The NBA might look at a new proposal that would eventually eliminate the draft lottery, the reputable website Grantland.com reported this week. One team official created the “wheel” proposal that is gaining traction within the league, according to the report, which stressed some owners haven’t even seen it yet and the discussions remain in preliminary stages.
The new draft proposal would be a 30-year cycle that would eventually allow every team to draft from all 30 positions. It is essentially a draft wheel, which was devised using complex algorithms and assures teams consecutive picks within the top 12 every five years.
The team with the No. 1 pick in the draft, for example, would select 30th, 19th, 18th, seventh and sixth the next five years. The team that selects second one year would then pick 29th, 20th, 17th, eighth and fifth the next five years.
The whole idea behind the concept is to abolish the need for tanking. There would no longer be incentive to intentionally lose games because teams would know their draft slots for the next 30 years.
Even if it were approved by owners, the new system couldn’t take effect until all trades involving draft picks have been executed. The Brooklyn Nets have traded away their first-round pick in 2018 and there is even a second-round pick in 2019 involving the Milwaukee Bucks and Sacramento Kings, so any dramatic change in the system would be many years away.
The Cavs are one of a number of teams that have been accused of tanking recently, and owner Dan Gilbert has even conceded publicly on multiple occasions that the worst place for an NBA team to be is in the middle.
The Philadelphia 76ers, Boston Celtics and Phoenix Suns were among the teams expected to tank this season to position themselves for a talent-rich NBA draft next summer, but all three teams are exceeding expectations.
Tanking has been associated with the NBA for as long as the lottery system has existed. The lottery has taken various forms over the years, from the envelopes drawn out of a drum to the current weighted system that rewards teams for being bad with better odds at top draft choices.
There are sure to be detractors to the new proposal, and some around the league have already voiced their displeasure over the idea, according to the report. If a team drafts poorly with a top-three pick, for instance, it will take years to recover — teams would receive a top-three pick only once every decade.
Powerhouses could also get even stronger. Imagine the Miami Heat, winners of the past two championships, sliding into the No. 1 spot in this draft and choosing between Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins. Furthermore, the Heat would’ve been assured of at least one top-10 pick during LeBron James’ guaranteed four years with the team.
There is plenty left to consider and resolve before this ever becomes a reality, but it will certainly spark conversations in front offices around the league if the idea begins to gain traction.
Of course, kicking off such a system and determining the draft order the first year could cause problems. The current proposal, according to the report, includes holding one final lottery using the current system to determine the first 14 slots of the first “wheel” draft. That team would then simply move down the wheel, meaning the team that drafts first in Year 1 would draft 30th in Year 2.
As for picks 15-30 (the playoff teams), those teams could choose where they’d like to draft in the first year. The worst playoff team would get the first choice. Choosing to draft 24th in the first year of the lottery is the fastest way to No. 1 (three years later), but electing to start with the 18th selection in the first year of the wheel means picking seventh and then sixth the next two seasons. There is a fair amount of strategy involved and teams could take from now until that first wheel draft debating the merits of each spot.
Right now, it’s nothing more than a conversation starter. But there have always been factions around the league trying to eliminate the lottery since it was first created. This system is still years from becoming a reality, but it’s at least a step in that direction.
Jason Lloyd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Cavs blog at http://www.ohio.com/cavs. Follow him on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/JasonLloydABJ. Follow ABJ sports on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.