For the majority of my NBA enjoying life the teams I've followed closest have kept me on a yo-yoing roller coaster of tank or title.
Those teams are the Sixers and Pistons.
I have to really concentrate and focus to grasp why many people just detest the rebuilding path of tanking.
The practice of tanking has been woven into my NBA genetic coding.
I'm older now. I'm wiser, and certainly more objective. I often use words like morality, ethics and integrity! But strategically tanking is something that attracts me as a fan. Hey! Did the Sixers get pummeled tonight!? Oh yea they did! Did the Pelicans - whose 1st round pick is the Sixers' but top 5 protected - win tonight?!
Football will always be watched. But if this were baseball or hockey and your team was a playoff afterthought midway through the seasonal campaign you'd be almost completely detached from their outcomes.
There ARE franchises that win thanks to the lottery. That's why teams send good luck charms, human and inanimate ones, and why those there sometimes have to fight themselves to maintain composure when they are one of the final three unrevealed cards. Especially if you weren't one of the three worst teams in the league.
But what about going to games and investing as a season ticket holder. For the latter, you've got to have more foresight. I'd advise individual ticket buyers to attend games where the League's opposing stars are on display.
I can go download second level center tickets to see the Pacers at Pistons on 3/15 on Stubhub for less than $22 dollars. Not bad for a quiet, relaxing night watching a championship caliber team with a top ten NBA player in Paul George.
See, tanking, or simply ghastly teams DO offer benefits to NBA fans in their cities.
Others in the anti-tanking crowd throw around the word integrity, and how it's compromised when teams strategize to not win (see, I didn't say lose). Whether Milwaukee, Philly or others who are in tank mode were doing it or not, OKC, Indiana, Mia, etc., would all still be exactly where they are now in the standings.
The NBA is ALWAYS going to be a competitively unique league because it's the only major professional sport where one, singular player can bring on transformative changes almost instantaneously.
One way or another, as long as there is a draft with potential All Stars teams will find ways to 'position' themselves to make those selections. Especially in a year like this where there's possibly 6 to 8 potential future stars. (Parker, Wiggins, Randle, Exum, Embiid - and that's without watching an entire college basketball game all year.)
I swear this isn't laziness, nor an inability to think in a complex way to devise a way to preclude teams from tanking. Shortly, I'll get to idea that might be able to rid the League of tanking. I'll warn you, the components at first will sound radical and possibly laughable.
First, some other suggestions to prohibit tanking. Mark Cuban says the worst teams shouldn't be eligible for the top pick. Included in that link is the far out 'wheel' idea. It's complex, so read more here, but very simply put, teams would know their status for THIRTY YEARS out in the cycle and every 6 years they'd have a top 6 pick. There's also the idea to consider all teams not in the playoffs for the top picks.
All of these proposals, and others, and even those that haven't been thought of yet have their benefits and drawbacks.
Let's just abolish the draft completely. Then, there's nothing to tank for.
How would players enter the League?
Elementary. They're free agents.
But then they'll all be bought up by the major market teams. You know who they are.
That doesn't happen if a hard salary cap, similar to the NFL's is put in place. Right now the NBA has a soft cap, where you can go over, but it's going to cost you, and the farther you go over it the harsher the financial penalties get.
In this proposal there's no negotiating with something like the luxury tax. If the cap is say $70 million, then no team can spend a penny more.
No, the Lakers can't go purchase the entire draft. There will be a two player limit. The rookie contracts will also all be the same length. Four or five years seems to be a reasonable spot to begin the debate. Sorry, this isn't a finished plan. Just the pillars are in place: no draft, hard cap.
So yes, the Lakers CAN buy both Andrew Wiggins AND Joel Embiid, but remember, this is free agency, and it's a hard cap universe. There will be heated bidding and it'd be nonsensical to pay two rookies, no matter their potential, possibly half the payroll. Businesses will be run poorly no matter the rules, this conceptualization was simply to eliminate tanking.
Who'd want to go play in (pick a supposedly undesirable NBA town)?
Aren't those players seeking to leave after their rookie contracts anyway? Maybe those teams wind up having to pay more of a premium to entice players to start their careers in that setting. Julius Randle can make $10 million a year in Miami, or he can make $13 million to suffer through the rugged winters in Milwaukee.
What about the potential issue of rookies make 3, 4, 5 or more times the salary of current players. Didn't the NFL just remedy its own issue of rookies making an insane amount of money more than vested veterans? They did, and now it's causing the problem of a record number of underclassmen entering the draft. Those players will nudge out some veteran players because of age and cash savings.
In this free market world I'm creating, which would really need a year or two to get finances and contracts in place, I think the question about veterans being financially scorned wouldn't be as jolting as you'd think. A draft like 2014's is expected to be, happens once a decade. Perhaps there are years like the previous draft where no player is signed for more than several million dollars, or less, a season.
I know it's not a perfect plan and requires a great deal more nuance, but if you've ever been excited over an auction style fantasy draft then you made it to the end of the post. Congrats!