It's Time to End the NBA Draft Lottery
Whether you believe it is fixed or not, we should all be able to agree the NBA needs to find something other than a semi-secretive "Lottery" system to determine the order of its annual Draft.
Nothing feeds into this current era where conspiracy theories are believed by a frightening amount of people than a so-called "Lottery" weighted towards certain franchises---only to see those teams lose out.
This years winner of the Zion Williamson sweepstakes was the New Orleans Pelicans.
The team with the worst record--and arguably the worst run franchise in the history of the NBA, the New York Knicks, they ended up with the 3rd pick with the laughably pathetic Los Angeles Lakers somehow jumping over multiple teams to land the 4th pick.
Yet the team with the 2nd worst record in the league--the woefully bad Phoenix Suns, somehow will now be picking 6th.
And that's where the questions arise----this year.
Listen, I when the NBA implemented this format back in the mid-1980's, they did it to try and head off the idea of teams tanking for the worst record by not necessarily rewarding them for it.
Over the years---the list of ridiculously random choices happened. The Knicks---upholding their tradition of being horrible, somehow came out with the #1 pick in 1985, despite not being anywhere near the worst team in the league at the time. That pick turned into Patrick Ewing and gave them their cornerstone to build a playoff level team for multiple years.
The conspiracy there: The NBA either froze...or bent the then used envelope picked by then Commissioner David Stern.
The Cleveland Cavaliers have been alternately very good or very bad depending on when LeBron James was on the roster. The Cavs have managed to land the top pick multiple times (they whiffed on a lot of picks).
My point here is this: You would think by calling the system a "Weighted Lottery" the chances of a wild card choice winning would be nearly none. Yet most years, the team with the worst record does not win. Nor the team with the 2nd or 3rd worst record. That is what raises the questions.
It doesn't help the NBA does the drawing "Off Camera". While team and media representatives are in the room when the actual drawing happens, it does not air and is not seen publicly. Which is the primary reason most anyone who follows the game starts scratching their heads at the results.
I'm not accusing the NBA of fixing or rigging the system---I'm not a conspiracy theorist and don't give them credit for being that devious. Besides, this year if they wanted to rig things for the best outcome TV and publicity wise---the Knicks would have won the Zion sweepstakes and the Lakers would be picking 2nd.
Neither of those things happened.
Still, the league needs to come up with a better system. There has to be a way to punish teams who deliberately tank for the first pick. Tanking is not just an NBA problem, it's a professional sports issue as the NFL and Major League Baseball teams are perfecting the art too.
But those leagues stick to the tried and true formula of worst record (barring trade details) gets first pick and so on down the line. It hasn't made a huge impact on the game and it has given bad teams the opportunity to rebuild, which is what the draft is supposed to be about.
Maybe the NBA should stop trying to overthink all of this and just go back to the simple system like everyone else.