EVEN WITH A lottery, some NBA teams find incentive to lose, so, Celtics assistant GM Mike Zarren dreamed up a way to eliminate the race to the bottom. Enter the draft wheel.
After his initial 30-year draft wheel was rejected by NBA owners last summer, Zarren unveiled a slimmed-down version at the 2015 MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference last month. The revamped five- and 10-year models randomly cluster teams together and cycle them through different groups of picks each year. For example, the 10-year wheel has 10 groups of three. The three teams in each group would be assigned draft slots—say, one to three, or 28 to 30—based on a spin of the wheel, then randomly assigned one of those three spots. For each of the next nine years the wheel would assign that group a different three-pick range until the cycle was complete. The process would mean some teams—even bad ones—could go through the whole cycle without getting the top pick, but every team would have at least the No. 3 choice at some point.
Will owners set the wheel in motion? It would be a major loss for losers, but a big win for everyone else.
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