NBA Lottery reform could actually benefit the Sixers


Trust the Process. The phrase is such a part of the Philadelphia sports scene that it’s nearly blasphemous to denounce it. The battle cry of a fan base eager to return to playoff contention softened the blow of the intentional losses, if only a little. The losses resulted in terrible, painful-to-watch seasons but top draft spots through the NBA Lottery. Now, with arguably the most promising young big three in the league, The Philadelphia 76ers stand to possibly land a high pick through the lottery again. This time they’ll be doing it without the tanking, thanks to the newly passed NBA Lottery reform and a few creative trades.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, reported Thursday that the NBA had passed the lottery reform rule with a vote of 28-1-1. The new rule will go into effect in 2019, leaving this year’s lottery unchanged.

The rule, designed to discourage tanking, will do so by “implementing lower odds on the NBA’s worst teams to gain the top picks in the draft.” As the lottery currently exists, the worst team in the league has a 25 percent chance of landing the top pick. The second and third worst teams have slightly lower chances, 19.9 and 15.6 percent respectively.

The change will give the bottom three teams the same chances at “earning” the top pick in the draft. Ultimately the difference between the top and the bottom of the lottery has been flattened.

The Sixers, fresh off of what is likely the last year of ‘The Process’, look to be the last team to benefit from systematically tanking for the top pick. After two consecutive years with the first overall pick, four consecutive drafting in the top 3, the team has assembled one of the most promising big three’s in the league. Now, thanks to a system designed to stop other teams from building the way they did, they may be in a better position in 2019 than before the rule was passed.

In order to draft Markelle Fultz, the Sixers traded the rights to the 2018 Los Angeles Lakers pick to the Boston Celtics. Due to the pick protections, the Celtics will only get the pick if it falls between the second and fifth slot. In the event that the pick does not convey, Boston will get the better of the Sixers or Sacramento Kings (acquired via the Nik Stauskas deal) 2019 first round picks. Being as both picks are top one protected, the Sixers still have a chance at the top slot. If the Lakers pick does convey, Philadelphia will keep the 2019 Sacramento pick with no strings attached.

While many are expecting the Sixers to make a push for the playoffs this season, and even stronger so in 2019, the Kings are very much trending the opposite way. They play in a Western Conference that grows stronger by the day. The front office hasn’t shown it has any idea of how to run a basketball team in years. The Kings’ exciting core may be enough to keep them from being the worst team in the association. Fortunately for the Sixers, it’s unlikely they claw their way out of the bottom six or seven. With the flattening of the lottery odds, the Sixers stand to have a better shot at the top pick than originally thought. If everything works out perfectly, the Sixers could end up with the top pick in the next two drafts AND contend for a playoff spot.

Clearly one of the biggest winners from the old system, Philly may be the first to benefit from the new one as well. It would certainly be the break Sixers fans have been desperate for.


Mandatory Credit: John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports