Tanking Sucks. Do Not Do It
I read the worst Spurs thing on the Ringer this morning. This is not surprising on its face, but I read it and had reactions to it and well it is lunch time and I want to put them down.
It’s hard to see the point of the DeMar DeRozan era in San Antonio now that it’s over.
I read that and immediately rolled my eyes. I will not go line-by-line here as that would be awful for everyone, but suffice it to say that the premise of this article is that the Spurs should have blown the thing up when Kawhi left instead of proceeding with attempting to compete.
Tjarks takes issue with the whole concept of competition if you lost.
Their desire to not rebuild made sense given that coach Gregg Popovich is in the twilight of his career. But no coach is bigger than the franchise. The past three seasons are proof that even one of the greatest coaches in NBA history doesn’t make a difference if he doesn’t have the players to win.
So the desire is understandable but in the after-the-fact evidence proves it was flawed? We know the Spurs wanted to see what would happen with DeRozan, the best player they could acquire in the face of the departing Leonard, but were not happy about it. The rumored options were Tobias Harris, maybe a Brandon Ingram, and other non-good trades. At the time, adding an All-Star caliber player to compliment Aldridge made sense.
It did not win a title. It made 1/3 playoffs and fell out of the play-in tournament in the other two seasons. That is not amazing, but it is not awful.
The Spurs fans that want to blow it up point to maybe Philly (which hasn’t won) and Tjarks points to the Kings (who have been awful forever and remain so).
Their young core doesn’t seem that talented once you compare them to their peers in the bottom of the West. The Kings (De’Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton), Pelicans (Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram), and Timberwolves (Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards) all have two players more promising than anyone on the Spurs. The Rockets (Jalen Green) and Thunder (Shai Gilgeous-Alexander) have one.
HELL NO I AIN’T SWAPPING FANDOM FOR ANY OF THOSE TEAMS.
The Kings suck. The Pels are desperately trying to hold on to Zion after losing Anthony Davis and are resorting to Devonte Graham as savior? The T-Wolves are perennial could make some noise all-stars, and the Rockets had a godawful squad and a lot of mismatched parts in an organization that hates itself. The Thunder have the future, and SGA and will not be touching the playoffs for a while.
The argument made in this piece is that the Spurs have “only” built up a stable of complementary, quality NBA pieces with some tough picks in the draft and … they should be sad about this?
The stated Spurs philosophy has always been “we are and were fortunate to have acquired Dave, Tim, and Kahwi and owe much if not all of our success to those players. Outside of that we want to build a winning organization for professionals”
Even a best-case scenario next season in which the Spurs piece together a .500 team and compete for a play-in berth doesn’t seem that appealing.
I’ve watched terrible tank-Spurs in 1996 and that was awful. I have seen NBA games with Tanking teams and it is awful. I would much rather watch a rag-tag team of “complementary” players go and compete. Hey, it worked for the Brooklyn Nets.
That would leave them in the same place they were during the DeRozan era, with no cornerstone to build around and no way to acquire one. They don’t want to have as little to show for the next three seasons as they do for the past three.
They have the aforementioned complementary set of good NBA players. That is a good thing.
It’s time for San Antonio to get back to what made it great in the first place—getting lucky in the draft and winning the lotteries for David Robinson and Tim Duncan. The Spurs have gone from a model franchise to a cautionary tale.
The Spurs squeezed all they could out of the roster that was originally built to compliment Kawhi and Aldridge. They pivoted to a quality NBA player that is not as good as Kawhi —— but is much easier to do business with. Having no obvious piece o complement, they have moved on to the next prudent stage in developing a basketball team: developing young players. When the opportunity presents itself, they will attempt to acquire a league-altering player. They will attempt to lure him with a history of winning, and quality complimentary pieces. You know, those guys that tank-lovers think are useless.