PBA Draft Lottery Debate

PBA Draft Lottery Debate - Addressing Tanking Concerns

Amid increased criticism over clubs “tanking” in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA), the league has been asked to contemplate restoring the draft lottery system. The argument was revived as conversations erupted around estimates for the next PBA No. 1 selection. While some argue against the notion, the majority embrace its reintroduction.

A draft lottery is a mechanism for determining the order in which teams choose players in the rookie draft. In the NBA, this method has existed since 1985. It involves teams that did not qualify for the playoffs, with the club with the lowest record having the best chance of getting the No. 1 selection.

In the past, the PBA draft lottery featured the two teams with the worst records from the previous season. The team with the poorest cumulative win-loss record received two balls in the lottery draw, giving them a 63% chance of getting the first choice over the club with the second-best record.

However, the PBA banned the draft lottery system following the contentious 2014 draft, which sparked allegations of cheating, notably in GlobalPort’s pick of Stanley Pringle. This episode, known as the’ salamangkero’ dispute, forced the league to reinstate a system in which the team with the weakest record gets the first draft choice.

The league’s decision to return coincided with the arrival of two expansion teams, Blackwater and Kia (now Terrafirma). Interestingly, these expansion clubs have not obtained every first-round pick since this transition.

The 2017 draft provides an unusual circumstance, as Converge, who bought the Alaska franchise, is expected to receive the No. 1 pick following a losing season. However, allegations of tanking have been raised, particularly given Converge’s links to Pampanga Governor Delta Pineda and the team’s apparent desire to choose Justine Baltazar from the Giant Lanterns.

In response to these issues, some have suggested that the draft lottery system be reinstated to dissuade clubs from intentionally losing games to gain good selection rankings. However, PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial has emphasized that no modifications to the draft system for the current season will be made until approved by the board.

While the potential of restoring the draft lottery is questionable, the league’s policymaking body has clearly considered the matter. Any prospective modifications would require a two-thirds vote from the board, highlighting the difficulty of achieving such reforms.

While the draft lottery may not be reinstated immediately, it is still a matter for future discussion. As the league evolves and addresses issues about fairness and competition, revising the draft process may be in the future.


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