Report: NBA Wants To Re-Weight Draft Lottery Odds To Discourage Tanking

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Everybody likes seeing shitty teams have the opportunity to get better, but nobody likes seeing those teams intentionally be shitty to land a top draft pick. The NBA is forever on the hunt for the happy medium, and according to Zach Lowe at Grantland, it has formally proposed a new system that would lessen the incentive to tank.

Last year Lowe reported on the NBA's examination of a drastic "Wheel" proposal which would have completely removed win-loss record from the equation. That went nowhere (and may have simply been a trial balloon floated by the league), but a more modest proposal that would better balance the lottery odds is going before the competition committee.

Under the current system, the team with the worst record has a 25 percent chance of snagging the no. 1 pick, perhaps the most valuable asset in the entire NBA. The team with the second-worst record has a 19.9 percent chance of winning the no. 1 pick, and the third-worst team enters the lottery with a 15.6 percent chance of moving up to the top slot. The odds decline from there, with the final five teams in the lottery — the teams with the five best records — each having a 1.1 percent or worse chance of moving up to no. 1.

The league's proposal gives at least the four worst teams the same chance at winning the no. 1 pick: approximately an identical 11 percent shot for each club. The odds decline slowly from there, with the team in the next spot holding a 10 percent chance. The lottery team with the best record will have a 2 percent chance of leaping to the no. 1 pick, up from the the minuscule 0.5 percent chance it has under the current system.


Sensible enough, even if it'd still be in teams' mathematical interests to be among the worst. But at the very least we wouldn't regularly see historically bad stretches like Philadelphia's and Milwaukee's race to the bottom.

That said, it's just a proposal, and it's not the only one under consideration. But just about anything will be better than the status quo.