Last night, the Phoenix Suns officially entered the tanking race by trading Marcin Gortat, Shannon Brown, and Courtney Lee to the Washington Wizards for the expiring contract of Emeka Okafor and a first round pick in the upcoming 2014 draft.
The Suns, while not only letting the floor entirely drop out from underneath them, have the chance to end up with four first-round picks (from the Timberwolves, Wizards, and Pacers, which all have some sort of protection) in a draft widely regarded as one of the deepest ever.
All of a sudden, discussion around the NBA has evolved from 'Which team is better?', to 'Which team can tank better?' While it's funny to think about teams doing their damnedest to lose a lot, the only issue is: there is no right and wrong way to tank.
There's no denying that picking well is key to putting together a championship caliber team, as many of the league's best teams have been compiled through several years of June drafts. But intentionally having sparse talent on roster in order to select young, collegiate and foreign talent is something that has only been talked about, and never done.
That was until Sam Hinkie and Ryan McDonough came along.
Throughout early centuries, people always imagined mankind eventually taking to the sky. None were exactly sure how to do it, or even if it could be accomplished, but the prospect of human flight was always something that had everyone talking.
That was until Wilbur and Orville Wright came along in 1903, and created and flew the first plane ever.
In some way, Hinkie and McDonough are pioneers like the Wright brothers were. Both realized that the only way to separate themselves from the middle of the pack is to get worse before you can get better. The draft gives them the opportunity to do that. Tanking is something that has been prior discussed only as a theoretical; these two general managers are actually doing it, just like the Wright brothers.
Hinkie and McDonough have their own planes, and they're crashing them right into the ground before re-building them and flying high.
Getting the top pick is pure luck, and because of that, there is no way one team can tank right while other is doing it wrong. What's important is that the Sixers and Suns are doing something that has only been talked about, never attempted, and changing the way the NBA works in the process.