UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

To Tank or Not to Tank

Mike Conley and Marc Gasol of the Memphis Grizzlies are beginning to age out. What will the team do moving forward?

Mike Conley and Marc Gasol of the Memphis Grizzlies are beginning to age out. What will the team do moving forward?

To tank or not to tank—that is the honest question many NBA teams have to ask themselves, especially teams out of the Playoffs picture.

What about the ones in the Playoffs spotlight? The Toronto Raptors have their guard duo, which brings them much regular season joy, the Memphis Grizzlies have a gracefully aging superstar in Marc Gasol, and the LA Clippers have their sturdy frontcourt, but they are not really competing. It’s a “pseudo-competitor” look that these teams have going on since they don’t really have a shot at a title. They aren’t bad enough to look like the Phoenix Suns, either. These teams—the Raptors, the Grizzlies, and the Clippers—need to start tanking and start tanking now.

The Toronto Raptors exhume a facade of greatness. Third in offensive ratings and ninth in defensive ratings, there really is no suffering on either end of the floor. Between Demar Derozan and Kyle Lowry, they lead the team in points, assists, steals, and are second in rebounds behind their center.

The workload is all on their shoulders, yet their age prevents their carrying from being sustainable. Derozan is 28, smack in the middle of his prime, but he is an inconsistent scorer from the three which is vital for today’s play. Lowry is an unathletic guard at the age of 31. From a contractual sense, once their contracts are over, they’d both leave room for direct contenders. The Raptors need to take their chances and trade the two stars at their peaks instead of waiting for them to leave with nothing to show for.

Similar to the Derozan and Lowry age situation, Gasol is actually further up in the age department.

When the Memphis Grizzlies got rid of Zach Randolph, there was an assumption that the roster would be blown up. Unfortunately, it wasn’t. Realistically speaking, how does this team intend on convincing an aging superstar to stay when the coaching staff is constantly being switched alongside supporting players? Mike Conley is the only crux for Gasol staying, and he’s even 30.

If the Grizzlies were to trade both Conley and Gasol for picks, they would get unbelievable value back. With that in mind, sprinkle in the fact that they are 24th in offensive rating and 14th in defensive rating, the blowing up of this roster is not out of question and may be the smarter decision.

There seems to be an issue with older players as the team leaders. The LA Clippers have gone from legitimate Finals contenders to questionable Playoffs contenders in one season after Chris Paul decided to move to Houston. This should have been a sign to the Clippers to bust down their roster. With the loss of Paul, the man that was essentially carrying the team, Griffin and Jordan had to fill the void. Although they are playing with their career average numbers, it isn’t helping anything at all. The Clippers have a frontcourt with one-sided attitudes—Griffin plays offense and no defense while Deandre Jordan plays vice versa. However, swap out one of them to the Cleveland Cavaliers and you get a solid Brooklyn Nets pick and maybe more.

In today’s NBA, it’s really a star’s league. However, if you don’t give these stars the necessary parameters, the game becomes a state of purgatory—a hard game to get rid of.

These three teams—the Raptors, the Grizzlies, and the Clippers—are lucky. They have the ability to switch things around. Any later, they are going to be in rising waters for the next 10 years.