NY Post: ‘We don’t play to lose’: Knicks not focusing on lottery odds

From Zach Braziller:

David Fizdale understands. He gets Knicks fans’ desire to secure the best possible odds to land the best possible prospect.

Who wouldn’t want Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett or Ja Morant?

But it’s not going to change anything about how he coaches his team.

“I’m not wired to lose on purpose,” Fizdale said Wednesday. “That just is not, I can’t even get my body to function that way or my mind to function that way. I’m lucky because [Knicks president] Steve [Mills] and [general manager] Scott [Perry] and Mr. [owner James] Dolan have all said to me, ‘You play every game to win and you don’t worry about where we land in the draft and all of that stuff.’

“They told me develop these guys, play to win every single night and that’s what I preach to them and that’s what they expect out of me.”

Okay then.

Liked it? Take a second to support Brian Cronin on Patreon!

90 thoughts to “NY Post: ‘We don’t play to lose’: Knicks not focusing on lottery odds”

  1. Stratomatic "I'm tired of the Knicks paying lip service to DEFENSE. Get defenders & two-way players. Then play them! says:

    I don’t think many people have a problem with what Fizdale is saying here. The problems occur when a team is already out of the playoff picture and the coach is still playing veterans over youth or when there are veterans on the bench that are clearly better than the kids that are playing and it’s still early in the season. Fizdale did a pretty good job of balancing that and Lee was a trooper. Kanter no so much. Of course we suck so badly there aren’t many veterans or otherwise that can play at all. lol

  2. As someone still angry we beat the Hawks in 2015 I hate to read this but it’s what any coach is going to say. Just give me a heavy dose of Frank, Mudiay and Hezonja down the stretch this year.

  3. Yeah, if we’re winning games because some combo of Mitch, Trier, DSJ or (if the light turns back on again) Knox are balling out, you live with that. The only type of win at this point that would be maddening would be if Mudiay singlehandedly shoots us into a victory, because I don’t want him here anymore. That, or Henry Ellenson turning into, as somebody said the other day, the second coming of Maurice N’dour.

  4. We just won two games in a row. I’mma let the guy pound his chest a little even though what he’s saying is foolish.

  5. The only thing to be seriously concerned about is falling out of the bottom 3, and the Bulls with OPJ seem thoroughly mediocre so we at least have some breathing room. Of course ideally we get the worst overall record to maximize our falling down insurance, but this particular draft is so top heavy it’s a little hard to be mad as long as we maximize our chances at Zion.

    Putting together a big board is hard in this draft because everyone after Zion, Morant, and Culver (to some extent) kind of blend in. That’s probably my top 3 at this point, with my 4th choice being a trade down for Bol Bol.

  6. Yeah, if we’re winning games because some combo of Mitch, Trier, DSJ or (if the light turns back on again) Knox are balling out, you live with that.

    If we were to somehow catch Chicago I don’t think I could live with that. It’s unlikely at least.

  7. At some point as a team you have to realize winning is unacceptable and tell your coach to lose on purpose. Some wins here and there for morale or because your young players are playing well are fine to a point but then you have to understand the big picture. I’m sure it was great for the young Tim Hardaway to beat the Hawks in 2015 but it set this franchise back several years for absolutely nothing.

  8. I posted this earlier on a moribund thread:

    Hey, as an anti-tank measure, what if you kept the 1-2-3-4 odds the way that they are, but if those team miss out, they drop further than 5-6-7? Like say you change all of the probabilities after the top 3 so that if the worst team doesn’t get a top-3 pick, they slip to #14; #2 slips to #13, #3 slips to #12, etc.?

    This would make sort of a bell curve where teams in the middle of the lottery were very unlikely (like 20% chance or a bit less) to land a top 3 or 4 pick but they were very likely to move up a couple of slots from where they finished. For example, the team that just missed the playoffs at #14 has a 2.5% chance of landing in the top 4 but a 47% chance of landing at #5?

  9. Stratomatic "I'm tired of the Knicks paying lip service to DEFENSE. Get defenders & two-way players. Then play them! says:

    I’m sure it was great for the young Tim Hardaway to beat the Hawks in 2015 but it set this franchise back several years for absolutely nothing.

    Given Tim’s age at the time, what exactly were they supposed to do?

    There’s no chance that any player is going to totally lay down. They could get into serious trouble if they did. People are betting on these games.

    You throw the young players in and see what happens. For the last 4-5 games maybe they can bench Robinson and pretend he has an ankle injury. But for now you play him, develop him, and hope he goes for 20-10-5 every night because that means he’s getting better.

  10. I agree with DRed that if you’re not purposely losing at critical junctures you’re just unilaterally disarming. For this season, I would set that line at falling out of the bottom 3.

