On Thursday, the league looked to address the issue of tanking with the NBA Draft Reform. Starting with the 2019 draft, the teams with the three worst records in the league will have the same percentage shot (14 percent) at landing the first overall pick. It's a problem the league needed to tackle, but this is a more of a band-aid than a solution.
The NBA is still encouraging some form of tanking by ensuring teams that as long as they end up with one of the three worst records in the league, they can draft a franchise-altering talent. Detroit Pistons head coach Stan Van Gundy believes that the only thing left to do would be scrapping the NBA Draft, and implementing an entirely different approach. "I'd get rid of it, just get rid of the draft altogether," Van Gundy told reporters after practice. "We'd just deal with the salary cap. Make all [rookies] free agents coming in, and if I want to go give a guy $50 million a year, good, but I got to do it under the cap."
The MLB allows organizations to acquire prospects as young as 16 years old by throwing millions of dollars at them. While the NBA could remain steadfast in their desire to force incoming rookies to spend at least one year in college, Van Gundy's idea could be something worth pursuing.
When a player declares for the draft, they're essentially agreeing to uprooting their entire life in pursuit of an NBA dream. A lot of times athletes will base their collegiate decision on the proximity to their hometown, but all that gets thrown out the window when they enter the NBA. If a player is given the choice to decide where they want to spend their future, they may opt to pick the comforts of living close to relatives over money. It's a tough decision, but it's one that is ultimately left in their hands, which is something they couldn't say before.
If you look at the salary cap for each team in the NBA, the franchises with the most amount to spend are typically the ones that wound up in the bottom half of the standings. They would be the ones capable of throwing more money at a top-flight talent. If a player wants to make as much money as possible and take on the task of turning around a meddling franchise, they have that opportunity.
Putting the decision in the hands of the players is a risky proposition, but if the NBA is serous about preventing teams from tanking, it may be radical enough to work.