Possible NBA lottery reform could affect Sixers

Possible NBA lottery reform could affect Sixers
July 16, 2014, 7:45 pm
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Tank 2.0 will be a harder sell if the NBA makes it tougher to secure the pot of gold at the end of the lottery rainbow.

According to a report by Zach Lowe at Grantland, the NBA competition committee is reviewing a new lottery reform proposal. The wheel -- a different suggestion that has staunch proponents and detractors -- has evidently been supplanted by a new idea that would alter the current lottery odds in an attempt to discourage tanking for the top pick. They might as well call it the “Sam Hinkie Cease and Desist” plan.

At present, the team with the worst record has a 25 percent chance of getting the first pick in the NBA draft, one of the most valuable assets in the league. The team with the second-worst record has a 19.9 percent chance of getting the best pick. The odds decrease at various intervals from there.

Under the new plan, according to Lowe, the four worst teams would have almost the same chance of getting the top pick: Around 11 percent. That’s a significant shift. After finishing with the second-worst record a year ago, the Sixers had a one in five chance of getting the top pick. Under the new plan, that would have been closer to a one in 10 chance.

Teams that just missed the playoffs but landed at the back end of the lottery would benefit under the new system. The last lottery team would go from having a 0.5 percent chance at the top pick to two percent.

The proposal includes a system in which the top six picks are selected via ping-pong balls, with each subsequent pick being slotted in order from worst to best record. The current system selects the first three picks via ping-pong balls, then slots the rest by record.

Lowe wrote that there are various concerns about the proposal, including that it might encourage fringe playoff teams to tank and go for a better lottery pick than was previously available. (Basically, the teams at the back of the lottery might tank toward the end of the season instead of the teams at the front tanking all year.) The timing and how it might help, hurt or alter strategies that have already been implemented by various general managers (looking, once again, in Hinkie’s direction) is also an issue. Despite all that, NBA commissioner Adam Silver is evidently “serious about tweaking the lottery system, possibly as early as next season,” according to Lowe.

The “possibly as early as next season” part is disconcerting if you’re in favor of the long-term approach outlined by the Sixers over the last year. They are clearly set up to double their efforts on that front next season in an attempt to secure better chances at another top lottery pick. It seems unlikely that the NBA could put the new plan in place that quickly. Unlikely, but not impossible. Which is why there has to be at least a little concern over at Sixers HQ about all this.

This particular proposal was probably not submitted by the Sixers. Just a hunch on that.

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