In a Q&A with Vivek Ranadive, majority owner of the Sacramento Kings, Ranadive discussed the subject of tanking and his solution for it. It's a radical system that's less aggressive than the so-called "wheel plan" and features a tournament for the 8th and final playoff spots in each conference.
One of the last questions that Gladwell asked the commissioner was what one change he would make to the league if he had a magic wand and could change anything he wanted instantly. The commissioner said he'd increase the age limit. What would your one magic wand change be?
That's the V Plan. Do you want me to tell you the V Plan?
I would love to hear about the V Plan.
So, basically, we have this issue with how the draft happens and people allegedly tanking. So when I was flying back from the conference, someone looked at me and asked, “Hey, have you thought about this?” People have come up with different ideas -- this idea of The Wheel, and this and that. And so I thought about it and I came up with a solution that I believe will solve most of the issues, and I call it the V Plan.
There's two parts to it. Part one is that you freeze the draft order at the time of the All-Star break. Then, everything [pertaining to the current lottery system] remains the same, but it's frozen based on the standings at the All-Star break. Then there's no gain in not playing at the highest level for the remainder of the season. That's part one.
Part two is that at the end of the season, the top seven teams from the Eastern Conference and the top seven teams from the Western Conference make the playoffs. Then for the eighth playoff spot, the remaining eight teams have a sudden-death, college-style playoff in a neutral venue, like Vegas in the West and Kansas or Louisville in the East. (Note: This idea is similar to Bill Simmons' "Entertaining as Hell Tournament,” first floated here and was discussed by Silver in his chat with Gladwell at the Sloan Conference.)
That would inject such excitement into the league. Teams would no longer be incentivized to lose. Their fans would have something to hope for, like a Cinderella team that got into the eighth spot. It would solve most of the issues that we're facing with the way the draft happens right now.
The first part is easy, and not a bad solution. You have a half-season to tank, then you can start getting better. This has a few advantages. If your star player blows out his knee, you can secure yourself a good pick, then make a trade at the deadline to try and make the playoffs and compete. I'm on board with that one.
As far as the tournament option, Simmons' idea is always met with excitement from fans. It has to be collectively bargained though, and that could be a problem. Additionally, a lot of teams just want to be done after all their misery. Even if the Sixers hadn't traded away Spencer Hawes and Evan Turner, would you really want to put them through having to play an extra game? I think taking maybe the final four teams in each conference would be a better plan. It's shorter, would get the team within reasonable reach, and spare us having to watch the Lakers again.
Either way, with an owner on board such change, you can see that the future of the NBA in regards to the draft lottery and tanking is going to change some way, some how.