Kings owner proposes determining draft order based on standings at All-Star break

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Sacramento Kings owner Vivek Ranadive participated in a compelling Q&A with Jared Dubin for ESPN. Among the highlights

  • Ranadive’s desire to legalize taunting in the NBA
  • Hints at why the Kings’ analytics told them Rudy Gay would improve in Sacramento
  • How many times Ranadive describes someone as a 21st-century something

What really caught my eye, though, is Ranadive’s tanking solution – what he calls the V Plan. Ranadive:

There’s two parts to it. Part one is that you freeze the draft order at the time of the All-Star break. Then, everything [pertaining to the current lottery system] remains the same, but it’s frozen based on the standings at the All-Star break. Then there’s no gain in not playing at the highest level for the remainder of the season. That’s part one.

Part two is that at the end of the season, the top seven teams from the Eastern Conference and the top seven teams from the Western Conference make the playoffs. Then for the eighth playoff spot, the remaining eight teams have a sudden-death, college-style playoff in a neutral venue, like Vegas in the West and Kansas or Louisville in the East.

That would inject such excitement into the league. Teams would no longer be incentivized to lose. Their fans would have something to hope for, like a Cinderella team that got into the eighth spot. It would solve most of the issues that we’re facing with the way the draft happens right now.

The end-of-season tournament has been proposed before, and wary of completely diminishing the value of the regular season, I have mixed feelings. I could get behind a six-team-per-conference tournament with the top two seeds getting byes.

But a play-in tournament has been proposed before. Freezing the standings at the All-Star break is completely new to me – and very interesting.

I see a couple potential issues, though.

1. This could increase tanking during the season’s first half. One big disincentive to tanking is selling tickets. Teams still want to attract fans, and committing to a full season of losing will hurt attendance. But a half season of losing? Hey, that’s half as bad for ticket sales.

2. It could be difficult to balance schedules league-wide so every team has had an approximately representative sample. At minimum, each team would have to play the same number of home and road games.

But those obstacles could probably be overcome with a little more planning. The V Plan is certainly intriguing.