By Tim Jimenez
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The 76ers are in Miami tonight and once the final buzzer sounds they’ll officially finish the regular season with the second worst record in the NBA. The team’s rebuilding strategy, which pundits and fans call “tanking” inspired a South Jersey man’s online campaign to change the way NBA draft picks are determined.
Going into the season finale against the Heat, the Sixers are 18-63. It’s been a long few months for fans, especially during an NBA record-tying stretch.
“After the Sixers lost their 26th in a row, a friend and I got together and decided to do something about it,” said Drew Cohen, a Cherry Hil based attorney and Sixers fan.
Cohen wants to change the NBA draft lottery system, which rewards bad teams, so he helped start NBArrassing.com
“We put together a team of core supporters, and really they’re just NBA fans from all over the place, but a lot of Sixers fans,” he said.
Since 1990 the NBA has been using a weighted lottery system involving all of the teams that do not make the playoffs. The more losses a team has, the better chance they have at securing the number one overall pick. The criticism comes in, from fans, pundits and basketball purists, that teams go into seasons with a “tanking” mindset – building young, inexperienced rosters with the hopes of losing as many games as possible. The odds may increase for a team to get the next LeBron James, but there is also a chance they could end up with the next Darko Milicic or Michael Olowokandi – high draft picks who end up with less-than-stellar careers.
Cohen says fans deserve better than to have to sit through all of the losses.
“When you know that your team is not going to win, and is not going to play to win, you definitely don’t tune in as much,” he said. So, he says the website is part of a grassroots effort to move the NBA to reform its draft system. A few ideas are listed on the site, and Cohen says most of them call for rewarding teams, not in playoff contention, for winning rather than losing.
“One example is to have an NCAA-style tournament among the remaining teams and that is how you would seed the lottery,” he said. “Another would be to count the wins of a team, once eliminated from the playoffs. So, if the Sixers are eliminated statistically, let’s say with 30 games to go, every win in those 30 games goes towards getting a higher lottery pick.”
This year’s lottery is May 20 and the draft is June 26. Analysts believe this year’s class will be deep, headlined by Kansas freshmen Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid who have declared for the draft. So, if the Sixers end up with a top-tier player, does that change Cohen’s mindset?
“I’m rooting for the Sixers to get the top draft pick and to succeed within the way that the system is set up,” he said. “But that doesn’t mean that I don’t want to change the system.”
A loss against the Heat tonight means the Sixers would match the 1995-96 team with the second-worst record in franchise history. The player they drafted after that season? Allen Iverson.