The upcoming NBA Draft class promises to be one of the most talented in years. Loaded with lottery players who are seemingly locks for future stardom in this league, there are more than a few teams who would like a high pick come June.
It’s led to many believing that teams without much of a shot to win a championship this year will become of the mindset that tanking is a better path for their franchise. Why try and win when you can’t? And why not lose to position yourself better to gain a player who can help you win?
The NBA is of course not a fan of tanking. It takes away from the product of the sport. But it’s hard for a league of a sport where only five players are on the court for each team at a time to try and “fix” this tanking strategy.
The NBA, reportedly, has come up with a radical proposal that may change this.
Grantland obtained a copy of the proposal, which 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. Each team 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. The practice of protecting picks would disappear; there would never be a Harrison Barnes–Golden State situation again, and it wouldn’t require a law degree to track ownership of every traded pick leaguewide.
This idea certainly is radical and would change the NBA drastically. There would be no reason to ever consider tanking. And it would be super interesting to see teams preparing for upcoming seasons and drafts since they would already now years in advance where they will be selecting.
There is a good chance that this will not become the rule in the NBA. It would need the support of at least three quarters of the ownership group, and also probably the approval of the player’s union.
The way in which the Thunder grew into the team that they are now would virtually have been impossible in the new system. No team would be able to draft in the top five that often in three consecutive drafts.
Just thinking that the formation of this Thunder team becoming impossible kind of makes you feel that this system may not be the best. Because the Thunder becoming what they are now is one of the great stories in the NBA. But the system isn’t claiming to be perfect, and neither is what we have in place now.
It will be interesting to see if this idea gains any more steam. For now, it’s in the very early stages. If nothing else, the prospects of something like this coming to fruition is pretty exciting.