In the aftermath of the NBA Draft Lottery, there is bound to be more disappointment and bitterness than anything else, save for mostly just one team.
Teams like the Raptors face the disappointment of having to pick behind teams that blatantly tanked down the stretch (Warriors, Nets (which became Portland’s pick), Cavs). Raptors fans are left wondering if purposely losing would have served the franchise better. The answer is no, by the way. As Scott sarcastically pointed out last night, Dwane “Casey and the rest of the Raptors organization should have known that they’d win the lottery if they finished tied for exactly the third-worst record and then lost the tiebreaker coin toss,” which is how the Hornets “lucked” into the No. 1 pick.
Then there are teams like the Nets, who tanked hard (did you see their last game of the season in Toronto?!) and yet because of poor management, now face an off-season that sees them without a lottery pick, and if you believe the majority of reports out there, probably without their star point guard as well.
The bitterness comes from the inevitable conspiracy theories that are bound to emerge year in and year out, though admittedly, rival executives may have a legitimate beef this year considering that one of the most highly sought talents of the last seven or eight years just landed in the lap of a league-run franchise.
While it’s impossible to avoid the disappointment that most lottery teams inevitably feel on lottery night, it is possible to make the lottery itself seem more legitimate, and a hell of a lot more understandable to the average NBA fan out there. Because right now, the NBA’s Draft Lottery feels like one of those machinations that is complicated for the sake of being complicated.
Four-digit combinations? One thousand total combinations to sort through? Why in God’s name so complex? And most of all, why behind closed doors? Yes, I’m aware that team representatives are present during the actual draw, but if you want to ease more minds and make an already increasingly popular television event even better and even clearer, it should be pretty damn simple, if you ask me.
Forget the combinations, forget the Papal-like behind closed doors draw that turns NBA fans into the equivalent of loyals in Rome waiting for the white smoke to billow out of a chimney in The Vatican.
Here’s a simple procedure to fix the NBA lottery once and for all:
- 105 lottery balls are placed in a lottery drawing machine
- Each ball is marked with one of the 14 lottery teams’ logos
- The team with the worst record gets 14 balls in the pot, the second worst team gets 13 balls, the third worst team gets 12 balls, and so on, until the 14th-worst team, or the best of the non-playoff teams, gets one ball with their logo placed in the pot.
- The machine is then run, and whichever team’s logo ball comes out first wins the NBA Draft Lottery. The process is then repeated to determine the second and third picks (Obviously if the same team’s ball comes out, the draw is done again until a new logo emerges) with picks four-to-14 then being determined in reverse of the standings, the same way those picks are determined now.
- In addition, the placing of the 105 balls (with logos shown to the camera) and the draw itself is filmed LIVE on television. Someone will still probably proclaim that the balls are weighted to help certain teams, because conspiracy theories never die, but this process would be much better than the current format. Plus, I dare you to tell me that watching and waiting to see which logo comes shooting up through that chute isn’t more exciting that waiting for an envelope to be opened.
Based on my process, the lottery odds would then look like this, according to the NBA standings:
30th place – 13.3% chance to win lottery (as opposed to current 25%)
29th place – 12.4% (as opposed to 19.9%)
28th place – 11.4% (as opposed to 15.6%)
27th place – 10.5% (as opposed to 11.9%)
26th place – 9.5% (as opposed to 8.8%)
25th place – 8.6% (as opposed to 6.3%)
24th place – 7.6% (as opposed to 4.3%)
23rd place – 6.7% (as opposed to 2.8%)
22nd place – 5.7% (as opposed to 1.7%)
21st place – 4.8% (as opposed to 1.1%)
20th place – 3.8% (as opposed to 0.8%)
19th place – 2.9% (as opposed to 0.7%)
18th place – 1.9% (as opposed to 0.6%)
17th place – 0.9% (as opposed to 0.5%)
You’ll notice that the teams with the absolute worst records don’t get as much of an advantage in my system, which would hopefully curtail tanking. In addition, the odds are just tighter in general, and the best non-playoff teams still have some reason to believe, as opposed to the current system that sees 17th-to-19th place receive only a 0.5%-0.7% share of the combinations.