SBD/December 26, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NBA Considers Eliminating Draft Lottery In Favor Of Tanking-Proof System

The NBA Draft Lottery is likely to be in place for at least another decade
The NBA may send a proposal to owners sometime next year that would "eliminate the draft lottery and replace it with a system in which each of the 30 teams would pick in a specific first-round draft slot once -- and exactly once -- every 30 years," according to sources cited by Zach Lowe of GRANTLAND. Each team under the proposal would "simply cycle through the 30 draft slots, year by year, in a predetermined order designed so that teams pick in different areas of the draft each year." Teams would "know with 100 percent certainty in which draft slots they would pick every year, up to 30 years out from the start of every 30-year cycle." Every team under the "wheel system" would "be guaranteed one top-six pick every five seasons, and at least one top-12 pick in every four-year span." The system is "designed to eliminate the link between being very bad and getting a high draft pick," as there "is no benefit at all to being bad under a wheel system like this." However, sources said that some top NBA officials have "expressed early opposition to the proposal." Lowe reported the proposal "would not kick in until all current draft-based trades have been executed, so there would be a nearly decade-long preparation process" (, 12/23). In Boston, Steve Bulpett noted that the wheel system is "the creation" of Celtics Assistant GM Mike Zarren. Celtics President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge said of the proposal, "That would make sense to me. It would put an onus on management to manage their team and their draft picks. They would be able to just play and not worry about maneuvering to get a draft pick." He added, "Maybe owners won’t ever agree to it because, they like the fact that if they’re not winning they can sell their fans on the hope that there might be something good around the corner in the draft. But maybe teams wouldn’t be falling so far out of it if there was a better system" (BOSTON HERALD, 12/25).

SHOULD SPARK CONVERSATION: In Akron, Jason Lloyd wrote there is "plenty left to consider and resolve before this ever becomes a reality, but it will certainly spark conversations in front offices around the league if the idea begins to gain traction." The proposal right now is "nothing more than a conversation starter," but there "have always been factions around the league trying to eliminate the lottery since it was first created." The system is "still years from becoming a reality, but it’s at least a step in that direction" (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 12/25). In DC, Cindy Boren noted the system "isn’t foolproof," as nothing would keep a "great player from staying in school until a team he wanted to play for came up on the wheel." Boren: "But it would be a big step toward eliminating the awful practice of losing deliberately" (, 12/23).
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