End tanking? (revised title)

Discussion in 'NBA' started by VF21, Mar 27, 2017.

  1. VF21

    VF21 #KingsFansForever Staff Member Contributor

    From SB Nation's "Good Morning It's Basketball" newletter by Tom Ziller

    Good morning. Let's basketball.

    What if instead of letting teams who lose lots of games have their pick of the best amateur players in the world the NBA let said amateurs become free agents when entering the league?

    What if teams weren't rewarded for losing? What if they had to convince even rookies to join their teams?

    That's the idea I presented in my Sunday piece on ending the NBA draft. My proposal would give teams a rookie salary cap exception every year and allow teams with cap space to sign young prospects above that number. The key feature is that all of this would happen simultaneously with actual free agency, forcing teams to prioritize among varying levels of experience.

    I'm not the only person thinking reform here: Amin Elhassan presented a similar plan in 2015. The odds are extraordinarily low this could ever happen -- small-market owners ralled against even lottery reform as the Sixers executed a brazen multi-season tank job -- but it is a legitimate alternative to the NBA's status quo.

    I am convinced that eventually the level of intentional losing that happens at the end of seasons will need to be dealt with. Twenty percent of the league is straight up embarrassing right now. Doesn't that matter?
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  2. VF21

    VF21 #KingsFansForever Staff Member Contributor


    Patrick Beverley's comments on "resting players"...
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  3. LPKingsFan

    LPKingsFan Well-Known Member

    It's a different sport, but Jonah Keri had a podcast a little while back discussing baseball with Scott Boras, and they touched on the idea of replacing the draft with free agency. I was skeptical at first, but there are some interesting ways you could do it -- give every team a certain amount of salary with which they could sign rookie free agents over a five year period, and in theory teams would either use or sit on their "rookie cap" depending on what stage of the team development cycle they're in. Still, the draft is fun, and it gives fans of bad teams hope.

    I think the bigger issue is that the draft is the only way many teams can get themselves a superstar. So, teams go all out trying to maximize their chances of striking gold in the draft. But what if more stars changed teams in free agency? I think raising/eliminating individual max salary amounts (maybe combined with shortening deals by a year or two) would make combining stars and building super teams even harder, and perhaps make free agency an option for more teams to improve. The league took a step in that direction with the new extensions (that the Kings ultimately elected not to give Boogie). But maybe there's more to be done there. Ultimately, it hurts the player "middle class," while benefiting the stars, so I don't know if the union ever goes for it.
  4. hrdboild

    hrdboild Well-Known Member

    The issue would be if you go to some kind of free agency system in place of the draft -- wouldn't players take less money to go to a team they want to play for? It seems like that could create a situation where bad teams remain bad indefinitely.
  5. Mr. S£im Citrus

    Mr. S£im Citrus That's right, I said it! Staff Member Contributor

    Teams would still have the ability to make trades, wouldn't they? There would still be a maximum amount of players that can be on each team, at any given time, wouldn't there?
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  6. Capt. Factorial

    Capt. Factorial Cantry Member Staff Member Contributor

    Yes, one of the things that often gets overlooked by those who don't like "tanking" or the current draft/lottery procedure is that the entire point of the draft is to attempt to maintain competitive balance in a league where large-market teams have a significant advantage. The NBA has an interest in having 30 teams cycle in and out of contention, rather than having 6 teams that win every year and 24 teams that have no shot at winning a title, ever. So when Ziller says "At its core, the draft is a solution to a basic question: How do you incorporate young players into the league?", he is wrong.

    I think Churchill's quote, "Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others" applies pretty well here: "The draft is the worst way to bring new players into the NBA, except for all the others."
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2017
  7. VF21

    VF21 #KingsFansForever Staff Member Contributor

    If the draft continues, I'd like to see some kind of tier system where you cannot get top picks year after year by tanking. I think it's been brought up before...
  8. Mr. S£im Citrus

    Mr. S£im Citrus That's right, I said it! Staff Member Contributor

    Also, the concern of players taking less money (at least, significantly less money), is largely going to be a self-correcting problem, as long as how much money a player can make on their next contract continues to be dictated by how much money they're making on their current contract. Players at the end of their careers will still continue to do it, but you're not going to have a bunch of guys at or near their primes taking a fraction of what their worth, because that's going to impact what they can sign for the next time.

    I mean, you do a little tinkering with the CBA to raise minimum salaries, put a cap on how many minimum contracts a team can have at any one time, and those things will start to even out, on their own. There's a lot of creative thought that could go into this, but I honestly am not interested enough to think about it that much.
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  9. Suicide King

    Suicide King Well-Known Member

    What about a playoffs for draft position? The teams that miss the regular playoffs are seeded with the 9th place team getting 1st seed in these lottery playoffs, and on down in reverse order. Make it one loss and out, best of three, whatever.
    It gives lottery bound teams a prize to play for. It discourages flat out tanking as home court advantage is at stake. For the league and owners it gives more games to sell tickets, concessions, ads etc.

