NBA Contemplates Draft Lottery Reform

3:43pm: An update to Wojnarowski’s original article details the currently proposed legislation and we have the highlights here:

  • Teams would be able to drop four spots in the lottery. Currently teams can drop no more than three spots.
  • The three worst teams would have equal probabilities of landing the first pick.
  • The odds for those three worst teams would be flattened, closing the gap between their odds of landing the top pick and the subsequent teams’ odds of landing the top pick.

Another idea that the Competition Committee came up with is to prohibit teams from picking in the top three in consecutive years.

2:37pm: The NBA’s Competition Committee could potentially vote on draft lottery reform prior to the 2017/18 season, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN writes.

Commissioner Adam Silver is a strong advocate of discouraging tanking and could do so by lowering the odds that basement-dwelling teams have of snagging the top picks.

While legislation for reform could be voted on and put in place prior to the season, that doesn’t mean that any changes would necessarily affect next year’s draft. More realistically, Wojnarowski writes, modifications to the lottery process would be phased in over time.

The NBA’s Competition Committee is expected to vote on the idea of sending a formal recommendation to the league’s Board of Governors next week. If the vote goes through, the committee will be able to decide whether to pass the league office’s recommendations on to the next stage of the process or modify them and send them along.

Ultimately it will be team owners with the final say when they, if necessary, hold their own vote on whether or not to implement the recommendations at the Board of Governors meeting in September.

Currently the draft process gives the team with the fewest wins a 25% chance of landing the first pick and a 64.3% chance of staying in the top three.

The team with the second fewest wins has a 55.8% chance of staying in the top three while the third-worst team in the league has a 46.9% chance of staying there.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, the five best lottery teams have only a 1.8% to 4% chance of landing in the top three.

Modifications to the weighting system could tip the scales in favor of teams who finished with better records, lessening the temptations of blatant futility.

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32 thoughts on “NBA Contemplates Draft Lottery Reform

    • mcase7187

      Maybe they give the team with the better record of the 4 worst teams a equal shot at the number 1 pick as the team with worse record

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    • chorn47

      easy. all non playoff teams gave an equal chance to get the top pick. and do the lottery for more than the top 3. all of them have as much chance for the top pick or as much chance for the 10th pick.

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  1. hiflew

    I think the best way to reform the lottery is to invert it completely. Give the best chance at the top pick to the team with the best record that misses the playoffs. It would help in many ways.

    Obviously it would incentivize winning every single game. You would get the best players in the draft probably in the playoffs in their first year because they could put a team on the cusp, over the top. It would give later lottery picks a chance to develop because they would be on the worst teams and would have more opportunity to play. It would also create major drama for the end of the season regarding the #8 seed, one team makes the playoffs, the other gets the best chance at the #1 pick. It would also stop teams being stuck in the middle where they are good enough to win some, but not good enough to win a lot.

    You could keep the 2nd round as is with the worst teams getting the best picks, so the bad teams don’t get completely screwed. But I really think this could be so good for the game.

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    • petersdylan36

      But then you have teams that are just good enough to squeeze into the 8th spot in playoffs initially miss miss for a chance to get the #1 seed

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      • Philly Fan

        Valid point but right now you have teams which could win a few more games elect to sit veterans and play younger players in order to lose. Plus, playoff revenue would discourage teams from intentionally missing the postseason

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      • agentx

        That could be mitigated by inverting the order as hiflew recommended without weighing the odds heavily in favor of either the “near-miss” or bottom three teams.

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    • Excellent post. Awesome out-of-the box thinking. I love it.

      Especially like keeping the 2nd round as is so crappy teams aren’t totally screwed. Gems found at 30-37, but not as much at 50-57.

      Nice job hiflew.

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    • Philly Fan

      I like the idea but it would punish a team in the event that they are just plain bad (ex. Brooklyn Nets). Instead of inverting completely, chorn47 had a good idea in simply giving all lottery teams an equal chance at a top 3 pick. This would take away the incentive to lose but wouldn’t punish teams if they just aren’t that good

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      • hiflew

        It wouldn’t necessarily punish them, but it wouldn’t reward them for being bad either. I have never understood rewarding teams for being bad at what they do. Getting the 14th and 31st picks in the draft still has the potential to get two starting quality players. Then they could gradually get better and maybe work their way up to deserving the 1st pick.

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    • LordBanana

      Except teams that are actually bad will just stay bad for even longer and will have no path to contention. The worst team in the league will pick around 15th, which rarely leads to an impact player, and no good free agents will sign there.

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      • agentx

        I may have been projecting my own take but took hiflew’s scenario to invert the odds given but not the order of the entire first round.

        I’d like to see better odds afforded “near-miss” teams with less favorable odds to each successively worse team, with just the Top 3 picks determined randomly. No. 4 could then be given to the worst remaining team and all subsequent picks be granted from worst to best record as they are now.

