Great number of people is bringing up the question of tanking in recent period like it’s something new. The truth is that this has been a possible scenario for NBA teams since the mid 80’s and there are even possibilities that the Houston Rockets tanked before the infamous 1984 NBA Draft. The Rockets General Management had a strategy to pick either Olajuwon with their first pick or Michael Jordan if they get the second spot. Back then the first spot was determined with a flip of a coin. Some of other notable tanking efforts include the following: 2006-07 Boston Celtics (Durant and Oden eligible on the next Draft), 2002-03 Cleveland Cavaliers (the LeBron James quest), 2005-06 Phoenix Suns (matchup against the Lakers in the upcoming NBA Playoffs), 2005-06 Minnesota Timberwolves (needed to be among ten worst teams in order not to give the rights of their picks to Utah), 1996-97 Boston Celtic (the Tim Duncan chase), etc.
Some of the players, GM’s and coaches that were somehow connected with these teams indirectly admitted that they were tanking for the future good of the team. Sometimes this move is even considered as a pure business decision. That’s why the NBA Draft system draws many flaws and changes the whole aspect of the game. Experts and high profile analysts are brainstorming for possible solutions, but there are only few official suggestions sent to the NBA head office. Among them probably the most serious and backed up with science is “The Wheel System”.
The Wheel System Solution For The NBA Draft
The system in its nature is very simple. Each team will get a predetermined pick order list for the next 30 years. They will be guaranteed a top 6 pick each five years and at least one top 12 pick in between. This will take tanking out of the picture and it will not be in the interest of teams to be weak and in that way risk their attendance ratings, fan base loyalty, NBA Playoff appearances, etc. Each team would know exactly what spot does it possess for following years and this will focus their scouting efforts and future planning. This opens the door for some new activities connected with the managerial side of NBA teams. For example you would know for sure who will draft Andrew Wiggins on NBA 2014 Draft Day long time ago and this would open up some trading opportunities and future team planning.
Wheel System Cons
- Weak under .500 mark team could miss out on their strong picks and then draft three rotation players. This will leave them in a position to wait for a good player for longer than five years.
- Strong team getting a top five pick. It could happen that Miami Heat gets the second pick while LeBron James is still in his prime.
Other Solutions – Learn From European Soccer
European Soccer is one of the rare sports where everything is about money. Teams don’t have a salary cap and only the most powerful teams can buy the best players. The system functions perfectly and one problem are the high player salaries in recent years. The NBA could eliminate the NBA Draft as a whole and instead force NBA teams to scout and sign players without any restrictions. This would mean that the whole league could compete for the signing of a particular player. Here you leave everything between the team and the player and prospects would for the first time in the history of the NBA decide their own feature. Normally teams would be limited for up to 3 signings per year and they would all have the same salary cap.
- Report: NBA May Ditch Draft Lottery, Considering Proposal for Each Team to Cycle Through Spots Year by Year (nesn.com)