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The NBA may adjust their draft lottery system, but they should go further

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The NBA may adjust their draft lottery system, but they should go further

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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Wizards pick up Kelly Oubre, Jr.'s contract option with bright future ahead


Wizards pick up Kelly Oubre, Jr.'s contract option with bright future ahead

The play of Kelly Oubre, Jr. over the past calendar year had made the Wizards picking up his contract option an increasingly easy decision. On Saturday, they opted to keep him for the fourth year of his rookie contract, the 2018-19 season, and did so with a week to spare before the deadline.

Oubre, 21, has emerged as a key contributor for a Wizards team with expectations of a deep playoff run. He is still finding his trule role in the NBA, but with his youth and potential, and the fact he's still on a rookie deal, Oubre has a unique place on their roster.

John Wall and Bradley Beal have already emerged as stars. Otto Porter still has room to get much better, but has already arrived and earned a max contract. Oubre, though already established in their rotation, has plenty of room to grow.

Oubre, the 15th overall pick in 2015, doubled his minutes last season to 20.3 per game under head coach Scott Brooks with averages of 6.3 points, 3.3 rebounds and 0.7 steals per game. He earned Brooks' trust mainly on the defensive end with his versatility and high motor.

Consistency is where Oubre needs to improve, but through two games this season he appears to have taken another step. Oubre added two inches to his vertical leap over the summer despite rehabbing from platelet-rich plasma treatment on his right knee. He also gained some muscle, allowing him to make strides as a rebounder. Oubre has 15 rebounds through two games and said it's specific focus of his.


The Wizards are a good enough offensive team currently to where Oubre can focus on defense and rebounding. But his growing confidence on offense has been evident so far this year and especially in the preseason. He has worked on dribbling with his right hand and the result is more aggression attacking the rim. Though still not a polished product, Oubre is taking small steps to emerge as a more dangerous scoring threat.

The Wizards will have another decision to make on Oubre this time next year. One day before the 2018-19 regular season begins, they will have to choose whether to hand Oubre a rookie scale contract extension. They weren't able to beat that deadline with Porter and the next summer he received a $106.5 million max deal after hitting the market as a restricted free agent. 

Oubre at this very moment wouldn't command that type of money in free agency, but the same was said about Porter at this point in his career. Porter was able to improve significantly in his fourth season.

Wizards majority owner Ted Leonsis said this summer that he would love to have Oubre force the issue with his performance on the court.

"He's going to come back and work really, really hard and challenge us to pay him a lot of money, too, which I'm glad to do," Leonsis said. 

It's early in the season, but Oubre may be on his way towards making the Wizards ponder his long-term future.

The Washington Post first reported Oubre's contract option getting picked up.



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John Wall doesn't hold LaVar Ball's talking against Lonzo, but knows 'he'll be targeted'

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John Wall doesn't hold LaVar Ball's talking against Lonzo, but knows 'he'll be targeted'

Clippers guard Patrick Beverley made a point to embarrass Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball in the latter's NBA debut. After dominating him on the court, Beverley said he had to "set the tone." 

On Wednesday, Wizards point guard John Wall will get a crack at Ball when Washington plays the Lakers at the Staples Center. Wall knows why Beverley went after Ball like that, but says he doesn't blame Ball himself.

"I think his dad put him in a situation where guys are going to target him," Wall said on the Wizards Tipoff podcast, referencing LaVar Ball. "Lonzo is one of those kids that is very talented. He's been a good player for years, he just don't say much. I think his dad does all the talking for him."

Ball, 19, was the second overall pick in this June's NBA Draft. He had just three points on 1-of-6 shooting against the Clippers on Wednesday, but bounced back for 29 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists against the Suns on Friday. 

Wall thinks Ball will be fine as long as he can keep up his production on the court to back up his dad's trash-talking.

"He's a great kid from what I've seen on the outside looking in," Wall said. "A lot of people in this league are going to take it personally. It's not the son's fault. He went back and had a better game [vs. the Suns]. That's all he's gotta do is go out there and play. He's not gonna do any talking anyways. If he gets killed or don't get killed or kills somebody, he's not going to be the guy talking."

Wall is as competitive as they come and will give Ball a tough challenge on Wednesday night, but it doesn't sound like he plans to pull a Beverley and overtly embarrass him.

Listen to Wall's full 1-on-1 interview on the Wizards Tipoff podcast: