Resting players – both in preparation for the playoffs and in order to improve draft position – has been the talk of the NBA lately, but Colin Cowherd had a warning on Friday’s “The Herd” for teams that are losing games on purpose, particularly the Los Angeles Lakers. It rarely leads to anything good.
Gary A. VasquezGary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
The Suns, Lakers and 76ers are racing to the bottom
Colin: “So last night something interesting happened, the Phoenix Suns lineup was the youngest in NBA history. This is what Philadelphia, the Lakers … Phoenix has been doing … this tanking thing the last couple of years.
“If you look at the age of Thursday’s lineup for the Suns it was younger than Xavier, Kansas, Arizona, Michigan, Oregon, West Virginia and Gonzaga. Only Purdue was younger (among Thursday’s Sweet 16 teams).”
Magic Johnson has his eyes on Lonzo Ball
Colin: So basically the Phoenix Suns have done this tanking thing. Here’s what’s really interesting. … The Lakers decide we’re going to bench our veterans, trade Lou Williams, and we’re going to lose these games.
“Here’s the connection to Lonzo Ball: Shaq is getting a statue at the Lakers game tonight. Magic won’t be there because he’s going to be watching Lonzo Ball at UCLA-Kentucky. If you’re a UCLA fan and you’re a Lakers fan, here’s the dilemma: You want UCLA to win, right? But if Lonzo Ball is great tonight and UCLA wins, then Lonzo is going to be the No. 1 pick.”
Lonzo Ball could play himself out of the Lakers' plans
Colin: “If Lonzo wins a couple more games, you UCLA-Lakers fans, you have a 19 percent change to have the No. 1 pick. The Lakers have a 50 percent chance, roughly, to get a top three, but it diminishes down to 19 percent to get a No. 1. …
“When you watch UCLA-Kentucky tonight, Kentucky’s got the players and there’s no way UCLA should have the best offense in college basketball in a decade. That is a Lonzo Ball thing, it’s not a Steve Alford’s kid thing. So if Lonzo just goes off tonight, the problem being is he’s moving up and up and up from a four to a three to a one, and your chances diminish greatly.”
USA TODAY SportsKelley L Cox
Impact rookies are incredibly rare
Colin: “That’s the thing about tanking. Remember, the last year that a rookie came into the NBA and had a significant impact was 2003, LeBron and Melo. Melo took the Denver Nuggets from 17 wins to 43. Now, Melo’s career hasn’t become what LeBron’s is, but Melo made an absolute impact in the NBA. He took a bad team and made them a playoff team. And LeBron did the same thing.
“So these rookies, outside of a transformative guy like a LeBron or an occasional Melo, we haven’t had a guy in (13) years come into the league and change it. We haven’t. And what’s happening with Lonzo now is he’s playing so well that I think he’s going to be the No. 1 pick.”
Adam HungerAdam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports
Only the 'it' guys are worth tanking for
Colin: “We like a lot of these college guys, but there’s a really interesting word that puts the fear in general managers, and you heard it about LeBron and you heard it about Ben Simmons.
“There was some discussion for a while about whether to take LeBron No. 1, and people kept saying he’s got it. And there was some discussion about Ben Simmons can’t shoot. His team didn’t even make the tournament last year, remember? Ben Simmons, you can’t make him No. 1. He can’t shoot, hard to coach. But what was the word they kept using about Ben Simmons. He’s got it. …
“That kid in Washington (Markelle Fultz), he’s a good player. But Lonzo Ball, he’s got it. You don’t want to pass on it. Andrew Luck had it. You pass on the it guy, that’s what gets you fired.”
And if the Lakers don't get Lonzo Ball they won't have to tank to continue to be terrible
Colin: “Lonzo wins tonight, takes over that game, he’s moving to No. 1, and that means Lakers, your chances go from 50 percent to 19, and you bring back this lousy team next year.”