Monday, March 23, 2015

NBA WHO SAYS NO Rankings - Part 1

First, a fun (not really!) anecdote: on Thursday night I was at a bar that was (of course) showing NCAA tournament games on 59ish of its 60ish TVs.  The only exception was one screen over in a corner showing what was on ESPN at the time--a Phillies/Yankees spring training game.  No better demonstration of what ESPN's baseball coverage is all about than their decision to televise a game between two teams that, if things go well, will combine to win 150 games.  Anyways, I (partially) focused on this game for about 8 or 9 minutes.  That's all the time I needed to see: 1) Ryan Howard make an error trying to field a ground ball that 80% of high school first basemen would make 2) an unearned Yankee run score due to said error, and finally 3) a montage of Derek Jeter moments, likely prompted by the fact that new Yankees SS Didi Gregorious committed the baseball faux pas of coming up to bat while playing Jeter's former position.  I really feel bad for Gregoious.  If he starts at least 120 games at SS for the Yankees this year and performs at any worse than an All-Star level, someone in the Bronx is going to run onto the field and attack him by mid May.  Anyways, fuck ESPN's baseball coverage.

Now we move to Bill's piece de resistance, his Trade Value column.  Not content simply to write like an asshole, this year he also edited/promoted like an asshole as well.  I don't need to cover that, 1) because it's hard enough to just critique the flaws with the substance of this piece and 2) because Drew Magary did a great job talking about the other stuff last week.  It's awesome.  Go click that link and read it.  If I were to pick the best and most demonstrative line, it would be:

Bill Walton and Larry Bird changed my too-harsh opinion of Kobe's style…

(Magary) "No way! Two great basketball players told you a great player was great? WHAT A REVELATION."

Really, that just about sums up what Simmons is about at this point.  He's a wannabe "hoops nerd" who actually knows little about basketball but hopes that hiring Zach Lowe and having access to NBA greats via his ESPN gig will make his opinions interesting and legitimate.  But the opinions are just as idiotic as ever, and now, by flaunting these ESPN-facilitated relationships that would NEVER develop or maintain themselves organically if he were an independent blogger (even a nationally popular one) outside of the ESPNiverse, he's exposed for being a starfucker too.  Good on you, Bill.  Feel free to quit ESPN and go the fuck away any month now.  DIE.

Anyways, this is actually part 3 of 3 of his trade value column.  I'm just going to start here because it's plenty long anyways and I'm blogging at a snail's pace these days.  In fact, this whole first post is just going to be the first half of his recap of the previously published rankings from 60 up to 11, and commentary on how things have changed in the time since he made those rankings in January and February.  Really makes sense, right?  No one enjoys Bill's writing and Bill's thinking and Bill more than Bill, so of course he's going to comment on thoughts he thinks he thought a few weeks ago.

GROUP O: “You’re Just Lowballing Me Because He Expires Soon”

One of the dumbest features of what could (could) be an interesting premise for a column--the fact that conveniently, he ends up ranking guys that all have some relatively unimportant (relatively unimportant in the entire scheme of the player's total trade value, I mean) in common together consecutively in groups.  For fuck's sake, he puts Marc Gasol and LaMarcus Aldridge together at 13 and 14 below because they're both unrestricted free agents this offseason.  Yeah, they're maybe both top 20 value guys right now, but did you absolutely have to do it that way?  To the extent Bill takes this serious (he really, really does) this really takes away whatever legitimacy he was hoping to cultivate.

60. Brandon Knight
59. Greg Monroe
58. Paul Millsap
57. Draymond Green
56. Goran Dragic

UPDATE: In February, no. 56 and no. 60 DID get traded … and Dragic fetched a slightly higher price than Knight did. Big win for the 2015 Trade Value column! Don’t get used to it.

