The practice of tanking has existed in the NBA for much longer than the last 10 years, but it has certainly increased its share of the overall conversation in that time frame.
The Philadelphia 76ers' so-called Process smoothed the path for other teams around the league looking for a more aggressive approach. For that team, asset accumulation trumped seemingly all else. And a handful of teams in the league right now look like the spiritual successors to that form of team-building (more on them in a bit).
But plenty of tank jobs don't go quite as well. Some aren't worthy of a nickname at all, let alone one that is known by most fans of the NBA.
Over the last 10 years, we've seen plenty of attempts at the full-scale rebuild (and some unintentional tanks). As determined by their eventual success or lack thereof, below you'll find three of the worst and three of the best.
The Jury Is Still Out
The Oklahoma City Thunder leaned hard into a Process-like tank in 2020-21, shutting Shai Gilgeous-Alexander down after 35 games and playing teenager Aleksej Pokusevski 28.4 minutes per game over the last three months of the season.
It was hard to blame them, as trades involving Paul George, Russell Westbrook and others have helped OKC accumulate a war chest of future picks. Between now and 2026, the Thunder have 14 first-round picks (or pick swaps) heading their way (in addition to their own picks). Through 2027, they have plenty more second-rounders. And they have just one first and one second heading out.
Losses now improve the draft odds on those picks, so there's plenty of incentive to get developmental minutes for the young guys.
If Pokusevski, Josh Giddey or some future pick turns into a star, it could all be worth it. Right now, it's way too early to tell.
That last sentiment applies to the Houston Rockets too. Back in January, it looked like they might be able to land a veteran (though still relatively young) multi-time All-Star in Ben Simmons for James Harden. They went with the package of future assets from the Brooklyn Nets instead. Now, they have an intriguing young core with Jalen Green, Alperen Sengun and Kevin Porter Jr., to name a few, to develop as they wait for seven future first-round picks (or swaps) to potentially convey.
Given their own treasure trove of picks, there's some temptation to put the New Orleans Pelicans here too, but they pretty much lucked out of a tank when they landed Zion Williamson in the immediate aftermath of Anthony Davis' departure.
They may not have made the playoffs in the post-AD era yet, but they've been closer to the middle of the pack than real tankers traditionally are.
Worst: Post-Dwight Magic
Over the course of Dwight Howard's eight seasons with the Orlando Magic, the team was seventh in the league in winning percentage and fifth in points allowed per 100 possessions. He finished top five in MVP voting four times, and he finished top 10 in each of his last five years in Orlando.
So, when he was traded in 2012, it came as little surprise that the Magic were able to secure a ready-made rebuild package for Dwight.
In a four-team trade that included the Los Angeles Lakers (Howard's new home), Philadelphia 76ers and Denver Nuggets, the Magic added Arron Afflalo, Al Harrington, three first-round picks and a 22-year-old Nikola Vucevic.
Vuc would go on to spend the better part of a decade in Orlando and is third in franchise history in win shares, but the rebuild he headlined never took the Magic past mediocrity.
They went 20-62 in a full-blown tank year immediately after the trade. Then, they selected Victor Oladipo with the No. 2 pick in 2013. More losses led to Aaron Gordon at No. 4 in 2014. Mario Hezonja went fifth in 2015. All three are now gone. Hezonja is out of the NBA altogether.
Thanks in large part to Vucevic, the team stumbled into a couple of playoff appearances recently, but all their shots at the lottery failed to bring a high-end co-star for the center.
Jalen Suggs is the latest player to shoulder the responsibility of bringing hope to Orlando, but if this attempt fails, we may look back on it as the post-Vuc tank job.