Next week the NBA's competition committee is planning to vote on a new proposal targeting what most would agree is one of the league's biggest problems, the current draft lottery system that encourages tanking. It's a glaring issue that each year some teams actively try to lose and commissioner Adam Silver wants to fix it.
As reported by ESPN, the league is weighing several options, including evening out the odds for the No. 1 pick between the teams with the three worst records. Currently, the worst team in basketball gets a 25 percent chance at the No. 1 pick and that scales down to 15.6 percent for the third-worst team. Another idea is to allow teams to fall four spots from where they are in the standings. For example, the worst team could get the No. 5 pick when right now they can do no worse than fourth.
Those changes would certainly limit tanking, as there would be no added incentive to become the absolute worst team in the NBA. But it doesn't go far enough, if the league truly wants to discourage losing on purpose.
Here's an idea: expand the lottery from 14 teams to 18. Give the seventh and eighth seeds in each conference some ping-pong balls, allowing them to every once in a while hit it big with a top pick. Maybe even ensure those teams a top 12 selection.
What if the bottom four playoff teams were not only in the lottery, but had better odds for a top selection than the teams that just missed the playoffs? That would encourage teams to spend money and aim to win now, knowing they don't have to be perennial losers to acquire high value draft picks.
The current system makes it tough for teams without young talent that just barely make the playoffs. In the current system, being the eighth seed means little more than a quick exit in the first round. If the bottom seeds in the playoffs had a good chance to land, say, a top 10 pick then maybe teams like the Bulls and Pacers wouldn't have to so quickly rebuild and trade Jimmy Butler and Paul George.
Here's how the current lottery odds stack up:
25% (worst record in the NBA)
0.5 (14th-worst record, last team to miss the playoffs)
Here's an idea of what this expanded lottery system would look like:
13.0 (worst record in the NBA)
5 (playoff team with worst record)
Under this hypothetical proposal, the bottom four seeds in the playoffs would be tied for the eighth-best odds for the No. 1 pick . That could encourage teams in the middle of the lottery to aim up rather than down, to make moves to win instead of rebuild.
The NBA clearly wants to get rid of tanking, or at least limit it. The fact they are trying is good to hear, but they can do more to fix the system than they plan to propose.
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