Kevin Durant trade shows that Spurs chose the perfect time to be bad

Los Angeles Lakers v Brooklyn Nets
Los Angeles Lakers v Brooklyn Nets / Jim McIsaac/GettyImages

I want to get in front of any replies to this article and say that there is a big caveat to this discussion: in 2019, the draft lottery odds were pretty drastically altered. Long gone are the days when the Spurs were able to luck into Tim Duncan with greater than 20% odds (only the third-best odds in ‘97) at the number one pick.

Nowadays, ending up with top three odds (in other words, performing as one of the three worst teams in the league) gives the picking team a 14% shot at #1. But if you’re a Spurs fan with a pulse, you likely know that already. 

Especially during this recent stretch where the good guys have been missing exciting youngster Jeremy Sochan (not to mention Devin Vassell), there is little in the way of hope, with the one glimmer of light being May’s draft lottery. 

Now, that’s not to say there is no reason to watch games anymore. New site expert Noah Magaro-George has been pounding the table about Keldon Johnson’s crazy improvement as a finisher and rookie Malaki Branham has been on a tear as of late.

But the point still stands. The Spurs are bad, and the main source of positivity is looking forward to a highly-drafted rookie. Here’s the spin— given the context, being bad this season is a good thing. This holds even more true following last night’s Woj bomb.

The Kevin Durant trade reveals a lot about the state of the NBA

There are two main facets to this argument. First, teams are handing out first-rounders like crazy. It’s a seller’s market, and the Spurs are one of the only selling teams in the league. 

Some fans won’t be happy with the return on San Antonio’s own mini-blockbuster deal on Wednesday night, but the truth is that getting a lightly protected first for an upcoming unrestricted free agent is good business.

The second leg of my argument is that with the parity that exists in the NBA right now, it’s a great thing that the Spurs have committed to being bad. 12-13 teams in each conference are competing for eight playoff spots. 

Even good teams, like the Pelicans in the Western Conference and the Knicks in the East, aren’t guaranteed to make the playoffs with the risk of losing in the play-in. The two franchise-altering trades that occurred yesterday were made by teams that sit 8.5 (Suns) and 11 games (Lakers) back from first in the west.

The league is just so competitive now. Even the Spurs, a team I’ve been calling “bad” for a couple of hundred words now, threatens in pretty much every game they play in. This tweet from Tom Petrini perfectly encapsulates the Spurs-viewing experience.

I’ll repeat it again— the fourth quarter collapse that always ensues (or the “disintegration,” as Tom calls it) is a good thing long-term. To pull straight from the title of this article, there has never been a better time to be bad/lose games in the NBA.

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