With a playoff spot on the line, the Hornets look shattered, losing four of their last five games. They have been spotty on both offense and defense, and rely too heavily on Kemba Walker. While many fans, including myself, hate to say it, it is appropriate to say that Charlotte is a bad team, leaving many to ponder whether they should tank the rest of the season.
Whats on the line?
The Hornets were playing for the final playoff spot in the Eastern conference. This will almost certainly not happen. Currently, the Hornets are four games behind the Heat in the playoff race, and with Miami not slowing down, it looks unlikely Charlotte will catch them. If they somehow did make it, the Hornets would probably be swept by the Cavaliers, in all likelihood, especially with the way they have been playing recently.
However, anything can happen come playoff time. As seen last year, the Hornets played the Heat in a seven game series. The Heat won the first two games, followed by the Hornets winning the next three, only to lose the final two.
On the other side of the NBA, the Warriors were able to come back from a 3-1 deficit to the Thunder. And finally, in the NBA Finals, the Cavs came back, despite a Golden State 3-1 lead. The point is, crazier things have happened.
What are the benefits of tanking?
There is really only one upside to tanking, it’s called a quality draft pick. I mean, just imagine a back-court with Kemba Walker and Dennis Smith. However, you never know how talent will transfer from college to the NBA. This process does work for many teams, and it could work for the Hornets.
One team notorious for tanking is Philadelphia. The past few seasons have not gone according to plan for the 76ers. In the past three drafts, Philadelphia has had 15 draft picks, six of which are first-round. Notable players they selected with those picks are: Ben Simmons, Jahlil Okafor, Joel Embiid, and Elfrid Payton. Another thing to point out is that Elfrid Payton is currently playing for the Orlando Magic. Payton did not play a single minute in a 76ers uniform.
This year could be considered Philadelphia's first of their post-tank era, and they are currently 13th in the Eastern conference with a 24-43 record. Does Charlotte really want to do that to themselves? Sure, Philadelphia will be a good team in a few years, but if we commit to this process, we will be wasting the prime of Kemba Walker’s NBA career.
There are teams who do completely turn around in some off seasons, but it does not happen often, maybe to only one or two teams per year. Its not impossible, but it is very unlikely. The bench would have to be upgraded, and with the Hornets current cap situation, this is improbable to happen.
What are the disadvantages of tanking?
Well, the first disadvantage becomes to mind is the front office. If they are willing to tank instead if fighting for the final playoff spot, what does it tell the fans?
It tells us, the fans, that not only our general manager, but our coach, Steve Clifford, would rather lose, than try and win games, when a playoff spot is on the line.
Additionally, most anything can happen in the draft lottery. And even if the Hornets get a top 5 pick, there is no guarantee that they will use it right. They have drafted bad players before, and with our management, that certainly isn't uncommon.
These are all factors, not to mention, we have not exactly been the luckiest in the lottery drawing. This was especially prevalent in the 2012 draft. The Hornets had the best odds at the number one pick, but in the lottery, the Pelicans jumped the Hornets, and selected Anthony Davis. The Hornets, having the second overall pick, choose Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
Yet, in reality, this decision is not up to us, the fans. It comes down to Rick Cho, Steve Clifford, and Michael Jordan.