PC: New York Times: The 2015 NBA Draft Lottery (Chang W. Lee)
Throughout the entirety of the NBA Draft Lottery process, we have seen multiple teams embrace the position of tanking. Tanking is frowned upon by the NBA, but more importantly, openly tanking is a no-no. Recently, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was fined $600,000 for publicly saying that his team was tanking. While we know that other teams are tanking, they haven’t openly admitted they are, and this is considered “acceptable”.
While the NBA has been frustrated with the amount of teams tanking, they have yet to find a solution to discourage teams from throwing away their season. There have been several ideas thrown out there, but there hasn’t been one that the league has endorsed. With roughly one-third of the NBA tanking, I started brainstorming ideas on how we could fix the NBA Draft Lottery process. Here is my solution.
Rewarding Winning Teams
The NBA Playoffs consists of the top-eight seeds in the Western Conference and the top-eight seeds in the Eastern Conference. The remaining fourteen teams are then placed into the NBA Draft Lottery. The team with the worst overall record of the fourteen teams receives the best chance to win the NBA Draft Lottery, while the team with the best overall record of the fourteen teams is given the worst chance to win the NBA Draft Lottery.
The logic behind the NBA Draft Lottery makes perfect sense. You want the team that struggled the most in the prior season to have the best shot at improving their team. Unfortunately, front offices in the NBA have abused that privilege and that is why tanking has become, out of hand.
In order to reward teams that are pushing for a Playoff spot, the only solution is having a single-elimination tournament for those who are in the NBA Draft Lottery. In round one, the top two teams in the NBA Draft Lottery Tournament will receive a BYE, while the remaining twelve will play each other. The team with the best overall record, for each game, will be rewarded home court advantage.
The NBA Draft Lottery Tournament Seeds
I am going to use last year’s lottery results to use as an example for how I would setup this tournament:
As for the Boston Celtics, the Celtics received their pick from the Brooklyn Nets without protection. The Celtics were also the number one seed in the Eastern Conference last year. This would be a challenge to figure out who would play for the Celtics because you don’t want to cause a scheduling conflict for their Playoff team. There are two options the league could look at here:
A. The League could move the NBA Playoffs back one week in order for the Celtics to have a fully strengthened roster over the course of the NBA Draft Lottery Tournament.
B. The Celtics create their 12-man roster for the Playoffs and the remaining three players on their roster plus their G-League affiliate represents them in the NBA Draft Lottery Tournament.
For this case, we are going to choose option B. I feel as if this is the most efficient way to properly go about this scenario.
The NBA Draft Lottery Tournament Schedule
This is what the First round of the NBA Draft Lottery Playoffs would look like this:
Round 1: The first round of the NBA Draft Lottery Tournament will be played on Friday and Saturday following the end of the NBA’s regular season. The NBA Playoffs will start on Sunday.
Miami Heat and Denver Nuggets receive 1st Round Byes
#3 Detroit Pistons vs. #14 Boston Celtics (Friday, 7:00 PM)
#4 Charlotte Hornets vs. #13 Los Angeles Lakers (Friday, 9:30 PM)
#5 New Orleans Pelicans vs. #12 Philadelphia 76ers (Saturday, 12:00 PM)
#6 Dallas Mavericks vs. #11 Phoenix Suns (Saturday 2:30 PM)
#7 New York Knicks vs. #10 Sacramento Kings (Saturday 5:00 PM)
#8 Minnesota Timberwolves vs. #9 Orlando Magic (Saturday 7:30 PM)
We will assume that the 1st round winners went to best overall record for this example.
Round 2: The 2nd round of the NBA Draft Lottery Tournament will be conducted Monday and Tuesday in the day time, because NBA teams will be using the primetime schedule to play.
#1 Miami Heat vs. #8 Minnesota Timberwolves (Monday, 12:00 PM)
#2 Denver Nuggets vs. #7 New York Knicks (Monday, 3:00 PM)
#3 Detroit Pistons vs. #6 Dallas Mavericks (Tuesday, 12:00 PM)
#4 Charlotte Hornets vs #5 New Orleans Pelicans (Tuesday, 3:00 PM)
We will assume that the 2nd round winners went to best overall record for this example.
Round 3: The 3rd round of the NBA Draft Lottery Tournament will be conducted Thursday in the day time, because NBA teams will be using the primetime schedule to play.
#1 Miami Heat vs. #4 Charlotte Hornets (Thursday, 12:00 PM)
#2 Denver Nuggets vs. #3 Detroit Pistons (Thursday, 3:00 PM)
We will assume that the 3rd round winners went to best overall record for this example.
Round 4 (Championship): The Championship round of the NBA Draft Lottery Tournament will be conducted Saturday at 12:30, because no NBA Playoff game was scheduled for a 12:30 tip-off on the 2nd Saturday of the 2017 NBA Playoffs.
#1 Miami Heat vs. #2 Denver Nuggets (Saturday, 12:30 PM)
Recap and Break Down of the Rewards for Placing 1st and 2nd in