More details of NBA’s lottery-reform proposal emerge

Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images
10 Comments

The NBA is considering lottery reform, just as it did in 2014.

The gist of both proposals: Disincentivize tanking by rewarding the very worst teams less than they are now.

That’s accomplished two ways:

1. Giving teams with the worst records fewer lottery combinations than they get now. This will make it less likely their number is called for a high pick.

2. Using the lottery to determine more picks. Currently, the top three picks are drawn then the remaining 11 non-playoff teams are slotted in reverse order of record. Increase the number of picks determined in the lottery, and the worst teams could "fall" further.

Using information from Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, here’s a breakdown of the current lottery rules and the 2014 and 2017 proposals:

Rule Current 2014 proposal 2017 proposal
Top X picks determined 3 6 4
Odds of No. 1 pick for worst, second-worst, third-worst records 25%, 19.9%, 15.6% 12%, 12%, 12% Equal
Difference in odds of No. 1 pick between worst and fifth-worst records 16.2 percentage points 0.5 percentage points "only have a few percentage points"

The 2017 proposal appears to be less aggressive than its 2014 counterpart, which was defeated. The top four picks – up from three currently, but down from six suggested in 2014 – would be drawn in the lottery. Otherwise the proposals appear similar, though we’ve gotten only vague explanations of the latter.

Wojnarowski also reported prohibiting teams from picking top three in consecutive seasons was being considered, but he noted that rule is not currently part of the official proposal. That’d be a massive change – far more radical than anything reported so far, this year or in 2014. Considering the 2017 proposal appears to soften the changes more than the 2014 proposal did, I’d be surprised if that’s implemented.