If you frequent any website that covers sports, you’ve heard of Power Rankings. These rankings are mostly subjective and change frequently throughout a season based on how each team is trending.
For this version, cleverly named the NBA Power Tankings. It is the same concept, just in reverse. With just two weeks left in the season, the battle of the tanks is going to be a nail biter, with a Shaq-sized handful of teams attempting to play their worst basketball of the season.
The difference between this list and tankathon.com is that this considers more than just current record. To determine rankings, strength of schedule remaining, injuries, recent results, and roster makeup is considered. The most important thing of these rankings is to determine which teams are the best at losing.
Without further ado, our lead tank is…
1. Pheonix Suns
The beauty of the Phoenix tank is that their roster is basically healthy, the players are just bad. With Alan Williams as the only player listed on the injury report, the roster is full of regular rotation players. Oh, and Williams has only played one game this season. Phoenix does have a legit scorer in Devin Booker and a couple of young pieces in Marquese Chriss and Dragan Bender that look to have decent NBA futures.
Phoenix runs away with the number one spot, though, in terms of their recent trend and strength of schedule remaining for the season. The Suns are 1-22 in their last 23, their only win coming in Memphis (of course). The schedule for Phoenix definitely falls in their favor as well (minus their season-ender against Dallas), the Suns have two contests against Golden State and one against Houston left on the schedule. At least its warm there, I guess.
The difference between the Suns and the Grizzlies is that Phoenix will most likely be bad for the next two or three seasons. The Grizzlies derailed quickly this season, but could potentially pull it all together next season depending on a few off season moves. The foundation in Memphis is solid on paper, but fragile in health, which is the reason that the tank has shown in full force this season. Memphis has also embraced the tank by signing multiple players to 10-day contracts as a mini-tryout for off season consideration.
The Memphis Grizzlies just lost a game by 61 points. The Grizzlies are an NBA basketball team.— Andy Bailey (@AndrewDBailey) March 23, 2018
The Grizzlies are also 3-4 in the last seven, which could end up biting them to close the season. In this year’s lottery race, every loss is important. The Memphis schedule to end the season consists of one game against Portland and one against the OKC Thunder. Playoff teams will be resting players to close the season, so that could be a detriment for the Grizzlies. In good news, the Grizzlies are somewhat watchable of recent, but still truly terrible.
This may come as a surprise since the Kings are currently five games out of the top lottery spot, but Sacramento’s schedule is prime for a last push towards being the worst. They end the season with matchups with Indiana (fighting for home court advantage), Golden State (who couldn’t even intentionally lose to Sacramento), Phoenix and Memphis (both teams will be hard to lose to, but its possible), and San Antonio and Houston (playoff teams that Sacramento just won’t beat).
Unfortunately for Kings fans, there are not enough games left in the season to reach the top spot unless Phoenix or Memphis decided to win-streak to the finish. The Kings do have a good shot at getting in the top three though, and this schedule and roster are Taylor-made for the late push.
Brooklyn has to be careful in their last two weeks...
Sike. They don’t own their pick. They’re just bad.
They are 3-6 in their last nine, with D’Angelo Russell is finally shaping into form. It will take a concerted effort by the Nets to pull out a top three spot for Cleveland in lottery odds because of the matchups against Orlando and two against Chicago, but games versus Detroit (trying for a late push into the playoffs), Philadelphia (trying to maintain home court advantage), and Milwaukee (trying to fend off the Pistons) could help their cause.
The Atlanta tank has been strong all season, but can never get over the humps that Pheonix and Memphis have created. Recently, ATL has suffered through some injury issues, especially to their team leading scorer in Dennis Schroder. His absence is the key to their late push toward the top lottery spot. He is nursing an ankle injury that the Hawks would be smart to continue to evaluate “day-to-day”. The Hawks also have one of the most favorable schedules to finish the season because of the status of their opponents.
Aside from one matchup against the lowly Orlando Magic, the rest of the schedule is full of teams that need wins for playoff seeding. These games are perfect for tanking because the Hawks won’t have to try very hard to lose. Atlanta has played well in their last month of basketball, just two wins to show for it but they haven’t been blown out hardly at all and consistently scored at a high clip. They have as good a shot as anyone to land the top spot.
6. Orlando Magic
One big separation for the Magic is that they are very well coached. With just hints and flashes of real talent, coach Frank Vogel can take this team from tragic to decent. Unfortunately, there isn’t much to work with on this team. Aaron Gordon has had a mini-breakout season and Evan Fournier is a legit scorer. Jonathon Simmons has under-produced after leaving the Spurs and the hyped pick coming into this season, Jonathan Isaac, has battled injuries all season. When looking at the close of the season, the Magic face other tanks on their way to lottery glory.
Brooklyn, Chicago, and Dallas all come to town. A trip to Atlanta is also in the mix. Contests against Milwaukee, Washington, and Toronto are guaranteed losses, but if the Magic aren’t careful they will have a .500 record on their hands to end the season. They have already shown signs of improvement in recent weeks, they are 2-3 in their last five. Orlando looks like they may win their way out of the lottery elite.
Dallas feels like they should be better than they are. With one of the best coaches in the game, a scoring threat in Harrison Barnes, and a shooter in Wesley Matthews, the core seems legit enough to add a few more wins. When considering the roster and coach, tanking all the way to the top doesn’t seem likely. They are also 4-6 in their last ten, with an overtime loss at Toronto. In that stretch they won three of four as well. In this year’s tanking race, that’s just unacceptable.
The Mavs also have a pretty average tanking schedule for the remainder of the season. They will lose most of the games, but could squeak out wins against the Lakers, Orlando, and close the season with Phoenix. The Mavs are already 4.5 games from the top spot, and adding a few wins to that could pull them farther away.
The Bulls are the last of the bottom feeders that have a legitimate shot at landing in the top three picks. The chances are slim already, but if this team decides to all-out tank the last eight games, they may have a shot at increasing their chances to grabbing a top three pick. Chicago is facing a few injuries, but no one that will have that much effect on the outcome of their games. Chicago has been irrelevant much of the year, and that includes in the tank conversation. Unfortunately, they have been stuck on the outside of the playoffs and the lottery race.
For more rain on the parade, they face Brooklyn twice and Orlando once to close out the season. Those are likely wins, which will be too little too late for this team. It was a good try Chicago, but you just aren’t bad enough.
The rest of the league is basically out of question for a top three lottery pick. With eight teams in contention for the best odds, the NBA has inadvertently created an intriguing close to the season for both playoff seeding and lottery placement. There are just two weeks left in the 2017-18 season, it’s crunch time for these tanks, expect blowout losses and terrible basketball.