    The THJ example is obviously the most painful because it cost us KAT, but in 2016-2017 we went 4-5 in our last nine games. If we had messed around a bit, we might have De’Aaron Fox instead of Tank Ntilikina. The margins were so slim that year and I distinctly recall other tanking teams taking much more active measures than we did.

  11. The realistic goal has to be at least the top 3, and that’s very possible, Chicago won again last night, so they’re keeping up.

    The Suns also won a game recently, so I’m not too worried yet. Obviously I’d rather have the dream scenario of the youngsters playing well + losing to secure the worst record, but it’s like many of us have said, as long as guys like Robinson, Trier, DSJ are the main reasons we’re winning, we can live with that. Those years were so specially annoying because the wins came with performances from guys who either had no future on the team or were random veterans who would leave anyway. This year is different at least in that sense.

    The only thing I would like to see is Mudiay playing considerably less minutes than DSJ, there’s simply no point in prioritizing his playing time over Smith or Trier who are here guaranteed for next season. Everything else has been fine, this team is still mostly terrible and very likely to lose every night they play.

  12. Though Fiz is smart to reign [Mitch] in this season to just covering the basics at the 5 position I am actually okay with letting him launch an open 3 pointer or two to see how it goes.

    I can’t even imagine the explosion of hope I would experience if Mitchell Robinson takes and makes his first three point attempt.

  13. Stratomatic "I'm tired of the Knicks paying lip service to DEFENSE. Get defenders & two-way players. Then play them! says:

    Aside from the unexplained love affair between Fizdale and Mudiay, It’s not 100% that Mudiay is gone. If they don’t sign Durant/Kyrie or someone else in that category, they are still going to fill most or all of that cap space. Mills has already specifically used the term “roll it over”. That means if they fail at the larger goal they intend to sign some players to short term contracts. I would think the players we already have will be among the candidates. Guys like Vonleh and Mudiay would be among those considered, especially considering Fizdale’s love affair with Mudiay.

  14. When you play your new guy, who washed out at another team and is on a ten day contract so that the Knicks have a full roster, how are you expected to tank harder than that? If he then goes on a tear and ends up being interviewed at center court, what are you going to do? You just clap for him.

  15. Stratomatic "I'm tired of the Knicks paying lip service to DEFENSE. Get defenders & two-way players. Then play them! says:

    I wouldn’t have a problem with trying to expand Robinson’s role on offense now either. We aren’t competing for anything. My point has been that if he did and his efficiency dropped sharply it would not be a reflection of his actual

    potential productivity

    . It would be a reflection of his

    role.

    At that point if you are someone trying to evaluate him as a player, you have to decide whether it’s a basketball IQ thing, development thing, coaching thing, team makeup thing and whether someone will be smart enough to fix it and go back to his own lane when the games matter.

    On the flip side if he succeeds at expanding and is knocking down 3s and other shots at value adding rates, you roll around on the floor and do the worm.

  16. It’s not 100% that Mudiay is gone

    We’ve asked this question before, but now that we’re 61 games into the season and he still has the TS% of an average PG I’ll ask it again:

    Is there a level at which we wouldn’t mind him?

    Maybe all this winning has made me soft, but I could stomach bringing back on a two year deal for the room exception to be Smith’s (or Kyrie’s) backup.

  17. That Hawks win in 2015 is, to this day, the highest game score Langston Galloway has recorded in 317 games. I’ll never get over it.

  18. I wouldn’t have a problem with trying to expand Robinson’s role on offense now either. We aren’t competing for anything.

    This is sort of an interesting concept as it relates to Kevin Knox. If we were any good at all this year, would Knox have the green light that he has right now to do pretty much anything he wants? We’ve spent a bunch of time here talking about how terrible he has been, how he’s one of the worst rookies in forever, etc, but on any normal team that is actually trying to win games, he wouldn’t even have the opportunity to suck as bad as he has. He’d be parked in the corner waiting for kickouts, and benched the second he did anything that was outside the little box that the coaching staff put him in. So in that light, (and I know this is REALLY stretching it), his suckitude may not be as historic as it looks right now. Seriously, given his #s, no even semi-respectable team would consider playing him 30+ miniutes/game.

    Re: the Ellenson and Jenkins deals– good work by Perry again. But for CBA gurus out there, remind me again the difference between non guaranteed and team option as it relates to trades? As I remember it, non guaranteed $ no longer count for anything in trade, right? So team options are better for trade possibilities, but if you pick up the option, you’re on the hook for the whole amount?

    nice to see ephus back.

  19. I honestly wouldn’t want to mess with Mitch or confuse him at all about his purpose on the offensive end of the court. None of this fancy shite. Tell him to stand on one block or the other and make himself available for a lob or get in position to rebound a miss. If he is moving more than 5 feet from the rim it should be to set a pick.

