The Art of the Rebuild
When you think of a rebuilding franchise in the modern NBA, you think of "The Process" and what Philadelphia has done with the lowly Sixers after being an embarrassment for years on end. Now, through the draft and blatant tanking, the 76ers are relevant again. They're young, exciting and show promise for the future. Another team you might think of is the Lakers after the dragging out of Kobe's final year and three consecutive 2nd overall picks, they're not quite as hyped as Philly but find themselves on the come up none the less. Then there's a team like the Kings who've been "rebuilding" for quite some time. Clearly starting fresh in the post-Cousins era, its harder to see a plan. Sure, they've had fewer lottery picks and maybe you could argue they weren't good enough at tanking but their front office has been stressful to watch too. It's hard to blame it entirely on Vlade Divac though, after all, getting top draft picks involves a bit of luck. Teams have been following the "lose so you can win" ideal for years, which results in some God awful basketball. People don't like watching bad basketball and Adam Silver has decided to do something about it. This summer the league office decided to change the way the odds swing from team to team at the bottom of the league. Being the worst won't be the best anymore. That's right, being shitty is actually a bad thing? Weird concept, I know. The 2018 draft will be the last of the current format meaning this is the last year that tanking means as much and teams like Dallas, Atlanta, Chicago and Sacramento are embracing it.
After this year the format change will mean that the worst team no longer has the best chance at the number one pick, instead the top three teams will all have a 14% chance at the top spot. Their chances at a top three pick will also even out as all three bottom dwellers will have a 40% chance at a top three selection. This shift takes value away from finishing as the absolute worst in the league and rewards teams that find themselves missing the playoffs by a smaller margin. Over all I'm a supporter of the change, watching teams bench capable players so they might add a star bound rookie gets annoying (see suns benching Bledsoe). I would love for a team to get rewarded after working toward a playoff appearance only to narrowly miss. Something that might push them over the edge and bring new teams into the playoff picture. Parity is key to keeping fans hopes alive and preventing the utter collapse of underperforming small market teams. It's easier to root for the under dog when the underdog isn't shitting all over the game of basketball.