The Solution to Tanking in the NBA

by Matt Fischer

We’re one month away from the NBA Draft Lottery.

Tanking has been a problem in the NBA for years now.  Even before the Sixers began “The Process”, teams were losing to get more ping pong balls in the annual draft lottery.

For as much talk as there is about the integrity of the game, teams not competing to win all 82 games is a major problem for the NBA.

Why do NBA Teams Tank?

After the Orlando Magic won back-to-back draft lotteries after having the least chance of the lottery teams in 1993, the NBA made an adjustment to the lottery to make the chances much greater for the teams with the worst records to win the lottery.

This set the stage for modern day NBA tanking.  Now teams that knew they were no longer in playoff contention had no reason to try to win, it only hurt their chances to get better via a top draft pick.

A Race to the Bottom

Since the change in 1994 to the NBA Draft Lottery, the team that finishes with the worst record gets a 25% chance of landing the top pick…second worst has a 17.8%…third worst 17.7%…fourth worst a 11.9% chance before it drops to single digits for the remaining.

If you’ve got the fourth worst record in the league with two weeks left in the season, would you try to win and build momentum for the offseason or give it your least and hope you can drastically improve your chances of moving up in the draft?

The Solution to Tanking

The solution is as simple as it could be…go back to the old draft lottery.  Make it more random.  If a team wins four out of it’s last five games, it will only hurt it’s lottery chances a couple of percentage points.

Revert to the system that worked.  It might have created an abnormality in Orlando winning with just a 1% chance but that’s the way the cookie crumbles sometimes NBA owners.

Go to a NBA Draft Lottery that would look like this based on the final 2016-17 NBA standings.  There would be 105 ping pong balls.

Team Ping Pong Balls Chance of Winning
Nets 14 13.3%
Suns 13 12.4%
Lakers 12 11.4%
76ers 11 10.5%
Magic 10 9.5%
Knicks 9 8.6%
Timberwolves 8 7.6%
Kings 7 6.7%
Mavericks 6 5.7%
Pelicans 5 4.8%
Hornets 4 3.8%
Pistons 3 2.9%
Nuggets 2 1.9%
Heat 1 1.0%

The better chance you give all non-playoff teams of winning the lottery, the more exciting the lottery and the end of the regular season becomes.  Those teams who played out the season trying to win all 82 games can think they have a shot no matter how long it might be and replicate the magic of Orlando in 1993.

Adam Silver is a forward thinking commissioner but it’s time for him to look backward and put an end to tanking in the NBA by going back to the old draft lottery system.

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2017 NBA Playoffs – Game 1 Predictions

Get our data driven NBA Playoff predictions for every game 1 of the 2017 NBA Playoffs including Pacers at Cavs, Bucks at Raptors, Grizzlies at Spurs, Jazz at Clippers, Hawks at Wizards, Trail Blazers at Warriors, Bulls at Celtics and Thunder at Rockets.

NBA Predictions for April , 2017:

TEAM WIN % SCORE VEGAS LINE
Pacers 34% 104 213
Cavs 66% 111 -9
Bucks 38% 102 201.5
Raptors 62% 108 -7
Grizzlies 40% 100 192.5
Spurs 60% 104 -9
Jazz 42% 101 200.5
Clippers 58% 104 -5.5
Hawks 42% 103 210
Wizards 58% 106 -5
Trail Blazers 28% 104 221.5
Warriors 72% 114 -13
Bulls 43% 104 205.5
Celtics 57% 107 -8
Thunder 35% 106 226.5
Rockets 65% 113 -7.5

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NBA Predictions – April 12, 2017

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Get our data driven NBA predictions for all of tonight’s games including Timberwolves at Rockets, Mavericks at Grizzlies, Nuggets at Thunder, Raptors at Cavs, Hawks at Pacers, Bucks at Celtics, Pistons at Magic, 76ers at Knicks, Wizards at Heat, Nets at Bulls, Spurs at Jazz, Pelicans at Trail Blazers, Lakers at Warriors and Kings at Clippers.

nba-predictions

NBA Predictions for April 12, 2017:

TEAM WIN % SCORE VEGAS LINE
Timberwolves 34% 106 227
Rockets 66% 113 -8
Mavericks 38% 96 194
Grizzlies 62% 102 -6.5
Nuggets 40% 107
Thunder 60% 111
Raptors 40% 103
Cavs 60% 108
Hawks 43% 102 207
Pacers 57% 105 -9
Bucks 43% 104 208.5
Celtics 57% 107 -13.5
Pistons 46% 101 207.5
Magic 54% 103 -2
76ers 42% 104 -3
Knicks 58% 108 202
Wizards 44% 105
Heat 56% 107
Nets 40% 105 213.5
Bulls 60% 109 -15
Spurs 50% 101
Jazz 50% 100
Pelicans 43% 104
Trail Blazers 57% 108
Lakers 17% 102 221.5
Warriors 83% 117 -13.5
Kings 34% 101 211.5
Clippers 66% 108 -16

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NBA Predictions – April 11, 2017

Get our data driven NBA predictions for all of tonight’s games including Hornets at Hawks, Thunder at Timberwolves, Nuggets at Mavericks, Pelicans at Lakers and Suns at Kings.

