Trail Blazers forced to unleash historic tanking scheme in loss to Nuggets

There are injuries, then there are injuries. There's tanking, then there's tanking.
Chauncey Billups, Portland Trail Blazers
Chauncey Billups, Portland Trail Blazers / Alika Jenner/GettyImages

Combining a wild number of injuries with the desire to improve their draft lottery odds created a perfect storm of tanking for the Portland Trail Blazers in a loss to the Denver Nuggets.

Like a storm of epic proportions.

The fact that the Blazers lost to a Denver team that played without Nikola Jokic or Jamal Murray isn't a surprise this late in the season. The way they did it, though, has only been attempted one other time since at least the 1970-71 season.

Trail Blazers become second NBA team ever to start 5 rookies

Rolling out a starting lineup featuring only rookies is a brilliant way to tank. Even against a Nuggets team without its two best players, there's a good chance that game ends with your team one step closer to earning the best odds at the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft.

Don't give Portland all the credit for scheming its way into nearly brand-new levels of intentional losing. One glance at the injury report shows that Blazers Head Coach Chauncey Billups may not have really had a choice. Or at least there was no reason not to go with a starting five of Scoot Henderson, Kris Murray, Rayan Rupert, Toumani Camara and Duop Reath.

The following players were ruled out for the game against Denver:

Jerami Grant (hamstring); Malcolm Brogdon (elbow tendonitis); Deandre Ayton (elbow tendonitis); Shaedon Sharpe (core muscle surgery); Anfernee Simons (knee tendonitis); Robert Williams III (knee surgery); and Matisse Thybulle (ankle).


At that point, why not fully lean into the tank and throw the five rookies out there?