Both were dealt in three way deals, but in essence, in exchange for Knight the Bucks got a possibly useful combo guard (Michael Carter-Williams, who should be less of a shooting disaster now that he's not carrying the crappy Sixers around) who has two team option contract years left, a young point guard (Tyler Ennis) who may or may not be anything, and a warm body (Miles Plumlee).  Meanwhile, in exchange for Dragic, the Suns got a guy who probably doesn't even qualify as a warm body (Danny Granger or THE CORPSE of Danny Granger lolololol) and first round draft picks in 2017 (top 7 protected) and 2021 (apparently unprotected).

They're both good players, but Dragic is a better scorer than Knight (for now), so Dragic is definitely the better overall player (for now).  But as far as value goes, I feel like Carter-Williams + Ennis >>> a protected first rounder that's 27 months away and an unprotected first rounder that's more than two presidential elections away.  Like, that's a pretty clear win for the Bucks, as far as comparing their haul to Phoenix's.  Yeah yeah yeah, you've got to stockpile draft choices blah blah blah, but fuck that.  A first rounder in 2021?  The guy the Suns could potentially take with that pick is probably in like 8th grade right now.

GROUP N: “I’m Hanging Up and Calling You Back From a Pay Phone”

Why would a GM do this?  Because their office phone is tapped?  By who?  Unfunny, unclever, dumb.

55. DeMar DeRozan
54. Ty Lawson
53. Eric Bledsoe
52. Kevin Love

Here we have a group of guys who are thankfully not tied together by some unifying thread; Bill just thinks they have relatively equal trade value.  But here's another fundamental weakness of this whole thing that ruins its legitimacy from the start.  (And again, I get that the whole column is just supposed to be a fun thought exercise.  But you Billophiles out there know this to be true: Bill desperately wants to be taken seriously, and the NBA is the sport which he knows the most about.)  Love is a stretch four with just one year left on his deal.  Bledsoe is a point guard with four years left on his deal.  The idea of either getting traded for the other, or either getting traded for draft picks and trying to decide which would fetch more, is so totally dependent on the needs of the other hypothetical teams involved and those teams' willingness to take on long term salary that this list loses all meaning.

Yes, I know I just a minute ago said it was bullshit that Bill groups together guys who have something in common, and now I'm saying it's bullshit that he groups together guys who have nothing in common.  Guess what?  This whole dumb column is, in fact, bullshit.  If you asked me for a sincere idea for how to make it less bullshitty, after telling you to jump in a wood chipper, I'd suggest that the whole list be just 20 players long.  How the hell do we even begin to guess if the Suns would or would not swap Bledsoe for Love?  It's pointless.  The only fun and meaningful theoreticals of that kind involve superstar level players, not guys like the four listed above.

UPDATE: Latest odds for Kevin Love’s new home address this fall: Back Bay (-120), Brookline (+200), Beacon Hill (+350), Wellesley (+500), Weston (+500), South End (+700), Charlestown (+2000), Scituate/Hingham/Duxbury (+4000), Revere (+2000000).


GROUP M: “I Know, I Know, We’re Being Irrational”

51. Victor Oladipo
50. Alex Len
49. Jonas Valanciunas
48. Nikola Vucevic
47. Jusuf Nurkic
46. Nikola Mirotic
45. Derrick Favors

UPDATE: Oladipo made The Semi-Leap after the All-Star break: 12 games, 20.6 ppg, 4.8 apg, 45-39-83 percent splits, excellent defense and a recent Orlando Sentinel story headlined “Victor Oladipo is learning that success commands opponents’ attention.” 

That's not "making the leap."  "Making the leap" is a dumbass concept that Bill likes a lot (naturally), when he most commonly applies it to situation like this which would more properly be called "a good month-long stretch by a good player on a bad team."  OLADIPO IS ON HIS WAY TO THE HALL OF FAME, READERS.  YOU HEARD IT HERE FIRST.