    I said it for years about Chandler but “rim runners” have to be accounted for at all times, even when they are not rolling to the hoop. Let’s not get fancy here, Mitch is a narrow but pretty devastating threat. No reason to mess with it.

  20. So in that light, (and I know this is REALLY stretching it), his suckitude may not be as historic as it looks right now.

    Man, things really never change around here.

  21. “Expanding his offensive role” is the same thing that derailed Andre Drummond’s very promising career. If Mitch never attempts a 3 pointer outside of an all star game I’d be just fine. You don’t try to find ways for a 650 TS guy to be more efficient.

  22. What do you expect Fiz to say?
    He’s not as rich as Cuban, he couldn’t admit tanking, fines are too expensive for him.
    And nobody could expect that players and coaches play to lose, it goes straight to your BBRef page, people will not remember that you tanked, only that you sucked.
    Was it in november that everybody was in a fit because of a 3 games winning streak? We recovered well, goin’ 3-32 from December 4 to february 23, and looking at the remaining games, I expect 3, maybe 4 wins including tonight (but I’ll love to beat the Lakers), not enough to put a bottom 3 finish in jeopardy. We’ll be fine.

    On a broader sense, the day the NBA, the smartest league on the planet, will get rid of the fucking draft I’m gonna spend one month of my betting wages on drinks.
    Stop rewarding the losers. Stop making a joke of hundreds of games (games for which people pay tickets).
    Free the young players to go pro if they want it, as soon as they’re considered “adult” by the law (it’s obscene that you couldn’t play professional basketball but could serve in the Army or accidentally kill someone while legally driving a car).
    Hard (or “harder then now”, closer to NHL and NFL) salary cap and let the FOs show us who’s really good and who’s fake.
    You want to pay LeBron 100 Mil/Year? Curry 80? Doncic 75? Zion 70? Do it, and fill the other 14 spot with min salary, I’m sure you’ll gonna be fine!

  23. Oh, before I forget, Mitch is a beast, don’t trade him, even for AD please.

    … And wait a bit before thinking about his 3 point range, let the kid do what he do so well.

  24. It’s kind of hard to tell whether Fiz is tanking at any given point in time because it’s not totally clear whether he has a good handle on which of our players were good or bad honestly. For example keeping Knox (the starter) on the bench throughout the 4th against Orlando in favor of Ellenson (getting a loooooot of run for a guy who just joined) is the kind of move that would normally look like a coach subtly shifting the odds towards tanking. Except that Knox actually stinks and Ellenson played a heck of a game so it definitely helped us win. But does Fiz know that Knox stinks and playing him is actually a pro-tank move? Unclear; a part of me definitely thinks Fiz thinks of him as an important scorer on this team. So while yes Fiz should be making moves to steer events in our favor, I think it’s a pretty open question whether he knows what those moves should be.

    And of course while we’re all obsessing over our own tank, both Cleveland and Chicago added very good players (at least by tank standards) to their mixes recently in Love and Porter and are playing kind of .500ish since. So things could be worse.

  25. Stratomatic "I'm tired of the Knicks paying lip service to DEFENSE. Get defenders & two-way players. Then play them! says:

    @22

    My problem with Knox isn’t so much his green light (which theoretically could be taken away if we were fighting for the playoffs or something). It’s that I can’t find a way to use him on offense that would efficient. He’s not a good enough 3 point shooter (at least yet) and he’s not so great around the basket or drawing fouls that you could limit him to that and go from there. He’s pretty good in transition, but you only get so many of those. He’s bad or mediocre at everything right now. And since he’s also terrible on defense, what exactly is his role going to be? Even if he develops a good 3 pointer for next year (he’s not that far off), a good 3 point shot and bad defense is not my idea of a lottery player or starter.

  26. Stratomatic "I'm tired of the Knicks paying lip service to DEFENSE. Get defenders & two-way players. Then play them! says:

    You don’t try to find ways for a 650 TS guy to be more efficient.

    You try to find ways to expand the usage of efficient guys beyond their core strength. If you fail, you revert back.

  27. Re tanking, I made a suggestion about this a few months back which I still think works well. Bear with me.

    Split the draft into three 20-pick rounds.

    Shorten the regular season to 76 games (division x 4, conf x 3, other conf x 2)

    Top 7 in each conf make playoffs by right.

    Remaining 8 in each conf play a play-in tourney – 3 game series, best teams with home court.

    Winner in each gets into playoffs

    First 16 picks then allocated by success in tourney – e.g top two picks go to tourney winner in each side. Better record wins tiebreakers. Picks 17-20 go to the worst four playoff teams.

    Picks 21-40 (second round) go to worst ten and best ten teams in order of record, worst to best.

    Picks 41-60 go to middle ten and best ten again by record.

