I have an idea on how to make tanking less of an issue.
The magic number being 28(0.341%), the amount of games your team must win in order to be eligible for the NBA Draft Lottery. Every season dating back to the past 15 seasons, there has been an average of 5 teams who finished the season winning less than 28 games(0.341%) in the season.
It would go like this: if your team wins less than 28 games in a season (approximately 1/3 of 82games) it falls back to the end of the draft lottery and is ineligible to be in the Draft lottery selection for the 1-3 picks.
For example, taking the current standings of all teams, the bottom 14 of which will be in the lottery. (And for the record i do think the Draft Lottery is a Great idea and should be kept as is. It has historically not rewarded tankers and habitual losers.)
Current Draft Order:
1.Milwaukee 14-63 (.182)
5.Utah 24-54 (.308)
6.Lakers 25-53 (.321)
10.New Orleans 32-46(.410)
11.New York 33-45(.423)
Proposed Draft Lottery Odds for chance to pick 1-3:
4. New Orleans
(Ineligible for Draft Lottery and will pick exactly where they are slated)
So this system is very harsh to those teams who cant manage to win 28 games. Its PROFESSIONAL Basketball, they are all getting paid, winning 28 games is not that difficult. It'll force front offices to reconsider their thinking and indifference for a supposed "lost season". There will always be something to play for throughout the season.
So the question arises: What does a team do once they've managed to win 28 games and really have no playoff aspirations? Well they have a decision to make, tank the rest off the way and stay at the exact limit or try and push for the playoffs. But a 28 win team is a far better product for the fan base than an atrocious and off-setting 14win team. It also incentivizes parity for the NBA and makes just about each game count for every team.
The Second round draft order would be kept the same as it is currently where the worst team (Milwaukee) has the 31st pick and so forth. This system would also be very conducive to a proposed 3rd round of the NBA Draft as the League has been debating for a while.
What happens if you traded for Milwaukee's first rounder and you were betting on them being terrible in order to get a high draft pick out of it? Well your shit out of luck, you shouldn't have bet on such a moribund front office. From Milwaukee's perspective, they would no longer have any incentive to win 28 games just to hand their pick over to another team. I haven't figured out a way to solve this potential problem, but chances are if you've already dealt your 1st rounder to another team in the upcoming draft you did so in an effort to make yourself better and are actually "trying to win" this season.
The 2006-07 NBA Season is something to consider, there were only 2 teams who would have been penalized for failing to win 28 games. All other seasons of the past 15 years have had 4-7 teams who would have been penalized. So its very attainable. It will give the fan base a reason to watch their team every year knowing that the product on the floor is at least competent and they're trying to win at least 1/3 of the games they play.