By Andrew Pappas @AndrewPappas24 on July 21, 2014
Since the 1990 inception of the weighted draft lottery, the NBA’s competitive integrity has consistently been questioned. As the lottery is currently constructed, the team with the worst record has a 25 percent chance of securing the top pick in the lottery, after that, each team’s odds get worse. In other words, bad teams have an incentive to stay bad or get worse. The league must find a solution and here are five reasons why.
We all saw these hashtags, #RigginForWiggins and #SorryForJabari, throughout the NBA season. Tanking is absolutely a real problem in the current construct of the league. The competitive integrity of NBA basketball has been a laughingstock in recent years. Teams making or missing the playoffs because of tanking teams performances, empty arenas because of no-name players and historical losing streaks all come as a result of tanking.
With just 82 games in a season, every game should count. Every team should try to win every game because, of course, that is what professional sports is all about. Teams should be fighting for every win up until game 82. With the lottery in place, teams may know their lottery chances with multiple games left, and may just coast by the rest of the way. As Herm Edwards said, “you play to win the game!"
The perception of the NBA is that David Stern manufactured (rigged) team success. From the Patrick Ewing draft lottery to the Tim Donaghy scandal, the NBA has had an ugly shadow over it for quite some time. The Cavs recent lottery luck and the return of LeBron James to Cleveland hasn’t helped that reputation. New commissioner Adam Silver has had a successful start to his tenure. Doing away with this perception would be another notch in his belt.
The NBA’s competitive balance has been dismal in recent memory compared to other leagues like the NFL. Over the last 30 years, the NFL has seen 16 different champions compared to the NBA’s nine. The lottery’s intention is to help bad teams get better, but it clearly is not doing that. A more competitive league should be in the interest of all parties involved, but in the lottery era, that does not seem to be the case.
There is more of an incentive to lose than win in professional sports. Let that sink in for a minute. Making the playoffs as an eight seed in the NBA makes it highly unlikely that you will win a championship. Shouldn’t owners and GMs want to make the playoffs? Shouldn’t winning be rewarded instead of record-breaking losing? Most fans would say yes. Most fans want their team in the playoffs. Most fans would want to do away with the draft lottery.
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