FOR years the NBA has been flirting with a plan to stop a franchise embarking on a ‘Sam Hinkie 2.0’ rebuild. To do that there have been plans to change the structure of the NBA lottery, which determines the draft order for teams who miss out on the playoffs. To avoid tanking in the future of the league there are many ideas forpotential changes that can be made, but the latest reform idea might just work.
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CURRENTLY, teams with the worst record in the league stand a 25% chance of winning the lottery and can pick no lower than fourth in the draft. With the proposed changes though not only would those odds decrease, but the team at the bottom of the standings could slip to the fifth pick as well. A domino effect ensues with the second and third worst records (who currently can’t pick lower than fifth and sixth respectively) sliding to potentially the sixth and seventh pick in the draft. Still with me?
THE odds of each team winning the draft lottery would flatten out with teams towards the bottom earning a greater chance of pulling off the impossible and the top teams narrowing their chances of drafting a player No. 1 overall. Under these new proposals, there would be four lottery balls that decide the first four picks of each year’s draft instead of the current format which selects the first three picks. Another suggestion that is being toyed with is introducing a rule where teams can’t draw inside the top three in consecutive seasons. That means that even if a team wins the lottery, if they picked first, second or third overall the year before then they would be forced to pick no higher than fourth.
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NEW changes to the draft order would definitely help to stomp out the perception surrounding tanking and make teams think twice about bottoming out in epic fashion. During Sam Hinkie’s tenure at the 76ers, wins were few and far between with Philly winning just 19% of their games (47-199) over a three-year stretch. It wasn’t all doom and gloom though with all the losses delivering young talents Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor, Dario Saric, Michael Carter-Williams, Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid and most recently Markelle Fultz.
HEALTH remains an issue for that team, but the 76ers made an 18 win jump in the past season from the one prior and many are expecting them to again make another jump to compete for a playoff spot. Philadelphia isn’t the only team who have been accused of tanking recently, with the Los Angeles Lakers sacrificing wins last year to give them the highest possible chance of drafting Lonzo Ball.
THE league will never be able to fully stamp out teams resting players or making moves to see their losses pile up and give them a higher draft pick. That happens all the time in sports. These new changes though, specifically the first suggestion of lowering the odds and the potential ‘worst-case scenario’ for the bottom teams, will definitely make teams think twice about going into full blown tanking mode.
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