    At least this system allows teams to earn better picks by winning games, rather than game the system and fleece the fans by "losing for a better future"
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2017
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  10. Capt. Factorial

    Capt. Factorial Cantry Member Staff Member Contributor

    The problem with that is that the 17th-best team (not the worst team) gets the best pick in the draft. That doesn't do much to help competitive balance and it really, really ensures that the dregs of the league never get a chance to get better.

    You can't make a policy that basically says, "We want to give the worst teams the best picks, now go prove you're the worst team by winning games." It's not sensible.
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  11. hrdboild

    hrdboild Well-Known Member

    Our chances of landing a franchise player via trade are very very small. Our chances of landing a franchise player in free agency are even smaller. If you take away the draft as well as a viable option you basically have to concede that Sacramento will never have another franchise player. Tough to win that way. Sure teams would have to shuffle pieces around for the rich to get even richer with their limited slot money, but if you weren't already convinced by super teams being built in LA, Boston and Miami over the last 10 years then I would think that Durant to GS this summer should tell you where there is a will there's a way. I hate that the draft lottery rewards losing on purpose -- the round robin system or the splitting of lottery odds into equal shares among the bottom 10 teams or so would be improvements I can see working. Just losing it entirely though would be a mistake I think. Major League Baseball has an amateur draft but international free agents are fair game and I'll be damned if the overwhelming majority of them don't end up wearing Yankee or Red Sox caps because of it.
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  12. hrdboild

    hrdboild Well-Known Member

    Actually I think this has some potential as a source of comedic hijinx... if you do it in reverse. Lottery teams have a playoff for draft seeding and the worst of the bunch gets the best pick. Oh boy would that be some quality basketball! I think you could market it as a Globetrotters type of carnival act where both teams are competing to out lose each other. Where amazing happens!
  13. andjel

    andjel Well-Known Member

    maybe tweaks:

    - You cannot get top 3 picks two years in a row
    - For every X (lets say 2) consecutive lotteries, you have to skip one lottery. In other words, you will be behind all the teams that are lottery eligible regardless of your record.
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  14. Suicide King

    Suicide King Well-Known Member

    @Capt Factorial
    I agree with you of course. Its not without flaws as can be said of every other proposal Ive seen.
    However it can be said the current system isnt necessarily benefitting the team with the least talent. Just the ones who tank on purpose for better odds.
    A flat equal percentage for every team in the lottery would be about as fair if not more to everyone involved as anything else. Who wants to support a team intentionally mailing it in?
    Again just throwing out ideas as I dislike the current system.
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2017
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  15. Kingz19

    Kingz19 Well-Known Member

    It's a silly idea that ultimately destroys the hopes of small market teams landing a superstar.

    Maybe make the lottery odds more even for the teams who didn't make the playoffs so teams aren't intentionally tanking for more ping pong balls. It's all luck of the draw but the worst teams still get the pick among the best players. Even that is a atupid idea but less stupid then making kids feel entitled and their agents brazen before they've even played a damn game.

    You play where you land. Last thing I want is some unproven brat having "desired destinations" and for that to all of a sudden matter because some douche had a cutting edge idea. I don't want to hear about GMs making "pitches" to rookies.

    There really isn't a problem. Every team in the bottom 10 are there because they are bottom 10 teams. Brooklyn has the least wins because they are, in fact, the worst team on paper and visually.

    The most practical anti-lottery idea is just going to a standard worst to best model like everybody else. There is enough of a gap between teams at certain levels for it not to be a race to the bottom.
  16. HndsmCelt

    HndsmCelt Well-Known Member

    The problem with a rule that restricts picks categorically like this is it makes trading picks much more difficult and complicated. I like the sentiment I hate the idea of rewarding teams for constantly sabotaging themselves period but I'm not sure this is the right answer either.
  17. andjel

    andjel Well-Known Member

    Good point.
    Any tweak will add some complexity.

    Might be simplified if everything is done the same on the lottery night like today, and my rules are applied only if the pick is not traded.
    For example, you won top 3 pick last year and you get it again. If part of the trade, the other team gets top 3 pick regardless. If you would keep it, you are back to original position and draw is made for the team to take your spot.

    Similarly for multiple lottery rules. Lets ay you were in the lottery for 2 years. Lottery is done like today. If you are supposed to give away pick via trade, the other team gets it. If you are about to keep it, you slide down the list.

    This way there are safeguards that trading team is not impacted, and all complexity is pushed for the lottery night, which is the best time for any additional complexity.
  18. VF21

    VF21 #KingsFansForever Staff Member Contributor

    That was one of the things addressed in that tier proposal I remember reading but cannot seem to find now.
  19. HndsmCelt

    HndsmCelt Well-Known Member

    A couple things are certain about any discussion about the draft: one is that almost everyone sees a problem and the second is that no proposed fix will ever be perfect. How we perceive the problem is shaped by our personal philosophy of the game and fair play so by necessities the solutions we prefer by nature address those concerns.

