The NBA board of governors unexpectedly rejected a proposal that would have changed the lottery odds to discourage tanking on Wednesday.
On Tuesday NBA reporter Adrian Wojnarowski said there was “no stopping” the lottery reform plan and reported that the Philadelphia 76ers and Oklahoma City Thunder had “already given up on the possibility of defections to their side.”
Twenty-four hours later, the proposal failed after 13 NBA teams, many of them from small markets, voted against it.
The reform was motivated by the radical “tanking” strategy that the 76ers are using. Rather than attempting to be mildly competitive year-in and year-out, the Sixers have bottomed out and amassed assets and draft picks to help them build a deep, talented team that will be able to compete for an NBA title down the line.
Since the NBA lottery odds are stacked to give the worst teams high picks, the Sixers were guaranteed a top pick year after year.
The reform proposal was designed to change that by giving the league’s worst teams a smaller chance of landing the top pick. Here’s how Grantland’s Zach Lowe described the proposed new lottery system in June:
“Under the current system, the team with the worst record has a 25 per cent chance of snagging the no. 1 pick, perhaps the most valuable asset in the entire NBA. The team with the second-worst record has a 19.9 per cent chance of winning the no. 1 pick, and the third-worst team enters the lottery with a 15.6 per cent chance of moving up to the top slot. The odds decline from there, with the final five teams in the lottery — the teams with the five best records — each having a 1.1 per cent or worse chance of moving up to no. 1.
“The league’s proposal gives at least the four worst teams the same chance at winning the no. 1 pick: approximately an identical 11 per cent shot for each club. The odds decline slowly from there, with the team in the next spot holding a 10 per cent chance. The lottery team with the best record will have a 2 per cent chance of leaping to the no. 1 pick, up from the the minuscule 0.5 per cent chance it has under the current system.”
Wojnarowski reports that the vote failed because teams were worried about “unintended consequences” and wanted to look into the proposal further.
Lowe said on Twitter that the proposal could be revisited early next year.
But for now, as one executive told Wojnarowski, “Well, we still have the ‘be as s***** as humanly possible’ strategy available in the future if we need it.”
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