The notion that a team might deliberately lose games in order to get a franchise player in the NBA draft lottery is as old as the NBA draft lottery itself.
Every year, the idea grows more brazen. Look no further than the suggestion last week that the Los Angeles Lakers should start tanking when they lost Kobe Bryant to a knee injury.
But now there’s a movement to eliminate that by replacing the lottery system with a draft wheel, according to Grantland’s Zach Lowe. He writes:
Grantland obtained a copy of the proposal, which would eliminate the draft lottery and replace it with a system in which each of the 30 teams would pick in a specific first-round draft slot once — and exactly once — every 30 years. Each team would simply cycle through the 30 draft slots, year by year, in a predetermined order designed so that teams pick in different areas of the draft each year. Teams would know with 100 percent certainty in which draft slots they would pick every year, up to 30 years out from the start of every 30-year cycle. The practice of protecting picks would disappear; there would never be a Harrison Barnes–Golden State situation again, and it wouldn’t require a law degree to track ownership of every traded pick leaguewide.
It’s more readily understood in Lowe’s graphic depiction:
As the chart shows, a team that picked first one year would pick 30th, 19th, 18th, seventh and sixth over the next five years. (The top six picks are in red.) A team would be guaranteed one top-six pick every five seasons and at least one top-12 pick every four years. A team’s record would no longer be a factor, presumably improving the quality of games in the league.
Of course, it isn’t foolproof. Nothing would keep a great player from staying in school until a team he wanted to play for came up on the wheel. But it would be a big step toward eliminating the awful practice of losing deliberately.