Although the 2016-17 NBA season was slated for a rubber match between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors, some concerns arose regarding teams involved in the draft lottery. Tanking turned into a central issue around the league, with commissioner Adam Silver addressing the topic multiple times.
The conclusion of the regular season saw some teams around the NBA resting their best players, as healthy scratches. This issue gained steam with social media, as it also affected the standings of contenders around the league.
Tanking, as it is now referred to, has become an epidemic around the NBA, with teams aiming towards getting the best chances possible for a top draft pick. Silver addressed the situation, stating this he and his team are actively looking for ways to balance the draft lottery reform, via Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report:
Silver also said they're still looking at lottery reform, was tabled first to see if new CBA had major changes, which it didn't. So TBD
— Eric Pincus (@EricPincus) June 2, 2017
Silver stated in late March that teams would be in line for significant penalties when resting players, which can be attributed to playoff contenders and teams slated for the draft lottery.
During his pre-game presser before Game 1 of the NBA Finals, Silver also stated the origins of the draft lottery was to counteract tanking. Although the statistical category of ‘DNP-Coach’s Decision’ has only been in play for three seasons, teams have been tanking for decades.
A recent example of the tanking phenomenon came during Pacific division battles between the Los Angeles Lakers and Phoenix Suns. The Suns continued to sit out Tyson Chandler, Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight, three players who at times have had successful runs in the NBA.
The Suns were blatantly ridiculed for an obvious form of tanking, to which Julius Randle responded with his famous quote regarding how the basketball gods will come back and haunt them.
It seems as though Randle’s quote came to fruition, with the Suns dropping to No. 4 during the 2017 NBA Draft lottery, while the Lakers secured the No. 2 pick even with their five-game winning streak at the end of the regular season.