I originally wrote this as a reply to Baumann's "The Wheel and the Collective Action Problem." Then I thought it may be better to get people's ideas and opinions on a fanpost. How do we fix the draft and the tanking issue?
I'll start with my own idea.
They do away with the lottery, the draft, and the whole process and create a separate cap that can go towards signing rookies. Instead of draft day, there's auction week, where the teams interview the players, watch them play and essentially make bids on them. The bids aren't tracked, their blind, no one know who bids the most. The team with the worst record has the most money to spend, the team with the best has the least, and I'm sure you can guess what happens to everyone in between. Don't assign a dollar amount that will give huge leverage to the team with the worst record against the team with the best.
As an example, if we take the cap hit of the rookie contract for the first pick at about 4.4 mill, that's how much that team with the worst record can spend on bids; they can assign 100k to 44 different players, or 4.4 mill to one. The same goes for the best team, if we take the cap hit of the 30th pick at about 850k, they can assign that to one player or multiple.
In addition to all this, a team can choose to retain their money, and roll it over to the next bid week, the following year, if they choose to not draft anyone. Obviously, a cap would have to be placed on rollover as well. Also, teams should be able to retain the money that is bid but not the highest, so they can spend on rookies after the week or roll over to the following season.
However, as mentioned before, all of this should be kept private. How much and who bids on a player should be private; how much money allocated per team should be kept private; how much money rolled over should be kept private. That way, there is no strategy on who you bid on, its just who wants it the most.
This wouldn't get rid of tanking, nothing will get rid of tanking other than the wheel. However, I think the wheel is severely flawed towards teams with good markets. The fact that the NBA excepts all 30 teams to remain competitive all year is ridiculous and I think the lottery and the wheel don't help the issue. If you want a failing, poor market team the opportunity to get better, this might not be a bad start. I agree that teams who perform well shouldn't be punished for doing so, and this would give a team the opportunity who does do well, to save for right draft pick. A team like Miami has played well for years with the core they have, they don't need a top pick. This would allow them to save up and spend when they need to, to remain competitive. On the opposite side, you still have teams near the bottom who would benefit immediately from having more money to spend.
Some of you guys make think this a terrible idea, but I'm open to suggestions and would like to hear if anyone else has any ideas.