Don’t Reward the Bobcats

D.J. Augustin, Reggie Williams, Corey Maggette, Boris Diaw and Bismack Biyombo. This is not a starting NBA lineup. This is not even an attempt at an NBA starting lineup. This is an embarrassment, a blight on basketball. Forget the lockout, this is why your League Pass should come cheaper.

The Bobcats have lost 18 out of their last 19 games, and that statistic is more descriptive than surprising. At home yesterday, they lost by 14 to the Pacers, in a game that actually helped their point differential. The crowd was sparse, the atmosphere was null. Some would say that this is a team in need of salvation, that the lottery works when it smiles upon such a sad case.

Nope. The Bobcats are what is wrong with the lottery. Sure, compliment them on becoming awful in an effort to rebuild. But what does that say about the NBA’s incentives? In 2010, this team had a winning record and a playoff appearance. They’ve spent the last two years shedding talent in an effort to get terrible–I’m guessing. And I’m guessing because it becomes rather difficult to differentiate ineptitude from wholly rational tanking.

The weighted lottery system is one that encourages badness. If the NBA would merely give every lotto team an equal shot, the practice would be eradicated forever. What organization would ditch a chance at the playoffs for a 1/14 chance at the number one pick?

The counter argument is that decent teams would more often win a top pick at the expense of terrible teams. So? It was not a national calamity when the small market Magic got Shaq and Penny in consecutive lotteries (this actually prompted the NBA board of Governors to further weight the system). If the scrappy Bucks miss the playoffs, they won’t become an immediate powerhouse for having the number one selection. But their fans would have more to hope for on lotto selection day if the 1-in-14 structure is implemented. In general, more NBA fans would take interest in a selection process that any playoff misser could benefit from equally.

Revenue sharing has been vastly expanded, so the NBA’s charity cases are getting help that way. Why not change a system that encourages many of the (former, hopefully) money losers to be even more pathetic?

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