First, we look at the results of the NFL draft and specifically the usefulness of giving teams draft grades. Turns out, they’re not very useful at all in terms of predicting teams’ ultimate success down the line (team-building is hard), although they are still a fun way for fans to contextualize their expectations for future seasons. This draft, like all drafts, was mostly about the quarterbacks, and everyone after Trevor Lawrence is basically a coin-flip. The Hot Takedown team is surprised at how many quarterback questions still remain: There are very uncertain situations, to say the least, in Houston, Denver and Green Bay. But with a wide-open NFC and dangerous teams developing in the AFC, the eventual answers should be a lot of fun to watch.
Next, since other people are talking about it, we discuss the NBA play-in tournament and how it’s bringing a lot of much-needed excitement to the regular season. It seems like it will work almost the way relegation does in European soccer, keeping teams that could give up on the season actively engaged in either getting into the playoffs cleanly or getting into the play-in tournament while still competing for lottery picks. It doesn’t mean that teams aren’t trying to tank, but it is keeping an impressive number of NBA teams relevant just a few weeks out from the playoffs. We think that’s a very good thing — if not for players, then definitely for fans.
Finally, in the Rabbit Hole, we’re joined by Jake Fischer, author of the new book “Built to Lose: How the NBA’s Tanking Era Changed the League Forever,” to talk about how his work surveying “The Process” turned into a book about tanking’s effect on the NBA. Philly is the boldest and most famous example, of course, but the trend really swept the league into a new epoch. As long as lottery picks are tied to record in some way, tanking will always be with us.
What we’re looking at this week: