Wednesday, May 21, 2014

After the 2014 Draft Lottery, I Hate the NBA Even More

I like basketball. It's not my favorite sport to watch, but I do like it. However, I cannot stand the NBA.

What determines victory and defeat in the NBA? Bad refs, worse rules, a handful of stars who want to play in warm weather cities with their pals, and of course, ping-pong balls.

I'm looking at a table of Draft Lottery probabilities, and I'm already pissed off. Why must there be such a complex process, necessitating such a table? Why is it that the Boston Celtics finished with the 5th worst record in the NBA, and yet they were most likely to be given 6th selection (which is what happened)?

The Bucks had the worst record, and were more likely than any other team to pick 1st. Although the pick they'd most likely get was the 4th. Why?

I get the idea behind the ping-pong balls and probabilities. You don't want to have teams tanking just to get the best pick. Quite clearly, no teams tanked in 2013-14, so the system worked. No teams tanked at all. Good system, NBA.

Should there be a new rule about teams that have recently picked high in the lottery, winning high picks in consecutive years? The Cleveland Cavaliers won the 1st overall pick last year. Maybe the NBA shouldn't allow the same team to pick 1st in back-to-back seasons, especially if they had the 9th worse record, and more than double Milwaukee's win total.

The salary cap once made it difficult to hoard multiple mega-stars. Now it's climate and exposure that guide basketball stars, who roam from warm city to warm city in a quest to play alongside their friends in a town with an enjoyable nightlife. NBA players want to be in the big market, preferably with warm weather, even if the team's owner has a checkered race-relations history. Playing home games in LA is much better than Milwaukee or Minnesota.

Climate, refs, and ping-pong balls determine the fate of NBA teams. I can't take a league seriously if such trivial matters have such powerful influence over who wins and loses.

According to the probabilities, 33% of the time the Celtics were going to get a top 3 pick, 34% of the time they were going to get the 6th pick, 24% of the time they were going to get the 5th, 9% of the time they were going to get a later pick.

And I hate that. I hate that ping-pong balls have more bearing on the future of an NBA team than anything a GM or an owner or a coach or its current players have. If the Celtics had gotten lucky, they could have moved into the top 3, even #1 overall. Had they been unlucky, they could have picked as low as 8th.

How can a GM's job performance be assessed when ping-pong balls determine so much of what happens to his team's fortunes?

I don't have any proposals to change how powerful these ping-pong balls are. Annually, you can count the meaningful draft prospects with one hand. That's why the bounce of the balls carries so much importance. Demand for star talent far outweighs supply. I don't know of any way to change that.

I would propose that if a team picks 1st one year, then finishes with the 9th worst record the next, they should be ineligible to win the 1st pick again. Don't just give them a small chance, give them no chance.

Aside from that, I'll simply continue to like basketball, hope the Celtics win, and criticize the NBA for being a horrible league.

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