I just fixed the NBA draft

This is the most brilliant idea ever proposed on 18to88.  I promise.

Last night the Pacers won their 5th game in a row.  Obviously that’s terrible news because the more the Pacers win, the more likely they are to miss out on a top pick in the NBA lottery.  In the NBA, the only way to save a franchise is to hit on a top pick in the draft.  Otherwise, you are relegated to the lower middle class ghetto of 30-40 wins forever.

Unfortunately, that means that teams have to tank games down the stretch and that fans have to ROOT for the team to fail. It creates a bad, toxic environment and leads to players forming bad habits and bad cultures in locker rooms.

Now, we can’t just give out top picks to teams that are already good either, because that also keeps the bottom of the league down.  But, there is a solution that I’ve never heard before.

Give out either ping pong balls or just simply allocate the picks based on how many games a team wins AFTER it is eliminated from playoff contention.

It’s simple and elegant.  Once you aren’t playing for the playoffs, you have to keep playing hard, trying to improve in order to HELP your draft status.  Awful teams that are eliminated early on have an incentive to play hard and create excitement for their fans.  Goodish teams that barely miss the playoffs won’t get enough opportunities to win after they are eliminated to seriously help their draft status, so you don’t have to worry about 40 win teams getting the top pick every year, but if they are booted from the playoffs a week or two before the season ends, they still might pick up a handfull of wins that could vault them over some other team that packed it in.

It creates a ‘losers bracket’ of sorts, a separate set of standings that show which teams are out of contention for a championship, but IN contention to have the “Best Eliminated Record”.  Those teams are rewarded with the best picks in the draft.  The worse the team, the more opportunity for advancement simply because they have more games they can try to win.

Why wouldn’t this work?  It would radically transform the last two months of the NBA season and save both ratings and attendance for crappy teams.  Make winning matter again, David Stern.

I don’t want to be depressed about a five game win streak any more.

UPDATE:

Here’s a chart of all the eliminated teams, how many games they would get to play after elimination, and how many wins they have after being eliminated.  Remember that under the current system, teams are trying to lose.  If they were trying to win, the situation would be different.

Total Games after Elimination WAE
New Jersey 9 63 22 3
Minnesota 14 59 28 1
Golden State 20 51 14 1
Washington 21 50 13 0
Detroit 23 49 12 0
Sacramento 24 49 10 0
New York 26 46 10 0
Philadelphia 26 47 11 2
LA Clippers 27 45 12 1
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