The following "self-deprecating" sentence is presented without commentary:

Please add “Oladipo over Bennett and Noel” to my all-time NBA draft win tally, along with “Durant over Oden,” “CP3 over Bogut and Williams,” “Derrick Williams over Kyrie,” “Okafor over Dwight” and “Jabari over Wiggins.” (Fine, I’m batting .500. Whatever.)

What an asshole.

GROUP L: “Sorry, He’s Worth More to Us Than He’s Worth to You”

44. The Completely Rejuvenated Pau Gasol

He gets a special nickname because he's white!

43. Jeff Teague
42: Zach Randolph
41. Joakim Noah
40. Markieff Morris
39. Wesley Matthews
38. Kyle Korver


Korver is a good player signed to a good contract (about $6MM per year for the next two years).  Many contenders would be happy to have him; he's obviously the best pure three point shooter in the game right now (he has a shot at finishing the season above 50%) and he's not too much of a liability on defense because of his size.  But holy shit--Randolph is also signed for the next two years, at about $10MM per.  Teague is signed for the next two years at $8MM per.  Noah is signed for next year at $13MM.  You're either drunk or mentally challenged if you think Korver has more value than any of those guys, and it's not particularly close.

UPDATE: Matthews was earmarked for an $80 million to $90 million market max payday before that unfortunate Achilles injury. What a bummer. 

Even without that injury, since he was on an expiring deal this year, he's probably the one guy from the above list who maybe actually belonged alongside the likes of Korver.

If you gave me a do-over, I’d stick Matthews on the Trade Value DL, move Oladipo into this group and give Oladipo’s old spot to Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Why? Because MKG is destroying people on defense, to the point that he boasted, “I want to be the best defender ever” last week — and nobody laughed. 

I'll laugh.  He's not even in the top 20 in the NBA right now in defensive rating, which might seem to some like a bullshit fancypants way to judge defense until you see that the top 5 (currently) are Draymond Green, Kawhi Leonard, Tim Duncan, Rudy Gobert and Tony Allen.  Or in other words, five guys who all are frequently mentioned as among the best in the league based on the ol' eye test.  So yeah, maybe Kidd-Gilchrist is on his way to greatness, but he's a couple plane flights away.

Kawhi and MKG are in the Finals in any “Which Guy Would You NOT Want Guarding You If You Had To Score A Basket To Save Your Own Life?” contest.

That isn't a contest, and it's a really dumb way of trying to make the point you're trying to make.  In any case, Leonard is obviously way better, as are a lot of guys.

GROUP K: “No Thanks — We Don’t Want Him to Come Back and Haunt Us”

37. Rudy Gobert
36. Jabari Parker
35. Joel Embiid

UPDATE: I didn’t have the balls to throw Gobert in the low 20s with Giannis and Wiggins. Big mistake. His next 11 games after Part 2 was published: 11.3 ppg, 15.9 rpg, 2.6 bpg, nine wins in 11 games, one Kirk Goldsberry piece titled “Rudy Gobert Is Making Utah an Elite Defensive Team.” Anytime “The French Rejection” and “The Gobert Report” aren’t your best possible nicknames, you know something special is going on. All hail the Stifle Tower!

MICHAEL KIDD-GILCHRIST FOR DEFENSIVE POY!!!!  Also, just the fact that you have to account for a guy like Embiid in these rankings makes them not worth writing, or reading.  Obviously the guy is untradeable right now.  Nothing anyone offered the Sixers would be good enough, and if they shopped him around, every team they offered him to would say that they were asking an insane price.

GROUP J: “Don’t Tell Anyone, and I’ll Deny It to the Death, But I’m Listening”

34. Carmelo Anthony

HAHAHAHAHA again.  Simmons went into greater detail about how fucked Carmelo and the Knicks are in the full version of part 2 of these rankings, but he (Simmons) still refused to recant his position that you can "absolutely" win a title if Carmelo is your best player.  Really, if I had to pick one piece of evidence that he's a fucking moron when it comes to the NBA, I might settle on that one.

