Warriors owner insists team won’t tank for the best pick in NBA Draft: ‘We don’t believe in that’

It’s been a strange season in the Bay Area. Kevin Durant is gone, Steph Curry and Klay Thompson have missed most or all of the season, and after five straight trips to the NBA Finals and three championships, the Golden State Warriors have the worst record in the league coming out of the All-Star break. 

At 12-43, they have no chance of making the playoffs, and are in danger of submitting their worst season in over a decade. The upside, though, is that they are going to get a high draft pick for their trouble, and may even come away with the No. 1 overall pick. With just a few months left on the schedule, and nothing to play for, tanking to maintain those odds at getting the top pick would be understandable. 

However, owner Joe Lacob insists the team isn’t interested in taking that route. While Thompson is still expected to miss the entire season, Curry is nearing the end of his rehab process and should rejoin the team next month. Via USA Today:

“Steph is coming back. That’s not even a discussion internally,” Lacob said. “He’s ready to play so he should play. By the way, we’ll try to win every game. I’m not really about, ‘Let’s lose every game so we can get the best pick.’ You try to do that, you’re messing with the basketball gods. So we don’t believe in that.”

At this point in the season, the Warriors could have easily just had Curry sit out the rest of the way, a decision that would almost guarantee they finish with one of the three worst records in the league, and thus a 14 percent chance at getting the first pick. The fact that he’s coming back is terrific news for the league and the fans; basketball is just way more fun when he’s a part of the game.

This over-the-top talk from Lacob about basketball gods and how much he hates tanking is a little phony, though. They’re five games worse than the Timberwolves and Knicks, and even with Curry it’s going to be tough to make up that kind of gap over the last six weeks or so when he returns to the lineup. Plus, with the smoothing of the lottery odds, even if they jumped up to say, the fifth-worst record, they’d still have a 10.5 percent chance at the No. 1 pick. 

So while they can boast about how they’re opposed to tanking — by the way, a team owner is never going to say otherwise publicly, and inside the front office there’s no doubt they’re thrilled about the potential to add another top-tier talent to this team — the truth is that it doesn’t matter at this point. 

This is a lost season for them and they’re going to get a high pick, maybe even the first one. And with that certainty locked in, it makes it a lot easier for them to bring back Curry and get on their high horse about how much they hate something they’re guaranteed to benefit from. 

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