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Report: Sixers fighting against immediate changes to NBA Draft Lottery system

Jul 30, 2014, 10:32 AM EDT

Sam Hinkie, Nerlens Noel AP

The Sixers have made no attempt to hide the fact that they are choosing to bottom out in order to have the best possible odds of obtaining the highest of draft picks as part of their rebuilding process.

In advance of last season, they made a draft night trade for the injured Nerlens Noel, and then sat him for the entire season, even though he was healthy enough to play toward the end of the year.

This summer, Philadelphia drafted another injured player in Joel Embiid, and then traded for Dario Saric, who is expected to remain in Europe for the upcoming season. And, the team added Pierre Jackson to the roster, who also will be unavailable for sone time due to injury.

Even though the Sixers are undoubtedly acquiring assets, they aren’t being used to help the team in the immediate future because the way the Draft Lottery is currently structured, teams are incentivized to lose in order to have a better chance of landing a top-three pick.

Adam Silver has stated on more than one occasion that he doesn’t like that perception, so changes to the lottery system are coming. But the timing of those changes being implemented is something that the Sixers want to see delayed for as long as possible.

From Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com:

The NBA is pushing toward changes to the draft lottery system by next season but is facing a strong objection from the Philadelphia 76ers, the franchise that could suffer the most from it, multiple sources told ESPN.com.

Earlier this month at league meetings in Las Vegas, lottery reform measures were introduced and changes could be voted into place by the NBA Board of Governors at their preseason meeting in October. Though there are several facets and the proposals haven’t been finalized, essentially the goal of commissioner Adam Silver is to balance out the lottery odds so the worst team or teams wouldn’t have the highest chances of landing the top pick, sources said. …

In a new format, this could be altered so the bottom five or six teams all would have an equal chance.

The Sixers are entering year two of what is a stated rebuilding plan that’s scheduled to last three-to-five years. A quick change to the way the Draft lottery works would hurt those plans, at least the part about hoping to be in position to land another top draft pick by losing a bunch more games next season.

A one-year heads up before making any changes feels like it would be fair to the Sixers, as well as to other teams in less blatant but similar situations. But there are other factors in play, including lost revenue in Philadelphia and a distaste for the strategy by other owners that could force its implementation more quickly — even though giving an equal shot at landing top picks to multiple teams could have the opposite of the desired effect, and may end up incentivizing more of them to lose in order to finish in that group by the end of the season.

  1. ptownbearsfan420 - Jul 30, 2014 at 10:39 AM

    Ha. Sucks for you Philly.

  2. sportsfan18 - Jul 30, 2014 at 10:48 AM

    Hey commissioner Silver, still think teams don’t tank like you said before?

    If a team does NOT tank, they would NOT care about changes to the lottery system.

    Spin all you want, like you did last time.

    The Sixers tanked and they’re planning on tanking again.

    The Sixers were trying to be bad for multiple years in a row to keep getting good players. To them, it was great luck to have two very good players be injured at the time of the draft so they could select them (both players are great talents) as that allowed them to not play at all so they would still be bad and could get another good pick the next year.

    I see WHY they’re tanking and their future is looking much better.

    My point commish is that if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck and looks like a duck, it’s a duck. So please don’t say that teams don’t tank.

    Also, if teams don’t tank as you say, then WHY are you considering changing the lottery system? Oh yeah, because teams tank.

    • mrosales1989 - Jul 30, 2014 at 11:07 AM

      Hye sportsfan18,

      I’m pretty sure Adam Silver can’t hear you, so why are you talking like he can?

      • kindasporty - Jul 30, 2014 at 12:18 PM

        Don’t you ever talk to people who aren’t there? No, not you, I was talking to him. Yeah that guy.

      • sportsfan18 - Jul 30, 2014 at 2:52 PM

        @ mrosales1989

        No, I wasn’t actually. It was more a figure of speech.

        Sorry you couldn’t figure that out though.