33. Chris Bosh
33. Hassan Whiteside
32. Dwight Howard

UPDATE: Whiteside wasn’t really a top-60 guy (just filling in for Bosh), 

Just another reminder that while Bill wants these rankings to be taken seriously, a guy with like 100 games of NBA experience can be plugged in for a ten time all star.  Because both guys play on the same team and sort of play the same position, kind of!  It makes sense!  WHO SAYS NO

but let’s say I told you, “I will bet you $100 that Whiteside will either make the 2016 All-Star Game OR be out of the league before the 2016 All-Star Game, and you can pick only one of the two sides of that bet,” which side would you pick? I can’t decide, either.

I hate entertaining his little thought experiments, but I'll take the latter.  Whiteside kind of seems like an asshole who can't get his shit together.

GROUP I: “This Is So Ludicrous That I Can’t Even Hang Up On You Yet”

31. Gregg Popovich

UPDATE: I don’t know if you noticed the ’69 Celts potential of the 2015 Spurs lately, but … well … I mean …


More later.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

What the fuck is this shit? Fuck you

OK, so, as promised, I'm going to get around to Bill's NBA trade value column.  I'm going to pretend like I didn't go to Grantland to pull its text earlier today and see that the front page story right now is a two-authored piece titled "Who is the Greatest Fictional Basketball Player of All Time?"  I'm just going to tell myself that this is not capital "c" Content that any reader in the world would ever want, and thus that a major sports website would never publish it.  I must have just imagined it.  Nothing to see here, move along to the trade value column.

Actually, that's not quite true.  I'm going to make one other quick stop (that definitely does not involve rhetorical questions about who would win a 1 on 1 showdown between Bugs Bunny in Space Jam and Jimmy from Hoosiers) on the way.  I received a tip about another non-Simmons Grantland NBA article last week, and boy, is it a load of garbage.

Maybe you have heard--in fact, if you pay attention to the NBA, you definitely have heard--that the 76ers are really bad again this year.  For the 2nd year in a row.  Wow, it's so zany that it has to be talked about by everyone.  Anyways, I suppose it's somewhat notable because even though teams are bad for two consecutive seasons all the time, the way the 76ers are doing it is a bit unorthodox.  First, they've now drafted (or traded for on draft day) two players in the last two years who they knew would not play a single minute in the then-upcoming season--Nerlens Noel in 2013 and of course Joel Embiid in 2014.  (And of course, the fact that they acquired Noel on draft day in 2013 is part of what put them in position to be bad enough to draft Embiid a year later.)  That's a move that screams "we are bad and we want to stay bad."  Second, they are shuffling their roster incessantly, stockpiling draft picks and moving various players and assets around without any evident desire for the current team to be anything but a placeholder.

Now, none of this should sound too crazy to you.  In fact, a very prominent "sports" "writer" named Bill Simmons is a big advocate of NBA teams getting shitty in order to get good later, rather than staying mediocre (as Philly was from 2010-2012).  But it does raise eyebrows, and make people say unfunny and unclever things like OMG THEY'RE TAKING A DUMP ON THEIR FANS.  And that outrage can lead to counteroutrage, from analyticsphiles who love the way the team is aggressively pursuing its goal in unorthdox ways.  And that counteroutrage can lead to some asshole Grantland writer trying to write a thinking man's response to the whole situation.  And that response can be, and is, absolutely horrible, trite, and full of WRONG all the way through, but I want to highlight probably the worst part of it, which also happens to be the guy's first point in support of his thesis.  The thesis is that while no one should be outraged about the situation--it's not "insulting" to the game of basketball or some bullshit like that (true)--it IS stupid.

The Sixers’ plan is stupid.

It’s not disgraceful. It’s not wrong. [...]

But it’s pretty stupid.


