While the concept of tanking has become more prevalent than ever leading up to the 2014 draft, the NBA is in the early stages of considering a proposal that would disincentivize bottoming out and eliminate the draft lottery, according to Zach Lowe of Grantland. The proposal, submitted to the league by a team official, has gained traction among some high-level NBA officials, though other top officials have expressed early opposition, says Lowe.
The proposed plan would no longer assign draft picks to teams based on records, but rather would lock clubs into draft positions years in advance. Each of the league’s 30 franchises would pick once in every spot from 1 to 30 over the course of 30 seasons. Lowe’s piece includes a “wheel” image that demonstrates the order in which teams would cycle through the draft slots. That proposed order, determined by “all sorts of complex algorithms,” would ensure that each team receives a top-six pick once every five seasons.
As Lowe notes, there are plenty of potential arguments against the system, including the fact that it would make it more difficult for bad teams to improve. That could prompt fans to lose interest if their favorite team whiffs on a high pick and then doesn’t get another top-five selection for several years. Deciding where each club would start on the wheel could also be problematic, and putting protection on traded draft picks would no longer be permitted under this system, since there would be no uncertainty about where picks would fall.
In any case, Lowe stresses that the proposal is in the very early stages. The league may float the idea to owners at some point in 2014, but even if it were formally submitted, it would require the approval of 75% of those owners, and would take years to put in place — all current traded picks would have to change hands before the new system could be implemented. Nonetheless, it’s a signal that the NBA isn’t necessarily content to continue on indefinitely with the lottery system that has been in place for several decades.