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The Downbeat: Draft Lottery reform will hurt the Utah Jazz

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The NBA altering the Draft Lottery could have serious long term consequences for the Utah Jazz

NBA Draft

Talk is heating up about the NBA possibly changing the draft lottery in an attempt to curb teams from tanking in a way similar to the Philadelphia 76ers.

The system will change the odds at getting the #1 pick, “flattening the odds” so it’s less likely that the team with the worst record actually gets the pick.

It’s been three years since the NBA failed to pass lottery reform, its proposal blocked by a coalition spearheaded by Philadelphia and Oklahoma City. This week the league plans to submit a new proposal to the competition committee, with suggested implementation in 2019. The details, first reported by ESPN, include a flattening of the odds to land the No. 1 pick among the four teams with the worst record – 14 percent for the bottom three teams, 12.5 percent for the fourth, league sources told The Vertical – a change from the current system, which rewards the team with the worst record with the best odds of securing the top pick. The lottery would be expanded to include the top four slots, with teams slotted by record from fifth on.

At first glance this seems like a good idea. It will make it so some teams won’t intentionally lose games so brazenly. But when you look at the big picture, this could have a long term negative effect on small market teams like the Utah Jazz.

It’s well understood that there are three ways of attaining talent: Draft, Trade and Free Agency. As a small market team, it’s difficult to keep stars on your team (as was painfully evident with Gordon Hayward), let alone sign them outright. Trades are a more viable option but there is no guarantee a player acquired by trade will re-sign. And with contracts as short as they are it’s a huge risk, especially if you’re using draft assets for trades. That leaves the draft as the most viable option.

To get that high level talent, you have to get a top 3 pick to even sniff at a star player. Yes, you can get stars at pick #15 like Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kawhi Leonard or #27 for Rudy Gobert, but those are the exceptions to the rule. To lose a player to free agency and then go to the lottery, only to see the odds of making up for that loss diminished, is demoralizing. The Utah Jazz are the best example of a team with engaged management and ownership that lost out on a star player through little fault of their own. Next year they’re one Rudy Gobert injury from a disastrous season. If something like that happened, the lottery becomes crucial. But if the Jazz lose enough games to find themselves at the bottom of the lottery and then have their only saving grace taken away, it almost ensures they’ll never have a legitimate chance at an NBA title.

The NBA needs to focus on other issues like removing the max contract. An easy fix that would give smart, small market teams a better chance to retain their stars or even attract new ones. Instead the NBA seems set on making the rich richer and widening the gap between the large and small market teams.

I really hope Dennis Lindsey fights this.

NBA.com took a look at the Utah Jazz and their upcoming season.

It’s a great read and backs up the importance of helping small markets retain their players. Also, why no love for the Epke Udoh signing?

According to Mark Jones of ESPN, Igor Kokoskov has been doing a great job coaching Slovenia in the Eurobasket tournament.

The Utah Jazz have a gem in Igor Kokoskov. How great is it to have a coach worthy of a head coaching position backing up Quin Snyder? If the Jazz win more games than expected, their elite coaching staff will be a big part of it.

Don’t call it a comeback ... well maybe.

Stephon Marbury might be coming back to the NBA. I’m all for this just for the unique storyline. In China, Marbury has become a legend, even getting his own statue.

At 40 years old, is this more to be some sort of coach or can he make it back on an NBA roster?

Finally, we’ll end the downbeat with this fun statistic.