Report: Board of Governors expected to pass draft lottery reform, Sixers and Thunder opposed

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When the NBA’s Board of Governors meets on Wednesday, they will vote on a set of draft lottery reforms designed to disincentivize tanking by adjusting the weights on teams’ odds at winning the No. 1 pick. The Philadelphia 76ers have been known to be opposed to the reforms, as the team that has taken the most steps to be as actively terrible as possible over the last two seasons.

However, Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that the Oklahoma City Thunder are joining the Sixers in their opposition.

Grantland’s Zach Lowe confirms the report that the Thunder are the other team that have come out against the reforms:

The reforms, which Lowe first reported in July, would give the four worst teams in the league identical odds (around 11 percent) at winning the top pick, with the fifth team having about a 10 percent chance and the rest of the teams declining. Under the current system, the team with the worst record has a 25 percent chance at the No. 1 pick and the second-worst team has a 19.9 percent chance, with each subsequent team’s odds declining slightly.

The proposed changes would have the obvious effect of taking away the advantage of having the worst record in the league. If the bottom four teams have the same odds at winning the top pick, there’s no reason to try to lose as many games as possible to get the worst record. The idea is that you can still win a respectable amount of games as a lottery team and still have a decent chance of getting the No. 1 pick, which would result in the bottom-tier teams being more competitive and thus creating a better fan experience.

It’s no surprise that the Sixers are against the idea. Their entire rebuilding plan is predicated on the current system. In 2013, they traded All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday to the Pelicans for center Nerlens Noel, who missed his entire rookie season with a torn ACL. This summer, they followed that up by trading veteran forward Thaddeus Young and using both of their lottery picks on players who can’t help them in the immediate future. The No. 3 pick, Joel Embiid, will likely miss the entire year with a broken foot. The No. 12 pick, Dario Saric, can’t come over for the next two seasons because of buyout issues with his current contract with the Turkish club Anadolu Efes. Most of the Sixers’ roster is comprised of D-Leaguers and fringe NBA players. Their roster is designed to lose games, and they’ve made no secret of it. If the proposed changes pass, they could go 11-71 and lose the No. 1 pick to a 27-win team with the same odds in the lottery.

The Thunder’s reported opposition to the reforms is more interesting. They’re a title contender in the Western Conference (presuming Kevin Durant’s foot injury isn’t lingering), so this doesn’t affect them in the short term. They won’t be picking in the lottery regardless. However, the Thunder got where they are by following a rebuilding model very similar to what the Sixers are attempting to do. Their middle-of-the-decade awfulness (some of which took place when they were still the Seattle SuperSonics) resulted in three consecutive top-five picks, all of whom became superstars: Durant in 2007, Russell Westbrook in 2008 and James Harden in 2009. They see the value in the strategy and don’t want to lose the option of bottoming out again if Durant leaves in 2016.

Still, despite their protests, the reforms are expected to pass. Most teams are set in their rosters at the moment, but it will be interesting to see how this affects rebuilding strategies going forward.