In the NBA, it’s time to celebrate losing
For some teams, every loss is a victory. If it seems ironic, even absurd, the NBA is made so that the worst is the best reward. A system that drives franchises into a vice, encouraging them to lose as many games as possible to get a better draft pick. This practice, “tanking”, has now split the league into two different parts. At the top of the table, most aim for the title in a never-ending race for victory. At the bottom, a minority that prefers to let others win in order to recruit the most promising young players.
This year, this observation has become more striking than ever. The imminent arrival of the French Victor Wembanyama and a golden generation puts the basketball world in all its states and awakens the anger of losing a record number of teams. A situation that angered some viewers and likely annoyed the big league boss. “This is a serious problem”judging Adam Silver, the commission of the NBA, in a conference at the beginning of the season. “We have notified the teams. We will pay particular attention to this issue this year. »
However, this trend is not a “problem”. On the contrary, it is an evolution. First, an evolution in the Darwinist sense of the term: teams adapt to system changes, dictated by the league itself, in order to survive. Also an evolution in the direction of development: basketball is doing better this way and has every interest in maintaining this course.
The paradox: mediocrity shapes youth
Over the years, tanking has allowed the creation of real talent laboratories, where the future stars of the basketball world are conceived. Detroit, Indiana, Houston, Oklahoma City and Orlando now lead the way. These groups bring together particularly promising young people and put them in the best conditions to realize their full potential.
In most sports, rookies tend to remain on the bench until they reach the level of their more experienced teammates. In basketball, this concentration of young people allows them to find maximum playing time and launch careers despite some mistakes or atypical characteristics that would weigh them down elsewhere. The outcome of the matches does not matter. Success or not, it was an amazing show, opening a window into the future of the NBA and encouraging dreams.
Contrary to appearances, these teams collecting defeats do not lower the level of competition, it is quite the opposite. They raise this by putting young people in the right framework to develop faster and more effectively. Put in front of the stage, the new generations shine more and earlier. At the same time, those who need more time to develop can count on the patience of structures that ignore the collective balance. More original profiles, often more technical, thus coming out and bringing fresh air to the league.
Giannis Antetokounmpo puts a layer on Victor Wembanyama: “This kid is going to cause big problems”
These groups also raise the bar by indirectly enhancing the competition. Who says more youth for some says more experience for others. Veterans will regroup where they can win, build great teams that compete in more intense Playoffs. The competition does not lose its appeal, neither for the franchises already standing at the top or for those building a collective to reach it, it just alternates between two cycles.
Finally, the only teams that will suffer from this development are the ones in the middle of the table so far. An endangered species, not to be missed. Leaders fully understand that, even if it means losing the title and not filling their room, they would rather have an interest in drawing something positive from it. It’s better to miss the Playoffs with 20 wins and a star seed than 40 wins and players who will never have the shoulders to be a champion, it’s clear.
Everyone is equal in the face of defeat
The thirst for defeat is incompatible with ambition. The teams that lose today will win tomorrow, when the caterpillar finally metamorphosed into a beautiful butterfly. During this time, those who stop in-between rarely go beyond the cocoon stage. Eventually, everyone seems to realize that crawling from last place to first usually gets you more than standing still halfway through.
Without eliminating them, the lottery system reduces inequality between the 30 NBA teams. Oklahoma City will certainly not be as attractive as Miami, its nightlife and its beaches. Indiana and Detroit, with populations in the hundreds of thousands, will probably never compete with the megacities of Los Angeles and New York. Despite this, all franchises can lose enough games to recover a future star. All are equal in front of loss and in front of Draft.
The system is not perfect. It will never happen. Watching your favorite team lose can be frustrating, but it’s a blessing in disguise. You have to step back and fully understand the challenges of tanking to understand that the current system makes the NBA better in many ways. In these defeats, there are only winners.