12up Logo12up Logo

New NBA Draft Lottery Format is a Complete Joke and it Just Screwed the League

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 31: Zion Williamson #1 of the Duke Blue Devils reacts in the locker room after his teams, 68-67, loss to the Michigan State Spartans in the East Regional game of the 2019 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Capital One Arena on March 31, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Patrick Smith

Last night's NBA Draft Lottery was a completely unpredictable show. Three teams moved up at least six spots to jump into the top four. The last man standing was the New Orleans Pelicans, who won the Zion Williamson sweepstakes by securing the No. 1 pick, despite just a 6% chance of winning.

While the unpredictability of the draft lottery made for an entertaining event, we have to wonder if the new lottery odds are really good for the league.

The new format made it much easier for teams near the middle of pack to contend with the worst teams for the top pick. It also added the opportunity to jump into the top four instead of just the top three.

With the new odds in effect, the bottom of league somehow lost out in a big way. The Knicks, Cavs, and Suns, all of whom had the best odds to land the No. 1 pick, ended up at No. 3, No. 5, and No. 6, respectively. Sure, the new odds might disincentivize tanking, but in exchange it could be leaving the worst teams in purgatory.

The odds were clearly adjusted to dissuade teams from purposely trying to lose all season long, but what if said teams are just plain awful?

Furthermore, while season-long tanking will be discouraged after the recent results, it still won't stop the end-of-season tanking we saw this year. It's very possible that the new odds are only shortening the tanking period for teams.

We'll need a bigger sample size to truly see the effects of the new odds. After all, the three teams that jumped were very lucky to leap into the top four. The initial results of the new odds certainly send an anti-tanking message, but the league may need to make some adjustments if an unbelievable disparity develops.