Tanking will never be the same again. Or, at least, that was the idea when the NBA Board of Governors voted to enact Draft Lottery Reform starting in the 2019 offseason.
This is how the new system will work. The teams with the three worst records in the League will have a 14 percent chance at the number 1 pick, instead of the current system which awards a 25 percent, 19.9 percent and 15.6 percent chance to the 28th, 29th, and 30th worst clubs respectively. This will also have a trickle down affect to the other Lottery Teams.
For example, last season the Dallas Mavericks in the 9th spot would have had a 4.5 percent chance at the number 1 pick instead of a 1.7 percent chance. They would’ve had a 15 percent chance at a top 3 pick instead of 6 percent. And a 20 percent chance at a top 5 pick instead of 6 percent.
Even though the Mavericks got their man in the draft, this system would’ve made Lottery night matter a lot more.
Here are the official numbers:
Here is an ESPN graphic on how NBA Draft lottery odds change in 2019 pic.twitter.com/Jk8X7q0J3Z— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) September 28, 2017
This version of lottery reform was voted on by all 30 teams and an overwhelming majority of 28 voted in favor. One of the two not in favor: Mark Cuban and his Mavericks who elected to abstain from voting. The other vote not in favor was the Oklahoma City Thunder who voted no.
Mark Cuban is literally introduced on Shark Tank as the “outspoken owner of the Dallas Mavericks,” it doesn’t take long monitoring twitter, CNN, or even this site for someone to determine Cuban is opinionated. He seems to always have a take on everything.
Which makes abstaining seem even more odd for the Mavericks.
When asked about the vote, Cuban smiled and responded, “You know what, I’ll talk about that later.“
Again, leave it to the outspoken owner to abstain from the vote and seem to abstain from the topic. But he continued and basically explained their rationale on abstaining.
“We’ll see if it works. I had a differing opinion and—bottom line—once I’d already lost, my position already lost, I just looked better by abstaining.”
When Cuban said he “looked better by abstaining” he was right. If the Oklahoma City Thunder vote ‘no’—which they did—there are not headlines. If the Dallas Mavericks vote ‘no’ then the headlines would read “Mark Cuban votes ‘no’ on draft lottery reform.” Saves him a lot of time and energy answering all of the questions.
The question then becomes: what was Cuban’s “differing option” on draft lottery reform? Fundamentally, the League was attempting to eradicate or significantly discourage tanking in the NBA. By shuffling down the percentages and distributing the chances for a top pick it would seem like the incentive to tank all the way to the bottom of the league would diminish.
But tanking doesn’t just occur at the very bottom of the league. These very same Mavericks admittedly tanked at the end of last season and ended the season with the 9th best odds in the lottery. The Phoenix Suns despicably tanked for the last few months of the season by just benching starter level players like Eric Bledsoe (14 games), and Tyson Chandler (25 games).
While this draft lottery reform may have dis-incentivized some teams at the bottom from tanking, the teams in the Mavericks’ position last season would have far more reason to not win games.
So what’s worse: three teams tanking to 60+ losses or 10 teams tanking to 50? And if that is the reason he has a differing opinion on draft lottery reform, than Cuban may have a really good point.