With French phenom Victor Wembanyama waiting in the wings as a top 2023 draft prospect, it’s no surprise that NBA commissioner Adam Silver might be focused on a plan to combat tanking this season.
A Suns employee reportedly sparked the discussion, one that will likely continue as the league covets Wembanyama — a 7-foot-3 “franchise-changing, generational talent,” according to Yahoo Sports’ Krysten Peek.
While some franchises have been speculated to do less than everything possible to win in order to secure top draft picks, the NBA is cracking down this season, according to Silver.
"We put teams on notice," he reportedly said. "We're going to be paying particular attention to the issue this year."
A possible solution
In European soccer, teams can drop from their current league to an inferior one when they finish the season ranked at the bottom, resulting in relegation. Silver reportedly told the Suns employees that the league has thought about adopting the concept as a potential solution to incentivize poorly performing teams to compete.
This model would involve sending one or two teams to the G league and calling up a team or two. Ultimately, the league is not in favor of the potentially “destabilizing” idea.
"It would so disrupt our business model," Silver reportedly said. "And even if you took two teams up from the G League, they wouldn't be equipped to compete in the NBA."
The NBA has already been working to reduce tanking. It flattened draft lottery odds after 2018, which made it so the teams with the three worst regular-season records each have an equal 14 percent chance of winning the lottery. Before that, the top seed had a 25 percent of winning the lottery, the second seed had a 19.9 percent and the third seed had a 15.6 percent.
A lack of competitive product will always be a threat to the league’s bottom line. We can expect some action, as Silver is aware that franchises will continue to scheme.
"Teams are smarter, they are creative, and they respond — we move, they move — so we're always looking to see whether there's yet a better system," he reportedly said.