The NBA Draft Lottery is changing next year, and Adam Silver has already admitted that more work might need to be done to combat tanking. The league’s view on tanking has never been one of encouragement, but Silver has admitted that one team in particular made it necessary for the league to take action.
Silver spoke on ESPN’s Get Up and discussed tanking and the Draft Lottery at length on Friday, further explaining the worrying trend that teams are much more actively tanking than ever before in league history.
In fact, Silver admitted it was the Philadelphia 76ers and their “Process” that made the league take a serious look at changing the rules.
“As a response to the strategy that the 76ers undertook we changed the Draft Lottery,” Silver admitted. “It’s a bit bedeviling. It’ll be the sixth time in roughly the last 35 years that we’ve changed the odds of the Draft Lottery. And roughly 35 years ago the league put in place a draft lottery precisely to deal with this strategy.”
Silver said that teams have taken tanking to the “next level” and, while the league’s firm stance against it has not changed, the perception of the value of tanking for teams and fans has made it difficult.
“Now it’s being celebrated. So I am worried that, even with the change coming next year, it won’t do enough,” Silver said. “And a lot of teams are conflicted as well because they’ll be trying their best to win games and even their fans, even the media in their market will say ‘what are you doing?’
There’s something to be said for the integrity of the league and the competitive spirit and all that, but tanking is effective. GMs and owners who want teams to tank are trying to compete using any advantage they can, and exploiting inefficiencies in the Draft is certainly one way to get competitive.
“The very purpose of a draft is to restock your worst performing teams,” Silver said. “They’re just not supposed to be worst-performing by design.”
The Sixers current playoff run proves that tanking works. It always has. Now the NBA has to decide whether to change its rules to make the juice worth the squeeze when teams decide they want to bottom out.