In an Odds & Ends post yesterday, we passed along a piece written by Steve Kerr for NBA.com, 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:
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.