    • geejon - Jul 30, 2014 at 11:22 AM

      The 76ers didn’t select those guys at #1 overall. Embiid went at #3 and Noel at #6 I believe. Plenty of teams could have drafted either of those guys but didn’t. The goal should be to draft the best player not for the next year (unless you think you’re contending for a ring that year), but to draft the best player for the next decade or so. If the Wizards chose a scrub like Otto Porter and the Cavs Anthony Bennett because they couldn’t wait a year for Noel, that’s their fault not Philly’s.

      People wouldn’t be so pissed off at Philly if another team had the guts to draft Noel and Philly had gotten stuck drafting a nobody at #6 but they didn’t and Philly did. So now the same GM’s that thought drafting a scrub who could play immediately rather than waiting a year on a legit player are pissed that Philly might very well have the 2 best players in the past 2 drafts.

      • zukny1 - Jul 30, 2014 at 11:40 AM

        Couldn’t have said it any better myself. The sixers haven’t even had a number 1 pick in the draft, but yet the league is doing this in part because the sixers.

        It’s amazing how you can be punished for taking the best player on the board and be automatically grouped into a “Tanking” team. So what anyway. Sixers are losing. It’s not like the sixers are cheating to win. They are simply trying to build the best possible team they can. To punish a team for thinking Smart and about the Future is so childish and absurd it boggles my mind.

        AHHHHHHHHHHHH

      • swaggerjackin01 - Jul 30, 2014 at 12:04 PM

        Or maybe the owners think that teams intentionally being awful is bad for the league. No one forced Philly to two years in a row draft guys who would miss the whole year. No one forced them to trade away all of their decent players.

        The league needs to stop incentivizing losing.

      • geejon - Jul 30, 2014 at 12:04 PM

        @zukny … the way in which the 76ers are “tanking” is by purposefully not signing free agents that would help them perhaps win a few more games this year. So they’re not signing a bunch of average, 28 year olds to 3 yr $18 mil contracts. They could, but they’re not. And why would they? So they could go from winning 20 games to 30? So what? What does that do for them other than drop them down several spots in next year’s draft and possibly cost them a star? Look at the Detroit Pistons. They spent all that money on free agents, are capped out, and can’t even make the playoffs. Don’t get mad at Sam Hinkie because he’s not as dumb as Joe Dumars.

        The 76ers will indeed be signing free agents. But that will happen in the next 2 years. Next year Embiid will be ready in addition to whatever lottery pick they choose in the 2015? That will be 2 studs to add to Noel and MCW. The “tanking” will be over because the team would have the young talent it was acquiring ready to go. THEN it will be time to use all that cap space and max contracts it can offer and invite free agents to join the youngbucks. Then you’ll REALLY see some crying going in the league, when the 76ers are a more attractive option to those free agents than their own old, capped-out teams.

      • gerryb323 - Jul 30, 2014 at 12:10 PM

        I suppose I get your main point, but Philly didn’t draft Noel.

      • geejon - Jul 30, 2014 at 12:16 PM

        Per NBA rules you’re not allowed to trade picks at the exact time of the draft (its a stupid rule) so teams agree to a deal and simply draft for the other team before the trade becomes official. You know as well as I do that N.O. drafted Noel for Philly because that’s who Philly wanted as part of the Holiday deal. Just like Philly drafted that pg for Orland this year at #11 and had Orlando take Saric later as part of that deal.

      • duhwighthoward - Jul 30, 2014 at 1:39 PM

        @geejon, a wonderfully stated argument

      • 1friendofthepeople - Jul 30, 2014 at 1:49 PM

        Listen, the NBA revenue goes down when a team tanks. It’s not a punishment like you said, rather its to try and discourage teams from actively making themselves worse.

        This is NBA economics, when a team wants to be pathetic they cost the potential earnings of others. It needs to be changed quickly.

      • arrondior - Jul 30, 2014 at 3:06 PM

        There is not a team in the league that thinks they are better off “drafting a scrub” in the first round that can play day 1 over a player that would be better over the next decade. All drafts are made based on who that franchise believes is best for their team. It is WAY too early to know what kind of players Otto Porter or Anthony Bennett will turn into. And Noel is arguably a much bigger gamble. There is no guarantee that any player will transition well into the NBA. Now add on top of that the fact that he just had major knee injury.

        The fact is, putting a terrible product on the floor is bad.Home fans hate it, TV viewers hate it, and the league develops a reputation for putting poor product out there. The lottery system was rewarding that. That has to change. There are plenty of ways to put a good team together but losing on purpose should not be one of them. Getting a good player through the draft when you are one of the worst teams in the league is supposed to help keep the quality of the product as high as possible, not the other way around.

      • jlinatl - Jul 30, 2014 at 4:03 PM

        I don’t think fault can be found in their drafting.

        I think the issue is more in constructing the roster that can play now. There were short term fixes available in free agency or via trade that could make/have made the Sixers better. Current team construction is to lose but still play hard.

        The argument to be made for the Sixers is that draft changes next year may have altered the draft strategy for this year. For that reason, I think the changes should be made in 2016.

  3. rmfields - Jul 30, 2014 at 11:14 AM

    Doesn’t matter, since the Cavs will miraculously end up with the #1 overall pick again anyways.

    Just like when NY got the #1 pick to get Ewing, the Cavs got it this year so they could have enough ammunition to trade for Love and keep LeBron happy.

    Hard to believe it’s not rigged. Watching LeBron’s return to Cleveland is like watching a professional wrestling story line unfold. Scripted beyond belief.

    • loungefly74 - Jul 30, 2014 at 11:21 AM

      you need to read PBT’s annual article regarding “why the lottery is rigged”. also…the article goes into every team’s favorable outcome and “why they will win”. there is no conspiracy.

      well, i hope they do change the format to give the bottom 6 a fair chance…

      • 76ersdoubletank - Jul 30, 2014 at 1:11 PM

        There is totally a consipracy. Just because you can make a case for each team to have the pick, does not mean it is not rigged. I’m sure teams politic all year behind closed doors. Still, knowing what to do with your pick is the key.

      • loungefly74 - Jul 31, 2014 at 8:14 AM

        like i said, read the article…it really pokes fun at the theories in a sensible way…but to each his own.

    • campcouch - Jul 30, 2014 at 11:55 AM

      Cleveland’s last 3 #1 picks…Irving was actually the Clippers pick,but they forfeited it to Cleveland in the Baron Davis trade. Anthony Bennett…apparently he sucked,so the next team had an opportunity to draft Oladipo,Porter,Len,Noel,McClemore,Caldwell-Pope and McCollum. Philly drafted the ROY and traded for Noel. Wiggins. Wasn’t even their choice until Embiid got hurt. The team actually made moves to get a lousy 8th seed and failed so the anti-tanking system actually worked. The worst teams supposedly tanking didn’t get the number 1. Not seeing a conspiracy here.

      • fanofthegame79 - Jul 30, 2014 at 12:09 PM

        Well said, camp!

    • 1friendofthepeople - Jul 30, 2014 at 2:26 PM

      None of those Cavs #1 drafts included a player head and shoulders above the rest. The past three or four years there was no #1 talent.

      You think the NBA risked a Donaghy type scandal that would forever taint the NBA so the Cavs could have the #1 pick in crappy drafts with no #1 talent? The NBA would lose countless viewers and revenue so that the Cavs could get the #1 in drafts where you were just as well off drafting #2, #3, and arguable #4 overall?

      I’m sure the Cavs getting the #1 pick 3 times in 4 years was part of the NBA’s sly little plan to screw over other teams, to make other owners suspicious and unhappy because for the NBA the Cavs are worth risking everything for and forget about the lawsuits from other teams around the league, forget about risking hundreds of millions of dollars and starting an NBA decline. A decline that would be equally bad for the Cavs as the 29 other teams.

  4. patfic5 - Jul 30, 2014 at 11:20 AM

    Hey Philly,
    Stop blowing.
    -Adam Silver

  5. fordmandalay - Jul 30, 2014 at 11:21 AM

    “A one-year heads up before making any changes feels like it would be fair to the Sixers, as well as to other teams in less blatant but similar situations.”

    So allowing teams to cheat, lose on purpose, and basically lie and steal from their fans for just one more year is fair. Okay.

    • geejon - Jul 30, 2014 at 11:31 AM

      If you knew anything about Philadelphia rather than being ignorant you’d know that the vast majority of 76ers fans are on Hinkie’s side on this and are going along with the plan. No one’s lying and no one’s stealing from anyone. Philly fans, like Knicks fans, and Celtics fans and (some others) are some of the savviest fans in basketball so don’t worry about them. They see the big picture and are willing to ride this out. Maybe some other fan-bases need pointless immediate gratification and would be happier with a team with a $80 mil payroll that might make an 8 seed, but the 76ers fans aren’t looking for that. They already had that for several years post-Iverson. They’re fine with going about things Hinkie’s way so don’t shed any tears for us we know exactly what is happening and we’ll talk in 2 years, but please, don’t speak for us again as you obviously know nothing about us.

    • misremembered72 - Jul 30, 2014 at 11:33 AM

      Philly has been completed open about the 3-5 year rebuild. Fans respect it and are way more excited about the sixers than the flyers and definitely more than the Phillies.

      Oh and they haven’t broken a single rule

      soooo….
      you don’t know what you’re talking about

  6. patfic5 - Jul 30, 2014 at 11:22 AM

    Funny. Sixes GM trying his best to stay employed by drafting injured players to add to his 5 year plan. 5 year plan to keep a job.

  7. themike31 - Jul 30, 2014 at 11:22 AM

    Shouldn’t teams that are tanking want the lottery changed? If the system becomes a worst record gets top pick situation then they don’t have to worry about the Cavs randomly getting their pick.

    Moreso than any other sport a high draft pick in the NBA can change a franchise. Right now the lottery is actually the only thing stopping teams from determining who they draft by tanking.

    In my opinion, a set order based on record will only increase late season tanking by teams that are out of contention.

  8. jucam1 - Jul 30, 2014 at 11:23 AM

    You need to wait at least 2 years to implement this change. Not because of the Sixers, but because the NBA’s top two legacy teams are horrific and are gonna be horrific next year (Celtics and Lakers). Those two teams are going to want to get at least next year’s high chances at the #1 pick if not also the following year. You can’t just push this through, you have to wait two seasons and start on the third season so all teams are properly prepares.

    • spursareold - Jul 30, 2014 at 11:26 AM

      I don’t care about the Lakers of Celtics any more than I care about the Sixers. They can all go hang for sucking so much.

  9. iloveopenbar - Jul 30, 2014 at 11:28 AM

    i doubt the sixers put up a worse record than last year. their defense should be much improved. i’m not saying they’ll contend for anything, but they won’t end up with the second worst record in the league. more like the 6th worse record in the league – which would give them a great chance at a top pick if the lottery rules change

    • misremembered72 - Jul 30, 2014 at 11:41 AM

      gotta disagree, they might not be worse than last year and they will certainly be better on D with KJ and Noel, but they have very little offensive power. They got the majority of their wins with Spencer Hawes and ET last year. If they trade Thad young for picks, they will struggle to get to 90 points a game.

      • iloveopenbar - Jul 30, 2014 at 2:47 PM

        i think we basically said the same thing. they’ll still suck, just not as bad as last year due to a better d.

        i’m also optimistic that mcw will be better.

