The NBA tapped the brakes on full-blown tanking Thursday, adjusting the odds for landing the top pick in the draft.
The team with the league's worst record is hit the hardest under the new guidelines, sliding from a 25-percent chance of landing the top pick to just 14. Also, the lottery will now select the top four teams in the draft, rather than the top three. That means the team with the worst record could end up picking as low as fifth if the Ping-Pong balls bounce in the wrong direction.
The rebuilding Bulls should be fine with these changes. In fact, they voted in favor of the new rules, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.
First of all, the changes won't occur until 2019, so everything will stay the same for the 2018 draft, when the Bulls are hoping to bottom out. Then it should give them a better chance at landing a high pick in future years as they try to make the climb back to the playoffs.
"Obviously any time and any situation you're in, the draft's important, but now as go into this new direction of rebuilding, the draft's going to be very, very important," general manager Gar Forman said Monday. "From everything we've studied up to this point, our sense is (2018 is) going to be a very good draft. The draft is going to be important to us over the next couple of years."
New rules or old rules, the Bulls are counting on landing a quality player in the 2018 draft. And rebuilding through the draft already brings plenty of obstacles.
In the current era of college freshmen dominating at the top of the draft, there's a higher level of uncertainty. These young players often take a few years to figure things out and by the time they develop, they're playing for a new team.
There's no denying the most important factor in an NBA rebuilding project is luck. Would San Antonio be considered the league's model franchise if it didn't win the right to draft Tim Duncan in 1997? Where would the Bulls be today if they didn't win the 2008 draft lottery with 1.7-percent odds, selecting Derrick Rose and briefly becoming a Finals contender?
The Bulls do have a bit of a head start in rebuilding. They're counting on a payoff from at least two pieces from the Minnesota trade, mainly Zach LaVine and rookie Lauri Markkanen.
If those guys pan out and the Bulls can add another future star in the 2018 draft, they'll be on their way. Of course, those are all big ifs.
But the last thing the Bulls need in the next few seasons is pressure to be bad. Pulling out an unexpected win against a good team shouldn't come with a negative side effect of blowing their lottery odds.
For the Bulls' rebuild to be a success, they'll eventually need to add a good player or two in free agency. Remember, Golden State landed Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green in the draft, but took the next step to title contender after signing Andre Iguodala.
Free agents don't typically flock to 20-win teams, so the Bulls will want to move out of the basement as soon as possible. The Warriors are also proof you don't always need high picks to succeed, since Curry was chosen seventh, Thompson 11th and Green in the second round.
We'll never know if the Bulls would have traded Jimmy Butler if the lottery changes were made a year ago, but it's a good move for the entire NBA to slow down the race to the bottom.