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Poll: Changes To The NBA’s Draft Lottery?

In an Odds & Ends post yesterday, we passed along a piece written by Steve Kerr for, in which the former Suns general manager and current TV analyst presented a few ideas for the NBA might alter its draft lottery.

The discussion isn't a new one, but it has ramped up again recently as teams like the Sixers and Jazz have chosen to position themselves for a high lottery pick in 2014 rather than attempting to contend for the postseason. Given how strong the 2014 draft class, led by Andrew Wiggins, is expected to be, it makes sense for teams who don't view themselves as legit contenders to position themselves to lose a lot of games, based on how the NBA's current lottery system works.

There doesn't seem to be a single potential solution that everyone can agree on, but some of Kerr's ideas are intriguing. Among them:

  1. Even out the lottery odds, so that each of the league's 14 non-playoff teams has a 1-in-14 shot at getting each draft slot from one to 14. In this scenario, Kerr says, the top five picks would be up for grabs, so the league's worst team would pick no lower than sixth.
  2. Reward the Nos. 7 and 8 playoff teams more. Kerr suggests that if there were more incentives to simply earn a postseason spot, even if it meant a quick first-round exit (think the No. 8 Bucks against the Heat this year), teams could make a greater effort to contend. He proposes that the eight teams who are eliminated in the first round of the playoffs could be given the top eight picks of the second round of the draft (Nos. 31-38).
  3. Regulation to alter lottery odds. In this scenario, the teams with the NBA's three worst records would be ineligible for a top-three pick, with the other lottery teams having a 1-in-11 chance. As such, there would at least be incentive to avoid being one of the league's absolute bottom-feeders.
  4. Deeper weighted lottery odds, meaning that the odds are determined in part (or entirely) by lottery teams' winning percentages against one another — the better you played against other lottery clubs, the better chance you have to land a top pick.
  5. Rotate the draft order annually, so that for every 30-year stretch, each of the league's teams picks once in every spot between No. 1 and No. 30. Although Kerr doesn't specify a pattern, I have to assume it would be randomized, so that a team could pick, for instance, 16th one year, 27th the next, and first the year after that. That would make more sense for competitive balance than having a team pick first one year, second the next, third after that, and so on.

What do you think? Do you like any of Kerr's suggestions, or do you think the lottery system is about as fair as possible the way it is? If you have your own ideas for changes the NBA should try, feel free to share them in the comments section.

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7 thoughts on “Poll: Changes To The NBA’s Draft Lottery?

  1. ajjosan

    i think i have something better to propose how about reverse standings like the nfl and mlb

    • HoopsRumors

      If the goal is to discourage tanking, guaranteeing that the worst teams get the best picks may not be the best option.

      — Luke

      • ajjosan

        i see what u mean in that case i think i agree with having playoff teams get the top 2nd round picks

  2. Chuck Myron

    I like Adam Gold’s NHL idea (here is his slideshow from the 2012 Sloan Conference: link to…. Give the top pick to the team that wins the most games after it has been eliminated from playoff contention.

  3. RhapsodyinBlue

    There shouldn’t be a lottery at all, how about that option? The fact that a GM’s worth or a team’s worth is based solely on ping pong balls is simply stupid. Teams that pick high DESERVE their slot… Jazz and the Sixers have been aimlessly floating through the NBA since their franchise players Williams/Iverson were traded away. They deserve new franchise players, to leave it up to ping pong balls is asinine. The fact that the Spurs with David Robinson got Tim Duncan thanks to some favorable ping pong balls is still to this day a travesty.

    The top 14 teams having all the same odds is a bizarrely bad idea, it gives an incentive for all teams to tank and get in the lottery, even good ones that just need a boast to become contenders.

  4. Konstantine

    Even out odds. Then have a live pulling of the balls- one ball per team. Whenever a team gets pulled, they are given a slot, ie 14th for first pull, 13th for second pull, etc. So the way to ‘win’ is to not have your team’s ball pulled. Would make for even odds of non playoff teams and exciting television to see the lotto order.

  5. $67479336

    Everyone seems to be in the business of treating the symptoms not the disease. Tanking is a symptom, league inequality is a disease. If anyone was truly intrested in fixing the problem they’d be asking for a hard cap. As long as teams are allowed to spend twice as much as the rest of the league to hoard top tallent nothing will change. Without a hard cap all these changes simply screw the small market teams even more.

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