Tanking in the WNBA is a major problem every season. It’s a much bigger issue for the league than what the NBA is facing.
In a bold move on Wednesday, the WNBA announced that lottery teams’ odds of getting the first overall pick will be based on cumulative two-year records. In addition, the franchise with the worst two-year record will be guaranteed a top-three pick. The new lottery format will take effect for the 2016 draft.
The changes will immediately impact several potential lottery teams. The L.A. Sparks (6-14) and San Antonio Stars (6-15) were both 16-18 last season. The Atlanta Dream (currently 7-13) were 19-15 in 2014. Factoring in last season’s records significantly lowers their chances of winning the lottery.
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The WNBA announced today that its Board of Governors has approved a revision to the existing format of the league’s Draft Lottery.
Under the new format (which begins with the lottery following the 2015 season), the drawing will still be held among the four teams that did not make the playoffs (the “Lottery Teams”) in the immediately preceding season. Instead of assigning the odds based solely on the records of the teams in the immediately preceding season, the odds will be based on the cumulative records of the Lottery Teams over the two most recent regular seasons.
The odds are unchanged, with the Lottery Team with the worst two-year cumulative record having 442 chances out of 1,000 to win the first pick, the Lottery Team with the second worst two-year cumulative record having 276 chances out of 1,000, the Lottery Team with the third worst two-year cumulative record having 178 chances out of 1,000, and the Lottery Team with the best two-year cumulative record having 104 chances out of 1,000 to win the first pick. Cumulative record tiebreakers will be based solely on the immediately preceding season (e.g., the first tiebreaker would be the worst record in the immediately preceding season).
The new format will also guarantee that the Lottery Team with the worst two-year cumulative record will end up with at least the third pick. Under the previous format, the Lottery Team with the worst single-season record was guaranteed to pick no worse than fourth.