Try to act you like you've done this before... - 20th Century Fox
In the midst of the pandemonium that is late season jockeying for playoff and lottery positioning, the Suns are doing something quite peculiar. Something that feels decidedly foreign this season. Something aberrant. They are actually winning... and it's not helping.
A Pyrrhic victory is a victory with such a devastating cost that it carries the implication that another such victory will ultimately lead to defeat. Someone who wins a Pyrrhic victory has been victorious in some way; however, the heavy toll negates any sense of achievement or profit.
Does anyone else get the sense that this would be better applied to the Suns' Saturday night victory against the Houston Rockets than it was after King Pyrrhus defeated the Romans at Heraclea and Asculum during the Pyrrhic War? How many more games can the Suns afford to win before they sabotage their draft status, which is (practically) the sole redeeming quality stemming from one of the worst seasons in franchise history?
Don't the Suns realize that sometimes when you lose, you really win?
Gloria Clemente tried to impress this upon Billy Hoyle in the legendary movie "White Men Can't Jump."
"Sometimes when you win, you really lose, and sometimes when you lose, you really win, and sometimes when you win or lose, you actually tie, and sometimes when you tie, you actually win or lose."
Billy, however, was recalcitrant and ended up losing Gloria. He won his small, petty victory and lost out on something of much greater importance in the long run. Sound familiar?
I want the Suns to lose. I want my team to lose. Every victory is like a nail in the coffin of our draft lottery positioning. I'm not cheering against my team, I'm cheering for them. I'm cheering for them to take a step back to take two forward. I'm cheering for something better than development of middling young players as a consequence of a lost season. I'm not advocating throwing games. In fact, I'm not advocating that the Suns deviate from the current strategy one iota.
I simply want them to lose.
Even after last night's 108-93 loss to the Denver Nuggets, the Suns' four wins in their last seven games tie a season best for any seven game stretch this season. Talk about an inconvenient time for them to be playing their best basketball of the season. They even had their best win of the season, a 105-101 OT victory in San Antonio, during the stretch.
Lineups are in flux. In recent wins against the Minnesota Timberwolves, San Antonio Spurs, and Atlanta Hawks, the Suns started Goran Dragic, Jared Dudley, P.J. Tucker, Luis Scola and Marcin Gortat. Saturday night, they started Goran Dragic, Wesley Johnson, Marcus Morris, Markieff Morris and Luis Scola. But they won. Kendall Marshall and Hamed Haddadi each played 28 minutes. Final score Suns 107, Rockets 105...
Starting center Marcin Gortat is out (most likely for the season) with a Lisfranc sprain. But they beat the Rockets. Backup center Jermaine O'Neal has missed games due to family issues. Yet they win.
You almost couldn't script a better scenario for the team to crumble to pieces, but they haven't. I don't know what Lindsey Hunter could do to lose more games even if he tried at this point. There's nobody else sitting on the end of the bench. Smilin' Wes is playing. The twins are starting. Some guy named Hamed who I didn't even know existed three weeks ago is logging heavy minutes. What can Hunter do? Start pulling players if they make a shot?
The Suns are within 1.5 games of third and within three games of eleventh in lottery positioning. The Suns still have two games against the Wizards (third) and the Timberwolves (ninth). They also host both the Hornets (T-sixth) and Kings (fifth). The Suns are presently tied with the Pelicans for sixth. Think some of those games might have draft order implications?
Not to mention they play the Rockets three more times and the Jazz and Warriors once each... And of course the Lakers. That's the game of paramount importance for the Suns to win, yet I wouldn't be surprised if they misinterpret my message and pick that game to lose.
If the Suns end up with the 10th and 30th picks, it will be nauseatingly unfulfilling. Yet, I sit nonplussed. In awe of a Utah Jazz team that is failing amazingly and catastrophically. Perturbed by a Lakers team hellbent on sneaking into the playoffs to cost the Suns up to 16 spots in draft positioning. In dread that the glimmering hope of a top five pick will fade into the gloaming of selecting in the double digits....
I have recently heard the term "crapshoot" bandied around with respect to the draft. Crapshoot - anything unpredictable, risky or problematical; a gamble. I guess that's applicable to a certain extent. However, the higher your lottery positioning, and ultimately your draft order, the better your odds in the gamble. This isn't suppositious conjecture. This is rooted in empirical evidence and data. Of course there are no guarantees, but as Seth Pollack detailed in this story where I participated with ten other NBA writers in ranking the quality of players selected with the top ten picks over the last five years, the odds are heavily stacked in favor of top five picks. So would you rather have a 28% chance of drafting a franchise player or a 0% chance?
Which is why losing isn't necessarily bad. In fact, it can be downright good. As Eddie Murphy instructed us in "Vampire In Brooklyn", things are not always as they seem...
"Well, the bottom line, what I'm trying to tell you today, is that losing... llllosing... is necessary. Losing is necessary, thereby, if it's necessary, losing... - Losing... - ...must be good."
I may have slightly augmented the previous quote to serve my nefarious needs, but I think you get the gist. At least I hope you get the gist, even if you disagree, because I've kind of been hammering the point and the story is almost over. Losing can be good. Losing can actually propagate long-term positive outcomes. I am actually a proponent of losing in certain situations. This year for the Suns is one of those situations.
In the immortal words of John Witherspoon in "Friday."
"You win some, you lose some... But you live, you live to fight another day!"
I know we'll get through this, Suns. I know we'll live to fight another day. But in the interim, please lose.