Cameron Larkin .com

AFL: End tanking with lottery

The Australian Football League (AFL) commission can put an end to the topic of tanking by scraping the current draft system and implementing a lottery version famously employed by the National Basketball Association (NBA).

After the comments made by former Melbourne and now Carlton midfielder Brock McLean recently, the AFL will announce that an investigation into the remarks and how the integrity of the game has been called into question. They will announce, the will perform some gathering of information and then we, the audience, will sit back in our chairs and listen assiduously to the same old drivel that rears its head annually.

Enough is enough and two words are directed straight at the commission: JUST ACT. Here’s what should happen at league headquarters. For the upcoming draft, leave it the way it is. In the meantime, study the NBAs draft system and then adopt it.

As a basketball player, fan and analyst, I have for years held this opinion. The current AFL draft system is discernibly flawed. When the number one, two and three picks are known to clubs locked in based on the position standings, then theories and questions will creep in more and more as the season goes on. The NBA lottery draft varies and although your team may end the season with the worst record, the third selection may be what you end up with.

The NBA version revolves around standings (wins/loss record), chance, numbers and ping-pong balls. The association introduced the lottery many years ago – why? Because of this very issue of teams tanking to secure the number one pick. Sure there are conspiracy theorists out there that claim the lottery system is rigged, but in the end you just need to ask who they support, what pick in the draft they have and you’ll soon discover a pattern.

Let’s cut the BS.  Assemble the board members. Target the issue of tanking. Adapt. Implement the AFL version of the NBA lottery draft. And then let’s identify another matter to whine about.

While Andy is his boardroom warriors are at, maybe they should cease priority picks and the father-son-rule … thoughts?



  1. How isn’t the lottery fair @Sportspunter? The teams that finish low have a much greater chance of securing the first pick while in my proposal, the team that finishes 10th in the AFL would have a chance but very slim. The AFL must stamp this on the head, fast.

  2. I’d argue that whilst the NBA system does deal with tanking to a certain extent, it’s still flawed. Tanking still certainly occurs in the NBA, with teams starting to check out once they’ve reached the All-Star break. If we’re looking at a lottery system, why not consider an approach where all teams that finish outside of the top 8 have an equal chance at the no.1 pick?

    Ultimately, I’m not sure it really matters in the AFL though as it’s draft seems to have far less impact than that in American leagues. This is definitely because of the father-son rule, but also because drafting seems to be a far less precise science as Australian teams still figure out what they’re looking for. You could have a surfeit of high draft picks like Richmond with little effect, or find continual success without any priority picks at all, like Sydney.

    • If the AFL is to adopt the NBA version, then the elements such as the one you make with the bottom eight teams having same chance would be definately be something to look at. I just would rather prefer clubs not knowing what selection they’d get.

  3. i think the father-son rule is fantastic. Its fair for everyone. I dont like the idea of a lottery. Coming 10th an getting first draft pick would be deemed as very unfair even if it only occurs every now and then imo. I dont see why the priority picks system that I proposed wouldnt work.

  4. also its my view that, tanking will stop when the priority picks have been removed. Teams only tanked because they couldn’t win by a certain amount of games to miss out on a priority pick. Get rid of the priority picks (or adjust them as linked) and there will be no tanking as there is no need. Thereby, a lottery system makes no difference and only makes it more unfair. Imagine the situation where you have a team that finished near bottom one year, and then next year finished 10th with big improvements, a very young side full of potential to make a stab at finals the next year and then they get #1 pick – an already ready player. No that’s just unfair imo

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