As February approaches and the retirement winds blow on David Stern’s 30-year tenure as NBA commissioner, it has become hard not to notice the whispers of change that may be taking place.
If you take the word of ESPN writer Kevin Pelton, the incumbent leader of the basketball world — Adam Silver — has a few tricks up his sleeve:
“While dramatic changes are unlikely to happen right away, Silver will bring a new — and potentially more progressive — viewpoint to the commissioner’s office. Already, Silver has indicated that the NBA Competition Committee will consider whether to do away with divisions, and Grantland’s Zach Lowe recently revealed that league executives are discussing a proposal to radically alter the draft lottery.”
The abolishment of divisions is pretty simple and straight to the point. It’s also pretty brilliant.
Without divisions, fans would no longer have to be subjected to the thought of terrible teams — like this year’s New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets or Philadelphia 76ers — having to make the playoffs just because they had their sections lead.
The problem comes with the idea of tinkering with the draft lottery to avoid teams tanking. On the surface it sounds like a noble move, but the entire plan is pretty confusing.
But simply put, each team would pick in a specific first-round draft order and simply rotate — every year — through the other 30 picks. Which means that each organization has to pick in a different slot, every year. No duplicates for 30 years. Or as Lowe continued to break it down:
“The team that gets the no. 1 pick in the very first year of this proposed system would draft in the following slots over the system’s first six seasons: 1st, 30th, 19th, 18th, 7th, 6th…”
The problem with this change is that while it would keep teams from trying to purposely stink year-in and year-out, there would be no guarantee of the bad teams actually getting good. Because getting that 30th pick the season after getting No. 1 would do nothing for a team like the Milwaukee Bucks, who aren’t in a prime free agent destination.
So while change can be good, deputy commissioner Silver should rethink this flawed thought of dumping the lottery.
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