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Sonics Rising Roundtable: Draft & Lottery Reform

Real solutions for real problems. The Sonics Rising crew puts their collective heads together and comes up with a REAL list of NBA draft and lottery reforms.

edited by Taylor Bartle

NBA commissioner Adam Silver loves our ideas.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver loves our ideas.
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

In case you haven't heard the news, the NBA owners apparently decided to reject the proposed lottery draft reform on a vote of 17-13, needing 23 votes to change the current format (the top three picks are determined by the lottery, with the team with the worst regular season record picking no lower than fourth) to the new format (the top six picks are determined by the lottery, with the team with the worst record picking no lower than seventh).

I, personally, like the idea of change, though I am torn on if this idea will would have worked. Yahoo! Sports NBA Insider Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted that:

"One owner tells Yahoo: 'Several teams started to wonder about unintended consequences and voted no to be able to do further study.'"

It was thought that the reform idea was a somewhat reactionary solution, without detailed analysis on the intended impact for current franchises' plans.

That being said, there have been many ideas thrown around before. It's your voices that can help us get these ideas in front of the right people in the NBA. I solicited the team for their input, so we could present you with five ideas (and a few unofficial ones) for draft and lottery reform.

Idea #1: By Record

Paul had the first idea, which when you hear his idea, confirms he loves Hockey first and foremost.

Eliminate the lottery and order the draft completely by the previous year's regular season record.

Pros: It would make drafting all the more straight-forward and simple to follow. It also would give teams a clear look at what prospects they will be in-line to get in the upcoming draft. It also helps team forecast better.

It also gives a clear sight path of who to blame if a draft pick becomes a bust. Having a clear understanding of where they will draft at the end of the regular season gives teams more time for research and analysis, lowering the margin of error.

Cons: Where do I start? You thinking tanking is bad with a lottery, wait until you see the losing associated with this idea. The Philadelphia 76ers would go 0-82. I mean, why not? That guarantees the top draft pick for as long as they want it.

Idea #2: The Wheel

The second idea comes from Taylor who said,

A literal draft wheel, like the Price Is Right.

I thought this was the wheel of fortune at first, but I was mistaken. The "Draft Wheel of Fortune" would have been a great idea, Taylor.

It's known as the "Big Wheel" on the TV Game Show "The Price is Right". The rules are that the wheel is filled with various five cent values in increments of five. Starting at 5 cents and up to $1.00. Contestants try to get as close to the $1.00 without going over.

The NBA version would replace the cent values with draft slots. Each lottery team would get a chance to spin the wheel, in inverse order of record, to get as close to the top draft pick as possible. Where you land is what you get, with each slot being removed as the contest moves on.

Pros: RANDOMIZING RULES. It will solve the tanking strategy outright and give everyone equal rights at picks. GM's that are foolish in building teams will be exposed, and the large market-small market disparity will disappear. Parity will rule the league and commissioner Adam Silver will have the balance he so greatly desires.

Bad teams won't be rewarded for being bad, and players may not be so hesitant to form super teams if their team is mediocre, but happens to end up with the top pick.

Cons: Oh man would front offices hate this one. Randomizing leads to a minimizing of future planning.

So what? Good teams have contingency plans and plans of the plans that they are planning. Randomness is apparent in any sport, especially one that is so player dependent. You think the injuries to Derrick Rose and Paul George were planned for? Good teams would adjust.

Idea #3: A Slight Tweak

Mike has the next idea:

Bottom 5, lottery, same odds for each. The rest of the teams lottery, same odds for each. Bottom 5 as a group, the rest as another. I get tanking to #1, but the teams hovering around the lottery/playoff line are just as bad, and just as sad.

This is a sort of alternative to the normal draft lottery and the reform. It involves the idea of evening the odds with a lottery still determining the outcome.

Pros: It evens the odds for teams that really are bad. It spreads the odds out, lessening tanking and encouraging the bottom teams in the NBA to try. It has some of the same benefits of the recent reform, but with a clear separation for the worst-of-the-worst.

Cons: Tanking can still be done if you are satisfied with the risks. In a deep draft class the odds may still encourage tanking, but with a clear definitive line of demarcation: a bottom five record.

Idea #4: The Tournament

Kevin's idea is one that I also prefer.

Every team selects a champion (with two teams getting an extra wild card entry). These champions do battle in a one on one style tournament until everyone is ranked 1-32.

Shades of Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter, King of the Hill, and every fictional All-Star contest that the NBA refuses to institute comes to mind.

Pros: LeBron James vs. Kobe BryantKyrie Irving vs. Derrick Rose? Nick Young vs. James Harden? Dwight Howard vs. Anthony Davis? Jamal Crawford vs. Nate Robinson? WHERE DO I STOP? I don't stop, any NBA sanctioned one-on-one match-up should be the desire of every true competitor and NBA fan.

Would a team, concerned about the health of a Kobe Bryant, send a less caliber player, lowering the risk of injury, but also lowering their lottery chances? Is that not compelling speculation that can fuel the NBA news cycle? Get this on TV and you have high drama, good basketball, and millions of eyeballs watching NBA-related TV.

Games can be to 11, with a ref that regulates foul calls. Some decorum is needed, right?

Cons: Ok, maybe owners don't like placing their futures on one player? You could also say, as Taylor pointed out, that a team like Cleveland will get every first overall pick until LBJ retires or succumbs to old age.

Whatever. If we ran the world this his how we decide all NBA ideas. So there.

Idea #5: Weighted Average

Chris's idea may be the most sensible, he's making me think and do math. Apparently he hates me.

Take the end of season standings and number teams 1-30. Now do this for each of the last 3 seasons. The most recent season is weighted at 50%, year before 30%, and year before that 20%. Add this together for your final ranking for the current draft. All ties determined by rock/paper/scissors on live TV

Chris explains it pretty well.

Pros: This idea lends itself to teams that suck over a period of time, instead of a one-time tanking (looking at you Tim Duncan-drafting San Antonio). Therefore picks would reward teams that may really need the help, eliminating the outliers and crafty, one-time rebuilders (here's to you Michael Beasley drafting Miami Heat).

It also gives the teams that are steadily improving a push down the ladder, so that front offices can show their competency through building a franchise and not just relying on the "luck" of the draft. For example, The Chicago Bulls won the 2008 draft lottery with a 1.7% chance. It was the second-lowest percentage in NBA Draft Lottery history behind the Orlando Magic, won the 1993 draft lottery with a 1.5% chance (Shaquille O'Neal).

It also gives the NBA a comprehensive system that will capitalize on giving us franchise owners and representatives on battling it out on live TV. Rock-Paper-Scissors is the best way to solve any dispute. Ask my kids.

Cons: Teams can still tank on purpose, but they would have to do it consecutively in order to really capitalize on lowering their draft position. The flip side is that a big risk would give a big reward with a lower cumulative draft position year-to-year.

Random Ideas

Some other ideas thrown out were:

A kids swimming pool filled with rubber duckies with the draft numbers taped to the bottom. Owners get to pick one duck, but not look at it, until a one-by-one reveal. Reveal based off of last season's standings.

Chicken Drop Plop - Imagine the owners surrounding the pool for a chicken drop plop with teams assigned numbers:


Tag Team Tournament, Playa: (we recommend a cage BTW - don't want the Knicks & Nets joining forces against the Lakers)


Fight Dancing Brawl-4-It-All:

The NBA may or may not reject any of these. What's your draft reform idea?