The Washington Wizards have made their intentions clear for the rest of the season. They have no intentions of tanking. The goal is to still push for the playoffs. However, there are fans that feel differently. Without Bradley Beal for the rest of the season, the team’s ceiling is lowered. So why not just tank the rest of the season and get a high draft pick?
Getting a high draft pick is a positive, but not at the cost of losing games. I’m not against tanking completely. I believe there are certain situations where tanking is the best decision to make. But for the most part, I’m not a fan of tanking. I feel like if your team has the players that gives you a chance to compete, you should try to win all the time. Especially in the case of this year’s Washington Wizards. It doesn’t matter if the team loses 5 games in a row after the All Star Break. This team should not look to tank.
Don’t let losing become a habit
Thomas Bryant is in his fourth season with Washington. In his first season, Washington missed the playoffs with a 32-50 record. In his second season, Washington was invited down to the Orlando Bubble, where they managed to win only one game. They would then go on to miss the 2020 playoffs. Last season, Washington made the playoffs but Bryant didn’t get to participate due to injury.
Rui Hachimura is in his third season with Washington. During his rookie season, Washington was invited down to the Orlando Bubble, where they managed to win only one game. They would then go on to miss the 2020 playoffs. Hachimura did get to participate in the 2021 playoffs, and played really well against the Philadelphia 76ers.
Deni Avdija is in his second season with Washington. Due to injury, Avdijia was not able to participate in the 2021 playoffs. Corey Kispert is in his rookie season, and this season has been an up and down year for Washington.
With young NBA players, you don’t want to promote the idea that losing is ok. When you decide to tank, that’s the message you are giving to your young players. That losing is ok. Out of all the young players Washington has on the roster, only Rui Hachimura, Daniel Gafford, and Kyle Kuzma have played in the post season. Hachimura and Gafford were on last year’s team, but that team was 15 games under .500 at one point. A late season push got the team into the playoffs, but there was still a lot of losing last year.
No more losing
The losing has to stop at some point. You don’t want young players to get familiar with losing a lot of games. That will just hurt their development as players moving forward. Even without Bradley Beal, this team still has enough firepower to push for that final playoff spot. Of course to get that playoff spot, you have to win games. The Wizards are only half a game out of the play-in tournament. So why not go for it? Why not make that push when you are so close?
Lets say that the Wizards get obliterated in the first round of the playoffs. I mean just completely obliterated. Every game is a 20 point defeat. To me that is better than missing the playoffs entirely. As a team, you learn from your defeats and get better. You go into the off season with a clear picture of what the team needs to improve on.
The only time you should tank
If there isn’t another way to get your team to contend. That is the only time you should tank. If you are the Cleveland Cavaliers before drafting LeBron James. Or if you are the Philadelphia 76ers before drafting Joel Embiid. In these cases, I think tanking is ok. After making the playoffs in 1997 with a 47-35 record, Cleveland failed to win more than 32 games over the next 4 seasons.
After getting to the NBA Finals in 2001, Philadelphia struggled to build a contending team around their super star guard Allen Iverson. After Iverson was traded to the Denver Nuggets in 2006, Philadelphia failed to win more than 41 games in a season from 2006-2013.
Washington in recent memory hasn’t experienced a stretch like Cleveland and Philadelphia. The worse stretch in recent memory is from 2019-2020, when the team missed the playoffs in back to back seasons. Tanking should not be considered at the moment for the Washington Wizards.