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What tanking did for the Mavericks and their draft lottery odds

The Mavericks have been roundly criticized for their actions but they made the right decision

NBA: G League-Boulogne-Levallois Metropolitans at Ignite Lucas Peltier-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Mavericks very publicly made the decision to tank the last two games of the season. Because they made that decision so publicly and decided to talk about it so transparently, they were fined $750,000. A lot has been made of the decision to tank and whether or not it was some affront to basketball that guarantees negative basketball karma.

It was the right decision, and it absolutely does not guarantee bad karma. The San Antonio Spurs dynasty was built on tanking for Tim Duncan. The Houston Rockets tanked for Hakeem Olajuwon. In a situation very similar to the Mavericks, the Golden State Warriors tanked in order to insure they remained in the top seven in the draft. That pick turned into Harrison Barnes, who was a big portion of the dynasty before Kevin Durant took his place.

The most important question isn’t if the Mavericks should have tanked (yes) or if they should have talked about tanking (no). The important question is what they gained by tanking.

The answer is a lot. The first big thing they gained was a much greater likelihood of keeping their own pick. The Mavericks currently have a 79.8 percent chance of keeping their pick in this draft. Had they finished 11th in draft standings, they would have had only an 8.5 percent chance of keeping their own pick. This means they gained roughly 9.4 times the likelihood of adding a talented young player this off-season.

They also greatly enhanced their chances of moving up. Had the Mavericks remained at 11, they would have had an 8.5 percent chance at moving up to the top four. They currently have a 13.9 percent chance of moving up to the top four. That is nearly double the chance of moving up and adding a true impact talent.

For the starry-eyed dreamers the most important odds shift is how much they improved their chances at getting the number one pick. With the flattened lottery odds, there is an actual chance the Mavericks could move all the way up to number one. At 10, they have a three percent chance of drafting Victor Wembanyama. This is still an incredible longshot, but it is nearly double the 1.8 percent chance they would have had had they stayed down.

The Mavericks paid $750,000. They improved their chances of keeping a draft pick by 71.3 percent. That means they paid $10,518.93 per percentage increase in chances to keep their pick. Or they paid $625,000 per percentage increase in chances to draft Wembanyama. Given some of the contracts they have given out recently, both of these seem like a bargain.