The 2017 NBA Draft provided endless entertainment to both casual fans and die-hards, to the point where it remains one of the flagship annual events for the sport. However, the NBA Draft Lottery has been a point of contention for a long time and things were taken to another level recently when Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban openly admitted that his team was tanking down the stretch of the season.
In response to that and overall criticism about the league’s incentive structure, NBA commissioner Adam Silver addressed things as part of a radio interview on Monday with the Dan Patrick Show on NBC Sports Radio. The conversation takes a few lively turns, including Silver’s recollection of why the lottery exists at all.
“We put the lottery in place precisely for that reason and that was well over 30 years ago because teams seemingly had this huge incentive to finish at the bottom because the value of these draft picks is so high. We’ve tinkered with the draft lottery five times in the last 30 years but we’re still not at the point where it’s frankly working.”
From there, Patrick and Silver bat around some ideas that have been out there for tweaking the process. They included Silver presenting an idea to lock the draft order in March, shifting the way that the odds work and even setting a limit on consecutive seasons in which a team can land in the lottery. Beyond that, Patrick even proposed a tweak that would incentivize teams by rewarding those lottery-bound franchises that perform well down the stretch of the campaign.
In typical, lawyerly fashion, Silver pushed back on the proposal, citing a lack of motivation for incumbent players to win simply to provide their own front offices with ammunition to replace them. There was no firm resolution, as you might expect, but Silver did cop to the fact that it is “not working” right now, while pointing out the differences between American professional sports and the rest of the world.
“I would say right now that it’s not working… It is a bit of a problem in this league when there’s a free-rider issue too because, in all the major leagues in the United States, each team gets an equal share of the national television money whether or not you’re the champion or finish 30th in the standings.”
It was certainly notable to hear Silver respond, especially since Cuban’s public appearance on the same radio program helped to spur the debate forward a bit. However, Silver isn’t alone in having no “perfect” answer to the lottery questions and it isn’t as if tanking hasn’t been prevalent for quite some time. A shift of some sort is probably in the offing but, until it arrives, it will be tough to project specifics.
(Via NBC Philadelphia)