Jun 26, 2014; Brooklyn, NY, USA; NBA draft prospects in attendance pose for a photo on the stage before the start of the 2014 NBA Draft at the Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

How NBA Lottery Reform Could Impact the Cavs

The Cleveland Cavaliers have benefited greatly from the current NBA Lottery system. Winning 3 of the last 4, as well as the LeBron James lottery. That system has been under scrutiny for awhile now. Many are disheartened by how the system encourages teams to tank full seasons while giving very little chance to those who finish just out of the playoffs, although the Cavs have beat some serious odds. Things might be about to change.

Different proposals have been thrown out, some of which seem very Las Vegas like (The Wheel). Others are much more complicated, giving weight to the last 3 years of records instead of one year. Some have gone so far as wanting even odds for all teams. So far it seems like the reform Grantland covered might be the best and most likely reform:

The league’s proposal gives at least the four worst teams the same chance at winning the no. 1 pick: approximately an identical 11 percent shot for each club. The odds decline slowly from there, with the team in the next spot holding a 10 percent chance. The lottery team with the best record will have a 2 percent chance of leaping to the no. 1 pick, up from the the minuscule 0.5 percent chance it has under the current system.

The proposal also calls for the drawing of the first six picks via the Ping-Pong ball lottery, sources say.

For the Cavaliers, a team that has no plans to be in the lottery, this new proposal doesn’t seem to impact them at all. However the two picks that the Cavs are set to receive, one from the Miami Heat (We get their pick and James back) and one from the Memphis Grizzlies, all have protections on them.

The Heat pick is the simplest, the Cavs get the pick if it is #11 or lower. Based on the free agents they brought in and keeping Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade, the Heat are likely to make the playoffs. Yet what happens if, with the age on their roster not a huge if, Wade, Luol Deng and Danny Granger all miss significant time with injuries? With the depth of the West the 9th best team in the East is likely picking 11th or 12th. With much higher odds the in the past, and with the selection of the first 6 teams, instead of 3, that Heat pick could easily become a Top 10 pick, and the Cavs miss the pick next year. That same protection is true in 2016 as well. The Cavs are likely to get the pick this year but could miss out if the system changes.

The Grizzlies pick becomes even more intriguing. The team is not likely to miss the playoffs as they brought back much of their core. Their pick is protected that the Cavs will only get it if it is between pick 6 and 14 for the next 2 years, then no protections the following year. With the competitive West, age/health of Zach Randolph and the possible loss of Marc Gasol to free agency after this year, the Cavs could see this pick soon. Yet again the new system means teams are far less likely to draft “in their position” then the last system. A good Grizzlies team could miss the playoffs but easily end up with a Top 5 pick.

It is unlikely that the new system will come in to play this season. In fact, as the Grantland article points out, some are calling for any new system to not be put in place until all traded picks have been used up, about 6 years. At that point the Cavs won’t be impacted at all. Yet the new Commissioner, Adam Silver, as already shown his willingness to act quickly. While the Cavs compete with James, could a new Lottery system hurt their long term development?

What do you think a good system would be?

Tags: Cleveland Cavaliers NBA Lottery

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