Only the Worst Should Get a Shot
After a recent loss to Charlotte in which he sat starters Paul Pierce and Al Jefferson in the fourth quarter, Boston Celtics Coach Doc Rivers volunteered, “I was not tanking.”
Fortunately for Rivers, Houston Rockets Coach Jeff Van Gundy has created a proposal that could quash accusations that teams are intentionally losing games to win the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft: Let all 30 teams have a shot. He was serious. He should hush. Van Gundy really wants to see the San Antonio Spurs possibly have a starting front line of Tim Duncan and Greg Oden? Yep, that’s competitive balance. His idea sounds even more ludicrous when the two teams on his coaching résumé gained franchise centers by being awful (the Knicks drafted Patrick Ewing in 1985 and the Rockets took Yao Ming in 2002).
Bad teams and their fans need some hope of improvement. The lottery gives the worst teams a better chance, not a guarantee at securing the top pick. Since 1990, just three teams that finished with the worst record have won the lottery. And those wary that Boston is taking a late-season nose dive to catch Memphis in the standings are overlooking the obvious — the Celtics may already have secured their draft position. They had an 18-game losing streak this season. The last three teams to lose at least 15 in a row in a season went on to win the lottery (including Van Gundy’s Rockets).