will teams voluntarily forfeit matches for Victor Wembanyama?

Victor Wembanyama, Boulogne-Levallois player, against ADA Blois on October 21, 2022. EMMANUEL DUNAND / AFP

NBA teams tend to skip their seasons in order to have the No. 1 pick in the next draft and thus recruit Frenchman Victor Vembanyama. Heresy?

This is a matter the NBA takes very seriously. “We warned them that we will be especially careful this year“, – the big boss of the American basketball league warned Adam Silver in front of the microphone.ESPN in October. This issue? This is the “tank”, the fact of losing voluntarily (but not too badly) during the season. Because the lower the team ranks in the NBA, the higher the chances of the first pick in the draft at the beginning of the summer. And this season, one young man is fueling the tanking craze: Victor Wembanyama.

I know many NBA teams are salivating at the thought of a recoveryAdam Silver, a Frenchman from Boulogne-Levallua, smiled. Facade smile. The draft system theoretically allows for balancing the forces of the championship. Less good teams recruit the best youngsters and end up resurgent. But those with soft bellies or a little underbelly can resign themselves to a chance at the title.

Tank, a long-term vision

They see the value of positioning for the next project, not immediate wins. Journalist Tania Ganguly explains New York Times. They would defend themselves by saying that the goal is long-term development.“But”losing is not in the spirit of sportsJacques Monclar, a consultant, laments bein SportsNBA broadcaster in France.

How can tanking be realized? Often this happens through transfers. The team will let go of its best players and retain high-potential youngsters even if they haven’t yet reported wins. “You have to play to win Jacques remembers Monks. But if you don’t have players who can win…“Some teams will rest their stars at the end of the season, if they don’t have a chance to qualify for the playoffs.

A draft lottery to solve the problem

The main question remains: is tanking a myth or a reality? “There is a bit of both balance Jacques Monks. This is becoming less and less of a reality.“In March 2018, French fullback Evan Fournier, then in Orlando, was clear on the matter on Twitter:”players never tank.Evidence at the beginning of the season. “Everyone thought the Utah Jazz would tank after trading Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert, but they started the season with 3 wins.“, Tania Ganguly emphasizes. San Antonio Spurs, one of the weakest teams on paper, have won 3 of the first 4 games.

It’s too early to guarantee that Utah, San Antonio and others won’t tank at the end of the season. And anyway, there’s no guarantee it will pay off. The NBA has put limits on this image-eating evil. His first response was to reform the draft lottery. Through 2019, the team with the worst win/loss ratio has a 25% chance of getting the No. 1 pick, the second-worst has a 19% chance, and so on. As of 2019, the three worst teams each have a 14% chance of getting the No. 1 pick. “I, with a 14% chance, will not sacrifice my image in front of fans, media and other players.Jacques Monclar says.

Every year in May, a month before the draft, the lottery determines the way NBA teams select new players. JEFF HAYNES/Getty Images via AFP

A team can capture a tank and still miss Victor Vembanyama“, Tania Ganguly. The NBA’s second answer to tanking is the famous “play-in tournament”. Previously, teams from 1st to 8th place in each conference (East and West) advanced to the playoffs. From 2020 there only the top 6 teams go.7th-10th place teams compete in a mini-tournament for the remaining tickets.Teams that rekindle interest in fighting to the end for soft snow.

That certainly won’t stop teams from fighting for Victor Vembanyama. “This is a nice compliment to Victor, very helpful“, emphasizes Jacques Monclar, a former player with 201 picks for the Blues. Adam Silver even threatened with humor to establish a lower league system with the G-League, a championship in which the reserve teams of NBA franchises develop. “It wouldn’t make sense neutralized. There is no perfect solution, but we continue to believe the project is the right way to renew our championship.Many NBA leaders across the Atlantic are convinced: The team that hosts Wembanyama will be upset.

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