Seriously though, the draft lottery needs to be fixed - this tanking business is no fun to watch or even follow from a home computer. The solution, a twist inspired by Bill Simmons’ Entertaining As Hell Tournament idea:
Keep the same basic idea of the EAHT: losers scramble over the final playoff spot in each conference. But here is the twist. They are also scrambling over the #1 pick in the draft, and with it a brighter future!
The top 7 teams in each conference are seeded for the Championship Playoffs much like we do now. The other 8 teams are seeded within conference, according to record for the EAHT. The winner of each conference bracket gets an 8th seed in the Championship Playoffs and a top-2 pick in the upcoming draft. And, the draft order fixes itself:
Winner of the EAHT finale gets the #1 pick and 8th seed;
loser of the finale gets the #2 pick and 8th seed;
losers in the semis are slotted 3 and 4;
losers in the quarters are slotted 5-8;
losers in the first round are slotted 9-16;
slotting in each range is determined by point differential during EAHT.
With this system, why loose? The only reason I can imagine for a team to "tank" is to slide into the EAHT with hopes of winning it all and landing a super-elite prospect while still making the Playoffs. Even if a team decided to "rebuild" by falling out of the top-7 in their conference, there is still incentive to win games and build a competitive team because higher seeds in the EAHT get home court advantage and you HAVE to win the EAHT to get that super-elite prospect.
The EAHT Draft would also create competition at the top of the league - by bolstering mid-level teams with elite talent - which is a good thing, right? Finally, we can start rewarding ingenuity, wise spending, and competition instead of wasting the league's best talent on slummy franchises!
Make it happen!