Update: I realized this was originally poorly written, so I edited it. What can I say, I was on vacation at the beach.
So a lot of people have been whining (Primarily Boston Celtics fans) about the Portland Trailblazers and Seattle Sonics winning the Greg Odom/Kevin Durant sweepstakes that is also known as the NBA Draft Lottery. David Stern is even promising to look at the process over the summer. Of course this is after the Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks purposely tanked their season to try and get these picks.
To all the whining I say this: the draft lottery did what it was supposed to do, and that is to make sure any team in the future think twice about tanking. Finishing last is not something to be rewarded for. If anything, I think the NBA should think about making it easier for those teams that are close to making it over the hump, to become contenders. For teams that are just out of the playoffs or just in, it can be a maddening circle of mediocrity due to poor draft position and a salary cap that prevents them from improving their team (guaranteed contracts don’t help either).
Anyway if the NBA feels the need to tinker, here are a couple of changes that I would make:
- Penalize teams that repeatedly are in the lottery by reducing their chances of winning the top overall pick. Never allow the winning team to win the number one pick twice in a row.
- Reward teams that improve year upon year without making the playoffs by increasing their chances of winning the lottery. This would reward teams for doing what they should be doing, winning. Yes this might give an unfair advantage for a team like Golden State, but after years of seeing the Mavericks and the Suns not be able to win it all, it’s time for some new blood. Parity is a good thing. It hasn’t seemed to hurt the NFL at all.
- Finally, prevent teams from their own stupidity. Playoff teams shouldn’t be allowed to have the lottery pick of another team no matter what. This is what almost happened with the Phoenix Suns. They need a lottery pick like I need to gain 10 pounds. What the NBA needs is more fresh blood in the playoffs.
The NBA needs to create a system by which going into any season, any team can win. That does two things: one it keeps teams from tanking because they’re always in it, and two it keeps fan interest in cities where they believe their franchise is doomed.
Quick turnarounds are good for a league. Look at the NFL – don’t you think the New Orleans Saints success this season gives faith the fans of teams such as the Bengals and the Cardinals? I am a 76ers fan and have lost interest because I know they couldn’t compete. Fans of the Celtics, Timberwolves, Bucks, etc. probably feel the same way, that they are prevented from winning. As long as the NBA keep the current system in place – they can try and tinker all they want, the flaws will still overcome the league.