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.
NBA Draft Lottery is tomorrow night.. Who do you think gets the first pick?— NBA Syndicate (@NBAsyndicate) May 14, 2019
Percentages for No. 1 pick:
Lakers, 2% pic.twitter.com/cHp1QjsKt4
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.
An interesting topic for not just the Knicks, but anyone the day after the draft lottery:— Daily Knicks (@DailyKnicksFS) May 15, 2019
Will this actually curb NBA teams from "tanking" in future seasons?
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.