The Dallas Mavericks’ 2022-23 season has officially come to a close. The organization ultimately opted to ‘tank’ for the final two games of the season with hopes of retaining their 2023 1st-round draft pick (top-10 protected).
As a result, the NBA is currently conducting an investigation on the Dallas Mavericks. The decision to rest players, while the door had not been shut on a play-in spot, has been described as ‘an embarrassment to the league’.
The idea of tanking, or losing as many games as possible, is not new in the NBA. Most famously, the Philadelphia 76ers (more specifically Sam Hinkie) spent several years with the priority being to lose games – dubbed ‘the proess’.
The league has since taken steps to mitigate inclinations to lose. The draft lottery odds today are distributed more evenly than they once were.
It goes without saying that the most watchable and league propelling basketball typically is yielded by putting the best product out on the floor. But despite the league’s distastefulness with tanking, it is still existent. We see teams out of the playoffs taking appropriate measures to set themselves up for success come draft night.
Say what you want about tanking, but the ultimate goal is still to build a team. To construct a roster that can compete for an NBA championship.
And that is exactly what Dallas is looking to accomplish. The complimentary pieces around Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving are simply not enough. Would it have been worth it to win out and cross our fingers for a play-in spot?
Maybe so. In my opinion, I have no issues with the organization prioritizing the long-term success of the team. Anybody with a competitive nature hates losing, which is why Doncic has been clear that he disagrees with the decision to shut him down the last game and a half. In the same breath, I think Luka understands why the organization ultimately made this decision.
Winning those last two games would have essentially taken Dallas’ draft pick away. Dallas wouldn’t have gotten out of the first round, had they even gotten there, and would be left with a larger mountain to climb.
No doubt, the Mavericks have been disappointing to close out this season. As the focus shifts to the offseason, you have to find value in why they chose to tank for a total of two games. The roster needs to be bolstered and this is a big step in doing so.
The media can have fun this offseason. Buckle up because a lot of narratives are going to be built. Luka and Kyrie can’t work, they let Brunson walk, Luka wants out, and blah blah blah. Try to look at this for what it is and understand that lots of media outlets just want your clicks.