76ers, Suns Tanking So Far At Tanking

VIDEO: Sixers coach Brett Brown talks about 2-0 start to season

The Philadelphia 76ers and the Phoenix Suns, after the first four days of the 2013-14 NBA season, look to be either the best tanking NBA teams ever, or the worst.

At a glance, you’d say they stink at it, if they’re dueling ambitions are to finish with horrible W-L records to boost their odds of a high pick in the loaded 2014 Draft next June. They’re each 2-0. By beating Miami Wednesday and Washington Friday, the 76ers in a span of 72 hours got 10 percent of the way to the NBA’s last-place victory total from last season (Orlando, 20). Rookie guard Michael Carter-Williams, after a brilliant debut, hit a 3-pointer to spark a 12-3 run deep into the fourth quarter that put Philadephia in control.

Ditto for the Suns, who followed up their defeat of Portland Wednesday with Eric Bledsoe‘s buzzer-beating game-winner against Utah Friday. Bledsoe, out of the backup shadows since his trade away from the Clippers and Chris Paul this offseason, turned the dare of the Jazz’s back-off defense into a 3-point dagger with 0.7 seconds left.

“I was waiting for this moment and I wanted the ball,” said Bledsoe, not sounding like someone who will play this season with a restrictor plate on his gas pedal. He is, after all, working without an extension – same as Philadelphia’s Evan Turner, after the deadline for such deals for 2010 draftees passed Thursday – and won’t have lottery chances and Andrew Wiggins on his mind as his retricted-free-agent future approaches.

“If it means we have to pay him a higher market value over the summer, that’s a good thing because that means he would have produced at a very, very high level,” Suns president Lon Babby told the Arizona Republic. “He’s an important part of this franchise for a long, long time to come.”

Happy happy, right? Except that 2-0 means the 76ers and the Suns already have spotted a two-game advantage in the lottery standings to 0-2 tankers (Boston) and 0-2 non-tankers (Washington) alike, with a few more 0-2 somewhere-in-betweens (New Orleans, Utah and Denver). Consider, too, that all 10 previous Phoenix teams that opened a season 2-0 closed it with an appearance in the playoffs.

Then again, if a team wants to avoid incurring wrath from NBA HQ and their fans, what shrewder way to begin a season of tanking than to throw everyone off the trail with some early unbeaten action? And if the brand-new coaching staffs of Brett Brown in Philadelphia and Jeff Hornacek in Phoenix truly are confident in their ability to steer their squads where they ultimately want to go – Nowheresville – they won’t be rattled by something as temporarily derailing as 2-0.

Brown, in speaking with reporters before the 76ers’ quirky upset of the Heat, certainly didn’t sound like a fellow determined to put his current roster through six months of misery for the iffy benefit of his future roster.

“We put so much effort into development,” Brown said. “We don’t spend a lot of time meeting as a staff during those practice times or possible practice times. We’ve invested everything we can into trying to help our guys get better. All of our guys have put in the time. And I hope – just from a personal level, forget being their coach – that they can find some success, that they see a reward for the work that they put in.”

That’s either great for motivation or marvelous as misdirection, if the object truly is to lose today as the pathway to winning tomorrow. These 2-0 records seem to spring from the same place, a quick way to throw purists off the scent-slash-stench.

And if the 76ers and the Suns truly believe in themselves as worthy bottom feeders, staying in lockstep means neither has spotted the other any edge with, er, only 80 games and 25 more weeks to endure. Savvy sand-bagging indeed.


  1. tha truth says:

    the celtics will get the #1 pick in the 2014 draft, book it

  2. Brent says:

    I doubt any team actually tries to tank an entire season. You might be in the process of rebuilding but you still need to help what talent you have learn how to win and be competitive. You don’t just go out there and attempt to lose on purpose. The Sixers and Suns would much rather win 50 games and shock everybody rather than go 10-72.

