This is Golden State’s best opportunity to secure a prime draft pick.
Warriors owner Joe Lacob, via Mark Medina of USA Today:
By the way, we’ll try to win every game. I’m not really about, ‘Let’s lose every game so we can get the best pick.’ You try to do that, you’re messing with the basketball gods. So we don’t believe in that.
Former Warriors executive Travis Schlenk (now Hawks general manager) admitted to tanking in 2012. Golden State had to convey its first-round pick if it didn’t land in the top seven. So, the Warriors traded their consensus top player, Monta Ellis, for an injured Andrew Bogut. Golden State lost 17 of its last 20 games, kept its pick and drafted Harrison Barnes.
The basketball gods were so mad, the Warriors went to the playoffs the next seven seasons and won three championships and two other conference titles.
Of course, Golden State will tank, which I define as any decision made – at least in part – to improve draft position through losing.
Management won’t instruct players not to give full effort. But tanking will show up in numerous other ways. The Warriors will be cautious with Curry’s and Thompson’s returns. Young players will get more minutes. If necessary, Steve Kerr might “experiment” with odd lineups not conducive to winning. Players often see these approaches, realize where the team is headed and lose focus late in lost seasons. That leads to even more losing.
Don’t get mad at Golden State for tanking. Hate the system that rewards it.
Though feel free to send a little animosity toward the Warriors for acting holier than though while tanking like everyone else does in a similar position.