- The NBA saw many teams tank this season in hopes to increase their chances at a higher pick in the NBA Draft.
- NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said that despite lottery reform that goes into effect next year, he’s worried that teams will still tank.
- Hall of Famer and NBA TV analyst Grant Hill talked to Business Insider about tanking, but admitted that perhaps he couldn’t comment too freely because he’s Vice Chairman of the Atlanta Hawks – a team that tanked this year.
- Hill added that tanking doesn’t always work and the draft requires a lot of luck.
Grant Hill may not be the best person to ask about how to fix tanking in the NBA.
The NBA saw an unusual race to the bottom this year, with eight teams tanking in hopes of securing better lottery odds in what’s considered a stacked draft class.
The NBA made changes to its draft lottery in an attempt to discourage teams from tanking that will go into effect next season, but league commissioner Adam Silver recently said he’s worried it may not do enough.
“I am worried that, even with the change coming next year, it won’t do enough,” Silver said on ESPN’s “Get Up.” Early in April, Silver told the media that the draft structure still incentivizes teams to lose games to help their lottery standing.
While speaking to Business Insider, Hill admitted that he might not be able to come up with fixes for tanking because of his role with the Atlanta Hawks.
“Look, I’m Vice Chairman of the Atlanta Hawks, so I’m probably not, you know…,” Hill said in response to Silver’s comments. “I’lldefer=”defer”to Adam Silver and the brain trust in the NBA to figure out what’s in the best interest of the NBA.”
The Hawks went 24-58 this season, the third-worst record in the league. After seeing All-Star players like Al Horford, Paul Millsap, and Jeff Teague leave in free agency in recent years, the Hawks would benefit from securing a top pick and hopeful star to build around.
Hill, however, did admit that tanking doesn’t always work for teams. The Philadelphia 76ers, who pulled off one of the more obvious tank jobs in the NBA for several years, are currently enjoying an exciting revival and are led by top draft picks in Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. But, Hill said plenty of other teams have had shots in the lottery and not pulled off a successful rebuild.
“I mean, the Sixers, look, they’re in a great position, and it’s been a long, arduous process for them and their organisation and their fan base,” Hill said. “We can see now that the players they have drafted who have been just fantastic in [Dario] Saric and Embiid and Simmons. Those kids are talented, they have a lot of runway in front of them, and they will be good for a long time.
“But people also fail to remember that there were also picks that didn’t pan out along with the team. It’s tough because there are teams in this league who have been in the lottery for the last ten years. You got to really execute. You got to nail . You got to draft quality players. And even Philly who had some top picks in those years, they missed on some. But they were very fortunate; they got some guys who give them a nice foundation for success. So it’s tough. There’s a lot of variables. There’s a lot of luck that goes into any draft pick you have.”
While few teams seem willing to go to the lengths the 76ers went to rebuild, the current system incentivizes teams to lose for the best shot at a future homegrown superstar. Until it changes, teams with no chance at making the playoffs will try to lose games.
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