Tank About It

philadelphia-76ers

There’s a simple solution to keeping teams from tanking in the NBA. Photo: Getty Images/Scott Halleran

The NBA has a major tanking problem. For those of you who don’t know what tanking is, tanking is purposely losing to help yourself get a better chance at a higher draft pick.

The current system is a lottery system that is majorly flawed. Teams get more balls to draw the worst they are, and they came up with this to try and stop teams from tanking. Do teams really do this? Think about it, or as the 76ers probably say, tank about it.

Nobody will admit it, not the commissioner, front office members or players, but the problem does exist. The Philadelphia 76ers are an abomination and it is almost asinine to call them a professional team. I don’t want to place the blame on just them because there are other teams who do it too but Philadelphia does it more consistently than any other organization.

I’ll also play devil’s advocate and let’s just say they aren’t tanking. Let’s assume they are that bad of an organization. Do you really want to see them play against the best teams in the NBA? I don’t have much interest in watching them and I am sure most basketball fans would agree.

I have a solution to fix tanking and if teams are truly not tanking, this solution is still a way to make even bad teams exciting and it gives them something to really play for.

My solution, that the NBA should adopt, is called promotion and relegation. Soccer fans know what I’m talking about! It works well across the world, in many countries, in the world’s most popular sport. I will use the Premier League and Football League, (two soccer leagues in England), to help understand what promotion and relegation are, and how it would make basketball more exciting while ending tanking.

The Premier League has 20 teams, and if a team finishes in the bottom three of the standings they are relegated to the Football League, which is not as prestigious. The best way to understand the Football League is to look at it like Division II in college sports. In turn to the bottom three teams of the Premier League being sent down, the top three in the Football League are promoted to the Premier League. This punishes the bad teams in the Premier League and rewards the good teams in Football League.

This format gives these players and clubs a reason to play beyond the money they are making. There is no benefit in tanking or having a bad club. The NBA could adopt this format by making the current D-League work in connection the same way the Premier League and Football League work together.

I know you may have questions such as: How would this affect conferences and playoffs? How would it change the NBA draft? Lastly, can it really work? I intend to answer all of these questions you might have.

How does it affect the setup of conferences and playoff formatting?  There is a simple solution to the conference and playoff issues by moving teams from the NBA to the D-League and visa versa every year.

I propose the NBA eliminates conferences all together as there is no need for them. Traveling is no longer an issue like it used to be with all teams having planes. Playoff seeding would just seed the top 16 teams instead of separating them into conferences. This would eliminate sub .500 teams getting in the playoffs in one conference while better teams would get left out just because of conference alignment.

When determining a champion we should never allow a team out just because they are in a different conference. I’m sure basketball fans would drool at the possibility of a Golden State versus San Antonio finals instead of in a conference final. This would make the NBA more exciting and hey maybe we would finally see a 16 seed upset a 1 seed.

How does having two leagues, using promotion and relegation affect the NBA Draft? First thing you do is eliminate the already flawed draft lottery. It was created to prevent tanking but teams still do and a system with promotion and relegation would fix this issue.

I recommend the format the NFL uses and give the highest draft pick to the team with the worst win percentage of both the NBA and D-League. This may also force kids to stay in college longer with the possibility of not being to play in the better division of the NBA for many years.

I say you give a kid a reward if they stay in school. I propose that if a kid stays in school and graduates you don’t force them to enter the draft and instead they come out of college as a free agent and they are allowed to sign with any team they want. I believe this would keep a majority of kids in college, allowing them to develop and be more prepared for when they do enter the NBA.

This would also make the college game better. Imagine Ben Simmons stay in the college game for four years and then coming out ready to sign with any team he wants. I find that possibility absolutely astonishing.

Would this really work? It won’t only work, but it would make the NBA more fun and intriguing. It would give kids a reason to pursue a degree harder, make the college game better and make the NBA from top to bottom more thrilling. This is my solution to fix tanking. I just wish I could speak to Adam Silver to get him to have the owners stop tanking about it, and start thinking about it.

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One comment

  • Tim Miller February 6, 2016  

    Moving NBA teams to D-league would hurt the brand of the NBA. The Association would lose much more money than they would gain from a D-league team moving up. If college grads were allowed to pick the team they wanted to play for, the best teams would get even more stacked by only signing the best players. Letting D-league teams draft with the NBA would be a huge problem. If a D-league team gets the first pick, the player would be ticked. I think that would absolutely hurt the NBA and its rookies.

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