As Christmas approaches and the bad teams have begun to drift like so much flotsam to the bottom of the standings, a proposal is apparently beginning the process of being floated around the NBA that would radically change how draft picks are allocated.
Grantland’s Zach Lowe detailed the system in a Monday morning piece, but the high points are that the draft lottery would be replaced by a wheel that would determine draft picks.
The first thought about a wheel brought to mind Pat Sajak and Vanna White managing what would be called this year the Wheel of Wiggins or, perhaps, Randle Roulette.
But the proposal doesn’t call for that kind of a wheel. Instead, draft picks would be locked in for a 30-year period—teams would know exactly what pick they would have for the next 30 years—and every team would be guaranteed a top-six selection every five years or, if you prefer, a top-five pick every six years.
The idea behind it, of course, is to discourage teams from doing what so many of them do now—making the determination that “if we’re going to be bad, let’s just be incredibly bad. Let’s get as many ping-pong balls as we can.”
That sort of thing hasn’t always worked out well. The Toronto Raptors had a shot at a franchise changer in 2006 and landed Andrea Bargnani.
The Portland Trail Blazers hit the jackpot in 2007 and took Greg Oden.
That pick for Portland was two years removed from the Milwaukee Bucks landing the top selection and nabbing Andrew Bogut. Nice player, when healthy. No. 1 overall pick type of player? Not so much.
Or the scenarios where teams tanked like crazy and saw another team swoop in and steal their lottery thunder, such as the 1996-97 Boston Celtics, who didn’t get Tim Duncan, or the 2011-12 Charlotte Bobcats, who had Anthony Davis go off the board before their 7-59 season rewarded them with the No. 2 overall pick.
The naysayers were out in full force as this story circulated Monday. Players might decide to stay in college an extra year rather than go to a bad team or a city they don’t want to go to. Steve Francis did the same thing, forcing his way out of Vancouver before he ever got there. That forced a change to the draft rules. And, well, if I know I have the No. 1 pick, that sort of gives me a year to work on the whole recruiting pitch thing.
Should a kid decide he doesn’t want to play in (insert cold-ass Northern city here) and decides to stay in school, is it really a big loss for the franchise? What’s the point of landing a franchise talent if he comes to town counting the days until he’s able to get the hell out of here via free agency?
Should a team be able to trade a pick from 2046? No. And I’m sure they wouldn’t be able to. Some form of the Stepien rule (no trading first-round picks in back-to-back years and no trading first-round picks more than five years out) would remain in effect.
My favorite objection had to be: The star players would wait until they could go to one of the good teams. Again, like this doesn’t happen now? Has anyone sneaked a peek at the Miami Heat roster?
For my money, anything is better than the annual tank fests that crop up around the NBA and any system that would take away the rewards associated with intentionally putting together a non-competitive team would be an improvement.
Anyway, on to the NBA Best of the Week, where the players selected must play at least 25 minutes a game in more than half of their team’s games (rookies must average 20 minutes a game to be selected).
All statistical information from NBA.com/Stats.