The NBA is expected to take a major step in their efforts to prevent teams from tanking with a vote on draft lottery reform that is expected to come prior to the season. The league’s competition committee will discuss a plan to alter the draft lottery rules and odds to take away the incentive for teams to try to lose in order to receive significantly better odds at landing the top overall pick.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski had the first report of the NBA’s plans for lottery reform on Thursday, and on Monday, USA Today’s Jeff Zillgitt released more details on the proposal being discussed right now. The biggest reveal from Zillgitt’s dive into the new lottery reform proposal was how dramatically the lottery odds would be dropped for the top three teams.
As of now, the top team receives 25 percent odds at the top pick, while the second and third worst teams in the league receive 19.9 percent and 15.6 percent of the odds, respectively. According to Zillgitt, under the new proposal, the three worst teams would all receive 14 percent odds with a smooth decrease of 1 or 2 percent odds through the lottery, rather than the dramatic jumps now.
This would be a major shift, and one that won’t necessarily please small and mid-market teams, as the draft is often the best bet for those squads to land a star player. From the NBA’s perspective, this would give better incentive to teams to try and build consistently and not go for the worst record in the league over and over, because finishing in the middle of the lottery would yield far better odds than under the current system.
The other change Zillgitt mentions is a change from the lottery determining the top three teams, as it does now, to determining the top four teams, which means the team with the league’s worst record would no longer be guaranteed a pick in the top four but instead a pick in the top five. These details goes along with the original report from Wojnarowski, but offers up a bit more concrete information.
Wojnarowski also noted in his original report that, while it wasn’t in the proposal yet, the idea of preventing teams from picking in the top 3 in back to back years has been discussed. That would be a direct effort to keep teams from following a Philadelphia-like process of trying to acquire top picks multiple years in a row.
Even though these changes could be sent to the Board of Governors prior to the start of the 2017-18 season, the changes wouldn’t go into effect until the 2019 NBA Draft, allowing teams a full year to adjust course and make plans for the new system. Giving them the extra year is helpful, but for teams that were just beginning a full rebuilding process and were possibly looking at the Sixers as a model, these potential changes will force them to reevaluate their long-term plan.