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NBA seeks changes to avoid tanking and resting stars

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The board of governors will vote on draft reform and penalties for resting players

NBA: Playoffs-Golden State Warriors at Utah Jazz
NBA commissioner Adam Silver speaks with Warriors GM Bob Myers
Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

It’s no secret that the NBA has a tanking problem. While everyone has a different opinion as to how severe the issue is, and what should be done about it, nearly all NBA fans and employees agree that teams losing on purpose, and being rewarded for it, isn’t ideal.

There have been rumblings of draft reform for a while, and it looks like it’s finally coming to a head, as reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. With the support of commissioner Adam Silver, the NBA competition committee has recommended a plan to the board of governors which, if approved, would change the draft system beginning with the 2019 draft.

What would draft reform look like?

The biggest change to the system would seek to make top-pick odds more even for all lottery teams, thus limiting the incentives that drive the race for the worst record. The current system gives the worst team in the NBA a 25% chance of landing the top pick, while the second-worst team gets a 19.9% chance, and the team with the third-worst record has a 15.6% chance.

The proposed new rules would give all three teams a 14% chance of grabbing the top pick, while increasing odds for other lottery teams. Furthermore, teams with the worst records will be able to fall further in the lottery than they can under the current system.

Of course, this has virtually no short-term impact on the Golden State Warriors, who look to be avoiding the lottery for many years to come. And, had the reform been passed years ago, it wouldn’t have prohibited the Dubs’ ascension, as their luck came in the form of good players falling into their laps, rather than high draft picks.

But with teams like the Philadelphia 76ers avoiding wins in the present to better set the future table, the league determined it was time to make a change. It seems likely that this reform will earn the two-thirds majority needed to pass.

Rest up . . . or don’t

What could impact the Warriors, however, is a second proposal from the competition committee, aimed to limit the amount of rest that superstars are given. Steve Kerr, Gregg Popovich, and Ty Lue all made headlines last year for resting players such as Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, and LeBron James, and drawing the ire of fans who had purchased expensive tickets.

Under the proposed system, commissioner Silver would have the power to fine teams for resting healthy players on nationally televised games, for resting multiple players in a single game, or for any other form of player rest that unnecessarily damages the fan experience. While it may seem odd to have this at the commissioner’s discretion, it’s hard to craft a rule that wouldn’t be vague or full of loopholes.

Ultimately, neither of these proposals will have too much of an impact on the Warriors, and, if passed, they should make the game even better for fans.