Eschewing wins in the hopes of obtaining a high draft pick has long been a problem in the NBA. However, league commissioner Adam Silver may not see a tanking war as hotly-contested as the one that could occur during the 2022-23 season, with generational talents such as Victor Wembanyama and Scoot Henderson as the ultimate prizes in the upcoming draft.
While Silver acknowledged the potential for such tanking hijinx, he still has one plea for teams planning to hit the draft jackpot.
“I know that many of our NBA teams are salivating at the notion that potentially, through our Lottery, that they could get him– so they should all still compete very hard next season,” Silver, speaking with reporters before the Milwaukee Bucks and Atlanta Hawks’ preseason game in Abu Dhabi, said.
Changes to the draft lottery system should have addressed this exact problem. The worst team only has a 14% chance to obtain the top pick instead of the 25% in the previous system. Alas, the fastest way for a team to make its way back to the top is through obtaining a franchise-altering talent, and still, the more lottery balls a team has, the better chance they have in turning their fortunes around.
Adam Silver’s statement was a bit confusing too. A bit contradictory, even. If the system is set up to reward ineptitude, then what incentives do teams have to “still compete very hard”?
Perhaps Silver is alluding to the fact that prospects such as Victor Wembanyama and Scoot Henderson have better chances of realizing their potential if they’re drafted by teams that have a winning culture? If so, then his statement makes more sense.
Nevertheless, after an impressive showcase by the two ballyhooed prospects, it’s difficult to envision any non-contending team stopping short of anything just to acquire the young talents.
Victor Wembanyama had 37 points on 11-20 shooting (7-11 from deep) and five blocks (!), while Scoot Henderson had 28 points, 5 rebounds, and 9 assists during their highly anticipated matchup, making the jaws of everybody in the NBA drop.
As things currently stand, the San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder, Detroit Pistons, Indiana Pacers, and Utah Jazz appear primed to duke it out for lottery odds come the end of the season, and commissioner Adam Silver won’t be able to do anything to stop them.