  10. mungman69 - Jul 30, 2014 at 11:42 AM

    The way the NBA draft is constructed the only way to gain good players is to suck the year before. The Sixers AND many other teams that tanked are just playing by the rules. SAN ANTONIO USED THIS TACTIC TO HELP BUILD THEIR DYNASTY.

    As was earlier stated, the Celtics and Lakers are two of the many teams that tanked last season and they are both planning on tanking again.

    This new lottery will have even more teams tanking, not fewer teams.

    Embiid went #3 and Noel went #6 so other teams could have drafted these guys. Other teams aren’t happy that Philadelphia has these two players but remember NEITHER OF THESE PLAYERS HAS PLAYED YET.

    • swaggerjackin01 - Jul 30, 2014 at 12:08 PM

      How in the hell did San Antonio use this tactic to build their dynasty?

      The last time they stunk was in 1997 and that was because David Robinson broke his foot and without him they stunk. That isn’t tanking.

      • fanofthegame79 - Jul 30, 2014 at 12:12 PM

        They kept Robinson out longer than needed so they could end up with a bad record, giving them a higher probability to win the Duncan draft.

      • spursareold - Jul 30, 2014 at 12:36 PM

        HE HAD A BROKEN FOOT.

        Are you a doctor? Did you see the X-Rays? A broken foot can destroy a career.

        The Spurs didn’t dump everyone of value on their roster in order to suck for years on end. THAT’S tanking.

      • savvybynature - Jul 30, 2014 at 2:42 PM

        The Spurs kept Robinson out because he was basically their whole team, and he had already missed enough games that the season was lost.
        Why on Earth would you rush back a superstar when you were already out of contention?
        That’s not exactly tanking, at least not 76ers-level tanking (which is just fine by me btw, I wish them the best).

    • spursareold - Jul 30, 2014 at 12:11 PM

      San Antonio sucked for one year. They had the 6th worst record, so if they were tanking, they did a piss poor job of it. They also set the NBA record (at the time) for injured players games missed that season with over 280.

      • turkbox420 - Aug 1, 2014 at 1:03 AM

        They benched Sean Elliot and i think Avery Johnson when it was determined Admiral would be out the whole season. They were using a starting line up and only Vinney Del Negro was there the next season. I read this on a top 10 list of best tanks of all time. Oh and I watched too, just not the Spurs games haha.

    • sportsfan18 - Jul 30, 2014 at 3:04 PM

      you said the “ONLY” way to get good players is to suck.

      that’s wrong. can trade and sign free agents besides sucking to get a higher draft pick.

      can scout well and draft well at the end of the first round etc…

  11. misremembered72 - Jul 30, 2014 at 11:52 AM

    It seems messed up to punish/blindside the Sixers for a plan that they’ve been completely transparent about and broken no rules implementing.

    If Silver isn’t trying to punish the sixers, or just wants to be fair for that matter, they would implement this after the 2015 draft.

    • therealhtj - Jul 30, 2014 at 2:11 PM

      No one cried for the Lakers when they got blindsided by the new CBA. No one outside Philly, nor do most inside it, care about the sixers.

      • spursareold - Jul 30, 2014 at 5:43 PM

        Uh, the new CBA actually WAS phased in a bit at a time. It took 2-3 years for the full punitive tax to be implemented.

  12. elcaminobilly - Jul 30, 2014 at 12:40 PM

    They (NBA) could solve the problem so easily by giving every team that misses the playoffs an equal shot at #1. That would end tanking immediately.

    • spursareold - Jul 30, 2014 at 1:00 PM

      I think that just flattening the odds a bit and drawing the whole lottery instead of the only top 3 picks might do it. There is incentive to tank when the worst you can do is pick #4. If the worst possible pick was #14, that would mean a whole year wasted by not trying to compete.

      • therealhtj - Jul 30, 2014 at 2:12 PM

        Counter argument says a team with no chance at winning a game in the playoffs as an 8 seed may as well tank the end of the season to get into the lottery.

