NBA Approves Lottery Reform, Change Effective 2019

The NBA’s Board of Governors passed a motion to reform the draft lottery today, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN writes. The new rules will be in place for the 2019 NBA Draft.

Modifications to the lottery process were originally proposed earlier this month and include a number of strategies aimed at flattening the odds that basement dwelling teams have of landing the top pick. The idea behind the motion is to curb tanking.

Under the new rules, teams will be able to drop four places in the lottery. Previously teams could drop no more than three places, meaning that the worst team in the league would be guaranteed to pick in the top four. Now, in that same scenario, the team could fall as far as No. 5.

Beyond that, however, the odds of each team’s ping pong balls being selected have flattened dramatically, as portrayed in a tweet from Adrian Wojnarowski. Not only do the three worst teams have a lesser chance of winning the lottery, but there’s no longer any difference between finishing last, second-last or third-last when it comes to odds for the No. 1 pick.

In contrast, the team with the fourth-greatest shot at winning the lottery (ie; the fourth-worst team in the NBA) now has a better chance of landing the top pick, as does every team that finished ahead of it in the regular season with the exception of the best team in the lottery (which has the same odds as it had previously).

To demonstrate the point, consider the change in fortune that will await whatever team finishes ninth-last in the 2018/19 season. Whereas last season’s Mavs finished ninth-last and received a 2.8% chance of winning the lottery and a 10% chance of landing a top-three pick, under the new rules that team would have a 6% chance of winning the lottery and a 15% chance of landing a top-three pick.

All told, much of the incentive that middle-of-the-pack lottery clubs had of embracing a full-out tank and dropping to the bottom of the league has been reduced. Now the worst team in the league will have a 40% chance of landing a top-three pick as opposed to the 64% chance it previously had. That same team will now have a 14% chance of landing the No. 1 overall pick (vs. the 25% chance it had previously).

For a pick-by-pick breakdown of the probability changes, refer to the chart in the Wojnarowski tweet.

Another proposal formally approved by the league is one that extends commissioner Adam Silver’s authority to potentially fine teams for resting players in nationally televised games or in other select scenarios.

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19 thoughts on “NBA Approves Lottery Reform, Change Effective 2019

  1. Philly Fan

    Next on Adam’s list: Allow players to come straight out of high school. Should be easier with the FBI investigation highlighting what we all knew was happening

    • arodgers661

      Or follow the NFL’s lead and require 3 years of college. Deangelo’s incident proves that there is a maturity issue that should be considered as well.

      • x%sure

        I would prefer that teens stay in the pocket another year, have an “offseason” where they contemplate their “sophmore year”, or else, do a European tour.
        The NBA can require what they want to. College seasons don’t take the toll that NBA seasons do; players will get those 2 years back and be better off no matter what.
        It’s the high school diaper-dandy senior year that needs to go! Fast-track them to the NCAA.

      • dodgerfan711

        3 years of college would be a joke. These guys would be absolutely dominating if they stay for 3 years. It would ruin the whole draft. 1 year is fine.

  2. TrustTheProcess

    Well, good thing 76ers not tanking anymore because they broke the system:)

    • If the NBA gets rid of the lottery… then if two teams are tied with the worst record in the league on the last day and they play each other, the score that game is going to be like 24-23 lol.

      • trollymctrollerson

        Nah I think he means get rid of the draft entirely. Let teams sign players out of HS, pay em what they’re worth. Fixes massive NCAA corruption too. Two birds, one stone. Owners can cry all they want; make better decisions then.

        • And whats to prevent all the big-market teams from signing all these guys out of HS. There would be even more corruption if NBA teams are allowed to sign guys out of HS. It’ll be along the same lines as the NCAA, agree to sign with us and they’ll give them some more benefits. Then you’ll be complaining in a few years when rookie salaries get crazy (i.e. similar to how NFL rookie salaries were). If you put a cap on how much teams can offer a rookie out of HS, then why would a rookie want to sign with a bad teams when they could just sign the same contract with a powerhouse team?

  3. liamsfg

    This helps with the bottom of the barrel but there will still be tanking in the 4th-10th worst team bracket trying to slide down a little.

    Its better than the current system but still not perfect nor will it end tanking.

  4. Thronson5

    The lottery in general is stupid and this new change is ridiculous. They should d the draft just like the NFL, the worse the record the better draft pick. Who cares about tanking. If you suck then you should have to worry about a team that’s better than you getting a better pick than you and increase your odds of sucking and the team that was better than you gets better. Makes no sense at all.

    • Pihc123

      Agree. Now by changing the odds in a lottery can you imagine the screaming when the cavaliers get the overall #1 pick again?

      • gammaraze

        It won’t be the Cavs pick that hits #1… no one can complain that a future pick you acquire winds up being #1

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