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Suns GM Ryan McDonough is for smoothing out of NBA Draft Lottery odds

NBA commissioner Adam Silver. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens, File)
LISTEN: Ryan McDonough, Suns GM (from Suns Postseason Show)

A day after watching teams leapfrog his Phoenix Suns in the NBA Draft Lottery, general manager Ryan McDonough wasn’t feeling any worse for wear.

He’s comfortable picking fourth in the June 22 draft. And after Phoenix rested veterans this past season to help its lottery odds, McDonough does have a critique for the current system.

“I would like to see the odds be smoothed out a little bit,” he told Jon Bloom on Wednesday as a guest of the Suns postseason special show on 98.7 FM, Arizona’s Sports Station.

There are two mathematical tweaks that McDonough said could help even the playing field and prevent teams from playing the lottery in the regular season.

First, the NBA could make the individual odds a team would have at each slot more even.

Currently, the team with the worst record has a 25 percent chance at winning the first pick, while the 14th and final lottery club only has a 0.5 percent opportunity. Reducing that difference would even the playing field, McDonough suggests.

The league could also consider increasing the range — i.e. making it more likely to fall — for the top three picks.

The worst team can fall only as far as fourth in the current system. The second-worst can land in five spots, from first to fifth, and the third-worst could land in six spots, from first to sixth.

From fourth-worst to the end of the lottery, teams have the opportunity to land in seven spots.

That would mean the lottery — ping pong balls select the top three picks before the rest fall into reverse order of their records — would be expanded to four or more teams. In other words, more teams would have a shot at leaping over the teams with the best odds.

“If you could balance that a little more and make it a little more staggered, I think there would be a little less incentive for teams to rest players or tank or whatever you want to call it,” McDonough said, adding that his opinions don’t necessarily reflect those of anyone else with the Suns. “Because now if you think about it, the lottery affects your upside but it also affects your downside as well.

“The more the league could add a little variance in there and de-incentivize losing, I think that would be good for the good of the league and I think it’d be a nice change going forward.”

In 2014, the NBA presented owners with the ability to do all of the above. According to Yahoo! Sports, the team with the best odds could have fallen all the way to seventh in the lottery.

But that proposed set of changes fell through. Twenty-three owners needed to approve it, but only 17 registered ‘yes’ votes with 13 voting it down.

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