    Although the problem is simple, how do you incorporate new players into the league, the traditional simple solution of the draft by record (with or without the lottery) does have obvious problems. It does incentivize loosing and in the worst possible way. For some teams the entire last half of the season is about NOT wining. Teams cut good vets, sit good players and in general field a bad team in hopes of nabbing a top pick fans loose interest and in some cased root for their team to lose games – we all know this but I applaud writers and fans who do not accept this as either inevitable or good for the game. I just refuse to accept that ANY situation that asks teams to lose or fans to hope for loses is good for the game.

    A quick look at the past decade or so of standings reveals that while many or most teams that end up in the bottom 5 pull out of it after a 2-4 seasons, not every top team needs to take this path. Houston and San Antonio come to mind. Moreover for teams like Philly, the Nets, the Knicks, and the Kings making 3-4 trips to the bottom has yet to turn any of these franchises into winners or even up and comers. In short the talent infusion from the draft is just not sufficient yet for some teams it is treated as a cure-all rather than one of several tools needed to develop a winning team.

    I do not see how a straight up rookie free agency would help these teams while it seems likely it will hinder their development. But as other posters have noted there are plenty of other solutions, each with its advantages and problems.

    The NBA could use a tiered protection where teams are restricted from the top 3 lottery in consecutive years, but as noted this complicates trades of picks. When we consider that at least in the past 10 years virtually no team has stayed in the bottom five for more than 3 consecutive seasons this seems more like a solution in need of a problem than an actual fix for the problem of tanking.

    The Reverse tournament is an interesting thought where rather than incentivizing losing teams would be encouraged to stay competitive and play good ball in order to “earn” their pick, and while this does leave the very bottom team with a #18 pick it might go far in closing the gap between the teams that just miss the play offs and the bottom of the barrel. GM’s would be more careful about shedding talent and coaches would be focused to the bitter end keeping their teams sharp and competitive.

    At it’s hart the lottery IS the NBA’s prefer solution to tanking by making sure that the top picks are not sure things but that solution is clearly not working. The NBA could try to improve this by giving every team in the lottery the same odds, or maybe even add more drawn slots in an effort to de-incentivize loosing. I am not sure if being more random and arbitrary at the end of the season will improve play and it will likely just infuriate fans more. The relative odds can also be adjusted as well but again the more tweaking with the picks the NBA engages in the more complicated trades of picks become.

    Another thought is to simply use the record at all-star break for the draft. This would go a long way to making sure teams retain talent and play hard in the second half of the season. There are of course equity issues from this solution in which teams with relatively easy or hard early schedules might be hindered or helped. I know this thought will just feel bad/unjust to many fans but I am not sure it is a bad idea.

    As I said at the top of this overly long post there are lots of solutions none perfect but if fans and the NBA really feel that tanking is seriously hurting the game there are ways to combat it, they just have consequences.
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  20. 206Fan

    206Fan Well-Known Member

    Someone over there made a good point. I think the NBA should get rid of restricted free agency, and allow players to negotiate years on the minimum of at least 3 for every 1st rounder. Gives players a lot more freedom
  21. macadocious

    macadocious Well-Known Member

    OK so I put some thought into helping the tanking. Instead of taking current years record into account, you aggregate the previous 3 years. Then you give a weighted average to each year. I arbitrarily selected 50% to current year, 30% to previous and 20% to the 3rd year back. You get your rough ranking there, but then you do a full draft lottery starting at pick 1, but each team cannot move up or drop more than 3 places. This part I haven't fully thought through, but I don't think that would be that difficult to figure out. Here is what the current lottery bound ranking would look like.

    1Philadelphia 76ers41320.30.62.9
    2Los Angeles Lakers3241.
    3Brooklyn Nets13150.50.934.4
    4Minnesota Timberwolves65131.50.24.7
    5Phoenix Suns241311.22.64.8
    6New York Knicks7723.52.10.46
    7Orlando Magic51152.53.316.8
    8Sacramento Kings89642.71.27.9
    9Denver Nuggets13876.52.41.410.3
    10New Orleans Pelicans1061851.83.610.4
    11Detroit Pistons1219865.71.613.3
    12Charlotte Hornets112195.56.31.813.6
    13Dallas Mavericks917224.55.14.414
    14Miami Heat14241077.2216.2

    All teams that made the playoffs would just draft in order of finish in the playoffs.

  22. New Era

    New Era Well-Known Member

    I saw an idea I liked where you get a "point" for every win you have after you've been eliminated from any chance of making the playoffs. The teams with the most points get slotted in the highest draft order. So the 76ers of the world, who probably get eliminated early then have every incentive to win as many games as possible from that point. The teams who win 38-42 games and barely miss out on the playoffs obviously wouldn't have as much of an opportunity to get "points."

    I think after all the points are tallied and teams are put in order, you could still have some sort of modified lottery where even the teams with very few points still have an outside shot of winning the lottery.

    Only downside I see to this is you may have some teams tank in the middle of the season to get eliminated faster....

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