        I also agree with suggestions limiting repeat lottery pick winners from one year to the next, at least so far as the No. 1 overall pick is concerned.

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      • hiflew

        Except the 1st overall pick rarely leads to an impact player. At least not in the first year or two. The top 4 picks in this year’s draft were the exact same as in 2016 in the exact same order. Granted there was a trade involved, but it was still the same 4 teams. So how exactly will the overall #1 pick will make teams good more quickly?

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        • LordBanana

          A high pick doesn’t have to lead a team to the playoffs the first year, he just has to give them a path to contention.
          Really bad teams have to amass talent and potential to have a chance. Like you said, the worst teams tend to be bad for more than a year, so why would we take away their best tool for rebuilding?
          In your scenario, the 76ers would still be awful and instead of Embiid and Simmons they would have two random late lottery picks. No one would sign there. The Lakers would be awful and wouldn’t have Ball or Ingram.

          As for your last point, while high picks rarely have a huge impact in year one, it’s pretty clear that a top 4 pick will generally be a lot better than a late lottery pick.

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          • hiflew

            My main point is that we should stop rewarding teams for being bad. If Philly wants to get high picks, then they better figure out how to win more. Free agents will go there because of money. They just have to pick the right ones. Free agents don’t go to teams like Brooklyn, not because of their record, but because they try to sign restricted FAs and their original teams match. But those players STILL sign offer sheets with the Nets. Therefore, the idea that FAs won’t go there just doesn’t hold water. And I won’t even acknowledge the idea that FAs won’t go to the Lakers. That’s just silly.

            Also why do you think is it pretty clear that a top 4 pick will be better than a late lottery pick? Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, Greek Freak, and Stephen Curry were all mid to late lottery picks. What helped them was opportunity. If those picks went to bad teams, then more late lottery picks would have TRUE opportunity as opposed to being buried on a team with players good enough that the new guys can’t break in.

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  2. PeeWeeHerron618

    just leave it alone before y’all F up something.

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  3. mcdusty31

    March madness style tournament for all non playoff teams for the draft order, winner picks 1st overall

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    • baseball guy

      Not bad. Teams try to win in the regular season( no incentive to lose) makes it interesting for the losing team’s fans. Since it would be one game, the nets could still get a high pick because anything can happen in a one game series, as shown in march madness. NBA would make more money because of it.

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    • dodgerfan711

      Then the team that finished as the 9 seed would get the #1 pick every year.

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  4. I do hate tanking, but I don’t know if I would change it. The teams that tank have to try to convince their fans that it’s for the better, which is no easy task. Seats go empty, jerseys don’t sell, and other sports teams in their city get more run.

    Tanking will eventually end organically I think, whether it be that Phillys tank job does not bare fruit based on injury, or another team’s attempt at it is met with complete fan revolt.

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  5. TDKnies

    They fixed it once before and abandoned it bc it didn’t help the worst teams enough. The 2-3 seasons a few decades ago where all non-playoff teams had equal odds at the first picks had virtually no tanking whatsoever because there was nothing to gain by it.

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  6. Pihc123

    This entire idea of trying to make sure the bad teams don’t improve is absurd at best.

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    • chorn47

      It’s to stop teams from being bad on purpose. any of them could get better if they wanted to. when you don’t try to compete you shouldn’t get rewarded

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  7. Rewane

    They can punish the worst team by record and give it much less chance to land a good pick, so the non contending teams will complete to not be the cellar. Being in the bottom 3 in consecutive years should have a much lowered chance to have a top pick.

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  8. ingold01

    We can talk all day long about what it should be but what they are proposing is hilarious. Top 3 teams with losing records have an equal shot means that teams 4-7 or 8 are more likely to tank because they have a good shot at number 1. Horrible idea

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  9. Dahlsim

    The much more severe and impactful competitive issue is at the top of the league, not the bottom.

    Super teams constructed overnight by player selection dominate the league.
    Those teams don’t have to suffer years of losing to ‘earn’ their stars.

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  10. Bluesman

    On top of the tanking problem, an anonymous NBA executive recently said, “If you’re not cheating, you’re not trying”, so I guess the player’s thug culture of the 1980’s has moved into the front office! The three other major sports don’t have such a blatant problem with cheating and tanking, so why does the NBA?

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  11. x%sure

    If nobody cares about the 8th playoff spot it should be phased out. Right now the trend is for fans preferring a lottery placement instead! The suggestion that the ninth seed have better odds than the “15th seed” would only make this trend worse. I feel that seventh & eighth seeds in recent years have played with more frustration than pride.

    I fully support the “Simmons plan” for a tournament to determine the 1-4 draft order, maybe the 1-8 also if it works out.

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  12. nelsoncruz23

    Just get a wheel with all the teams on it and spin it. The first team that gets landed on gets the 14th pick, and so on. Or, you could get the top 14 prospects and just randomly assign them. Or you could let the top 14 prospects pick what team they want to go to and if multiple players want the same team either they do rock paper scissors or the team picks.

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