Tanking and the NBA share a special type of relationship. It’s the same type of toxic dynamic you might see between an addict trying to overcome their vice. Once a major problem, small steps have been taken to stop this bad habit, but the lure of better draft positions often leads coaches and team executives to jump off the wagon.
Last season, the Portland Trail Blazers cut Damian Lillard for the final 10 games of the regular season in a clear effort to maximize their chances in the lottery. The Blazers went 1-9 during that stretch, which helped them land Scoot Henderson with the third overall pick in the NBA Draft.
Similarly, the Dallas Mavericks benched Luka Doncic in their final game of the regular season, even though they had a chance to make the playoffs, as it would have subsequently cost them the 10th overall pick. overall ranking, because he was protected as part of a trade. The Mavericks lost, were fined, but got that coveted top 10 finish.
From the NBA’s perspective, not only do decisions like this undermine the integrity of the game, but they also deprive fans of the opportunity to see stars play in person. Teams often only make one trip per year to the opposing conference’s arenas, giving fans only one chance to see them play. Parents explaining to their children why their favorite NBA player was healthy but still sitting on the bench is something the NBA needed to eliminate as much as possible, especially as ticket prices continue to rise exponentially.
Player Participation Policy
The league’s latest attempt to kick the bad habit was unanimously passed by the Board of Governors this week. Dubbed the Player Participation Policy, the NBA used alliteration to draw attention to new rules that aim to limit rest for star players. Here are the highlights:
- No more than one star player may rest in a game. This means that Devin Booker and Kevin Durant cannot play for the Phoenix Suns if they are both healthy.
- Teams must ensure stars compete in nationally televised, in-season tournament games.
- No more long stops as we saw last season with Damian Lillard.
- Teams must maintain a balance between the number of absences of a star player during home and away matches, prioritizing those absences during home matches.
- Teams must ensure that healthy players who are rested for a game are present and visible to fans.
Penalties for violating these rules have also become more severe. The NBA will incorporate a system of fines for teams starting with $100,000 for first offenses, $250,000 for second offenses and $1 million more than the previous penalty for each additional fine.
Kentucky players affected
What constitutes a star player, you ask? Good question, the NBA’s new PPP also defined it. Players qualifying for these rules include anyone who made the All-Star or All-NBA teams in any of the previous three seasons. That’s about 50 players total, or 11 percent of the league.
Of those 50 players labeled stars, seven are former Wildcats. Bam Adebayo, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, De’Aaron Fox, Julius Randle, Anthony Davis, Devin BookerAnd Cities of Karl-Anthony could all see an uptick, even if none of them have necessarily been major violators of this policy in the past.
Many of the Kentucky players on this list are on playoff-contending teams, with Booker and Davis on title-contending teams. Tanking may not be an option for them, but load management will no longer be a fan concern.
Overall, this won’t completely fix things. Addicts will revert to their vices when top draft picks are on the line, but it will help somewhat and might help to see your favorite former ‘Cat play an overtime or two this season.