That’s my real problem with what the team is doing. It’s not the plan that’s been unbearable, it’s the cult of Sixers fans and media members who insist on mocking the skeptics while they marvel at Philly’s brilliance. 

He's referring to the counteroutrage, and to be sure, both those people as well as the regular outraged people who think tanking is disgraceful can all go eat a dump truck full of dicks.

The NBA system incentivizes losing, they say. Lose to win.  Here’s a GM who’s smart enough to exploit the system for as many chances as possible.

I get it. I really do. The only thing wrong with what Philly’s doing are the people who think it’s some profound approach to basketball philosophy. 

So the ONLY thing wrong is that some of the supporters of what Philly is doing are obnoxious about their support.  Got it.

Just because something is counterintuitive doesn’t make it more intuitive.

Oh, so you were bullshitting a sentence ago.  Really, there is another thing wrong with tanking.  Tell me all about it!

Start with the fundamental idea: lose to win.

And again, I'm not going to cover this whole article.  But I can't not cover his analysis of this first point.

Are We Sure Tanking Actually Works?

Well, yeah, it sure does.  And he'll start to establish right now, but fail to properly fully establish it by cutting off his own analysis well short of completion, because if he actually dug into the topic he'd realize how dumb it is to question whether tanking works.  In order to preserve his pre-determined conclusion he lies.  Allow me to help correct that lie, after he's done saying his bit.

There have been three triumphant NBA tanking efforts. 

And we start with a Simmons staple.  THREE AND ONLY THREE.  NO ONE DENIES THIS.

The first involved the Spurs. When David Robinson broke his foot at the end of 1996, their season crumbled, and San Antonio decided to keep Robinson on the sideline and bottom out. Spurs fans will deny this happened, and I guess you can’t prove it one way or another. But San Antonio landed the no. 1 pick at the end of Robinson’s prime, drafted Tim Duncan, and won five titles over the next 17 years.

This is true.  This is all true.  Good for them.  Fucking Spurs.

The Celtics also tanked in 1996-97. They went all in to get Duncan and came away with Ron Mercer and Chauncey Billups. They didn’t make the playoffs for another five years.

Did they go all in?  Did they?  (No.)  In 1995-96 they were a bad but not horrible team that won 33 games.  Their whole nucleus was under the age of 30.  In the 1996 offseason, their only meaningful move was on draft day, when they swapped first round picks with Dallas (which netted them Antoine Walker) and in that same trade sent off Eric Montross (not a significant contributor to the 1995-96 team; 7 PPG, 6 RPG) while receiving Dallas's 1997 first rounder, which would end up being 6th overall (nice!) and was used to select Mercer (damn).  That was a good trade that definitely can't be interpreted as a tanking move.  That was one of only two trades they made that year, and the other was pretty insignificant.  

In 1996-97 they brought back almost the same roster.  The season end player stat breakdown is very similar to the previous season, with the following changes: 
1) The addition of Walker, who had a great rookie season, going for 18 and 9.
2) 1995-96 top scorer and rebounder Dino Radja (HEY REMEMBER HIM???? JEFF PEARLMAN PROBABLY DOES!!!!) was sidelined for the rest of the 1996-97 season after a knee injury just 25 games in.  The only way this was a tanking move is if the Celtics hired someone to take his knee out telekinetically.  Radja would never play in the NBA again, despite being a 20 and 10 guy the previous season (at age 28), which pretty much tells you whether or not this was a "They held him out in order to tank!" move like Robinson's is alleged to be.
3) 1995-96 sixth man Dana Barros was also limited to only 24 games, presumably due to injury; his Wikipedia page isn't nearly as awesome as Radja's so I'm lacking detail here.

