Draft lottery not the way to prevent tanking

Mark Stevens February 21, 2013, 7:10 pm

It did not take long for the usual calls for a draft lottery to surface once tanking hit the headlines again this week.

Presidents and former coaches joined in the free-for-all, banging on about the bottom team not having the certainty of the top pick.

Last place would get 10 balls in the bag, second last nine balls and so on. Then the first 10 picks would be drawn out.

It is a nice thought, but it is also too simplistic. Imagine a side which wins 13 of 22 games, missing the finals on percentage, somehow winning the lottery and snaring pick No.1? Ridiculous.

The league needs to be brave and adventurous and think outside the square. I have floated this idea twice in columns in the past 18 months and there has never been a better time than now to go for it.

The key to solving the tanking problem is ensuring that not as much weight is given to 'junk' matches late in seasons, for the microscope often unfairly switches on in the final four to five rounds every year.

It is time the AFL took the heat off those final matches with a simple solution. Bring ladder position after EVERY round into consideration when deciding draft order to lessen the reward for losing late games.

The key determining factor would be average ladder position across all rounds of the season, not just at the end of it.

So manipulating positions late in the season would become less effective, for Round 1 would be just as important as the final round in determining draft order.

Let’s get to the finer detail:

The draft order of the top eight teams would be arranged as it always has been - on positions at the end the end of the finals series. Eg: Sydney would be pick No.18 in 2012.

But with the bottom 10 (the tank zone), average ladder position should be the determining factor.

For example, take St Kilda’s ladder position at the end of each round last season and divide it by 23 and you come up with an average of 8.6. That is the key number.

Essendon averaged 5.6 even though it missed the eight and so on.

If the draft was held tomorrow, it would be run in order from the highest average ladder position to the lowest.

The average ladder position system generally matches that of the final ladder, but it would take all of the focus away from later games.

The pattern would be well and truly set by the time we reached the final month as every round would be worth the same. It would be far more difficult to manipulate ladder spots.

A team’s spot in the draft pecking order would be set much earlier.

Makes sense doesn’t it?


Finishing order after finals, as is the practice now.

Ranking determined by average ladder position across all rounds, taking much of the sting (and potential stink) out of late season games.

Using the formula last season, the order of the top 10 (with round-by-round ladder position average in brackets) would have been:

1. GWS (17.4)
2. Gold Coast (17.2)
3. Melbourne (16.3)
4. West Bulldogs (14.2)
5. Port Adelaide (13.8)
6. Brisbane Lions (12.9)
7. Richmond (11.9)
8. St Kilda (8.6)
9. Carlton (7.5)
10. Essendon (5.6)

Twitter: @Stevo7AFL

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  1. Red_Herring07:16am Friday 22nd February 2013 ESTReport Abuse

    Chrissy Smithers- Pyne loves men in tight shorts

    1 Reply
  2. Ln08:32am Friday 22nd February 2013 ESTReport Abuse

    religation would fix it

    2 Replies
  3. Ugnisaet08:41am Friday 22nd February 2013 ESTReport Abuse

    I say remove any doubt and let them take drugs, drop the salary cap, and really make it a free for all, this will open the door for all to compete on even ground, what a load of tripe when all this chite exists already, they already bet on each other, remember Maxwell's bet....ahhhh I am wasting my time here

  4. Nikitas09:11am Friday 22nd February 2013 ESTReport Abuse

    Mark Stevens, unfortunately YOUR version of a lottery is not what is practiced in most leagues around the world. For instance, in the NBA, out of 14 teams in the lottery, only the 4 WORST teams, have a chance of getting the number 1 pick. There is literally NO chance of a team from 5th to 14th worst getting the top pick and as the teams are ranked, it is a sliding scale downwards, so a team with the best record of the non-playoff positioned teams (i.e. 14th worst team), can only get either pick 13 or 14. Please research your articles a little better. NOBODY would go for a simple lottery where even 9th place in the AFL could get Pick No. 1. A REAL lottery draft would mean that only places 15 - 18 have a chance of getting pick 1!

    3 Replies
  5. allen09:54am Friday 22nd February 2013 ESTReport Abuse

    Have a league and cup competition like English soccer. At the end of August there is the league champions and in September top plays bottom at home in a knock out comp. for the cup champs. Huge incentive not to lose, a 'league and cup double" possibility and every game there is an incentive for people to turn up and watch. A win-win all round.

  6. Ghost Hunter10:11am Friday 22nd February 2013 ESTReport Abuse

    The mentally deranged, queer little wanker boy, 'c j', is dribbling on again about Chrissy Smithers-Pyne, the poor little 'c j', is so jealous of any competition when it comes to him looking for a new boyfriend for himself. Since getting sacked from his part-time jobs as a table cleaner and floor moper at Maccas, and as a shelf stacker at Woolies, the useless, bludging turd needs his poor, long suffering mother to increase his medication to a much higher doseage. His paranoid schizophrenia and severe personality disorders seem to be getting worse every day. :-P

  7. greg10:12am Friday 22nd February 2013 ESTReport Abuse

    Abbott for PM. It will be so good come September to have a PM that actually believes in serving his community and country instead of a red headed harpie that just wants tosuck the life from it

  8. greg10:13am Friday 22nd February 2013 ESTReport Abuse

    I love it when football fans try to use big words its like watching a dancing monkey

  9. Craig10:21am Friday 22nd February 2013 ESTReport Abuse

    How about bottom 6 draw for first six, then bottom 12 draw for the next 12, then everyone in and draw for next 18. By pick 30, the bottom 6 teams have 3 picks, the middle 6 have 2 picks and the top 6 have 1 pick, after that, by previous year ladder position. I know the draw is for "blockbuster" games, but that ignores the fans of lesser drawing teams, so I think the draw should be working with the 3 x 6 groups. Every team plays each other once, and the other group members twice = 22 matches (17 + 5) giving an increased chance for lower teams to advance up a group.

  10. James11:01am Friday 22nd February 2013 ESTReport Abuse

    All those calculations and you have come up with the bottom 7 teams in the exact same order as how they finished last year........sides like GWS and Gold Coast that have been given so much help in the last couple of seasons- they might be weighted against priority picks as they are in a 'unique' situation being new teams......The bottom 5 sides should be considered on factors like their positions over the last few years, financials (poorest teams get more weighting), depth (ie: considering long term injuries etc).......The AFL have probably got it right......the teams need to apply for the priority pick (but should take these factors into account). Although, there would probably still be arguments if the 5th lowest ranked team were awarded the pick!!