    So if you’re the worst team, your expected picks are 16 and 21. But you can play your way to a better 1Rp. Every win counts because wins are the tie-breaker when his get knocked out of the tourney, and also get you better tourney seeding so a better chance of a higher pick. But even in the worst case you get pick 21 too, so you’re still getting two mid 1rps.

    Low playoff seeded teams get picks 17-20 and early 40s similar to now. Best teams get 30-40 and 50-60, slightly worse than now. The teams that benefit are the ones who are borderline playoff or bad but work to maximise wins – they might get a top 5 pick and one in either the late 20s or early 40s, and might make the playoffs. it’s a super-strong incentive right to the last game.

  28. This also eliminates the season getting distorted by the buy-out market, and by bad teams not trying and influencing playoff places for good teams.

  29. Plus the play-in tournament would be an immense fontnihht of excitement between the end of the regular season and the real playoffs.

    Basically it’s awesome.

  30. Bobby Marks:

    No coincidence that New York put a team option and not a guaranteed cut date in the contracts of Henry Ellenson, Allonzo Trier and John Jenkins. New York can simply decline the option and sign each player back without the risk of being claimed by another team.

    Basic competence in a Knicks executive! I’d forgotten what that felt like.

  31. So for February (so far) Mitch has a usage of 15.1 and a TS of 71.6.

    That usage of 15 is higher than literally every single one of Tyson Chandler’s peak years and is right around peak Deandre Jordan’s usage.
    Capela’s usage is in the 19-20 range.

    Meanwhile, those guys had Jason Kidd, Chris Paul, and James Harden setting them up. Mitch has been able to do this with Trier, Mudiay, and DSJ. If you put Kyrie and Durant on this team, and surround Mitch, KD/Kyrie with shooters, it may literally be unstoppable.

  32. @31, I like it from a fan’s perspective but doubt that it ever happens. Most importantly. the goal is to:

    1) eliminate tanking
    2) maximize the chance that the worst teams will get the best picks, promoting parity

    Your plan addresses #1 but not #2, and might actually ensure that bad teams stay bad.

  33. Meanwhile, beat/NBA writers are falling all over themselves talking about how great Kanter has been in Portland, when in actuality he has a net net rating of minus 40.2 during his time there. Classic Kanter, great personal numbers, terrible team numbers when he’s on the court.

  34. And a bit more clarity on option vs. non-guaranteed, from Knicks Film School:

    Value of option > guaranteed cut date for the Knicks might be the ability to invoke the option on these players and then use them in trades prior to July 1.

    Under new CBA, if you trade a player prior to July 1 with a non-guaranteed amount due, can’t count that salary in matching

  35. I can’t even imagine the explosion of hope I would experience if Mitchell Robinson takes and makes his first three point attempt.

    To be clear, I didn’t mean we should tell Mitch to shoot 3s.

    I meant imagine if he’s really good at it and we just don’t know yet.

  36. If they start making changes to the postseason, the first thing they should do is have the top four seeds choose their first round opponents. The top seed picks any of the bottom 4 seeds, then the #2 seed picks, then the #3. Then high seeds won’t get stuck playing superior opponents than the lower seeds because of a fluke.

    The NBA could stage a live draft event for team reps to pick their opponents. It would be a huge TV draw and generate a lot of buzz/headlines because it’s tailor made for sports-talk punditry.

  37. I know Knox has a long way to go to not be terrible. My question to yall: if Knox undergoes, say, the Mudiay improvement (more core strength, improved body control, having a clue when driving the lane), would you call that enough progress to begin to have faith in him?

  38. I hear you Hubert, it would be awesome and would layer an additional surprise on top of an already extraordinary find.

    It is sort of funny to think though that Mitch would have to shoot 45% from 3 to match his current efficiency.

  39. Most importantly. the goal is to:

    1) eliminate tanking
    2) maximize the chance that the worst teams will get the best picks, promoting parity

    Your plan addresses #1 but not #2, and might actually ensure that bad teams stay bad.

    Bingo. It’s trivial to eliminate tanking if you don’t care about giving the worst teams guaranteed access to the best players and you don’t need any kind of convoluted system or tournament or whatever. Use Lowe’s Wheel, or a reverse order or a completely random order, whatever; there’s an infinite number of systems that work, many of which are extremely simple. The flip side of that statement is that it’s literally impossible to completely eliminate tanking if you do care giving the best prospects to the worst teams. As long as you’re doing that teams are going to have an incentive to be bad for that access and that leads to tanking. You can mess around with the incentive structure and create new breakpoints like the NBA did this year (i.e. there’s now little advantage to being the worst relative to being among the 3 worst) but there’s still incentive to lose and inevitably that leads to some amount of tanking. The inherent tradeoff between #1 and #2 has to be the starting point of any discussion of these issues.

  40. I’d be more than happy to show faith in Knox if he made those strides. Unfortunately he hasn’t made any improvements to speak of this season. And he’s starting from a very low base, so there needs to be a lot of improvement for him to ever get to good.