That's really it.  Two important rotation guys got hurt, and a promising rookie stepped in to kind of fill the shoes of one of the departed guys.  The Celtics literally didn't make a single trade during the season.  And that's it?  That's "going all in" to get Duncan?  Fucking hardly.  Add to that the fact that while Mercer was a bit of a dud, they did get Billups, who ended up being a five time All-Star and a possible Hall of Famer.  The fact that he didn't even get to play a full season for Boston before being traded has nothing to do with the argument that THE CELTICS TRIED TO TANK AND FAIL.  First, they barely (if at all) tried to tank, and second, they got a really awesome player anyways.  So even though I hate the Celtics and hate researching their pointless mid-90s transaction histories, you can see why I'm writing this post.  This author (I'm not even going to identify him by name--fuck him) is writing shit.  And I like writing responses to shit.

Boston’s tanking success didn’t come until 10 years later. With a roster built around Paul Pierce and younger players like Al Jefferson and Rajon Rondo, the team was going nowhere. So when Pierce went down with a vague “stress injury,” Doc Rivers and Danny Ainge held him out for most of the second half of the 2006-07 season. A starting lineup that featured Ryan Gomes and Allan Ray 

Can't believe this dingbat passed up a chance to make a "from Allan Ray to Ray Allen!!!!" joke anywhere in here.

finished out the year at the bottom of the league. That spring, they got screwed in the lottery 

Bill, your tears are so delicious!  Too bad they won a fucking title anyways.

and wound up with the fifth pick. Then they got lucky. They turned that fifth pick into Ray Allen, and then Kevin Garnett wanted out of Minnesota, and Ubuntu was born. Boston won a title 10 months later.

Yep.  I'd say that tank job worked, if unconventionally.

The other side of that Ray Allen Celtics deal is what the Sixers are chasing. Seattle stripped its roster in 2007, in part to rebuild around Kevin Durant and (maybe, possibly) in part because the owners were gearing up to move the team to Oklahoma City. 

I'd like to reiterate my intent to kick in the nuts any Seattle fan who is still bitching about this, should I get the chance.  They've been warned.

They traded Allen and Rashard Lewis, and while Washington state was stalling on stadium proposals, attendance suffered — it certainly didn’t hurt that the basketball product became borderline unwatchable (even with Durant). Over the next two years, all the losing birthed a title-contending nucleus that also featured James Harden, Serge Ibaka, and Russell Westbrook. It’s just that they played in Oklahoma City.

OK, given OKC's whole one Finals appearance and zero titles with that nucleus so far, I wouldn't call that tank job "triumphant" (and sticking to that insane standard is really the only way he can get 25% of the way to justifying his point, so it's kind of funny to watch him tacitly abandon it here).  But it was certainly successful.  Now, I expect he'll start listing any of the other many, many teams that have gone from bad to good thanks to emptying their team of good players and gunning for a great lottery pick.

In other words, the only recent examples of tanking to a title come from two teams that already had franchise players and used one bad season to rebuild on the fly. 

Oh?  That's it, is it?  I almost forgot--THREE AND ONLY THREE.  First of all, as I just mentioned in that excessively lengthy parenthetical in my last paragraph, the Thunder don't have a title, no matter how much HOOP NERDS who NERDGASM all over the place when RUSSELL WESTBROOK dunks GOSH YOU HEATHENS DON'T PROPERLY APPRECIATE RUSSELL ONLY HOOP NERDS LIKE US DO want to award them with a title.  Second of all, holy shit, are you serious?  THAT'S your standard for figuring out if tanking works or not?

The Cavaliers tanked like dogs to get LeBron in 2003, sending away their top three scorers from 2001-02 (Andre Miller, Wesley Person, Lamond Murray) for peanuts during the 2002 offseason.  In his first seven year run with them, the team would make five straight playoff appearances, losing once in the conference finals and once in the Finals.  That's not "triumphant," I suppose, but fuck, what was their other option?  Build around Miller, Person, Murray, and 2002 draftee Carlos Boozer, and try to compete with the Lakers/Spurs that way?  Fuck you.  Give them a chance to do that sequence over again and they'd tank like they did 100 out of 100 times.  

