Late-Season Betting Affected If NBA Draft Lottery Reformed

David Lawrence

Friday, August 1, 2014 5:28 AM GMT

If the NBA’s new plan for the Draft Lottery goes through, we’ll have to reevaluate late-season betting completely.

76ers Object To Proposed NBA Draft Lottery Reforms
The Philadelphia 76ers are not happy with an NBA proposal to change the layout and odds of the NBA Draft Lottery. The proposal was submitted a few weeks ago and is being digested by the various teams in the league. Just what is going on here, and why would the Sixers be opposed to this new plan floated by a league that is moving in new directions under its first-year commissioner, Adam Silver?

 

What This Means For The NBA
It is a constant part of life in the NBA: When the season nears its end, the discussion among the bottom 10 teams in the league (four to six in each conference) revolves around the issue of tanking to get a better draft spot and better odds of getting a top-three pick in the ping-pong-ball system of the lottery. It begins to make sense for a team to play backups, giving them NBA experience and a chance to be evaluated by other clubs, while eating a bunch of losses and getting good odds for a second pick as opposed to a sixth pick, or a third pick as opposed to a seventh pick. Does it really make sense for a team to win 32 games instead of 26, when the playoffs are not a realistic prospect? Tanking, as much as a lot of people might frown on it as an approach for the worst organizations in the NBA, is backed up by simple considerations of availability and quality. If you’re a team needing that next great big man and big men are scarce in a given draft class, you’ll probably need to be a top-two or top-three team in the draft lottery to get that big man. Being fifth in the order probably won’t cut it. This is why tanking has continued throughout the years.

What’s this new proposal by the NBA, then? It is designed to curb and combat tanking. As reported by Zach Lowe of Grantland, the four worst teams in the league would all have roughly the same chance of getting the number one pick in the draft, around 11 percent. The team in the fifth spot would have 10-percent odds of getting the top pick. The lottery team with the best record would have a two percent chance of getting the big one. This is a more balanced system in which the worst few teams would no longer have top-pick odds at or above 20 percent. The ping-pong-ball format would be retained, but the key change is that it would apply to the first six picks in the draft, not just the first three as is currently the case. This would certainly cut down on tanking, and the NBA is clearly intent on making sure that teams try to win games in late March and especially early April. NBA bettors will have to adjust their methodology for placing bets at sportbooks (like Pinnacle, for example) if these changes go through.