Let the random thoughts come forth
A solution to stop tanking that everyone will hate
Whenever you bring up the discussion about how your stop Philadelphia 76ers style tanking it revolves around elaborate schemes. Each more schemey and elaborate-y than the last. Anywhere from the wheel to the abacus. From a Bill Simmons proposed "Lottery playoff" to GM's slap fighting in the middle of a kids bouncy castle for the right to be proclaimed King of the Draft Lottery.
Half the time I think people bring these things up because, deep in their heart of hearts, they don't want to leave their chances at the top pick to true luck and random chance. As much as people want to change what teams like Philly did, they also want their weighted shot at the golden goose. You know ... that transformative player who will carry the franchise on their shoulders. Everyone from the Los Angeles Lakers to the Milwaukee Bucks complains that a team will tank out years and years to get THAT player but then is too reluctant to make a change because they also want their crack.
If you really want to stop tanking you need to increase the (financial) incentives to make the playoffs and decrease the odds the worst team will get the best pick. Simply put the NBA needs to increase the financial gain of having playoff home games (be it in the form of higher playoff team bonuses or whatever) to make the "carrot" of making the postseason even greater ... particularly for low-revenue teams. You make the post season overwhelmingly financially beneficial for all 16 teams who get there....
Then, the tough nut to swallow will be the next part. You even out the odds for every single team that doesn't make the playoffs. Give each team an equal shot at the 1st pick. In essence you lower the incentive to be an awful team by making the fact that you missed the playoffs an equal penalty. The only guarantee would be that the team with the worst record can't slip out of the top 4 (currently top 3). So the team with the worst record has some hope, you don't guarantee them the BEST odds to get the first pick. That way they know they will still be in the top 4, but don't have greater odds than everyone else to get the top pick.
Let me say right now this (loose) proposal will NEVER happen. EVER. As much as teams complain about what the Sixers have done these last 3 years they themselves aren't completely serious about denying themselves that plum of having weighted odds of the first pick. The only true way to limit tanking is to make the incentive to lose less attractive and making the playoffs MORE attractive.
This also encourages better management just in general. Drafting better. While luck still plays a huge factor in drafting someone, disincentivizing the bailout of getting the first pick will encourage GM's and owners to beef up their scouting departments and encourage greater emphasis on having all your bases covered if you draft, say, pick 7 as opposed to pick 1. Maximize your knowledge while limiting (as much as possible) your margin for error because you aren't going to be bailed out by being the worst team in basketball.
In general, if people were serious about stopping tanking they would do something similar to this. I honestly don't believe people are. With the flood of TV revenue coming in to the NBA, now would be the perfect time to experiment with a concept like this to see if having an equalized carrot would help teams attempt to be more competitive and encourage better scouting. Hell, having a true minor league would help as well. But that's a subject for another column.
People don't truly want to stop something they can readily complain about.
What say you? Do you believe that evening out the odds in the draft lottery will help with teams such as the Sixers and the Lakers from fielding bad teams? Or is this a pipe dream that will never happen?