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SB Nation NBA Commish for a Day: Gaming the Lottery

If we're getting these extraordinary powers, why not use them to our advantage? Also, later on, a fairer argument related to the tanking problem.

If I were commissioner for a day, I'd hand this guy to the Sixers.
If I were commissioner for a day, I'd hand this guy to the Sixers.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

As long-time blog readers might know, SBN's NBA crew likes to do themed post days during the summer. It gives us something to post about when the news cycle slows down, and it promotes discussion. And because I'm the first one that responded in the LB email threads, that means I have ALL THE POWER IN THE WORLD.

Or maybe just the NBA, which is like my world, but you get that.

Anyway, if I were commissioner for a day, and that day were today, then I would abolish the lottery system for this year.

Is it fair to other teams and franchises, considering that the Sixers are practically built to lose and almost every team has finished its major offseason activities? No, absolutely not. It's terribly unfair to pretty much everyone but us. The Sixers can take even more time hiring a coach, despite it being less than two months until training camp starts. Hinkie can not hire a coachHinkie can hire Derrick Coleman as coachWe can sign Chris Duhon! The possibilities are endless!

For a team practically built to lose, the best change for the team would result in us getting the highest draft pick in next year's draft. The best way of maximizing the chances of getting that number one pick would be to get rid of the lottery, if we're ensured of having the most losses next season. Wiggins would be ours 100% of the time we end up with the worst overall record, rather than the current 25% of the time.

And that's what I would do if David Stern got bored and named me commissioner for a day. Also, inflatable mascots for everyone! B. Franklin Dogg, come on down!

* * *

Now for something... completely different. I know that a lot of us are excited about the direction the Sixers are headed in. That they've picked *a* direction is part of the excitement - mediocracy is the among the cruelest of all modern organizations - but losing will hurt. It will hurt like shaving a beard with a shard of glass, but in the end we hope it's worth it.

If I were commissioner for a day, and I were being fair and unbiased, I'd still change the lottery system. But I'd make it so that the worst team wasn't given an advantage in getting the number one pick over other bad teams. In fact, I'd make it so the number one pick was up for grabs for all lottery teams. Then the weighted lottery would resume for the second and third picks, with the rest of the picks in the order of regular season finish. In order to remove the incentive for finishing 9th in a conference instead of 8th, I'd only allow the luxury tax money (shared among the teams that don't pay it) to be distributed to non-tax playoff teams. Combining that with the guaranteed 2 games playoff revenue, that should actually remove much of the incentive to not make the playoffs, especially in weak draft years.

As much as we at Liberty Ballers are looking forward to this year of rebuilding, in reality losing should not be a winning strategy in any year. The NBA gives incentive to lose because superstars are almost always drafted in the lottery, and the current draft system gives teams control of drafted players for as much as 9 years. Henry Abbott at TrueHoop has led the crusade to abolish tanking, and while I am clearly endorsing rebuilding/tanking as the go-to strategy for this year, it's only because of the incentive structure that currently exists. Tanking under the guise of rebuilding is a legitimate strategy to get better, which can be utilized by smart teams to become better, easier.

Losing is not fun. Losing also shouldn't be the way to run a business. It took me years to accept tanking as a way to conduct basketball business because I despised the idea of intentionally being bad.  Until the NBA does something to change the current structure, I can't help but support our team's strategy.

Because when people think signing Chris Duhon to help the team is a good idea, you know there's a problem needing to be fixed.


Let us know what you think, and also what you would do with this power, in the comments. Or, you can follow us on Twitter (@Liberty_Ballers) and use the hashtag #Commish4aDay.

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