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As someone who is purely a fan of the game - just someone who likes good basketball games - and whose hometown team (Sac) hasn't really seen much success winning the draft lottery's prized first or second pick in some time, I can't say that I really agree with this idea for every team. If a team is having an off year with an otherwise good track record of quickly revamping rosters and has one or two complimentary pieces already in place, it seems like vying for a top pick or gutting parts of a roster could make sense (e.g. San Antonio in the late 90s, sans gutting). This is also the case when there is ownership in place that wants to spend a lot of money to put together a championship caliber team but already have intangibles (location, history, some existing role players) that will most likely result in quick turnarounds (Chicago a few years back comes to mind, as does NJ and NY the past few years, though with little success). Otherwise, it's a very dangerous method where fan bases will have to endure long periods of terrible play where their loyalty is essentially hung out to dry. It's not fun to watch perennial losers and the application of tanking/gutting needs to be used sparingly for it to withstand moral righteousness. Sometimes a team may luck out, but then there are other teams that constantly flail while while trying to get to the promised land through chance and high-risk gambling. The Wizards, Bucks, and Raptors can attest to that.
For some of the better organizations in the NBA that have cultivated high expectations through sustained success (Lakers, Celtics, Spurs, Bulls, Knicks, etc.), I agree that tanking/gutting may be a good route once in awhile. However, for the teams with fans who just want to watch competent basketball and especially those close losing their teams due to lack of interest (Bobcats, Kings, Hornets), it's very dangerous and shows that management does not take the interest of the day-in-day-out fans seriously.
Drafting stars are nice, but the Hornets and its fans should not expect another Chris Paul - a rare gem - to save them, especially after management did not appreciate the first coming of their savior enough to remain dedicated to showing him that they'd put a good supporting cast around him. Why should fans expect anything different this time around?
(Also, Dirk was the 9th pick, so I wouldn't think his and the Mavs' story would really apply to the case of the Hornets since a Hornets team with Martin and Gasol could fathomably have received the 9th pick this year and still put a passable product on the court.)
3 years ago on Pursuing Long-Term Bliss Through Short-Term Agony