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I'm sure Tyrone Corbin would love a better draft pick.
While it's clear that this tournament would entertain plenty of fans, there's also the issue of motivating the players to perform. Their season is over, and they can't win a championship. So why should they try?
Love of the game aside, let's provide a bit of an incentive to the winners of the matchups.
Currently, the NBA draft is set up so that the lottery teams each have certain odds of getting the No. 1 pick. You can move up in the draft order into the top three even if you didn't have one of the three worst records in the league.
I'm not suggesting that we change that.
However, the second round's order is fixed based on record. That's what we can mess with.
Instead of just handing the 31st pick of the draft to the team with the worst record, let's give it to the winner of our tournament. The runner-up would receive the 32nd pick, but then things get a little trickier.
According to this format, the 33rd and 34th picks would be given to the teams who lost in the semifinal games. Asking them to play each other in a de facto third-place game, one with the 33rd pick on the line, wouldn't be too difficult, but that would set an unfortunate precedent for later on.
What do you do when four picks are owed in each of the previous two rounds? Do you have all the losers play yet another tournament? Nope, that's too complicated.
Once the tiers of losers are established (two in the semifinals, four in the quarterfinals, four in the second round and two in the opening round), that's when you sort things by regular-season record. The best pick in each tier is given to the eligible team with the worst record.
So here's what we're looking at, in terms of who wins what pick:
Tournament Champion: No. 31
Tournament Runner-Up: No. 32
Semifinal Losers: Nos. 33 and 34
Quarterfinal Losers: Nos. 35-38
Second-Round Losers: Nos. 39-42
First-Round Losers: Nos. 43 and 44
When you look at the numbers, the differences between those 14 picks aren't all that significant. The outcome of this tournament wouldn't drastically impact the future of the league. And that's good, since this is more for entertainment than anything else.
According to my research, the No. 31 pick should be expected to earn 5.54 win shares over the first four years of his career*. The No. 44 pick is expected to earn 4.15, so we're only looking at a 1.39-win-share difference over four years.
To put that in perspective, DeShawn Stevenson needed just 56 games to beat that mark for the Atlanta Hawks. It's a fairly insignificant difference.
However, it's a tangible reward for good play, and that should motive the players. That's what I'm after by incentivizing this tournament.
*Win shares are used because they're the best overall measure of play that takes volume into account. I looked at the first four years of a career because that's the maximum length of a rookie contract. For a much more fulsome explanation, check out this article. Slight modifications and updates have been made to the formula from that link, but the theory behind it still remains valid.