    Just look at Mudiay. He HAS made big improvements in his game, but he was starting from such a low point that he’s still bad today. He could be back in China in 2 years.

  41. Meanwhile, beat/NBA writers are falling all over themselves talking about how great Kanter has been in Portland, when in actuality he has a net net rating of minus 40.2 during his time there. Classic Kanter, great personal numbers, terrible team numbers when he’s on the court.

    Does anyone still remember those late January articles and segments where the NY area sports media ripped apart the Knicks front office for sitting Kanter down and playing MitchRob instead? Pepperidge Farms remembers. Does anyone remember when a crowd full of moronic Knicks fans in MSG cheered for Fizdale to play Kanter when MitchRob was on the court? Pepperidge Farms remembers.

    You will never hear either admit they were dead wrong about either.

  42. @37, @44. Exactly – you can’t keep distributing the best players to the teams with the worst records AND eliminate tanking.

    My system still promotes a degree of parity while absolutely incentivising winning. If it’s not enough on the parity, flip the tie-breakers. Then the worst record has an expected pick return of 9 and 21. That’s not absurdly far off 1 and 31. Win one round and it’s 5 and 21. In my system the best teams also lose out slightly on pick value. So it is still promoting parity, just less than now while trading off the total elimination of tanking.

  43. There will be worse players than Mudiay on rosters next season, so sure, at the minimum he wouldn’t be terrible value.

    He’s just an utterly pointless player though. He’s not efficient enough to add value as a volume scorer, he’s a below average playmaker, and to say he adds nothing on defense would be putting it generously.

    He hasn’t graduated past “the roster spot would be better used on a G League/undrafted/2nd rounder flyer” level. Personally I hope he’s not on the team next year regardless of the contract for all of the above reasons, and also he sucks aesthetically.

  44. Bear in mind that, unless Phil is your gm, the very worst teams in the league each year generally enter the year expecting to be bad, and have somewhat sought to gut their rosters. Under a pure no-tank system this won’t happen. The worst teams will be 25-win teams not 15-won teams and won’t cut all their half-way food players in Feb. So winning a round isn’t out of the question.

  45. The Knicks currently have 6 Top 10 picks on their roster. Five of them could fall out of the league within the next few years.

    If I had to predict the order they’ll be out of the NBA, it would be:

    1. Mario
    2. Mudiay
    3. Frank
    4. Knox
    5. Vonleh

  46. In lowe’s wheel or a random sequence the warriors could be picking Zion this year. That’s obviously terrible. Plus the play-in tourney would be an awesome spectacle. If you want to give the worst teams a punchers chance you could even make it single elimination…

  47. I think the tethering of draft position to record needs to end across professional sports. My ideal scenario would be to abolish the draft altogether and let prospects negotiate (perhaps you could give low-performing teams more money to offer), but short of that I support something like the lottery wheel idea.

    All of the tinkering and odds flattening in the world won’t have a huge impact on tanking if you keep the basic incentive structure in place. Right now if you know you won’t make the playoffs (or if you know you won’t be a top ~4 seed in the playoffs, really) there is simply no incentive to win games. The extent to which losing is beneficial has been decreased, but there’s no getting around the fact that it’s still more beneficial than winning.

    A complete untethering would take some time to adapt to, and every so often you would get some crazy result like the Warriors getting Zion, but I can’t imagine that’s worse than 1/3rd+ of the league either trying to lose games, or sabotaging themselves by winning.

    An untethered system would also reward smart front offices more than the current one does–every team would be trying to win as many games as possible and the teams that made the best signings, draft picks, and trades would rise to the top. This is vastly preferable to shit like the Cavs winning the lottery all the time and winning a championship despite being a garbage organization.

  48. The lottery rewards both systematic mismanagement and purposeful losing in one fell swoop. It’s a horrendous system, and any earnest defense of it by Adam Silver hurts his reputation as a competent, intelligent human being.

  49. Also, I floated the “pick your first round opponent” idea during the offseason and I think Hubert (IIRC) said it would lead to more bloated televised “drama” events. Agreed that ESPN would do its best to ruin it with a Bachelor-like presentation, but it would also create some great storylines and make upsets, rare as they are, all the sweeter. It would be a win for the league.

  50. Stratomatic "I'm tired of the Knicks paying lip service to DEFENSE. Get defenders & two-way players. Then play them! says:

    The lottery system is a variation on our social safety net systems.

    Almost all these systems designed to protect the downside or level the playing field have an unintended disincentive built into them. The idea is to find the sweet spot where the incentive for less desirable behavior isn’t large enough to cause a lot of very undesirable behavior and you can still address the issue you are trying to address (balance, safety net etc..)

    I think where we are now is pretty good.

