Column: The NBA draft lottery is a bad gimmick that’s run its course


By Nick Canepa - The San Diego Union-Tribune



Almost every time I see it — which, granted, isn’t very often, but every so often is often enough — the NBA doesn’t look good. It’s hard for me to recognize.

And yet it is thriving, so they say.

TV ratings are up, while the NFL’s and NHL’s are down. For the fourth consecutive year, attendance has risen, although crowd figures quite often are figments of publicists’ fabrications.

Maybe if they called this something other than basketball, it would be all right with me. But there are so many remarkable athletes playing a sport — as Bobby Jones said of Jack Nicklaus’ game — with which I am not familiar.

It’s a waste. Games often are unwatchable, and some of that’s by design, what with teams tanking.

I suppose if I were a Millennial I’d think otherwise, because I’d have to go to the tape to see how the game was meant to be played, and being one of them I’d be too busy looking down into my cell texting friends to bother.

But, this Baby Boomer can recall when basketball was basketball, when traveling and three seconds were called, when putting a hand under the ball while dribbling meant carrying it over, and jumping into a defender was an offensive foul.

Players are far too quick and athletic to allow this crap to happen, but it does — and I’m terribly sorry, I cannot get used to it. At times it would be laughable if it weren’t so sad.

It’s become a game of what you can get away with.

The way the Association is set up, only a baby handful of teams are capable of contending for a title — and that generally hinges on the overall health of the Warriors.

They help this along by having the dumbest thing in sports, the draft lottery, which was held Tuesday night. Drafts are set up to have the worst team drafting first and the best team last.

Makes sense, which the NBA doesn’t.

This year, the team with the worst record — Phoenix — actually drafted first, which, despite the most chances to succeed because of a lack of in-season success, doesn’t happen all the time. Memphis had the second-worst record and will go fourth. Sacramento, which won five more games than the Grizzlies, will draft second.

The lottery is a bad gimmick that’s run its course.

When will these tanking teams — like the Suns, Mavericks, Grizzlies, Bulls and Hawks — contend?

The NBA is the Warriors, Rockets, Cavaliers and Celtics, who, despite playing without their two best players, could make the Finals — primarily because Brad Stevens is the best game coach in the world.

Meanwhile, how can anyone attend a sporting event knowing a team deliberately plays poorly — or more poorly than it normally would?

“I find it an incredibly difficult issue,” Commissioner Adam Silver says of tanking.

Maybe more teams should tank. Think of the ratings and attendance spikes.

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By Nick Canepa

The San Diego Union-Tribune

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