The “Suck for Luck” campaign involved NFL teams but there’s no questioning the blueprint of tanking for draft purposes comes from professional basketball.
The Boston Celtics won four of their final 38 games in the 1996-97 after going 11-33 in their first 44 games. Boston, who had two first round draft picks, was doing everything in its power to improve its chances of securing the top pick in the draft to get the rights to some kid named Tim Duncan.
The luck of the Irish didn’t help the Celtics that year but it hasn’t prevented other teams from pulling the same kind of move – even with the lottery system.
Flash forward to the present and we could have another tank-a-poolza on the way. Pro scouts are drooling over this draft and calling it the best class in years. At the top of the board is big man Anthony Davis.
The Kentucky freshman has size (6-foot-10), he can defend (146 blocks), and shoot (.663 FG%). And oh yeah, headed into conference tournament play, he had lost just one game as a college player. Not bad.
In short, he's the top pick of the draft, folks. And in this shortened season, where there's little rest and little motivation remaining for bad teams, you have to think that some franchises are better off losing the rest of the way, giving themselves a better shot at this superstar in waiting.
Here’s a look at the six worst teams in the Association, what their chances are of landing the first overall pick and whether we should be suspicion of any tanking for Tony.: Charlotte Bobcats
Record: 5-31 (Projected Finish: 8-58)
Chances of getting first pick: 25 percent
The Bobcats have never had a franchise player and Davis would be the perfect guy to build around. Don’t expect owner Michael Jordan to approve any trades at deadline to improve this year’s squad.
This is one bad team. The numbers are truly awful. Heck, the Bobcats might not even have to tank games, they may just want to keep on keeping on, and they'll be fine come draft time.Chance of tanking: 50/50 Washington Wizards
Record: 8-29 (Projected Finish: 14-52)
Chances of getting first pick: 19.9 percent
For a team that likes to change its name, how about Wildcats? Forget the Bullets or the Wizards. If Washington lets a few games out of their grasp, they could be in line to package two of the most skilled, most athletic players to come out of Kentucky, especially in the John Calipari Era.
Washington has been bad for a long time and already has its franchise player (John Wall). Don’t expect the Wizards to lay down the stretch unless the players are uninterested. Washington won’t bench its best players down the stretch.
Chances of tanking: Slim New Orleans Hornets
Record: 9-29 (Projected Finish: 16-50)
Chances of getting first pick: 15.6 percent
Talk about a team that needs a lift. First, the Hornets -- gun to their head -- had to wave goodbye to Chris Paul. Then, in January, they lost Eric Gordon to a sore right knee.
They need to breathe new life into the organization. Not unlike Kyrie Irving did for the Cavaliers this season a little more than a year after Cleveland lost LeBron James. Same deal here. Still, this is the commissioner’s team and, as much as he wants the attractive assets in place for the next owner, it’d be awful hypocritical to let his club be guilty of something he’s been trying to put a stop to.
Besides, it’s not like he can’t just rig the lottery in New Orleans’ favor. Kidding… we’re kidding.Chances of tanking: Slim New Jersey Nets
Record: 12-27 (Projected Finish: 19-47)
Chances of getting first pick: 9.0 percent
We'll know a lot more about the Nets' motivation after the trade deadline. Because if they don't land Dwight Howard -- and Brook Lopez's ankle injury really hurts their chances -- New Jersey will be a prime candidate for tank city.
After all, they'll need a star to captain the move to Brooklyn next season, and without Howard, their chances of keeping Deron Williams will decrease greater than their season ticket base in New Jersey has.
Chances of tanking: 50/50 Toronto Raptors
Record: 12-26 (Projected Finish: 19-47)
Chances of getting first pick: 9.0 percent
Woe, Canada. Unless the Raptors start losing at a stronger clip, they're clearly not going to be the worst of the worst. And that might be a good thing. After all, who knows, perhaps Davis will pull a "I don't want to play in Canada" deal and be a bigger pain than he's worth.
The Raps best player (Andrea Bargnani) plays Davis’ position, even if the Italian has been called a soft power forward. Toronto also expects to have center Jonas Valanciunas – the team’s first round pick from the 2011 draft on the roster next season.
Toronto just wants to give its fans a glint of hope. They’re playing hard now and staying close in games they shouldn’t.Chances of tanking: SlimSacramento Kings
Record: 12-26 (Projected Finish: 19-47) Chances of getting first pick: 9.0 percent
Maybe the Wizards can take dibs on the name Wildcats, and the Kings can take ownership of name Caliparis. Because if Sacramento is bad enough, they may have a terrific trifecta of alums tutored by the charismatic coach next season.
The Kings already have DeMarcus Cousins (Kentucky), and Tyreke Evans (Memphis), who were both recruited and signed by Calipari. And Davis would be a perfect complement, and a terrific option to hang their hat on, especially as the franchise continues to hover in never, neverland.
We know the team is staying Sacramento and we know the Maloof brothers like to gamble. That could be the perfect formula for a late season swoon.Chances of tanking: 50/50