where Buffett stands – it’s the point you’re describing – and I think it’s the most appropriate place to be.

  4. There is a different part of tanking that I think the Hornets are excelling at and no one is talking about: “injuries” to starters so back-ups get seasoning. Look at the recent examples: Kaman out “sick” for a week plus, Ariza still out from an ankle injury no one saw occur that was supposed to sideline him for one game, and ditto Jack’s mystery ankle DNP last night. Maybe add in Okafor’s knee and Gordon practicing live but no update being given. Then compare that with Aminu hurting his ankle in a game and not missing time.

    This is the smart way to tank: never pull a good players until an injured (or suspended one) returns, make sure the unavailable players play different positions so you don’t have a deficit at one position, always have some veteran leadership available so the young guns aren’t with a group that has too little experience. Plus you have a coach who gets everyone to buy into the “play your best and work on improving your game every night” philosophy.

    If the ping pong balls bounce our way, great. If not, you have developed your younger players, and team’s future, throughout a “throw away” season and made your team better before you see how the ping pong balls fall. It’s a win already in my book. (And we are likely to finish 3rd to last and pick 1-5 (only a 4% chance of picking 6th), with the T-wolves pick falling in the 10-12 range. That should equal two more useful pieces.)

  5. I wouldn’t call what the Hornets are doing as tanking. The players are playing hard, the coaches are coaching hard. What we are doing is making sure our personnel on the court is at such a disadvantage that they almost have to play a perfect game to win. Guys are leaving it all on the floor and almost pulling off wins with a slew of injuries and guys playing out of position. To me that says alot about what is to come when we are fully loaded with no injuries plus add 2 lottery picks to this group. As 504ever already stated, we will go into next year with our role players with valuable time and experience under their belt, so whether or not we land the jackpot in the draft we are still years ahead of schedule. It is indeed a win win.

    Don’t be surprised if we battle in April at full strength, at least the last few weeks of the season…just to see how far along we really are with this group. If we exceed expectations, I wouldn’t be shocked it we kept this group fully in tact for next season. Take Davis if we get #1, but if not I wouldn’t be shocked to see us swing for the homerun with Drummond, even if he develops behind Kaman and/or Okafor for a season or 2 before we unleash him.

  6. Hey guys I won the david robinson contest tix but unfortunately I live in new york so I cannot go. Im looking to sell them if anyone wants them they are worth $70 each but ill give u both for $100. How bout it?

  7. Okay, heres your second chance to win the watch party tickets with david robinson!! Whoever can guess within 3 years of my age correctly first wins! If nobody wins by midnight, ill give it to the closest guesser!! Damn, I wish I lived in new orleans.

  8. The SAS route so to speak still revolved around drafting well. They were able to scout internationally and acquired Ginobili and Parker. And before that they had a HOF’er to pair with Duncan(who became the best player at his position and a future 1st ballot HOF’er).

    I’m not of the mindset that Anthony Davis is the franchise changer type player Duncan is and even if he is we still have to get lucky and win the 1st overall pick. So who would be this corner stone player we build around?

    I have said this multipule times if we are going to be a chanpionship level team we have to think several years ahead. I don’t see many players on this team that could be key contributors 3-5 years from now. We should have moved Kaman and Landry before/at the deadline to acquire picks or pieces that could fit that criteria. In addition to trying to move Okafor, Jack, and Ariza next year for the same purpose. At this point I’m not opposed to signing and trading Gordon if we can get a good deal.

    I think it’s a huge mistake for us to aim at being competitive ASAP.

    • I agree with you especially with the Commissioner Gordon thing. He never had a single season where he wasn’t injuried. only way I say we keep Gordon is if we can find someone through Free agency signing (SG wise) that can definitely fill the void. We should trade:

      1.)Okafor/J.Smith for Portland’s 1st Round pick
      2.)Gordon/Belinelli (Resigned) for Bobcats 1st Round pick/ (optional) R.Williams
      3.)J.Jack/T.Ariza for Detroit 1st Round draft pick

      signing wise:
      (RFA): Brook Lopez (C)
      (RFA): Darrell Arthur (F)
      (UFA): Jordan Hill (F/C)
      (UFA): YI Jianlian (F/C)
      (RFA): Omer Asik (C)
      (UFA) Goran Dragic (PG)

      • Sorry bro, but this team is 2-3 pieces away from competing for a top 5 or 6 seed next season. Davis/Robinson/MKG are ready to come in and play now. This team has been ultra competetive playing with a shell of its true place all season. If you add a healthy Kaman, Okafor, Gordon, Ariza, Jack, for the entire season, plus having a full offseason and training camp, I think they are pushing for a playoff spot this year. If you plug a few stars onto this roster, they are better than most of these other teams. Take the top two players off all those other teams, and compare whats left to this roster. It’s not even close. Lakers 4-15 are the worst team in the league. Magic 3-15 are awful. Miami, even with Bosh, from 4-15 are basically the Toronto Raptors from before the Big Three.

  9. Oh and if McNamara still thinks Sullinger is a top 4 player in the draft after last nights DUD, then he needs to be pulled from the website. Dude had trouble getting his shot off vs. an unathletic white 7 ftr. from Kansas. Ugly.

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