It’s one of the more interesting questions around the NBA right now:
If a full NBA season is lost, what do you do about next year’s draft?
It’s not really fair to go with the same order or even same lottery as last year — why should Minnesota be rewarded again for being bad two seasons ago? But is an equal lottery — one team, one ping-pong ball — fair? Should Miami or Dallas have the same shot at the top pick as the Cavaliers?
Teams are talking about it. The league won’t talk about if they are talking about it, but you know that they are.
Over at Sports Illustrated, Chris Mannix points to the system the NHL used when it lost a season.
The NHL elected to use a lottery and cooked up a creative solution. The amount of lottery balls a team had was based on two criteria: the number of times a team made the playoffs the last three seasons and the number of times a team had drafted No. 1 in the previous three drafts. Using that model, four teams (the New York Rangers, Buffalo, Pittsburgh and Columbus) each had three of the 48 balls in the bin. Ten teams had two balls and 16 had one.
The result was one of the more compelling drafts in NHL history. While Pittsburgh, which finished the ’03-04 season with a league-worst 58 points, landed the top pick in 2005, there were some surprises. Perennial doormat Florida picked 29th. Ottawa and Vancouver, two 100-plus-point teams in the previous regular season, were slotted ninth and 10th, respectively.
I like the idea of this or some variant — everybody has a shot but the teams struggling recently have the best shot. That seems fair to me. Maybe the Lakers will end up with the top pick and we can start talking conspiracy, but I like the chance of that happening better than saying they or the Celtics cannot get the top pick after a missed season.
Ideally, this entire conversation will be moot. But it seems we’re at the point we should start talking about it.