Why the Rockets must embrace the tank in 2022-23, and it’s not about Victor Wembanyama
A discourse on Rockets’ Twitter has devolved over the merits of tanking the 2022-23 season or pushing to win every last game. The spark of this contension is a 7’4 french teenager by the name of Victor Wembanyama.
Wembanyama does not seem of this world. He is taller and longer than everyone. Yet he moves gracefully and has a skill level usually associated with players a foot shorter. The belief around the league is that health permitting Wembanyama will be a transformative player akin to LeBron James, Michael Jordan, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. It's almost a guarantee at this point that the only way to get him is to land the first pick in the 2023 NBA draft.
According to reporting by ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, an NBA team president believes the addition of Wembanyama could add $500 million to the value of a franchise. Bill Simmons went as far as to say that it would add a clean billion. Even if those estimates are far off, the sentiment still stands, this is a special type of player.
Prospects like Wembanyama are the reason why the NBA smoothed the NBA draft lottery odds in the first place. If the worst team was guaranteed the first overall pick, an unspeakable number of teams would not clear double-digit wins.
The stakes are very real for the Rockets in 2022-23. In a reductive sense, every loss brings them closer to Wembanyama, and every win pushes them farther away. Yet, Wembanyama isn’t the only reason why the Rockets should tank.