The Point of Getting the Eighth Seed

What’s the point of getting the 8th seed?

I see this question a lot, and I don’t really know how to answer it. My problem isn’t that I don’t know how to list the positives of making the playoffs, even if you get defeated in the first round, it’s that I don’t truly understand the question. Every seemingly simple question has layers of subtext behind it, and when somebody asks this question, I am guessing that they are asking something like, “Why pursue the playoffs when you are destined to lose in the first round? Why shouldn’t you value the draft instead, where history shows that you have a higher chance at a better player the higher that you pick?”

My first question in response is: Even if I grant you the argument that the Pelicans are destined to be defeated in round one should they make the playoffs, where does the argument that securing better players over playoff losses end? If I were to tell you with absolute certainty that the Grizzlies were to lose in round 1 or the Clippers were destined for another round 2 defeat, would you advocate for them to concentrate more on the draft if it were possible? How about if I told you the Cavs were destined to be defeated in the Finals? I guess what I am asking is: Where does this slippery slope end? Is everything pointless if you are not winning a championship, or at least trending upwards? You ask me – “What’s the point of getting the 8th seed?” and I guess I respond with, “Tell me what, in your eyes, has a point in any NBA season outside of winning a championship.”

If you were Dell Demps or Alvin Gentry, could you honestly walk into the locker room today and tell these players that the rest of this season has no point? Or even if you didn’t have to be transparent with the players, would you totally disregard the rest of this season and focus solely on the very slim odds of landing the #1 pick, or the less than 50/50 odds of landing a top 3 pick? What if you don’t get it? Then, what was the “point” in that? As I pointed out in my latest piece, people are often arguing – 8th seed vs. Top 3 pick, but with how bad other teams are and how average the Pelicans are with Anthony Davis, the true argument should be 8th seed vs. 10th or 11th pick.

And make no mistake, that is still an argument that can be had. I remember Bill Simmons going on and on last season about how the Celtics would benefit more from the playoffs than moving up a few spots in the draft. Flash forward to a few months later, and GM Danny Ainge was offering 5 or 6 picks just to move into the 9th spot to take Justice Winslow. Flash forward a few more months, and it doesn’t seem like that playoff experience much this year, but Justice Winslow sure would have helped than more than Terry Rozier is right now. So, yes, the argument could be made, but it has to be made accurately.

And just as you can point to that one Celtics example, there are numerous examples you can point to on the other side. Teams that had multiple picks, year after year, in the 5-10 range and it never makes one lick of a difference. Teams like the one the Pelicans are chasing for the 8th seed currently, the Sacramento Kings. The truth is that there are examples of successes and failures nobody what path you are talking about taking. If I were to make the argument for shooting for the playoffs, it would go something like this: It would show your team is resilient and unwilling to lay down no matter what obstacles come your way. That helps build a culture that can sustain for years. It also gives you a better chance at attracting free agents this summer, which might be more impactful than anybody you can land outside of the top 5 in this draft. And finally, it gives your franchise building block another taste of the postseason, which is something he will need to become familiar with and master if this team is ever going to reach the promised land.

Is my argument flawless? Of course not. But neither is the question. The question assumes that all other avenues “have a point.” They may not. There might be no path that leads to a championship any time in the near future with the way Golden State is playing, and with how they look to be set up for years to come. But there has to be more to every individual season than: Championship or Bust. I have said for a while now to think of a season more like a chapter than as a book in and of itself. Perhaps this is the chapter where our hero gets knocked down, only to find inner strength and overcome because of that, not some external force.

Who knows, maybe that’s the point.

13 responses to “The Point of Getting the Eighth Seed”

  1. Fans are more likely to want to attend games when the team is winning and has a chance to win every game.  It is not nearly as much fun or satisfying to attend games that are losses.  Losing tends to decrease the fan base and eventually could threaten moving of the team to another city.  It is a long season.

  2. You are leaving out an important component of the equation.  If you refuse to make deals at the trade deadline because you are committed to keeping the roster in tact to chase the 8th seed, then you may adversely effect the future of the team that way. I don’t want to tank. But I think you’ve got to make some clear-eyed decisions at this point. If you don’t think you can resign Anderson, then I think you’ve got to deal him, playoffs or no. Not sure Tyreke or Gordon are even viable trade bait at this time given their injuries, unless it’s for a salary dump purposes and I absolutely wouldn’t take back any questionable multiple-year deals.

