Tanking: intentionally losing in order to improve draft position.
After my PhD buddy Chris and I circulated our findings that NBA teams tank a lot, we’ve been asked a few times, “Which teams are tanking?” Today I offer a quick look at teams that have likely tanked.
First, a refresher: we measure tanking by comparing performance before and after playoff-eliminated teams “clinch” their lottery spot. In the last couple games of the season, many teams lock in their spot, so they no longer have an incentive to lose. Those games act as our control. The problem with doing it this way is that some tankers may keep trying to lose even after they clinch their spot. This could happen because teams shut down star players because of “injury” or just because teams develop a habit of losing.
So, the big caveat with the results below (and the results in our paper) is that we are almost certainly missing some tankers. Some teams Continue reading