    Look at teams like the Bulls. They are in a tanking position but they still went out and got Porter and are playing all their best players that are healthy. They are trying to develop their team and win.

    The Cavs are playing Love.

    That’s reasonable behavior compared to last year.

    It will always make sense to clear out vets when the window is closed & you have no cap space or flexibility, but behavior should improve after that initial break up.

  51. I think Hubert (IIRC) said it would lead to more bloated televised “drama” events.

    Ha! I do not recall this but I absolutely agree with the sentiment so you’re probably right! I can totally see myself annoyed at having to sit through an hour and 45 minutes of bullshit programming just to see who the Knicks are playing in the playoffs.

  52. who the Knicks are playing in the playoffs.

    lol to get this information, I don’t think you’d need to sit through anything at all

  53. I think there are variations in tanking too. Phoenix tanked for 4 years. The Sixers also tanked for ~4 years. I think there should be disincentives to discourage teams from tanking in consecutive years.

  54. If you get rid of the draft and let the college/high school players sign wherever they want to the league might as well shrink to 10 teams or so. You won’t find enough good players signing with New Orleans, Cleveland, Utah, etc….

  55. If you get rid of the draft and let the college/high school players sign wherever they want to the league might as well shrink to 10 teams or so. You won’t find enough good players signing with New Orleans, Cleveland, Utah, etc….

    No one’s advocating for the elimination of the salary cap, though.

  56. Having an overdramatic television event to announce the playoff matchups isn’t much of a downside. If you don’t want to watch it, just skip it and check online afterward.

    Undoubtedly such an event is good for the league, though. The talking heads will be blabbing about “disrespect” and whatnot, while fans get a chance to dissect their team’s decision/situation. It’s a lot of attention, which is the whole point of the entertainment business.

  57. I think there should be disincentives to discourage teams from tanking in consecutive years.

    Recent lottery success (or lack thereof) should definitely be factored into team’s odds and that’s a fairly easy fix. It’s not hard to give each team a multiplier that adjusts every year based on results. That would make it slightly less random and minimize the chances of seeing a team like Cleveland win 4 lotteries while a team like us hasn’t moved up since 1985.

  58. Stratomatic "I'm tired of the Knicks paying lip service to DEFENSE. Get defenders & two-way players. Then play them! says:

    I think there should be disincentives to discourage teams from tanking in consecutive years.

    There are. They are automatic.

    If you tank and draft someone good (let’s say Zion), you should be better the following year and slowly start moving up the ranks (lower picks) as you accumulate young players. That stops the tank.

    The flip side is that you tank and get a mediocre/bad player because you were foolish or it was a weak draft. Then you remain in the same position, but that’s fine. You are legitimately still that bad.

    It gets short circuited when there are injuries. Then on “merit” your team might actually be improving but because of injuries your record is terrible. That’s the 76ers model. They kept drafting above where they deserved on merit because they had a series of multi-year injuries. You can’t really duplicate that model.

    That was true of us last year and to a lesser extent this year. Setting aside the trade and what we got for him, if KP was healthy we wouldn’t have drafted 9th last year and wouldn’t be in this position this year. Of course now we don’t have him you could say we deserve to be right where we are.

  59. @60
    I advocated to strenghten the salary cap, like NHL or NFL,
    so you must choose well where to allocate money,
    you could pay a lot more than now for a superstar, but then you won’t have enough to pay a proper roster.
    I’ll be curious to see which FO is truly smart.

    Players won’t play for Utah or Cleveland?
    I don’t think so, but here in Europe we have a lot of roster spots open, if you’ll like to play for 200K.

  60. Having an overdramatic television event to announce the playoff matchups isn’t much of a downside. If you don’t want to watch it, just skip it and check online afterward.

    i’ve already decided – the lottery is just gonna be way too painful to tune in “live”…i’m just getting too old…plus – i already pretty much know where the knicks will draft, and, who will win, and who’ll get the second and third picks…

  61. No one’s advocating for the elimination of the salary cap, though.

    Yup, the worst teams tend to have both the most free salary and the most playing time opportunity. I don’t believe that guys are going to come into the league and take the minimum to scrounge for five minutes off Golden State or Boston’s bench when they could start and get more money on a bad team. Whoever offers the most money tends to get the player most of the time in free agency even in the current system and that’s for guys who already have significant career earnings by the time they hit unrestricted free agency. Guys starting out in the league would mostly go for the $$$ I imagine.

  62. There are. They are automatic.

    If you tank and draft someone good (let’s say Zion), you should be better the following year and slowly start moving up the ranks (lower picks) as you accumulate young players. That stops the tank.

    The problem is this is demonstrably untrue in practice. The easiest way to predict who’s going to be in the lottery is by looking at who was in it the previous year.

    First of all, most rookies are unproductive. There are only a handful (or fewer) that meaningfully contribute to wins in any given draft class.

