The lottery reform proposal that was submitted to the NBA board of governors earlier this month has reportedly been approved. The new system, designed to curtail tanking, is unlikely to curtail tanking.
The big change to come with this new system, which will be implemented for the 2019 draft lottery, is that the three worst teams in the league will now all have an equal shot at winning the top pick:
Will this do a bit to prevent bad teams from going all-out to secure the worst record in the league? Sure, I guess, maybe, but it will also definitely incentivize lower-tier teams that are out of playoff contention to try and tank their way to the bottom three. Maybe we’ll never see a team tank quite as brazenly as the 2015-16 Sixers did, but we’re still a long way off from having a league in which teams are never trying to lose games on purpose, and it’s quite possible this will just lead to a dozen teams shamelessly trying to lose as much as they can, making the problem this was supposed to address even worse.
The only true solution to tanking, which also happens to be the most ethical, is to eliminate the amateur draft entirely. Don’t hold your breath.