Draft

Why the Rockets must embrace the tank in 2022-23, and it’s not about Victor Wembanyama

N.B. Lindberg
Metropolitans 92 v G League Ignite
Metropolitans 92 v G League Ignite / Steve Marcus/GettyImages
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5 reasons the Rockets shouldn’t tank

Before we get into why the Rockets should tank, I want to present and address some of the reasons I’ve seen why they should not try to tank.  

1. We lost the most games in the league the past two seasons
2. We want to build a winning culture
3. We already have our championship core
4. The lottery odds at best give us a 14% chance at first overall
5. Are we just going to tank forever?

As a fan of the Rockets, it’s understandable why some of these are concerns. Being the first team in history to have a losing three-peat would suck, but it’s also an irrelevant bit of trivia. Sure, some Thunder fans will be annoying on Twitter. Just return the favor in a few seasons when they’re getting ousted by the Rockets in the playoffs. 

I’m also a bit dubious of the idea that you build a winning culture only by winning. Winning is a result, and culture is a process. A true winning culture can be built no matter your record, and winning actual games can sometimes mask a losing culture.

The “we already have our championship core” crowd is what makes fanbases great, but also what makes them really bad fake general managers. Fans should believe in their guys, but the reality is that guys get hurt, and not everyone continues to develop or was that good in the first place. 

Yes, the lottery odds have been flattened, and the best the Rockets can do is a 14% chance at the first pick, but that’s just one side of the equation. The real benefit of finishing with the worst record is the worst you can do is the fifth pick. Tanking doesn’t necessarily maximize your draft upside, but it does mitigate your downside. 

Finally, the Rockets won't tank forever. Three years of rebuilding is not long. It might feel like a long time for Rockets fans, but that's simply because they're spoiled. Take it from a Wizards fan. Three years of tanking is nothing.

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