Philadelphia 76ers: Is tanking worth it?

The Philadelphia 76ers season up until this point has been an absolute disaster.  Before the beginning of the year, the Sixers were predicted to finish last in the league and they are close to it.

Even though record-wise they are not in last place, they certainly deserve it based on the way they have played over the past couple of months.  The only reason the Sixers are not in last is because the Milwaukee Bucks are just as bad as they are.

The Sixers are making history in every game they play, but not for the right reasons.  They have currently lost 26 games in a row, as their loss last night against the Houston Rockets has tied them for the longest losing streak ever in the NBA.

Their losing streak is currently tied with the same skid the Cleveland Cavaliers had back in 2010-2011.

The Sixers will look to end the streak Saturday night when they head home to take on the Detroit Pistons.  These teams have faced one another three times this season, and Detroit has won each game by double digits.

The Sixers have set themselves up for failure by simply assembling a team that has no chance to compete in the NBA.  General Manager Sam Hinkie believes that this was the right approach to take, but he is taking a big gamble by doing so.

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The reason the Sixers have thrown away this season is because they hope to get the first or second pick in this summer’s draft.  With all of the great players coming out, it appears to be a good strategy.

Even though they have been playing for next season, Sixers fans should not necessarily get their hopes up.  The reason being is that tanking to finish last does not guarantee a top three pick.


Based off of how a team finishes during the regular season only determines where they will stand in the draft lottery.  The team that finishes last has a 25% chance of getting the number one pick, the second worst has a 19.9% chance, and the third worst team has a 15.6% chance.

Realistically, the worst three teams in the league have the best chance to get the first selection.  However, there has been numerous times in recent years that none of the bottom three teams have won the number one overall pick.

Since the draft lottery began back in 1990, the team that finished last has only received the number one pick just two times (New Jersey Nets (1990), Orlando Magic (2004)). 

Dating back to 2004, the Orlando Magic previously held the league’s worst record and were lucky to get the number one pick.  They made the most of their selection by picking center Dwight Howard.

There have been nine other drafts since 2004 and none of them were kind to the teams that had the worst record the season before.  During these nine drafts, the league’s worst team has gotten the number one pick 0 times, number two pick 5 times, number three pick 1 time, and the fourth pick 3 times.

These numbers do not seem too promising for the team that finishes last.  Even though the worst team in the league should receive the number one pick, the lottery was introduced to give all teams an opportunity and to prevent a team from tanking to get the first selection.

The Sixers organization has taken a huge risk when it comes to completely throwing away a season for at most, a 25% chance to pick first.  There is no question that the Sixers had to go into rebuild mode, but it should not have been at the expense of being one of the worst teams the NBA has ever seen. 

Based on the numbers, the Sixers should not get any lower than the number four pick.  However, due to the way the season has unfolded, the number four pick will not be satisfying for the Sixers.

Sam Hinke has put himself and the Sixers franchise in a tough position by seemingly tanking the season.  For both Hinke and the Sixers fans, they need a little bit of luck for this horrific season to have been worth it.

Read more about Sixers news and opinions on our Philadelphia 76ers page

  • Alex

    Sixers are going in the right direction. Lots of folks are criticizing Sam Hinkie simply because they do not undesrtand what he is doing. The days of building a mediocre sixers team by traditional clueless GMs and coaches are over. advanced analytic rules.