I’ve taken to calling it “woeful for Wiggins” but there are a hundred different ways of phrasing the organizational tanking going on around the NBA — a number of teams are going with the “get bad to get good” strategy this year. The Sixers, Suns, Magic, Jazz and others chose this year to be a down year because upcoming is what is considered the deepest draft in a decade.
Andrew Wiggins (who will play at Kansas) is considered the biggest prize, a guy who some scouts feel can have a Kevin Durant/LeBron James kind of impact on a franchise (his game is different than theirs, we are talking impact). Behind him are Julius Randle, Dante Exum, Aaron Gordon, Jabari Parker and others that could be future All-Star level guys and maybe franchise players. That’s the conventional wisdom out there.
Celtics GM Danny Ainge doesn’t see it that way at all.
Speaking with Ian Thompson of Sports Illustrated Ainge talked about how hard it is to go bad to get good because it takes a lot of luck (winning the lottery, then not having the consensus No. 1 guy to turn out to be Greg Oden). Then Ainge broke from conventional wisdom.
“If Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was out there to change your franchise forever, or Tim Duncan was going to change your franchise for 15 years? That might be a different story,” said Ainge. “I don’t see that player out there.”
Well, those guys Ainge mentioned are big men and Wiggins is a swingman, but the way the league is evolving you want your best player on the perimeter, don’t you? Ainge can certainly see things differently than others, he’s made some good calls in the past. However, to me this sounds like a guy saying that to justify his choices.
Ainge’s Celtics are not going bad to get good — they are going to have a down year but they still have Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley, Jeff Green and others. They will not be terrible, but like the Bucks and others they are trying to develop talent rather than going the full terrible. That’s a good strategy as well — so long as you have the right coach in place and you can bring in the right players it can work. Look at Indiana, for example. Ainge doesn’t need to justify that choice.
We’ll see in five years if Ainge or everyone else was right about this draft, or if this was just Ainge spinning why he didn’t want to tank.