The NBA may float a proposal as early as next season, designed to de-centivize "tanking" — or, in other words, the conscious choice to be very, very bad.
The "wheel" proposal will give each team the No. 1 pick once in a 30-year cycle (and the second pick once, the third pick once and so forth). Intentionally losing games — trading rotation pieces for nothing, benching good players with suspicious ailments and using funky lineups in high-leverage situations — would be a thing of the past.
Grantland obtained a copy of the proposal, which would eliminate the draft lottery and replace it with a system in which each of the 30 teams would pick in a specific first-round draft slot once — and exactly once — every 30 years. Each team would simply cycle through the 30 draft slots, year by year, in a predetermined order designed so that teams pick in different areas of the draft each year.
The visual representation helps a bit.
For example: The team earning the first pick in the first year of the 30-year cycle would net the 30th, 19th, 18th and 7th selections in the ensuing four drafts; basically, each team would know with absolute certainty where they're picking as many as 30 years in advance of said pick.
The first, and obvious, positive: Creating a system where team building, be it through the draft or through free agency, is optimal, rather than a system where scrapping everything, losing a lot and lucking out with a franchise player.
Second: This would be way more fun! The San Antonio Spurs, and any team with a competent front office, benefit. They have pieced together a contender for the last 17 years, subsisting on the inordinately low-value picks at the tail end of the first round. In this system, they could nab the 30th pick in the cycle and earn two top eight picks in the first five years of the cycle.
This system poses a new threat, one the draft lottery sought to eliminate — a really good team getting the top pick (and, potentially, a franchise player). But that won't happen too often, and creating a system without luck in the equation is damn near impossible.
This proposal, currently in the very, very early stages of development, will not be implemented soon — if at all. It has to go through several hoops, and the majority of the high-level executives must accept the new system. Change is difficult, and we'll likely have the draft lottery for the next 10 seasons (at least), because they have to wait for all future draft pick trades to conclude. But this is a nice start.