You can't eliminate tanking while teams have their own 1st round draft pick and the draft order is (in part) determined by losses. A possible solution: instead of the lottery determining the draft order, each team in turn chooses another team's 1st round draft pick for the following season. e.g. The winner of the 2012 draft lottery gets ownership of the 2013 1st round pick for any team they chose (except their own), and so on of each of the 30 teams. The draft order would then proceed in decending order of wins for the owners of each teams picks. The pros of this approach would be:
- There is far less incentive to tank as teams don't own their 1st round pick, and tanking only gets them a choice of who they think will have the worst record the following year;
- Adds incentive to beat the team who's 1st round pick you own, creating a short term rivalry for the team and the fans;
- Adds incentive for the team that's been "slighted" by another team taking their pick (and implying they will lose many games);
- Fans don't have the dilemma of whether to root for their team to lose;
- Adds interest to the league for fans who have a rooting interest against the team who's 1st round pick their team owns.
There's have to be a penalty for teams trading for their own 1st round pick, but who's not rooting for another team to fail instead of your own?