The NBA has a tanking problem. The 14 teams that don’t make the playoffs now try to raise their lottery pick chances by losing on purpose. Back when David Stern was the commissioner, the lottery process has changed five times.
“Top picks have gone to lousy teams every spring, creating vicious circle in which the lottery replenishes weak teams with blue-chippers who aren’t ready to carry weak teams,” Bill Simmons, former ESPN NBA analyst, said in a column he wrote in 2007 called “Tanks a lot”.
Even though they’ve been out of championship contention for a while, the Miami Heat is one of the few non-contending teams that won’t resort to tanking.
“It’s f–king dumb. If you really think that as a fan, I don’t think you’re a true fan,” Tyler Johnson, Shooting Guard for the Miami Heat, said in an interview with Shandel Richardson of the Athletic.
The Heat are 11-15 and currently out of the playoff race, sitting ninth in the eastern conference. They do own their first round pick for the year. Like other teams Miami also has the chance to increase their lottery pick chances by calling it quits now.
Miami has been good not great ever since LeBron’s sudden departure, hovering around that .500 record mark. Then they would go to the playoffs and realize again and again that they don’t have the talent to go toe-to-toe with the best teams in the NBA.
However, team president, Pat Riley, has made it clear that he is a against tanking. Everyone in the American Airlines Arena knows that he favors seasoned veterans over hoping draft picks pan out. Arguably the most important player to the franchise was drafted in Dwyane Wade, but that was a rare chance the Heat had to take.
If you look over the past decade of Miami draft picks, none of them except Josh Richardson have shown worth. With the exception of Bam Adebayo, the jury is still out on him since he was just drafted a year ago. In the last 10 years (excluding the two mentioned above, Miami has drafted: Justsise Winslow, P.J. Hairston, Marcus Thorton, Jarvis Varnado, and Dexter Pittman. None of these players turned out to be worth the number they were picked at. You can even go another few years back, when the Heat had the second overall pick in the 2008 NBA draft. Miami could’ve had Russel Westbrook but opted for Michael Beasley. In the Heat’s defense, Michael Beasley was playing like he was going to be an absolute superstar in K-State.
Unfortunately, Beasley’s play never fully transitioned into the NBA and that’s the risk you take with draft picks. Even outside of Miami, Philadelphia is dealing with one of the biggest potential draft busts of the decade in Markelle Fultz. None of the issues that Philadelphis is dealing with right now weren’t discovered until after the draft. That’s why Heat President Pat Riley prefers veterans and established players rather than unpolished rookies. This is why as long as he is in charge, Miami will not be tanking any time soon.