    • spursareold - Jul 30, 2014 at 5:55 PM

      It’s a fine line of difference to ask your players to lose on purpose, or to strip your roster so they can’t win. There could be morale issues if you ask them to intentionally dump games when they have teh talent to win them. There is also the matter of team and player playoff money. None of that if you last minute tank on the slim chance of a lottery payoff.

  13. fordmandalay - Jul 30, 2014 at 12:50 PM

    If you tell these teams “okay, we’re changing the rules – this will be THE LAST YEAR (or two) it’s going to be done this way!”, doesn’t that give them THAT MUCH MORE incentive to tank? I’d guess Philly would purposely go 0-82, turning the process and the NBA into a joke. And giving a big EFF U to the fans – plus I’m sure TV networks who pay to air the NBA would be just a little unhappy.

  14. phillycannon - Jul 30, 2014 at 2:06 PM

    Im still confused how this is a Sixers issue…..when the BUCKS had the worst record in the league. So if the Sixers were tanking…..what the hell were the Bucks doing???? The Sixers had a reason to lose, because of the roster….but the Bucks had a legitimate NBA team.

    The Sixers are being penalized for something no other gm currently thought about doing!!!

    • spursareold - Jul 30, 2014 at 5:57 PM

      The Bucks are just incompetent. They attempted to add talent via free agents and trades, but failed.

  15. hurley711 - Jul 30, 2014 at 2:44 PM

    thumbs up me if you think the NBA rigs the lottery thumbs down if you think no way that happens…..

  16. vicvega422 - Jul 30, 2014 at 3:05 PM

    The Sixers lost 26 games in a row and STILL didn’t catch the Bucks… So why the hell in no one bashing Milwaukee for sucking?

    • handsomerob86 - Jul 30, 2014 at 5:41 PM

      The Bucks weren’t trying to suck, they just did. Sixers were clearly trying to suck.

  17. jucam1 - Jul 30, 2014 at 6:01 PM

    I am almost blown away by the shortsighted view of some of the people blaming the Sixers for this.

    1. The sixers DID try to become good through free agency and trades 2 plus seasons ago when they swing for the fences and got the bat broken over their heads fir the Bynum trade. This was under the d regime. But thats the breaks, all I am saying is that they didn’t stink because they’re like the old Clips and the owner didn’t care, they stunk bc they made a leap of faith and lost big time

  18. mungman69 - Jul 30, 2014 at 8:38 PM

    The Spurs drafted that guy from Argentina and said “stay away for a couple of years”.
    The Spurs drafted that guy from France and said “stay away for a couple of years”.
    When San Antonio stashes players they are doing the right thing.
    When Philadelphia stashes players they
    are doing the wrong thing.
    Now you know.

  19. gmkev - Jul 30, 2014 at 8:52 PM

    There is no way changing the lottery as early as next season would be fair or even voted on by the league. There are outstanding trades that were completed under the old draft system. The only fair way to implement change is to establish the new rules immediately and have them go into effect as soon as the last existing trade consisting of lottery picks has expired.

  20. lacolem1 - Jul 30, 2014 at 9:07 PM

    Wouldn’t “balancing” the lottery defeat the purpose of a lottery?

  21. zinger92 - Jul 31, 2014 at 7:38 AM

    How can anybody say that tanking is unfair when the 9th worst team got the 1st pick this year.

  22. sixerstrong - Jul 31, 2014 at 8:31 AM

    If anyone takes a look at last year’s roster and thought that the best idea would be to build around a core of Spencer Hawes and Evan Turner should be fired (and was!). After swinging for the fences (and missing) with the Bynum trade, I think the future was pretty clear.

    The Noel trade is the gift that keeps on giving. We could have Jrue Holiday (whom I still love), or Noel, Saric, another 1st, and a few more 2nds. Who in their right mind wouldn’t agree to that?

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