    The main problem though is the incentive structure. Putting a system in place that should theoretically work to some extent can’t stop teams from faking injuries, instituting weird substitution patterns, etc.

    That’s why I think you’re totally wrong about the 76ers–the only player injuries may have helped them get was Simmons, but even that year they finished 7 games behind the Lakers. There’s no way they would’ve allowed Embiid to close that gap even if he was healthy. I don’t blame them at all for recognizing the reality of the system, but I think the system is bad and should be changed.

  63. @68

    Precisely. Trier, for example, is a player who “won” millions from being picked up by the Knicks rather than the Thunder, from a playing time and therefore a salary perspective. I’m sure there are benefits to being mentored by superior players, but it’s ludicrous to assume that mentorship is a bigger boon than playing time.

  64. Not totally convinced by abolishing the lottery completely, but this

    I think there should be disincentives to discourage teams from tanking in consecutive years.

    Seems like a pretty good thing.

  65. I would like to see the lottery wheel implemented (I think Zach Lowe suggested it)

    I dont think that bad teams would stay bad. There is a salary cap, and the rebuilding strategy still works: sell your veterans for picks, play young players, swing for the fences with undrafted players, etc. Perhaps for a bit longer since you dont have the advantage of being systematically in the lottery, but I dont think it is so bad. Also, you wouldnt see teams doing stupid things, like trading a supposedly low 1st round pick that ends up being 2nd.

    Of course, the NBA would lose a bit of excitement in terms of draft lottery and trade analysis, but the quality of the games would be greater, and the regular season would be more meaningful.

  66. Stratomatic "I'm tired of the Knicks paying lip service to DEFENSE. Get defenders & two-way players. Then play them! says:

    The problem is this is demonstrably untrue in practice. The easiest way to predict who’s going to be in the lottery is by looking at who was in it the previous year.

    As I’ve been saying all along, it takes MANY years to accumulate enough talent via draft alone to eventually become a contender (sometimes 6-7 years or more). However, getting out the lottery and into the playoffs is different than simply slowly getting better and slowly moving down the lottery ranks. As you accumulate young players where you pick will tend to get less attractive (IF you pick successfully).

    Every injury helped the 76ers. Each time they selected higher than they would have otherwise, it gave them another shot at a star player (which is the whole ball of wax). That’s how they got two. They also had a chance to get better role player, a better chance to get a better pick/asset to trade etc…. That they had so many failures tells you how hard it is to rebuild via draft alone. Despite those advantages, they blew enough picks for it to take a very long time.

  67. @74

    Please name some examples of teams that needed 6-7+ years of drafting to acquire contender-level talent. You obviously have this as a pet theory and I don’t want to assume it’s based on your imagination but it runs counter to the facts. I say this because I just took 20 minutes and looked. I haven’t conveniently omitted anything, i.e. I didn’t see any team that built through the draft over 6-7 years to become a contender.

    The current Warriors: drafted Steph in 09, Klay in 11, Dray in 12.

    Current Nuggets: Harris in 14, Jokic 15, Murray in 16, Jokic in 15.

    The Spurs drafted Duncan in 97, Manu in 99, Parker in 01. This 5-year period is the widest spread of any of the teams listed.

    Finals Thunder: drafted Durant in 07, Westbrook in 08, Harden & Ibaka in 09.

    Looking at OKC got me looking at the 96 Finals:
    The Sonics picked Derrick McKey (traded 1-for-1 for Shrempf) in 87, Kemp in 89, Payton in 90.

    The Bulls picked MJ and Pippen in 84 and 87, respectively.

    It seems to me, if you’re building through the draft, you’re going to do it in a 4-year window where you are fortunate enough to have talented players available and good enough nail your picks.

  68. And just think if we had nailed the Ntilikina and Knox picks, our team would be way better than currently constructed and that would have only been two drafts. You stay in the lottery because you’re bad at picking for the most part.

  69. There really aren’t even any tanking teams this season except maybe the Knicks

    I completely agree and it annoys me to no end how in the NBA in particular every team that’s bad is referred to as “tanking” (and I’m guilty of it as well). Even the Knicks have a pretty legitimate argument that this is a fairly “natural” rebuilding year. Their star player (pre-trade) missed the whole year with a torn-ACL, and they were saving up cap space for next year with specific intent. It’s not like they traded away their good players in an effort to get worse (easy because they didn’t have any good players to get rid of), or purposefully threw games. They just didn’t try at all to improve in the short-term. That’s one definition of tanking I guess, but surely far from the most egregious.

    The one thing we can be certain of is that no matter what changes you make there are always going to be bad teams in the league. Even if you completely eliminated the draft incentive (ie use the wheel for example), the bad are still going to be incentivized to make short-term sacrifices for long-term gains. Despite the endless discussion of it I don’t look around the NBA and see a big tanking problem at the moment – it’s baseball that has a problem at the moment in my eyes.

