Thanks for tanking. Now please don’t do it again.
Say what you will about the Suns’ much-debated strategy but in the end, it landed them maybe the best player in this draft. The one many Suns fans wanted all along: Josh Jackson.
Suddenly, losing all those games and resting a healthy Eric Bledsoe and Tyson Chandler doesn’t seem so bad now, does it?
On the night of the draft lottery the Suns plan of tanking – or what Ryan McDonough referred to as “strategically resting” players — looked flawed.
Holding the second-best odds, the Suns fell outside of the top three. Visions of Lonzo Ball or Markelle Fultz or Jackson evaporated like water on Phoenix concrete in June and the hundreds of fans gathered for the party moaned in despair.
A fan base used to being second best cried out in the usual anguish.
“The system was rigged,” they cried.
The Suns have the worst luck at this. All that losing for nothing.
But in the end, thanks in part to a workout Jackson canceled with the Boston Celtics and the Celtics trade down to No. 3, the Suns were in a unique position to grab a player that they desperately needed and the fan base embraced almost immediately.
Of all of us at Arizona Sports, I believe I was the host most in favor of the tasteless tanking. I looked at it through the eyes of a blackjack player. When you’re dealt an 11 the book says you almost always double down. You may win, you may lose, but that’s the play. Go with the odds and give yourself the best chance to maximize your bet.
When the Suns season turned south in late January, in a year featuring one of the best drafts of the last decade, they doubled down on their 11. It was the right play. Maybe they weren’t dealt a face card on lottery night but in the end, the dealer busted anyway.
Now…time to walk away from the table.
For me, tanking was always a one-year proposition. A one-time deal with the devil that was reflective more of the talent in this draft than anything else. At this point they have enough young talent, future picks and cap space that they shouldn’t have to do it again.
It was the right move to make but hardly enjoyable for your fans, coaches and players. Especially the ones who had to sit night after night with their pride no doubt wounded.
Job well done, Phoenix Suns. Just don’t do it again.
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