How to Fix the NBA draft ...

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

as well as the regular season. The problem with the NBA regular season is that by the midway point, half the teams have given up because they know they have no chance to make the playoffs, and the worse they do, the better chance they have to get a high draft pick.

Last night, despite long odds, the Chicago Bulls ended up with the first pick. Despite having one of the better records, the ping pong balls bounced their way. Most people might not like the fact that a decent team now looks to get that much better. I don't. Here is why.

There is a real easy way to fix the first problem and it is related to what happened to Chicago. Don't make the chances of getting the top picks increase by rewarding teams with the worse record. They should take the three teams that almost made the playoffs and give them the top three picks. The team who just barely missed the playoffs gets the first pick, the team right behind them gets the second pick, etc. Starting on the fourth pick, just put them in reverse order of finish so that the worse team gets the 4th overall pick.

Life is all about incentives, and this one creates the right incentives. The current system rewards those teams that lose at the end. Now, there is no guarantee that you will end up with the best pick if you continue to lose, as proven by Chicago, but the odds of it are greatly increased. Rather than incent teams to just lose, they should incent teams to win. If teams like the Bulls, through dumb luck, are going to end up with the high picks anyway, you might as well take chance out of the equation and actually make it worth a team's time to fight till the end. While the rich get richer, in this particular instance, I think its the right thing.