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‘Adam Silver Rides A Bear’ And Five Other Perfect Ideas For Fixing The NBA Lottery

For the last 10 days, our sports podcast, “Hot Takedown,” has been running a crowdsourcing project, soliciting ideas for ways to change the NBA draft and prevent teams from deliberately tanking their seasons in pursuit of better picks. Almost 7,000 people have submitted their ideas thus far, and I am slowly working my way through them. It’s pretty intense.

We’ll announce our winner on next week’s podcast — a winner chosen from among the many very serious and thoughtful proposals. This is not an article about those. This is an article about our six favorite weird ideas.

The proposals, in reverse order of how much we like them:

6.) Aaron from Spokane, Washington, suggests:

To fix the tanking problem, I propose a system where the GM of every NBA team participates in a round-robin HORSE tournament. The GM with the most wins gets the first selection in the draft, followed by the GM with the second most wins, and so on. If more than one GM finishes the tournament with the same score, the tie will be broken by a trampoline dunk contest judged by Magic Johnson and Larry Bird.

Pros:

  1. Removing the teams’ regular season performances from the equation eliminates tanking.
  2. GMs would have an incentive to become ballers. Also, there would be a great incentive for former players to become GMs.
  3. Whoever picked up the TV rights to this event would enjoy a ratings bonanza.

Cons:

  1. Larry Bird and Magic Johnson might be busy.

That’s the only con I can think of, too. Seeing Daryl Morey on a trampoline would be pretty fun.


5.) Dave from Toledo, Ohio, suggests:

Get rid of the draft. Actually, get rid of the NBA. Boom. No more tanking.

It’s been right in front of us this whole time!


4.) Bruce from Maryland suggests:

The first 10 picks are assigned by placement in an essay contest for basketball fans in ~4th grade to ~8th grade. 500 words or less on an appropriate subject (not necessarily sports related) that would be announced at the All-Star break. All teams eligible, regardless of standings. The rest of the picks are in the order of finish from worst to first.

The kids send their essay to a judging panel along with which team they would like to have the draft pick if they win (so no team gets more than one of the picks). The chosen 10 kids are invited to the draft order revealing show that replaces the lottery show, and they all have envelopes revealing their favorite team (not necessarily by geography). They are all called up in reverse order of finish, which they do not know at the time, and reveal the team they chose.

I’m still unsure whether this is an earnest proposal or not. I choose to believe that it is. This would be wonderful.


3.) Adam from Madison, Wisconsin, suggests:

If you miss the playoffs 10 years in a row your team moves to Seattle. 76ers fans would definitely start getting nervous after about year 5. Forces teams to attempt to be good or at least plan on being good quickly.

Oh, man, I hope Seattle gets a team back sooner than this. But I like the idea of fans in the Emerald City actively rooting for a random team to be awful.


2.) Andrew from Sarasota Springs, Florida, suggests:

The bottom three teams would be relegated to English League 2 Football where they would have to play a year of soccer in towns like Accrington and Morecambe. Upon their return from a year in the (lovely) English wilderness, they would be guaranteed picks 1-3 based on their finishing order in League 2.

Pros: hilarity of seeing NBA players play soccer; more media attention for League 2 matches; arguably players would gain new forms of fitness and stamina; Carmelo Anthony adopting an affected English accent; more demand for Brazilian players in trades.

Cons: may stunt development of early career players; Maroon 5, Keith Urban, and Billy Joel would each need to play approximately 75 more stadium shows a year to make up lost revenue.

Andrew has thought it all through perfectly.


1.) Bob in New Orleans, Louisiana, suggests:

Each team is required to bring a fish to the lottery ceremony. Each one has to be a different species (salmon, tuna, etc), and release it into a pool. Then, Adam Silver will ride a bear into the pool, and the fish that the bear eats first wins the lottery. If the bear eats Adam Silver, then it goes by worst-record first.

I would watch what should be called The Tank Tank in an instant. It’s simple, it’s elegant, it has a hint of danger. Bob doesn’t even mention that some bears would be ravenous, having recently emerged from hibernation. But has he really considered all the implications? What kind of bear? Who gets what fish? Do teams get to select or is it randomly assigned? If Silver is riding a grizzly, the team with the river salmon would have a much better chance of winning. But if your team is represented by an Arctic char or fourhorn sculpin, everyone knows you’ll want Silver to be riding a polar bear.

Keep listening to “Hot Takedown” for updates, and next week we will announce our (real) winner!

Subscribe to “Hot Takedown” in iTunes!

Jody Avirgan hosts and produces podcasts for FiveThirtyEight.

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