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With the first pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, the Boston Celtics select...
As the tanking efforts of many teams became increasingly evident during the 2013-2014 NBA season, the current draft system drew scrutiny. The primary complaint of many is that the lottery heavily favors losing team. Thus, if your team is even mediocre, there is obvious incentive to lose in attempt to acquire strong young talent. No fan should ever have to root for their team to lose.

The 2014 NBA Draft lottery is set to go underway tomorrow in New York City. The Celtics have a 10.3 percent chance at the number one pick, and a 33.4 percent chance at a top three pick. Of course, we're all hoping the Celts land in one of these slots. Soon enough, however, there may be a time where losses do not amount to better odds at a draft pick.

Just months ago, Celtics assistant general manager Mike Zarren offered a proposal that is garnering serious attention amongst league officials. As Baxter Holmes notes via the Boston Globe, Zarren's idea is to eliminate the lottery altogether, replacing it with a revolving wheel that would provide a specific first-round draft slot to each team over the course of thirty years. This way, teams would have an understanding of where they'd be selecting over the thirty years. They would be guaranteed one top-six pick every five seasons, and at least one top-12 pick every four seasons.

"It would allow for more certainty in team decision-making; you're not subject to the lottery, moving up or down; and it eliminates the fan perception that teams should be losing," Zarren said at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in March. "I think those three are all significant benefits. I don't know what's going to happen to it. People at the league are studying a bunch of different things. They've been very receptive to new ideas. There are decisions that are up to the owners. There's a lot of work that would have to be done on the business side to see if this makes sense."

Zarren also said he received "really positive feedback from a lot of people. Some people don't like it, and then I talk to them and they like it. Some people, it's the other way around."

Count NBA commissioner Adam Silver as one of the supporters of Zarren's plan. After looking at the plan, Silver said he immediately thought, "Wow, that solves all our problems and teams can plan for the future. They have absolutely no incentive to do anything but win the maximum number of games per season. They know where the draft pick is coming from."

Nevertheless, Silver said some teams raised criticisms, such as the fact the a college prospect may want to just stay in school until the team he wants to play for has a top pick.

"The idea is to avoid that problem entirely, because it could become a problem, you just put the top three picks in a hat," Zarren said at the conference.

Another Eastern Conference executive expressed skepticism as well:

"Right now, throwing in a first-round pick in a trade is like gold because maybe it has a chance to be something, but if I'm going to throw in the 2017 first-round pick and I know for a fact that it's going to be the 25th pick, that's like dirt. I feel like the wheel idea, there's too much transparency on how the first round goes."

"I think the lottery has to exist, but I don't really know how," the executive continued. "The really bad teams, they deserve those players. There's a reason they're bad. The basis of the idea is the worst teams get the best players. And eventually, they'll be the good teams. The problem with that is, how do you keep a team from on-purpose becoming a bad team for good players? I don't know if there's any way of ever getting rid of that."

A Western Conference executive had some more harsh criticism of Zarren's plan:

"It is the dumbest thing I've ever heard. I'll say it again: I think that's the dumbest idea I've ever heard. There's never going to be a perfect format. [The current format] is the best way. It gives every team a little bit of a chance to get to No. 1 if they're a poor team. They have an option of trading to a team for a player of value. I think it's the fairest way right now. I haven't heard a better solution."

Still, a strong push for change remains. At the conference, Adam Silver joked, "Even in the short time I've been here today, I've been handed a few business cars and told, 'I've got a better idea.'"

Our very own Danny Ainge chimed in to support the new commissioner as well:

"I think everybody feels like that is something that we all don't like," Ainge said. "But what is a fair way to do that? Mike's wheel option is intriguing. I think it's something that should be considered, but I think we should be open to some other ideas also. I like Mike's wheel option better than the current system. [The current system] hurts the integrity of the game, even though I understand it gives hope to those teams that are struggling. I just don't know how it questions the integrity of the performance of the coaches and players."

Nobody wants to root for their team to suck. Nobody wants to watch Philly play Orlando. If the NBA truly wants to get rid of tanking (put back in your earplugs, "Western Conference GM"), it obviously needs draft reformation. Perhaps Adam Silver is the guy to do it.

Do you think the NBA draft needs reform?

Are you okay with tanking?

Sound off in the comments section below.

Austin Gill 5/19/2014 08:29:00 PM Edit
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