  3. New City The only guy who has even marginal value is Ryno. They might be able to get a guy like Terrance Jones for him and/or a late 1st rounder. Nothing earth shattering that changes your franchise path in any way. 
    And they can re-sign anybody they want. Non superstars rarely leave their team if their team wants to keep them. And IMO, they want to keep Ryno. I think, ideally, they would keep Ryno’s cap hold on the books, then go sign or trade for a quality SF before using Ryno’s Bird Rights to go over the cap. 
    But yes, if they can get some quality pieces for Ryno that helps your future, and you get pick 10 instead of 15, you can make a solid argument for missing the playoffs.

  4. oceanback How this team does this season has no effect on whether they are here in 2025 IMO. Now, if they continue to be bad or mediocre for multiple years, then its an issue. The second they get great, and stay great, the fan base will solidify. SO, the question is: What is the path to greatness that has the highest chance for success by 2018 or 2019?

  5. Michael McNamara New City Do you see Ryno as a longterm piece? If so, what is a reasonable number for his next deal in terms of $ or % of cap? If traded, his Bird Rights would go to new team, right?
    Scenario we need to avoid is holding on to him for (possible) playoff push with no clear understanding of whether we can/will resign him at our number, then be forced to either let him walk for nothing or grossly overpay to keep him.

  6. New City Michael McNamara I think Ryno gets 4 years for 65-75 million personally. And yes, whoever has him at the end of the year has his Bird Rights. 
    As for the scenario to avoid, I would agree IF we had quality options on the table. The fake trades I see people throwing around for Ryno aren’t close to what Dell can actually get. So, we might keep him and lose him this summer, and people will be throwing a fit complaining that we lost him for nothing, but they aren’t getting major offers anyway. Dell might be offerend a late 1st and/or the opportunity to take on other guys who are about to get massively overpaid like Terrance Jones or guys who already are like Rudy Gay. He isn’t getting offered up the stuff fans are dreaming up.

  7. Michael McNamara New City Fair enough. As fans, we don’t  know what’s really on the table. If I could convert a Ryno rental + Bird Rights into a fallen angel or prospect at a position of need currently buried on some contender’s bench, I would be tempted. I guess I’m not sure I want to be the team that pays Anderson’s next contract–though I like many of the things he does as a player and he seems like a good teammate and a good guy.  He and AD are stuck at the same position. Unless Davis could commit  to play the 5 in a small-ball line up (and stand up to the pounding) there is an inescapable redundancy that hamstrings the line-up. It seems that Ryno (or one of our guys) should be convertible into a legitimate starting wing player, but people have been singing that tune for three seasons and still no joy, so it must be harder to do than we appreciate. I tell you one thing, this process has given me a heightened appreciation for draft picks. So many of the guys I wish we had now were later picks for other franchises. Maybe there is more to the old-timey “build thru the draft” scenario than the analytics guys would have you believe.

  8. Why not make playoffs? This team is looking better and better each game. Think about we only lost to Memphis and Houston by 1 without Davis in the 2nd half. Houston we didnt have Davis and Evans & in Memphis Davis just didnt show up in th 2nd.
    Maybe we could trade our 2nd round picks for a sf, Evans gets fully healthy, Norris Cole always get hot during playoff time and just maybe we get the Spurs in the playoffs. Love playing the Spurs. And with our midround pick we could draft Denzel Valentine the biggest steal in the draft and perfect fit for team . Tanking might just get us Kris Dunn, a upset Anthony Davis, another fire coach and Gm.

  9. New City Michael McNamara or maybe every path is far more destined to fail than succedd. You show me 1 great team that built through the draft, I will show you 3 terrible ones. 
    Every path is far more likely to fail than succeed. Then, when it does, people come along and say, “We should have gone the other way!” 
    Hindsight makes us all brilliant.

  10. Mac I want to ask you a question, I miss talking to and getting your views on things on Twitter.
    This is about Anthony Davis and his impact this season. It is clear that he is not as good as he was last year, yeah the numbers are there but for those who watch the games like us know it’s a difference. Is he good enough to bring us playoff wins? Is he better suited to be a number 2 guy? I don’t know. I’m just concerned for him because this year seems so odd compare to last. What I really want to know is your views on him and his long term future?

  11. km900 I think he is a #1 player, but #2 personality on a great team. Similar to Curry the past 2 years. He needs an alpha like Draymond who might not be as good, but demands the best from his teammates and fires guys up. 
    His numbers have regressed a bit, IMO, because we have decided to not crash the boards as a team and those easy putbacks helped his ppg, his FG%, and his FTA’s. I think not having Q-Pon has hurt a little too and just the bevy of guards they have cycled through is tough for a big man to adjust to. 

    I have no worries about him as a player, but yes, I would like an alpha next to him.

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