Right now, Spurs fans are heatedly debating what the team should do with the remainder of the season: try for the play-in, or tank. On some level, this debate is one that fans have gotten used to over recent seasons (there is always someone saying the Spurs should tank). But right now, it has taken on a more urgent tone as the Spurs find themselves with a 2-0 week with victories over the Portland Trail Blazers and New Orleans Pelicans. Let’s look at the arguments in favor of trying for the play-in or tanking.
Reasons for the Spurs to Try for the Play-In
The reasons to try for the play-in are pretty obvious. The Spurs have struggled to get to where they are, but they are here. And while they would struggle to get to the play-in, they conceivably could do it. The team’s young core is developing, and by putting in their all, they will continue to grow through their experiences. Not only that, but for both players and fans, games where teams give their fullest efforts are the most rewarding.
In fact, Dejounte Murray stated, “Hell yeah we’re playing for the playoffs… we’re playing for the playoffs without a doubt. Nobody is here to lose from coaches, players, training staff, everybody wants to win.”
Coach Gregg Popovich also stated earlier this season, “”If you put yourself in the situation, more as a coach than any other position in the organization, besides players, you can’t go to your team and ask them to lose. You can’t do that. It’s an impossibility for all of the logical reasons you can think of on your own.”
Reasons for the Spurs to Tank
So, what are the arguments in favour of the Spurs tanking for the rest of the season instead? Well, even if the Spurs can make the play-in, but the odds of the team getting into the playoffs are low, nor are they likely to go much further. So, from a viewpoint of sheer pragmatism, tanking for a better draft pick has some appeal. Plus, the Spurs cannot really count on free agents to fill the team’s ranks.
Where fans fall in the debate depends largely on what they value, and on their overall team-building philosophies. While tanking is grounded in pragmatism, an argument can be made that trying for the play-in is as well. Players can learn more when they are doing their best. Plus, tanking can be demoralizing, and may not be conducive to player growth either.
You can check out Alamo City Limits: Episode 29 for some in-depth analysis from Noah Magaro-George and Damien Bartonek on what the Spurs should do next. You can also check out a poll on that page that reveals that the vast majority of Spurs fans do want the team to go for the play-in. Regardless of the strategy the Spurs adopt, one thing is sure: this is both a frustrating and exciting time to be a Spurs fan.