Harebrained Solutions to the Tanking Problem

Tanking is a huge problem in the NBA.  When teams realize that they have little to no shot at making the play-offs, they rest their starters and treat their fans to drudgery and an almost-guaranteed loss (unless the other team is also tanking).  However, as illustrated by Arturo Gallteti, tanking does not matter that much as talent is always available late in (or even after) the draft.  Of course, basketball front offices haven’t jumped on the “Moneyball” bandwagon to the degree that baseball teams have.  Until they do, this will continue to happen.  Luckily, there is hope; I have a handful of ways to end tanking.  Unfortunately, most of them are rather crazy.

  • Change the lottery odds

If teams had less of a chance at obtaining the No.1 pick, then there would be less impetus to tank and more impetus to “gain momentum for next year”.  Maybe we should set the odds of the weakest team getting the pick at 20% instead of 25%, and making the odds the same for teams 10-14.

  •   Have the lottery pick more teams

This means that teams cannot just be guaranteed a Top-4 or a Top-5 selection for simply being the weakest team in the league.  No longer will a team jockey for draft positioning because the odds will be so similar.  Although this indirectly increases the odds that the worst team will receive a higher selection, it also increases a chance that a team within reach of the play-offs will receive a higher selection.

  • Televise the ping-pong balls rolling off the chute

This is more for peace-of-mind than anything else, but it does mean that the results will be more concrete.  We will not have to worry about any “Patrick Ewing” scenarios, so teams cannot rally for selection in a potentially-rigged election.

  • Get Arturo Galletti a job as a sportswriter at ESPN

On the surface, this one makes no sense.  However, Arturo has been a very influential member of the Wages of Wins Journal, and he has used mathematics to prove or disprove many notions, including the importance of a high pick after the first overall selection.  Furthermore, just imagine the epic ensuing PER vs. Wins Produced war!

  • Instiute the “Entertaining-As-HEdoublehockeysticks” tournament in some form

This is the brainchild of ESPN/Grantland’s Bill Simmons.  He proposes that seeds 7-15 play a double-elimination tournament for the last play-off spots, giving seeds 1-6 a two week break.  Although I am not falling all over this proposal, I do want something along those lines coming into existence.  My idea is a tiered tournament with best-of-7 elimination rounds not occuring until the Conference Semifinals.  More on that in a later post once I get all the details sorted out.

  • Give a larger slice of the Revenue Sharing pie to play-off teams

This one won’t happen for several years since we just got a new CBA signed, but there obviously is not enough incentive for teams to fight for the final spots.  The NBA has ultimately become a Socialist organization where everyone is looking out for the little guy.  If this continues to happen and attendence doesn’t suffer, what incentive will there be for anyone to try to make the play-offs?  This would eventually lead to the NBA being knocked off its de facto pedestal atop the basketball world.  Possibly save the Olympics (I have no numbers for either NBA or Olympic viewership), what other basketball competition draws more fans?  This could end if playing well is not amply rewarded.

Tanking is a serious problem that leads to many NBA fans losing their hair.  I believe (but have no proof) that these proposals might help end this travesty.  (P.S. I hate that word, but I’ll use it anyway because I can’t think of a better one.)


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