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NBA Predictions for April 11, 2017:

TEAM WIN % SCORE VEGAS LINE
Hornets 48% 105
Hawks 52% 106
Thunder 41% 104 216.5
Timberwolves 59% 107 -1
Nuggets 45% 103 215.5
Mavericks 55% 106 PK
Pelicans 48% 106
Lakers 52% 107
Suns 44% 106 217.5
Kings 56% 109 -3.5

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NBA Predictions – April 10, 2017

Get our data driven NBA predictions for all of tonight’s games including Pacers at Sixers, Cavs at Heat, Nets at Celtics, Wizards at Pistons, Magic at Bulls, Hornets at Bucks, Spurs at Trail Blazers, Jazz at Warriors and Rockets at Clippers.

nba-predictions

NBA Predictions for April 10, 2017:

TEAM WIN % SCORE VEGAS LINE
Pacers 45% 103 -6.5
Sixers 55% 105 210
Cavs 43% 104
Heat 57% 108
Nets 36% 106 223
Celtics 64% 112 -10
Wizards 44% 103 -3
Pistons 56% 106 210
Magic 40% 102
Bulls 60% 107
Hornets 45% 104
Bucks 55% 106
Spurs 55% 107
Trail Blazers 45% 105
Jazz 35% 102
Warriors 65% 108
Rockets 45% 107 226.5
Clippers 55% 109 -4

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NBA Predictions – April 9, 2017

Get our data driven NBA predictions for all of tonight’s games including Raptors at Knicks, Cavs at Hawks, Thunder at Nuggets, Pistons at Grizzlies, Rockets at Kings, Mavericks at Suns and Timberwolves at Lakers.

nba-predictions

NBA Predictions for April 9, 2017:

TEAM WIN % SCORE VEGAS LINE
Raptors 52% 105
Knicks 48% 104
Cavs 48% 106
Hawks 52% 107
Thunder 42% 107 230
Nuggets 58% 111 -4.5
Pistons 39% 98 198
Grizzlies 61% 103 -9
Rockets 57% 110 -10.5
Kings 43% 107 227
Mavericks 44% 104 -2.5
Suns 56% 106 214.5
Timberwolves 47% 107 -4.5
Lakers 53% 108 220.5

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NBA Predictions – April 8, 2017

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nba-predictions

NBA Predictions for April 8, 2017:

TEAM WIN % SCORE VEGAS LINE
Bulls 54% 106
Nets 46% 104
Celtics 47% 104 -2
Hornets 53% 106 213.5
Pacers 47% 102
Magic 53% 104
Heat 42% 102 213.5
Wizards 58% 106 -5.5
Bucks 51% 105 -5
Sixers 49% 104 208.5
Clippers 39% 103
Spurs 61% 108
Jazz 50% 104
Trail Blazers 50% 105
Pelicans 27% 102
Warriors 73% 112

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NBA Predictions – April 7, 2017

Get our data driven NBA predictions for all of tonight’s games including Heat at Raptors, Hawks at Cavs, Pistons at Rockets, Knicks at Grizzlies, Spurs at Mavericks, Timberwolves at Jazz, Pelicans at Nuggets, Thunder at Suns and Kings at Lakers.

nba-predictions

NBA Predictions for April 7, 2017:

TEAM WIN % SCORE VEGAS LINE
Heat 39% 101 208.5
Raptors 61% 107 -5
Hawks 38% 102 213.5
Cavs 62% 108 -9
Pistons 32% 103 223.5
Rockets 68% 112 -12.5
Knicks 41% 101
Grizzlies 59% 105
Spurs 55% 101 -2.5
Mavericks 45% 99 190.5
Timberwolves 38% 99
Jazz 62% 105
Pelicans 43% 106 229.5
Nuggets 57% 109 -6.5
Thunder 48% 108 -7
Suns 52% 109 225.5
Kings 46% 105
Lakers 54% 107

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NBA Predictions – April 6, 2017

Get our data driven NHL predictions for all of tonight’s games including Nets at Magic, Bulls at Sixers, Bucks at Pacers, Wizards at Knicks, Celtics at Hawks and Timberwolves at Trail Blazers.

nhl-predictions

NHL Predictions for April 6, 2017:

TEAM WIN % SCORE VEGAS LINE
Nets 46% 105 223.5
Magic 54% 107 -2
Bulls 50% 103 -5.5
Sixers 50% 104 211
Bucks 43% 103 204
Pacers 57% 106 -3.5
Wizards 50% 108
Knicks 50% 107
Celtics 52% 106 -2
Hawks 48% 105 213
Timberwolves 41% 106 220
Trail Blazers 59% 110 -6

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