  70. In life-related news today, I got into two really solid philosophy PhD programs in the University of Miami and University of Illinois-Chicago. Still waiting on a few more but it’s such a relief to be in somewhere after the stress of the admissions process! Thanks to KB for keeping me sane during graduate school. The Knicks, not so much.

  71. @78

    Congratulations Silky! Welcome to this crazy world of PhD programs, it’s bad for the sanity but I guess it’s what we do, kinda like rooting for the Knicks in a lot of ways hahaha.

  72. Every scheme above is still going to produce teams that suck and don’t have strong incentives to win.

    Which is why we should take it out of the hands of teams, but avoid a set lottery order because that is boring. Random order has no drama. Instead, the league should mandate one (randomly selected) home game for each team as “Pony Day,” where everyone in attendance gets a free pony. Fans will then have the option to sacrifice their pony for better draft position.* Let’s leave it up to the fan base.

    *You have to personally offer up your pony to the lottery gods. No substitutions.

  73. I think people are definitely overreacting too much about the worse teams. The league is in a pretty healthy state, there’s tons of young exciting players and superstars, it’s hardly been dominated by the biggest markets and the Warriors’ sorta kinda imminent maybe demise is bound to give us the most exciting seasons in recent history.

    In the 90s we had perennial losers like the Nuggets, Mavericks, Clippers, 76ers, even the Kings and the Warriors for large stretches of the decade, because that’s how organized sports go, you’ll have terrible teams and badly ran franchises tend to stay in the bottom unless they figure shit out.

    Just giving those terrible teams high draft picks has not historically solved their issues, and it also won’t do so for the current bottom feeders unless they make smart moves and get their shit together.

    I hate tanking, but someone is going to have the worst record every season. Does it really matter that much if that team wins 23 games or 15? Does it make the NBA more watchable if every year the Phoenix Suns wins 26 games instead of 18?

    The draft system is still good for parity, as it gives franchises chances to reset. Trust me, as someone who has followed soccer my entire life, without any sort of extra compensation for the worst teams is when stagnancy becomes a huge problem. People are complaining about taking, but they have no idea what it’s like to have literally 15 teams in a 20 team league play a 100% pointless season every year with 0 chance of achieving anything memorable.

  74. That’s awesome news, Silky. I have several close friends who went that route, and all of them had characteristically-fraught paths to success.

    The 2011-12 now-ex-Lady Jowles applied to e-i-g-h-t-e-e-n graduate programs in math and philosophy of science (quantum mechanics/probability studies) and only got into one with a full ride, luckily a great research uni in SoCal. (Was convinced I was consequently going to law school there. Thank god I didn’t.) I also remember when she got the letter from Carnegie Mellon saying, essentially, “Congrats! You’ve been accepted… to our half-funded MA program. You’ll have the inside track for a PhD position upon successful completion of the master’s. No guarantees!” Not exactly an auspicious start to her academic career. Looks like she’s on her way to a job at UW-Madison.

    My best bud just finished with distinction at UChicago’s Committee of Social Thought and was convinced, despite the pedigree, that he wouldn’t get more than an adjunct gig. Visiting professorship opened up suddenly at a university just south of Seattle (where his wife is stationed as an onc/hem fellow) and he’s suddenly got a full-time job, which is, for sure, a great first step to a tenure-track spot.

    And finally, the most academically-distinguished of the ex-Lady-Jowleses did the Princeton BA, Harvard PhD, Yale postdoc trifecta (yes, obnoxious) and, like those above, was convinced she was going to be smited by the academy after years of hard work. Just like that… tenure-track at Williams Freaking College. I love the now-and-forever Lady Jowles, but I wouldn’t’ve been mad about living in Williamstown for the rest of my life…

    This is all to say good work — it’s not easy to get those acceptances — and to keep your head up about your prospects after the next 5-7 years of more thankless work. And don’t drink too much, especially on the Knicks’ behalf. Proost!

  75. This 5-year period is the widest spread of any of the teams listed.

    Well, they also won the title in the third year of that five year period, so they might not be the same sort of example as the others. ;)

  76. This JR Smith situation pretty much confirms than anyone who defended the Noah stretch on the basis that you can’t just tell a guy to stay away was a total idiot. Wonder who might have done that.

  77. There was a server hiccup, so the game thread didn’t actually publish until now, even though I submitted it 20 minutes ago. Weird. But it’s up now!

  78. Congrats Silky! I’ll be returning to NYC for law school next year, but I’ve been living in Miami since I graduated UM as an undergrad so let me know if you have any questions about the school, city, our shitty basketball team, etc.

  79. Congrats Silky. I have been in your same position and it isn’t easy dealing with the pressure of the admissions process.

Comments are closed.