It’s gotten way out of hand. NBA teams using less skilled players or washing out their rosters to not have high priced, high performance players in the second half of each season. They’re doing it to rack up losses that will put them in the top group of the food chain when draft day comes.
While these teams want to drop to the bottom of the standings to get the best draft picks when the season ends, the quality of the overall product in the NBA is horrible (as Charles Barkley has clearly communicated) and fans who paid for tickets to games involving those teams have been ripped off by those franchises.
There have been a number of ideas floated to fix this situation (click the NBA category link on the right to scroll through some concepts our Improving Sports team has proposed in the past). However, the basketball world may be at the point where only one remedy is viable:
Make the NBA draft order a total random mix each year, every round.
That’s right. Eliminate any guarantee that tanking will get you top draft picks. A team’s draft level would be arbitrary regardless of previous season standings. The advantage to tanking would be gone!
The belief that draft good picks are the primary path to a weak team regaining competitiveness is laughable. How about signing better free agents, general managers making smarter trades, coaching hires and player re-signing decisions, plus coaches doing a better job of producing winning efforts?
Keep in mind, with this proposal even weak teams could also end up with decent draft picks, they just wouldn’t be underperforming on purpose during the season in order to get them. The Knicks, Lakers, Nets, Magic, Suns and 76ers have not drafted their way out of their states of desperation. Some bad teams even trade those potentially valuable picks.
Let’s randomize the draft and all teams will be incented to win as often as possible to draw fans and make the playoffs. Imagine that.