gl – You know how Lance Armstrong was the greatest cheater ever? How he blended his commendable charity work with state-of-the-art science and relentless lying to pull an ongoing Jedi mind trick on the American public? The 2013-14 Sixers have a chance to go down as the greatest NBA self-sabotagers ever. They haven’t been tanking games as much as obliterating any chance of winning them. And they’re doing it because the NBA gives every team the same loophole…If you want to throw away a season, depress your fans and disgrace the league for a 25 percent chance at the no. 1 pick and a 100 percent chance at a top-four pick … knock yourself out!
Yup, Bill Simmons just compared The Philadelphia 76ers to Lance Armstrong.
Perhaps as a Sixers fan I’m alone in this but I couldn’t care less that the team is tanking. In fact I’ve very openly embraced their full tank all season. After the disastrous Andrew Bynum trade, the team was left with a whole lot of nothing and new GM Sam Hinkie took the steps necessary to turn Philadelphia into a winning organization as quickly as possible. Part of that involves tanking. As the commissioner himself said last week: “I think what [the Sixers] organization is doing is absolutely the right thing. What you ask for as fans is there be a strategy and a vision in place to win over time.“
If I was a fan of the Bucks maybe I could see how my team’s tanking could affect my attitude seeing as I would be living in cold, bleak Milwaukee completely devoid of all hopes and dreams, but even then it would be easy to understand why tanking for the Draft is a necessary evil. Let’s revisit Bill’s alternatives:
1. Get Rid Of The Draft.
Or how about eliminating the draft altogether? I’m at least half-serious here. Think about it. Suppose we let every college player apply for and receive job offers in the same way that, oh, every other human being on the planet does. That doesn’t mean that everyone goes to L.A. and New York, because you still have the constraints of the cap. It does mean, though, that both players and teams would have to make an affirmative case for each other’s services. So you trade for Steve Nash or Jason Kidd, because they make you instantly attractive to every mobile big man coming out of college. Instead of asking the boring question — which team is going to be lucky enough to draft Derrick Rose? — we ask the far more interesting question: Which team, out of every team in the league, should Derrick Rose play for?
Excellent idea Simmons and Gladwell had here, except that it’s not and very naive. Maybe they’re looking at this through rose-colored glasses, but a Bucks fan would never see a real NBA player ever again. No matter how idealistic they are about players taking more money to play in small markets or wanting to pair themselves up with the right coaches/players, it wouldn’t matter. New York, LA, and Miami would dominate every draft from now until forever. Even if a players’ pay was halved, the money they’d make in endorsements, signed championship hats, and fame alone would be enough to make up the difference. “Make $10 million a year in Utah or make $5 million a year in Los Angeles, maybe win a title, and get invited to high society dick-sucking competitions twice a week?” C’mon, guys.
2. The Entertaining-As-Hell Tournament
Let’s say we cut down the regular season to 78 games, lock down the top seven seeds in each conference, then stage a week-long, single elimination, 16-team tournament between the nonplayoff teams for the 8-seeds. (No conferences, just no. 15 through no. 30 seeded in order.) The higher seeds would host the first two rounds (eight games in all) from Sunday through Wednesday; the last two rounds (The Final FourGotten) would rotate every year in New York or Los Angeles on Friday night and Sunday afternoon, becoming something of a Fun Sports Weekend along the lines of All-Star Weekend. Friday night’s winners would clinch playoff berths. Sunday’s winner gets two carrots: the chance to pick their playoff conference (you can go East or West), as well as the no. 10 pick in the upcoming draft (that’s a supplemental pick; they’d get their own first-rounder as well).
Really liked this idea at first. At first everything aligned to make this the perfect ending to the NBA regular season. At first I could see getting hyped up for the Sixers to win a tourney of the worst teams and set themselves up with an additional pick or playoff seed. At first. Then I thought about the reality of having this tournament year after year. Since bad teams would find it harder to make drastic year-over-year improvements with all 30 teams involved in the lottery, there’d be cities who play every year in the EAH tourney. Cities whose only glory is beating other shitty cities at the end of every season. Do you realize how demoralizing that would eventually become? I can’t even imagine the venom and anger Philly/NYC/Boston fans would have for the coach/ownership groups who became the NIT champs every year. Or worse yet annually lose in the bad-team tourney. Can’t do that to a fanbase. Better to be losers with the hope of improving than hanging your hat on some JV/lower league tournament while the big kids play for golden basketballs.
3. The Wheel
The system is simpler to understand in pictorial form. Below is the wheel that outlines the order in which each team would cycle through the draft slots; the graphic highlights the top six slots in red to show that every team would be guaranteed one top-six pick every five seasons, and at least one top-12 pick in every four-year span:
Another ridiculous idea that would eventually become more corrupt than the current tanking system. You can’t put the power of fortune-telling in the hands of players/coaches/owners. There’d be numerous claims of shady deals and kids holding out until Team X gets the top pick. European players staying overseas until the Lakers pick first. It also eliminates the hope of your team landing the best player available. Can’t imagine whiffing on a #1 then knowing your team won’t get a chance at another obvious “LeBron-type” until 30 years down the road. Awful.
Is the Draft Lottery flawed — of course. There are improvements that can be made to keep teams from tanking and decentivize losing (I like owners mandatory lowering ticket prices if a team doesn’t reach a certain percentage idea)…but no draft? A losers tournament? A WHEEL? Sometimes big changes are also dumb changes.
PS – Michael Carter-Williams is getting worse because he’s getting playing time on a losing team? That just sounds petty, Bill. Let the Sixers improve their team and stop hating.