Does the current NBA draft lottery system hand out consolation prizes for poor records? Or does the system simply help rebuilding teams to ensure league parity? Does an NBA team’s draft fortune rely on a pingpong ball bouncing its way? Or have those franchises set their respective teams up for failure to maximize their odds at a coveted draft pick? “We have to do something to stop the incentive for teams to tank,” said one NBA owner, who requested anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the issue. “You shouldn’t be rewarded for stripping your team down.”
The Sixers could have 16 draft picks in the next five years, while fielding a team that went a combined 47-195 in the previous three seasons. Last month, Sam Hinkie resigned as Sixers general manager and president of basketball operations amid mounting criticism of his approach. “Everybody has rigged the system. It wasn’t new what Philadelphia was doing,” said one Eastern Conference general manager. “It’s just that Sam was so brazen about how he went about it. He acted like he reinvented the wheel.”
Similar questions emerged amid a proposal Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said has “zero chance” of becoming a reality. “All draft eligibles are free agents,” Cuban wrote in an email. “They can sign with whatever team they want. However, the amount of dollars slotted for that team would be allocated proportionately by record. Worst record gets the most dollars to spend on a rookie. Best record the least.”
Obviously, the more games the Pelicans lose increases their draft lottery odds. But Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said Saturday, they are still trying to win games though their top five scores, including star forward Anthony Davis, are out with injuries. The Pelicans start a three-game road trip on Sunday against the Brooklyn Nets and includes games against Philadelphia on Tuesday and Boston on Wednesday. The Pelicans are 1-11 on the road against Eastern Conference teams.
“You don’t go out there trying to lose basketball games,” he said Wednesday. “I think that’s a bad way to present that to your team, ‘We’re trying to lose so we can protect the top-three pick.’ That’s a bad omen to me. “It sets a bad precedent to me, especially this organization and the people that’s been in this organization for a long time and understand what this organization is all about, we’ve never been like that and never will be. So I would never, even behind closed doors, tell my players, tell my coaches, tell my trainers or anybody that we were trying to lose games on purpose to protect the pick.”
Scott wasn’t quite done with his thought process. “I’m not coaching, looking at the clock, going, ‘All right, man, if we can just turn it over a few more times and miss a few more shots, this game is in the bag as far as a loss is concerned.’ That’s not me,” he said. “We’re trying to win every game and trying to build something with the young guys that we have here.”
“I don’t think anyone’s trying to come into games and lose,” Stauskas said. “I don’t think that’s ever the case. But it’s tough. When you’re in the NBA, you’ve got guys who are 21, 22 years old, and don’t really have experience, it’s going to be tough to beat veteran teams who’ve been around the league eight, nine years and have proven yourselves. So just naturally, being this young, there’s going to be times when you struggle and things don’t go the way you want. But I think with the approach this team’s had the last couple of years, they’ve started adding pieces — drafting Nerlens, drafting Jahlil, drafting Joel, even though he’s hurt. So we’ve got pieces now. It’s just about putting it together.”