Fix tanking: Rig the draft

March, 28, 2012
3/28/12
2:26
PM ET
Mason By Beckley Mason
ESPN.com
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It is universally acknowledged that there is something odd about teams being rewarded for playing badly, as we have discussed when HoopIdea first addressed tanking. But it's not a simple problem to solve. In that spirit, we present a number of different proposals.

TrueHoop reader John Welsh sent in a radical, but very interesting suggestion: What if the draft was rigged and everyone knew it?

It sounds crazy, Welsh makes a compelling case, in the video above, about how such a system could incentivize teams to help make the whole league stronger.

Here are some of Welsh's key points:
  • Chicago landing favorite son Derrick Rose. Kyrie Irving stepping into the void left by LeBron James. These are storybook drafts that turned out pretty well for the league ... why not have more of those?
  • How it works: Every team, not just teams that miss the playoffs, submits an application video for one of the top 3 picks. In this video they make an argument for why they need that top pick.
  • The criteria could be unique to each team. The exact reason is less important than the strength of each team's case. These videos would go to a committee, who would decide the order at the top of the draft.
  • How it would work this year: New Orleans is a very compelling case, the NBA wants to sell the team and they could really use a top pick. But what if the league just wants to reward teams that are doing things the right way? Think about the Pacers or 76ers. In a year like this, of course those teams want to make the playoffs, so they have to make a choice between making the playoffs and potentially getting that final piece. Awarding the No. 1 pick to an eighth seed that's right there could make them a contender every year, could turn a small market into a big market.
  • What would manipulating the system look like? It would look like doing things the right way. Hiring good coaches, hiring good management. Finding exciting players. You could even have a community service component!

You have a HoopIdea?
Beckley Mason is an NBA contributor for ESPN.com.

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