The only way for a small market team to win a title is to get a high draft pick and draft a transcendent talent and ride him to the top!! Amarite??!!
It is a fact!!! I mean everyone knows this already don't they?
Teams do it all the time ....throw away entire seasons (or more) by tanking to get into the lottery ...and then hoping against hope to beat the lottery and grab the number 1 overall draft pick. Unlikely, but hey, if you can beat the odds and it happens for you ....you.are.set.!!
The only problem with this plan is that it isn't true.
Did you know that since 1993 (twenty years ago) only one team has been able to follow this plan ....one! San Antonio. SA tanked ....then won the lottery and selected Duncan #1 overall and went on to win 4 titles. No other team has won a title taking this route...none. Ok ....so the number 1 isn't a magic bullet guaranteeing a title, but that can be chalked up to small sample size I guess. But surely a top 5 pick has brought their team a title, right?? Yes....one more....Dwyane Wade. Over the last twenty years of drafts....only 2 players (well technically 3 but I will cover that in a bit) who were drafted in the top 5 have brought their drafting team a title. That is 100 drafted players ...but only 2 produced titles.....that is a sucky record!! I am not a math wizard, but even I can figure that percentage out.
So what does that mean vis a vis tanking strategy? That it is totally bunk? No not quite....but it is definitely not the panacea that everyone makes it out to be. In fact it is shaping up to be a really poor strategy for team building....the draft is fun...but in the end it looks like it is an effort in futility.
It looks like trading for stars works better....drafting further down works better ....being the LA Lakers works better....drafting top five doesn't work well at all
PS I promised to explain about that third guy that technically was a top 5 pick and their team won a title with him.....Jason Kidd. He was drafted top 5 by Dallas ...then moved all over the place ....and then came back to Dallas just in time to win a title as an oldster.