What Is Tanking In Basketball?

Tanking In Basketball

Tanking is a term used in basketball to describe teams intentionally losing games to gain better draft picks and improve their team. It’s a controversial tactic, as it goes against the competitive spirit of the game and raises questions about whether it’s fair for teams to try and lose on purpose.

The concept of tanking has been around since the National Basketball Association (NBA) began. Teams that tanked were usually struggling financially, so they opted to trade away their star players or let them walk during free agency while at the same time stockpiling young talent through draft picks. This strategy allowed them to rebuild quickly with young talent while also getting higher picks in future drafts due to their poor record. This practice has been heavily criticized by fans and players alike, as it undermines the integrity of competition within the league.

Is It Illegal To Tank In The NBA?

Is It Illegal To Tank?
Tanking in Basketball

Although tanking isn’t explicitly illegal, it can have serious repercussions for teams caught doing it. The NBA has specific rules related to competitive integrity designed to prevent teams from tanking, such as salary caps and trading restrictions . If a team is found guilty of breaking these rules, they could be fined, stripped of draft picks, banned from post-season play, or even have players suspended. Therefore, while tanking itself may not be illegal per se, any blatant attempts at manipulating the system can have consequences for those involved.

Why Is It Called Tanking?

Why It Called Tanking

Tanking got its name from the association between an NBA team purposely losing games to get a higher draft pick. This strategy of doing whatever it takes to get better players or prospects—even if that means sacrificing wins—has become known as tanking.

Is Tanking In Basketball Match-Fixing?

Is Tanking Match-Fixing
Tanking Match-Fixing

Match-fixing is a term most often associated with sports betting and gambling, and it involves players or officials manipulating the outcome of a game to benefit themselves financially. With tanking, however, teams are not trying to achieve any financial gain but rather an opportunity at a higher draft pick which would give them better odds at success in the future.

Reasons Tanking Must Be Eliminated In The NBA:

Unfair To Fans:

Unfair Basketball fans

NBA fans have long voiced their displeasure with teams they believe are “tanking,” meaning they’re deliberately losing games to improve their chances of getting a higher draft pick. Tanking devalues the product that fans pay money to watch. A fan might buy tickets expecting an exciting game between two competitive teams only to find out that one team is not trying to win. It also diminishes the intensity of rivalries since one team’s players or coaches may not be as interested in beating their opponent if they don’t feel like there’s anything at stake.

Unfair Advantage:

Unfair Advantage
Unfair Advantage In Basketball

Tanking in the NBA gives teams an unfair advantage when rebuilding their roster via the draft lottery system. Teams with poor records have a much higher chance of obtaining a top draft pick by losing more games than winning them. This encourages teams to lose intentionally—a practice deemed “tanking”—rather than compete for wins each season. It creates an uneven playing field and puts teams trying to develop young talent in an unsustainable spot over time.

Pointless In The NBA:

Pointless In NBA
Pointless NBA

Tanking does not guarantee success, as teams do not know which players will become successful when drafted. Even if a team can land a top pick, there is no guarantee that the player will reach his full potential or that the team can build around him correctly. Additionally, tanking incentivizes franchises to give up on seasons before they even begin, decreasing competitive gameplay and decreasing viewership and overall interest in the sport.

How Can Tanking Be Eliminated In The NBA?

Draft Lottery System:

The National Basketball Association (NBA) has tried various methods to eliminate tanking, such as creating a draft lottery system that randomly selects which team gets the first overall pick, thus removing any incentive for teams to lose games intentionally.

Softer Salary Cap:

The NBA also introduced a softer salary cap, allowing teams more flexibility and resources when signing players in free agency or trade than ever before. This should reduce the need for teams to rely on high draft picks to acquire talent.


Basketball Tanking Meaning
What Is Tanking In Basketball-Infographic


Tanking in basketball is an issue that can have negative repercussions for the NBA and its fans. Teams that tank does so to increase their chances of earning a higher draft pick and, thus, a better player. However, this tactic can lead to lower attendance, decreased fan interest, and damage the trust between teams and their fan base. Additionally, it can be difficult to tell whether or not teams are intentionally tanking due to the lack of transparency within the process.