Power Tankings: Tanking powerfully means making power moves
It takes strong moves throughout the season to remain the top team in the chase for the lottery. Internal fighting and shots that don't make sense? Sign the tankers up!
When things start looking bleak and your goal doesn't look like it can be accomplished via your current path, you have to get creative. You have to break outside of the box and start finding ways to get back on track. That's true of when you're trying to win by switching up rotations or starting lineups altogether. You may change defensive coverage schemes on pick-and-roll plays or find a way to put your defense in a position to not get killed on the offensive boards. You tinker or you overhaul to see what can be accomplished.
The same goes for tanking. Although you're not going to switch up schemes that would intentionally allow more points at an easier clip for the opponents. You can't be obvious about it. One thing you can do is trade your better veteran players, but you also can't just make a trade and take a big loss. You have to have a long-term gain from such a deal so those can be tricky to pull off. Instead, what you do is get creative.
Perhaps you get a couple of your players to have a fight in front of reporters? Or maybe you decide to Jedi mind trick J.R. Smith to let one fly about 20 seconds earlier than a shot should go up on what should be the final possession of a tied game that eventually costs you the chance to sweep a Texas Triangle trick? I'm just spitballing ideas here. This week's Power Tankings have some of those answers for you in what turned out to be a pretty victorious week for the tankers.
Here are the Week 11 Power Tankings:
|1. Milwaukee Bucks|
Record: 7-26 (1-2 this week), Net Rating: -8.4 points per 100 possessions
It was really hard to pick a top tanker this time because we had two really good candidates based on this week's actions. But the decision came down to two things. First, the Bucks didn't have a winning week. As you know, the Tanker's Code vows to have as many losing weeks without raising outright suspicion from the league and other authorities as possible. The Bucks managed to beat the Lakers before dropping games in Utah and in Phoenix.
The second reason is the internal bickering has begun, which is a big component to tanking strategy. Gary Neal and Larry Sanders were arguing after the loss to the Suns. Neal told Sanders that he had earned his money for that game and suggested Sanders try doing the same. This could rally the Bucks to come together, but I'm not sure they have enough offense to make that a reality. The other way is to go with an individualistic mentality and just go for yours. This is a great way to tank because it removes suspicion of wanting to lose and just makes it a natural result. That's solid work, Milwaukee.
|2. New York Knicks|
Record: 11-22 (2-1 this week), Net Rating: -3.8 points per 100 possessions
Yes, it's true that the Knicks may have had their best week of the season. They went into the Texas Triangle and took two of the three games. They won in San Antonio thanks to big games by Iman Shumpert and Carmelo Anthony. Sunday, they went into Dallas and beat a good Mavericks team by holding them to just 80 points. They went 2-1 on the week while having all of those games in Texas. That's not an easy thing to do and it should have pulled them out of the Power Tankings conversation. So why are they second? Because Knicks gonna Knicks:
They did it again. They pulled a Bargnani for the second time in weeks, which seems impossible to do. You know how the old saying goes: Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice? You're tanking for no reason.
|3. Utah Jazz|
Record: 11-25 (2-1 this week), Net Rating: -9.7 points per 100 possessions
A winning week for the Utah Jazz. They beat the Bobcats and the Bucks before losing to the Lakers. I thought about dropping the Jazz down to around fifth in Power Tankings because of their valiant performance but then something happened in the loss to the Lakers. Is it possible the Jazz were worried about a perfect week of winning games that they decided to make Kendall Marshall look like Steve Nash? I mean good Steve Nash, not Lakers Steve Nash. Rookie Trey Burke was essentially a saloon door on defense when defending Marshall and it helped the Jazz drop their last game of the week.
That's pretty big for tanking purposes. They've separated themselves from the Bucks by four wins, but that's not where the game is necessarily won. They're one win ahead (behind?) of the Kings and Magic, tied with the Cavaliers and Knicks, and one win behind (ahead?) of the Sixers and Nets. This is all kinds of muddled and every loss counts right now.
|4. Philadelphia 76ers|
Record: 12-21 (3-0 this week), Net Rating: -7.1 points per 100 possessions
What do you think you're doing? The Sixers just swept a four-game road trip that took them to Los Angeles (Lakers), Denver, Sacramento, and Portland. They won all four games. This team has no idea how to tank properly and it has to be driving Sam Hinkie crazy. The good news is they're still incredibly fun to watch. We may see them finally deal their veteran duo of Thaddeus Young and Evan Turner before the trade deadline. Maybe Spencer Hawes goes too? Regardless of what they decide to do, they've established a line of credit with the fans by making this season fun whilst still preparing for the future. That's how tanking is supposed to happen.
|5. Cleveland Cavaliers|
Record: 11-23 (1-3 this week), Net Rating: -6.1 points per 100 possessions
It's hard to know where this team is headed because the East is so terrible that they're still in the playoff hunt despite an 11-23 record. They're three games behind the Pistons for the eighth seed right now, and now they've acquired Luol Deng for Andrew Bynum so that headache is gone. But what does that mean for this team? Where are they headed this season?
The upcoming schedule is important for the Cavs. They're about to hit a long road trip (five games in seven days) before coming home to a homestand that will last eight days (with five games being played). If the Cavs can be around .500 during this stretch of 10 games, it would behoove most to start buying into them making a push and finding their way back into the playoffs. If they continue to play .324 basketball, the dreams of convincing LeBron James to go back to Ohio will probably be this summer's meme.
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