Here’s a plan to curb tanking in NBA
February 13, 2019 3:01 AM
by Alan Berg
Over the past few years, I have really started to enjoy the NBA.
As a youngster, I believed in the idea that teams should shoot a lot more 3-pointers. And thanks to the Golden State Warriors it’s now a reality. I have some in-depth reasons for this, with some math and defensive advantages but that’s for another time and column.
Watching the Warriors dominance, the sheer athleticism of Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, the relentless nature of Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook and the giant list of other NBA stars makes the league must-see TV. However, there is one glaring problem in the NBA that should be addressed.
The NBA, unlike the other major sports, can turn the fate of a franchise around with one top draft pick. Because of this, teams have started to give less effort, keeping talented players benched to fall further in the standings, thus receiving more lottery balls for the chance to change the franchise’s fate.
Sports is a business and it makes complete sense for owners wanting to have a shot at drafting the best young players. Because, regardless of the ethical nature of playing full lineups to win meaningless regular season games vs. grabbing a potential franchise player seems like a no-brainer.
For fans, owners and the NBA, it’s time to settle the top picks of the draft in the most exciting way possible – on the court.
My proposal will need to be tweaked as the years go on to adjust with new strategies, but I believe it’s a good baseline for change.
Eight teams qualify for the NBA Draft Postseason. The opening round and semifinals are only one game, win and advance. The final is a best-of-three series with the winner earning the No.1 pick in the NBA Draft. The rest of the order is sorted by where teams finished in the bracket.
For the owners, this is extra revenue and an excitement for the fan base that wasn’t there all season. Teams qualify in two ways, four teams make it from each conference, the seven worse paired with the team with the best record that missed the playoffs. That gives one team that gave it everything they had but failing to make the playoffs a great consolation prize.
Also, for the players, a cash bonus would be earned for each member of the team for advancing to the next round and most of the cash earned by the team that claims the No. 1 pick in the draft. The rest of the order is determined by finish, for example making the semifinals guarantees a Top 4 pick.
As of Monday, this is how the bracket would look:
No. 8 New York Knicks (10-45) at No. 1 Sacramento Kings (30-26)
No. 7 Phoenix Suns (11-47) at No. 2 New Orleans Pelicans (25-32)
No. 6 Cleveland Cavaliers (11-45) at No. 3 Memphis Grizzlies (23-34)
No. 5 Chicago Bulls (13-43) at No. 4 Atlanta Hawks (18-38)
So for example, let’s say the first round winners are Sacramento, New Orleans, Memphis and Chicago.
With reseeding we get a 2nd round of Chicago at Sacramento and Memphis at New Orleans.
Chicago and Memphis come out on top and now would play a three game series for the No. 1 pick. Game 1 and 3 (if necessary) would be in Memphis, Game 2 is in Chicago. Memphis wins in three games and now has the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft.
Another aspect of this NBA Draft tournament, if a team played in the tournament the previous year and made it out of Round 1, that team is ineligible to play in the tournament in consecutive seasons. Teams shouldn’t be rewarded year after year for failing to gain ground in the standings and improve.
If a team has traded their lottery pick for the following season to another team, the team without a pick will play for a supplemental pick the following season.
As an example, say the Hawks traded their 2019 1st-round pick to the Milwaukee Bucks. If Milwaukee misses the playoffs they would take the Hawks’ spot in the tournament. If the Bucks made the playoffs (or missed and was in the Top 8 teams), then the Hawks would play for a supplemental pick and the Bucks get the first-rounder based on the Hawks’ performance.
Obviously, this can be tweaked and adjusted for any scenario currently involved traded first-round picks before it is approved by the NBA.
Some incarnation of this should happen. It’s a great way to give hope to a struggling fan base and would add to the great things going on currently in the NBA.
At Gaming Today we are dedicated to providing valuable up-to-date information on the casino industry and pari-mutuel race wagering. With news and features, plus expanded coverage in key areas – race and sports analysis, picks, tips, and handicapping.