The WNBA has had a very subtle, but obvious problem the past few years: tanking. It was covert, but now it's becoming extremely evident that teams are now playing High Stakes Poker, where they lay down their current hand in hopes of getting a royal flush.
A few years ago, the complaints about teams taking a dive were like a faint echo. However, those same criticisms have now become a loud bullhorn.
But, let's be frank, tanking has worked, so why would teams not continue to do it? Let's look at one of the most obvious attempts in recent memory, the "Three to See" Draft that included game changers, Brittney Griner, Elena Delle Donne and Skylar Diggins.
One team, the Phoenix Mercury, wasn't even that conspicuous in bluffing their "tanking" plans. Even Stevie Wonder could see what they were attempting to do, and while there were many conniptions from several aficionados of the sport, look at the end result: the Mercury were rewarded with the No. 1 pick, which led to one of the most dominating forces to ever play the game, Griner.
Moreover, the next two picks of that draft, Delle Donne and Diggins, have taken their franchises to incredible heights. So if you were a GM or in the front office of a WNBA team, under the old format, would you not ponder the thought of tanking?
Most would, especially in this year's upcoming draft, as some teams this year were positioning themselves for the supreme talent that is Breanna Stewart. The 6-foot-4 do-it-all franchise-changing player is someone any team in the WNBA would like to land.
However, today, the league decided to change its format, which makes it hard for the one-hit tanking wonders to be rewarded for their performances or lack thereof.
Here is a portion of the release from the WNBA:
"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."
While no system is perfect, and can always be enhanced, this is a definite deterrent to tanking. Unlike that one NBA team (Philadelphia 76ers) that clearly enjoys the Lottery like their cheesesteaks, one would surmise there aren't many WNBA teams willing to lose purposely for two consecutive years.