Fixing the NBA draft lottery: Revising "the wheel" and other ideas

Back in December there was some hype about a plan originally put forth by Celtics assistant general manager Mike Zarren called the "lottery wheel."  In this system teams would rotate through picks 1-30 every thirty years.  While the idea was fair to all teams and would eliminate tanking, my initial reaction was that it couldn't possibly work over such a long a period of time.  The NBA is a totally different thing than it was 30 years ago, and who knows what it will be 30 years from now.  It's just too far off to plan ahead.

It appears that Zarren got the memo, because according to Grantland's Zack Lowe he has revised the proposal:

The wheel may not end up looking much like a wheel at all; Zarren has reorganized it so that groups of randomly selected teams might hop through buckets of six picks — say, picks 1-6 in one season, and 25-30 the next season — over a five-year span, instead of the original 30-year system in which teams cycle through each specific pick one by one. Within each bucket, a mini lottery would determine which team gets which pick. The goal is to give bad teams hope of snagging a higher pick more quickly.

This makes a lot of sense; five years is a much more reasonable amount of time to count on in advance.  In this system every five seasons a team would pick once each 1-6, 7-12, 13-18, 19-24 and 25-30.  However, one franchise could still end up with 6, 12, 18, etc. while another gets 1, 7, 13... so it's not totally fair.

Lowe's article also contains a number of other potential solutions for fixing the lottery (quick sidebar -- does it annoy anybody else that all of Grantland's lowercase letter "L"s are actually capital letter "i"s?), one of which seems very simple and obvious to me:

Why is it that the lottery only uses the ping-pong combinations for the first three picks?  Why isn't it done for all 14 selections?  It's particular relevant this season when there are a few potential great choices at the top of the draft.  As Lowe states, "A team like the Sixers isn’t really tanking for the no. 1 pick; it’s tanking for a 100 percent guarantee of a top-four pick."

Why not give each club the chance of moving up or down with every pick?  Try something similar to the way it was in 1990: The team with the worst record gets 1 ball, up to the team with the 14th worst record who gets 14 balls.  Throw all 105 of them in the machine, then have Dawn Hayes from "Lottery Live" (pictured) count down from 14-to-1 picking balls out of the hopper until every team is chosen.

Follow Mark Vandeusen on twitter @LucidSportsFan

Related: Outside the box idea to fix the NBA draft