24 November 2015

Why the Bolts Are Probably Tanking

Rabeh's Rebound
After six games in the PBA Philippine Cup and a lone win to show, the Meralco Bolts appeared to have closed down any possibility that they are gunning for a stellar finish.

The team may have acquired some substantial pieces to the puzzle during the off-season, but it became apparent now that those players were not intended to stay long with the team and they were acquired just a stop-gap measure. They are a temporary solution to the gaping problem in the shaded area.

To be fair, Jimmy Alapag have had health and age concerns down the stretch of this short, but grueling conference, but he passed the concussion protocol and was cleared to play before the whole thing started. Meanwhile, Rabeh Al-Hussaini’s potential has not been realized yet after being gone from the league for a year. Regardless of what the press release stated, the production of these two stars were not enough to offset the loss of Sean Anthony, who is having a stellar season with the NLEX Road Warriors .

The economic truth, despite whatever angst fans may feel for struggling teams losing many games over the course of a season, is that there actually are substantial benefits to landing the top overall pick that make short-term financial losses at the gate a worthwhile gamble.

In an unsubstantiated analysis, landing the top pick in the PBA draft means a 5 percent boost in overall affirmation in the next five full seasons following the selection. Those top picks do not always win a championship for their franchise or even turn into stars, but the optimism accompanying the selection puts people in seats and that is a valuable thing for a struggling franchise like Meralco.

Beyond the boost in the number of followers following an advantageous draft position, receiving the top pick causes a small increase in on-court success. Based on previous trend, a team’s winning percentage increases gradually in the four years following the draft victory. It peaks at an 8-9 percent boost in wins (somewhere in the neighborhood of 2-5 more wins) in the fourth year after the draft.

The PBA Commissioner may not have any solution to the ‘tanking’ problem right now, but whatever they are planning in the future, it should take into consideration that this is a commercial league where number of followers takes precedence before winning.

Whatever the solution may be, the current system favors losing games for better draft odds. No matter how much fans may hate it, as long as things stay the same, bad teams likely will continue attempting to lose as much as possible.

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