Ready to get a headache? Check out this proposal to get rid of the NBA draft lottery.
Under a setup described as a “cycle” or a “wheel” system, every team would select from each of the 30 predetermined slots once every 30 years, Zach Lowe of Grantland reports. In such a system, teams that finish at the bottom of the standings would no longer be rewarded with a chance at the top pick. Everyone would know, up to 30 years in advance, where every other team was making its pick.
The process is best explained in a wheel, posted by Lowe, in which the team that drafts first overall in year one would draft 30th, 19th, 18th, seventh and sixth over the next five years. Of course, this also means the team that drafts 30th in year one wouldn’t get the No. 1 pick until 2044 at the earliest, assuming the procedure were put in place immediately. (It probably wouldn’t be.)
The pluses of such a system would be that “tanking” for better draft odds would be eliminated and that everyone would be spared the dog-and-pony show of the lottery during the playoffs every year. The biggest minus is that teams that are organically bad — not intentionally tanking — wouldn’t have the hope of improving quickly with a quality pick.
Also, it could lessen team’s motivation to build through the draft, since they would go years in some cases between top-12 picks. Under the proposed system, a team that drafts No. 6 wouldn’t get another decent pick for another five years — when the previous pick is preparing for free agency. Would a budding star really be willing to waste years of his prime waiting two or three years for his potential running mate to develop, with no assurances the rookie will develop at all?
Opinions are split over the proposal, according to Lowe, and it would have to be approved by NBA owners before it was put into effect. Regardless of the details of this particular idea, it is good to see the league taking a hard look at the current process, which is inherently flawed, and seeing if there is a less-flawed system out there.
There might not be. But it’s worth some thought.