  3. Gillsy says:

    Carter- Williams looks good. But time will tell how his shooting percentage holds up, if it does he is maybe one of the best finds in years, cause 6-6 points don’t grow on trees. By the looks of how the season has started the money for the Wiggins sweeps stakes has to go to Boston. They have only played the Raptors, Bucks and Pistons and been flogged each time with their best scorer Green not putting up good numbers while playing the 2.

  4. Courtney says:

    I going to skip the articles and just focus on the highlight vids for the first month and a half. Results after 2-3 games into the season doesn’t mean anything… Geez!

  5. Zac says:

    76ers are clearly tanking, as all the wise guys said, tanking as in ‘let’s build a team like an invincible tank”

  6. underdog says:

    I love underdog stories.. 76ers, 3-0 76ersanity!!

  7. Potatohead says:

    Goran Dragic will bring the Suns to the finals… thats right the Dragon will prevail

  8. Alex says:

    watch the 76ers gets a 8th spot by accident lol,

  9. John says:

    Hey Clipps89, lemme guess, you’re expecting the Clippers to be in the Finals? :/ You guys have as good a shot as the Suns. LOL

  10. John says:

    Also, NBA.com your commenting system is terribly flawed. It always seems to get frozen, can’t highlights the text, can’t type new text, can’t do anything. Please fix it.

  11. sebasuns34 says:

    how much hate can a couple teams have? the Suns are lost most of the players and they are playing with miles plumbe (starter), a guy who barely play last season, also added e bleadsoe, and g green also not starters last seasons, basicly are a bunch of unknown players trying to make something happend. So far so good, stop hating.

  12. clipps89 says:

    yea sure great teams after 2 GAMES.. Phoenix vs 76ers Finals..

  13. paco says:

    steve suns won the portland game…

  14. Martin says:

    Yea we’ll see more in a month or two, but im not betting that those teams are going to maintain the high records.

  15. dustydreamnz says:

    I think the Suns have played really well and I like the look of J Hornacek as coach, he won’t put up with any rubbish. We will know more in a month or so. Early days but there doesn’t seem to be a lot of ‘easy beats’ this year.

  16. Jim says:

    “At a glance, you’d say they stink at it, if they’re dueling ambitions are to finish…” it’s “their” and not “they are”… little more effort please.

    • justsayin says:

      I hear ya, Jim. The entire internet seems to think spell check obviates the need for editors.
      I feel like I’m witnessing the genocide of my beloved language, sometimes.

  17. Martin says:

    Now i see a lot of teams almost using almost as an excuse just saying their in rebuilding.

  18. mike says:

    seriously? After 2 games? really? I mean I guess you could say philly is off to a good start with a win vs miami.. But the suns barely beat the struggling blazers and the joke that is the utah jazz..

  19. Just because a team is rebuilding, does not mean they are purposefully trying to tank an entire season. Just watching the Phoenix Suns’ demeanor on the court you can tell they have invested a lot of their time into disciplining themselves this offseason. The Suns have been weeding out a lot of the has-beens that have only produced mediocrity in the last few years. They have now built a group of young, energetic guys that they can experiment with to find who will produce the best results. By no means they are giving up. Sure they may not have the depth or experience to compete with Lebron for the title, but if they put together a group of guys that come out and compete each night that will be even more rewarding. Hence the reason they have stockpiled 4 first round draft picks next year. iIf anything, their chances of getting a good draft pick rely on the failure of other teams. I don’t think there is any worse they can do than last year. They finished at the bottom of the western conference and still only wound up with the 5th pick. The teams that “sand-bag” or “tank” are the ones that actually have talent and let it sit on the bench or have nondescript lingering injuries. Not the teams that give it everything they got.

  20. D53 says:

    I guess 2 games make a season.
    I will wait to see their records after November.

  21. mark says:

    Hey Steve, I have a question for you: Is Nowheresville, Now Heres Ville or No Wheres Ville? Because, for Phoenix and Philadelphia it seems like they might be “Now Here”.