After trading Monta Ellis for Andrew Bogut back in 2012, it became so clear that the Golden State Warriors would not be winning enough games to make the playoffs that tanking was truly the only option.
The most memorable moment for me was the final game of the season against the San Antonio Spurs on April 26, 2012. The Spurs didn’t need to win so Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobli, and Tony Parker were inactive while a young Kawhi Leonard just didn’t play. The Warriors didn’t want to win because another win would put them at a greater risk of losing their 2012 draft pick (click here for more about that). The Warriors’ commitment to losing included finishing the game with a lineup of Chris Wright, Jeremy Tyler, Malcolm Gladness, Mikki Moore, and Dominic McGuire.
Oh, by the way, by “finishing the game” I mean playing out the final 14 minutes of the game without substitutions despite having Charles Jenkins and Klay Thompson available. Don’t see a point guard there? There wasn’t, but don’t sleep on McGuire’s ball handling skills! They were actually up by four with 7:39 left! Yet fatigue eventually set in and they lost by six.
Anyway, I bring that up because I was at our beloved Oracle Arena for that game and sat there laughing through most of the fourth quarter. I mean, it was obvious what they needed to do and the game was beyond meaningless. So all there was really left to do was laugh. It was an ugly time, it included some brutal games, and there were some ridiculous moments when folks were openly rooting for the team to miss shots in late games. And ... well ... it was ultimately all for the opportunity to draft Harrison Barnes, who is now one of the most overpaid players in the league and a supposedly steadying force for a losing team.
Sometimes you just have to find the humor in these dark moments.
One way we did that here at Golden State of Mind, once the team’s commitment to tanking was clear, was converting the Warrior Wonder poll into the “Tank Commander” poll — celebrating the person who did the most to contribute to the tanking effort ... or ... the least to win the game. I remember it being kinda funny behind the scenes as we tried to find different ways to represent the tanking process with various images, eventually eschewing the militaristic image of the armored tank and using more benign imagery like a fish tank or sensory deprivation tank.
I still laugh at the fact that OlympicMike even found a “TankTrain” for one of our GameThreads.
Anyway, we didn’t start doing that until really late into the 2011-12 season and it wasn’t until the need to do so was very obvious — the circumstances didn’t become quite so clear until after the team traded Ellis for an injured Bogut.
This season, though?
It’s too early for this team to tank right now. It’s too early to really advocate that a professional team should so openly tank at this point in the season. I mean, the team is 2-8 anyway and there’s no reason to expect a team to compete for the playoffs without Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and (for the time being) Draymond Green. In 538’s latest 2019-20 season predictions, the Warriors only have a 4% chance of making the playoffs. If that seems high, consider that it’s the fourth-lowest chance in the league — things happen, Curry could come back in enough time to turn things around and maybe Thompson could come back, but the playoffs feel like a longshot for a team that can’t seem to defend anyone.
Our priority should be the development of these young guys — wins are starting to seem seem sort of ancillary. Honestly, I just want to see someone defend consistently. And as a long-time Warriors fan, I am still on a bit of a high after seeing the team make five straight Finals — I won’t be hurt by the familiarity of a losing season. So even if the team doesn’t openly tank, some people are already in a “fan tank” mode, as Sleepy Freud describes it — rooting for the team to play hard _and_ pile up losses to improve their lottery position along the way. Regardless of whether we root for it, that’s basically what’s happening anyway...
What do you think? Is it time to bring back the Tank Commander instead of the Warrior Wonder? Do you think it’s too soon to give up on the playoffs? How are you dealing with the ugly losses after five years at or near the top?
Vote in the poll below and let us know what you think in the comments.
Warrior Wonder or Tank Commander?
This poll is closed
Why not do both?
YOU THINK THIS IS A GAME?!?! THIS TEAM NEEDS TO GET THEIR ACT TOGETHER!!!!