The Nuggets also tanked (I'm not going to get into the details, but believe me, they tanked) throughout 2001 and 2002 to land Carmelo in that 2003 draft.  They then made the playoffs for ten consecutive seasons (after going to the playoffs twice in the previous twelve seasons) and came thiiiiis close to a Finals appearance against a mediocre Magic team in 2009.  Same story--not triumphant, but fuck, they wouldn't change anything about 2001-2002 in hindsight.

So, no titles for either of them.  Hey, how about this?  The Bulls were a playoff team in 1980-81, and a bad but not horrible 34 win team in 1981-82 (which went through three coaches, and then switched again during the 1982 offseason).  Then during the 1982-83 season they trade HOFer Artis Gilmore, still in his late prime, for nothing (yes, Dave Corzine is nothing), along with several other player-for-pick trades.  Then, during the 1983-84 season, ANOTHER new head coach (their sixth in four seasons... sounds a bit tanky to me) decided that Reggie Theus, who had scored 23.5 per game the previous season, should come off the bench.  He would be traded for nothing that February.  The Bulls still somehow managed 27 wins, but had the 3rd overall pick, and then took Michael Jordan.  Now in this case, shit, they actually DID have a good alternative--I'm not going to research it, but I bet a lot of fans were pissed that they traded Gilmore and Theus for peanuts in back to back offseasons.  Trying to win a championship with those two guys isn't exactly the worst idea.  But given how things worked out, again, I think the Bulls were happy with their choice.

I'm not going to go on like this for every single great player who was drafted by a team that obviously tanked to at least some level of significance.  (More than the 1996-97 Celtics tanked anyways.)  But you get the point.  This writer is an asshole who is annoyed by people on the internet and his preferred method for dealing with them is deciding that because they are annoying they must be wrong.  Well, trust me: I am both annoying and right all the time.  It's not that hard to do.  Where were we?  Oh yeah, back to the end of this little F-minus explanation as to why tanking is stupid.

That’s why it always made the most sense for a team like the Knicks to sit Carmelo and lose as much as possible this year. You never know what can happen. For everyone else, there’s a chance you could be the ’97 Spurs, but there’s a much better chance you will be the ’97 Celtics. 

"Be careful, everyone!  If you tank, you might only end up with a top 25-ever point guard!"  Now, terrible syntax in that sentence aside, I will grant this point: tanking does not guarantee that you will draft the greatest power forward ever the following June.  But it's sure as hell a lot smarter than NOT tanking.

The only recent example of a full-scale, multiyear tanking success story comes from a team that quite possibly used that strategy to kill basketball in its own home city. That’s the dream.

Yeah, good logical implication, fuckhead--if your team tanks, they'll probably end up leaving town.  Totally.

I’m not saying losing deliberately is a horrible idea, 

You kind of are though!

but it’s OK to look at the history before we call it brilliant. 

Cool, just did.  It's not "brilliant" per se, it's just smarter than NOT tanking, and the way it is done may or may not turn out to have been brilliant post hoc.  Maybe what the Sixers are doing is a brilliant tank job, or maybe it's just an average tank job.  But just because HOOPS NERDS who care about the Sixers or are otherwise complimentary of what the team is doing are shitheads doesn't mean you can just ignore history.  

If the Sixers are going DEFCON: TANK for several seasons in a devious play to maximize the probability of landing a title nucleus … shouldn’t it matter that this only really worked three times in 20 years? 

I like the 20 year cutoff thing.  Helps you avoid that whole Jordan issue.  Also, if tanking "didn't work" for the Cavs or Nuggets, I'd hate to see what results they would have come up with during the 2000s had they tried something else.

Is this plan really that devious?

It's not devious, it's just a good, solid plan.  And the rest of this article is just as bad.  Fuck yourself, Grantland staff writer guy.  Grantland is the worst.

Trade value column forthcoming.  No, seriously.