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?
HOW IT WOULD WORK
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)