The NBA Draft Lottery was last night, and a lot of folks are upset about the outcome. As a quick recap, here are the teams with the first 5 picks (records in parenthesis)
- Portland (32-50)
- Seattle (31-51)
- Atlanta (30-52)
- Memphis (22-60)
- Boston (24-58)
Many people look at this as a crime. The two worst teams in the league end up with the #4 and #5 picks? Isn’t the worst team the team that needs the most help?
I would agree with you that the worst team does need the most help. However, I don’t think a team should be rewarded for having the worst record in the NBA. Rather, they should be punished. If you are one of the worst teams in the English Premier League, you get relegated to the minor leagues. If you are the worst team in any major US sport, you get rewarded with the best player coming out of college.
Now, it’s not often that I think any major sport should follow in soccer’s footsteps, but I think the EPL is on to something here. With the current economic makeup of the NBA, it would be impossible to have teams rotate in and out of the major and minor leagues. However, we could restructure the draft.
What if we kept the draft lottery for non-playoff teams, but gave better teams a better chance at the # 1 pick? The worst team in the league would have a worse chance of the #1 pick than the 14th worst team.
For example, in this year’s lottery the LA Clippers would get 14 ping pong balls, while Memphis would get 1. (We could work out the proportions later, however I think that the proportions should end up being relatively close from top to bottom.)
Many will argue that this isn’t fair. The rich will get richer, the poor will get poorer. I argue that this is fair, and that a better chance at the #1 pick should be earned. If you are the worst team in the league, you are still guaranteed at least the #4 pick.
This system would completely eradicate the situation where teams tank at the end of the season. In fact, there would be a new intensity in these games, as teams try their hardest to improve their record, and thus their chances at the #1 pick. There would be a new excitement to the end of the season.
Is this a crazy idea? I’d like to hear alternative plans. I think most folks agree that the current system is broken, and the NBA needs to try something else.