The 2023 NBA Draft will feature a “generational talent” in Victor Wembanyama and sensational guard Scoot Henderson. Fans around the league are calling on their teams to purposely “Tank the season” in hopes of drafting one of them. This has led Adam Silver to consider NBA relegation in the future.
Victor Wembanyama vs. Scoot Henderson. 🍿🔥— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) October 5, 2022
During the offseason, the San Antonio Spurs were predicted to be in lottery talks at the end of the season. Not because of tanking but because they’re the third youngest team in the NBA and have a ton of developing talent.
However, with the hype around Wembanyama and Henderson, a lot of front offices in the NBA seem to be embracing the tank to get into the draft lottery. In a meeting with Phoenix Suns Employees, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver had this to say, “We put teams on notice,” Silver told employees. “We’re going to be paying particular attention to the issue this year.”
NBA With An English Twist?
In his talk with Suns’ employees, Sliver considered the idea of bringing an English Football style system to the NBA. There are four English Football leagues for those unfamiliar with The English Football Pyramid. The Premiere League is at the top, and at the bottom is League Two.
Non-League clubs can win their way into League 2 and up to the Premier League, that’s called Promotion. Clubs can also lose their way out of the league. In English Football, the last ranked clubs are sent down to the lower leagues. Eventually, they would join Non-League Clubs if they don’t turn things around. That is known as Relegation.
Would NBA Relegation Lead To Better Basketball?
The idea of one NBA team going into the G-League and one G-League team moving up to the NBA may provide a better overall basketball product for fans. Teams will take every game more seriously. You won’t hear NBA commentators saying this is a meaningless game.
No team will want to be the team that gets relegated. Players will compete harder, especially if ending in last place means an NBA contract becomes a less lucrative G-League contract. Silver did say that the potential for teams purposely tanking this season has led to hundreds of meetings about the topic. Ultimately though, he thinks the idea of relegation would destabilize the NBA too much. As well as saying that G-League teams that got promoted are not in a position to compete in the NBA.
If Silver did want to implement an English Football style system for the NBA it would take a few years for G-Leauge teams to go from NBA scouting teams to going after players that give them the best chance to compete for promotion and NBA success. This is an exciting proposition that would improve the NBA in the long run.
Change Is Normal
While this may seem like a drastic change, it wouldn’t be the first time the NBA has changed its draft rules. From 1966-1984 the first and second picks of the NBA draft were decided by a coin toss. In 1985 the NBA moved to the draft lottery which gave the worst team in the NBA a guarantee of getting to pick fourth or better.
The rules were revamped over the years to our current system. Now the team with the worst record is guaranteed to draft fifth or a better and the three worst teams in the NBA have an equal 14% chance of being selected for the first pick, the odds descend for teams 4-14.
Playing For the First-Round Pick?
Another option for Sliver could be to have teams compete for the first-round pick. Sliver could draw inspiration from the newly formed USFL. The USFL changed their draft rules in the mid-season when the two worst teams with identical records faced each other and realized that both teams benefit more from a loss. The Winner of the game got the first pick in next year’s draft.
This could work in conjunction with relegation for the NBA. The worst team is out and the second and third worst teams have a best-of-three games series for the first pick. The loser would get the 2nd pick. The promoted G-League team would be given the most chances in the lottery for picks three to five. This is just an idea. Do you think competing for the first-round pick makes the NBA better?
Oh The Possibilities
Imagine gaining a team’s draft pick and that team is in that draft pick series. Imagine your team traded its pick away but had it stipulated they get it back if they win the draft pick series. This could potentially be great basketball in the making.
With things the way they are, teams will always be tempted to tank when a Lebron James or a Victor Wembanyama is upcoming in the draft. If Adam Silver leads the NBA to make these changes it could make the NBA a more competitive league. Ultimately the NBA would be a more exciting product to broadcast around the world.
What are your thoughts on the NBA draft and the possibility of relegation and promotion? Would you still be a fan if your team was relegated?