Paolino’s Picks: What Can the NBA Do to Prevent Tanking?

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Gary Dineen

Phoenix Suns forward Josh Jackson and General Manager Ryan McDonough celebrate the winning of the first pick in 2018 NBA Draft.

Richie Paolino, Sports Reporter

WOODBURY — Tanking in the NBA has been a growing problem as of late; teams with not enough talent to compete in the playoffs take their chance and place their ticket into the NBA Draft Lottery to try and win the first overall pick. The easiest way to secure this ticket is simple. Losing. 

The current system in place for the NBA draft is a lottery, where the 14 teams who didn’t make the playoffs will have a certain percentage chance of winning the first overall pick. The three teams with the worst records all have a 14% chance for the first overall pick, and as teams’ records improve, their chances for the first pick decreases.

While teams have no problem trying to land the next superstar, the NHS community would rather all 30 NBA teams chasing trophies instead of draft picks.

“I feel like the lottery is more of a tease for teams,” says Nonnewaug senior Paul Coppola. “Teams will believe that if they have a bad season, they will have something to fall back on with a chance at the first overall pick. Teams should not get the opportunity to rely on a system that gives a small chance to get a top pick.”

Even NBA commissioner Adam Silver is worried about teams tanking, especially this season. 

“We put teams on notice,” Silver told team owners last month via ESPN. “We’re going to be paying particular attention to the issue this year.”

Victor Wembanyama plays in an exhibition game versus the NBA G-League Ignite in Nevada last month.

This offseason, the league is expecting a 7-foot-3 star from France to take over the NBA: Victor Wembyenyama. Wembyenyama, 18, is almost guaranteed to be the first pick in the draft; the only question would be to what team he will be selected to? 

But Wembyenyama isn’t just any front runner to be the first pick. The hype and expectations of this 18-year-old are as high as they have ever been. The NBA has already given into the hype, streaming all his overseas games on the NBA app.

This isn’t just any normal occurrence for a player to get this recognition as people who don’t follow the NBA know about Wembanyama and his potential.

“I know he’s one of the best prospects there’s been coming into the NBA,” said Zach Hellwinkle, a senior from Nonnewaug.

Why would an NBA team find themselves in the unenviable position of picking first? It’s likely due to that fact that they lack the star-power to contend for a championship. 

“If you look at teams like the Warriors and the Bucks, they have superstars who take over the league,” said Chris O’Toole, Nonnewaug’s schools resource officer and avid basketball fan. “If a team doesn’t have a superstar, they’ll find themselves in the lottery looking for one.”

Teams purposely losing is obviously a big problem, but there are other situations in the NBA, where just like tanking, that could ruin the integrity of the sport.

“Teams will look at it as doing the best they can for their team and it’s future, but at the same time, it wrecks the integrity of the sport,” said wellness instructor Dave Green. “You can also say teams who have clinched a playoff spot start to ruin the integrity of the sport as well, purposely taking out their stars for their future and giving other teams a chance to make the playoffs is similar to tanking, the only problem is how do you stop it.”