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Danny Ainge: Not worth tanking for Andrew Wiggins

Oct 4, 2013, 1:25 PM EDT


Every active No. 1 pick, with the exception of Tim Duncan, who has been in the NBA at least six seasons – Greg Oden, Andrea Bargnani, Andrew Bogut, Dwight Howard, LeBron James, Kwame Brown, Kenyon Martin and Elton Brand –  has changed teams by age 28.

It’s an era where teams must kowtow to top talent or risk losing it.

Danny Ainge apparently doesn’t subscribe to that model, though. Ainge, via Ian Thomsen of Sports Illustrated:

As I walk around town, more than anything else there are those that say, ‘Hey, don’t win too many games,”‘ said Ainge, the Celtics’ president of basketball operations. “There are so many fans that want us to play for the draft.”

Ainge’s measured response is that they should be more careful what they wish for.

Without ever mentioning the name of the consensus No. 1 pick Andrew Wiggins, Ainge made it clear that he does not believe the Kansas freshman carries the value of Kevin Durant, with whom he is often compared.

“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.”

Ainge, even beyond his implicit insult of Wiggins, misses the point on multiple levels.

If the Celtics don’t tank, what’s the alternative? Winning 35 games? That’s still a miserable season, and it ends with minimal chance of landing a top player in the draft. Quite possibly, it means drafting a player who is exactly good enough to keep Boston in the 35-win range.

No team with a reasonable chance of advancing in the playoffs has ever tanked. Teams that know they’ll be bad regardless tank. They figure the difference between being run-of-the-mill bad and truly awful is offset by a higher draft choice, and usually, they’re right.

And tanking isn’t – at least, shouldn’t – be about going after a single player. The team with the worst record has only a 25 percent chance of getting the No. 1 pick, but it is guaranteed a top-four pick, and that’s a major part of the reward. Tanking appears to be more beneficial this season than usual, because there are several high-end prospects who will likely enter this draft: Wiggins, Julius Randle Marcus Smart, Jabari Parker, Andrew Harrison and more. Teams at the top of the draft, even if not holding the top pick, are in line to select a good player.

Obviously, if the Celtics land the No. 1 pick, Ainge would have several years to repair his relationship with Wiggins – if Wiggins even takes offense, which I doubt he would.

Ainge is a competitor who wants to win. Wiggins is a competitor who wants to win. If they’re ever working for the same organization, they can bond over that rather than the circumstances that brought them together.

  1. illegalblues - Oct 4, 2013 at 1:37 PM

    did you really just write an article dissecting a comment that was obviously a partial lie? did you expect ainge to say “yeah, we’re tanking. eat it, stern”. god i can’t wait for the season to start and there can be actual news worth writing about again.

    • ProBasketballPundit - Oct 4, 2013 at 2:22 PM

      I have to agree that Ainge is lying. You really have to lie to keep the NBA Gods (Stern) happy because if you make it obvious that you’re tanking you won’t get a good draft pick anyway. I guarantee you Philly won’t get the 2014 #1 pick for how obvious they’re tanking this season.

      • antistratfordian - Oct 4, 2013 at 6:57 PM

        “I have to agree that Ainge is lying.”

        It will be news when Ainge is caught telling the truth.

      • somekat - Oct 4, 2013 at 8:53 PM

        Philly is no more obvious than Cleveland was when the dumped their entire roster to tank for Lebron. Or when San Antonio decided Robinson and Elliot would just sit out the year so they could get a shot at Duncan. The only reason people say the sixers are “tanking” is because of the Holiday trade. But let’s be honest, is Holiday for the #6 pick (Noel who was the pre-draft #1 consensus) and a 1st next year is a good deal for the sixers. Outside of that, they have the same roster they had last year minus Bynum.

        They were going to be a bad team anyway, if anything, they did Holiday a favor instead of making him stick around and never have a shot at winning anything. I can’t really say they are all out tanking until I see the rotation. If young guys are playing, then it is what it is. They are a young team that is trying to see which young guys can and can’t play in this league. If Kwame Brown and Jason Richardson are getting 35+ minutes a night, they are tanking

        I also wouldn’t underestimate how much the league would like a franchise like the 6ers, in the market, competitive.

  2. adamsjohn714 - Oct 4, 2013 at 1:48 PM

    It doesn’t matter what the track record is. People will continue to write articles about tanking being beneficial. It makes no sense to me.

  3. grapenutz08 - Oct 4, 2013 at 2:22 PM

    Wiggins is pretty over hyped in my opinion. The best player in this draft is Randle

  4. legend30 - Oct 4, 2013 at 2:36 PM

    Watch Boston end up getting Wiggins with the 1st pick, then Ainge say, “We are extremely excited to welcome, Andrew Wiggins, to this organization. We believe that this is a big step for our team in the near future, and Andrew will certainly have a Durant and James impact for our team.”

  5. papichulo55 - Oct 4, 2013 at 3:57 PM

    Maybe the League can divide the national broadcast money based on Won-Loss records. Teams with bad records get a smaller slice of the pie. Win and get paid. Nothing more American than that!

  6. cmehustle - Oct 4, 2013 at 5:07 PM

    I wish the Nets had thought of tanking for Wiggins….

  7. scalfor3 - Oct 4, 2013 at 5:11 PM

    I understand that Danny is a competitive guy (you had to be to play with Bird), but I hope the Celtics go 10-72 or worse. The dream of Rondo running the floor with Wiggins and Green has me drooling.

  8. sportsfan18 - Oct 4, 2013 at 6:11 PM

    One shouldn’t think about tanking until most of the season has played out. After about 60 games into the season, the writing is on the wall for the bad teams.

    • legend30 - Oct 4, 2013 at 8:12 PM

      What happens if the Bobcats’ season is already determined?

  9. ranfan12 - Oct 4, 2013 at 10:52 PM

    Lol, Chamillionaire?

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