With three games left in the season, it’s a good time to look at the various scenarios for the draft (important for Knicks fans)
The Miami Heat (14-65) are locked into the #1 position for the lottery, so they will have the best chance (25%) at winning the #1 pick in the lottery, and the worst they will pick is #4.
The Seattle Supersonics (18-62) are not officially locked into the #2 position in the draft just yet, as if they win out and the Minnesota Timberwolves lose out, they would end the season tied. However, that is unlikely, so it’s safe to say that they are basically locked into the #2 position in the lottery, giving them a 19.9% chance of receiving the #1 pick in the draft.
Here’s where it can get a little bit interesting.
The Timberwolves are 20-59. The Memphis Grizzlies are 22-57. They play each other tonight, so if Minnesota somehow accidentally loses, then suddenly the two teams will be in a race with two games left to both lose out, or else they’ll be tied for 3rd.
That said, the chances of Minnesota not losing out are slim. So let’s put them in 3rd place, with a 15.6% chance of nailing the #1 pick.
Now it gets really interesting.
The Grizzlies (22-57), the Knicks (23-57) and the Clippers (23-56) are all within a game of each other.
Here are each team’s remaining schedules:
Sat, Apr 12 Minnesota
Tue, Apr 15 at Portland
Wed, Apr 16 at Denver
Mon, Apr 14 Boston
Wed, Apr 16 at Indiana
Los Angeles (who have done a wonderful tank job, losing four in a row to get to this point)
Sat, Apr 12 at Golden State
Tue, Apr 15 at New Orleans
Wed, Apr 16 at Houston
As you can see, the Grizzlies play one team that will try to lose to them, and two teams that likely will not care either way (Denver is likely to have clinched a playoff berth by that game, but perhaps not).
The Knicks play two teams that will likely not care (as Indiana will most likely be eliminated by then, but hopefully, they will still be alive).
The Clippers, luckily for them, are playing three teams who will all care about their games, making their three games pretty much locks for losses.
If everyone loses out from this point, the positions will be:
4th – Memphis (11.9% chance)
5th – tie between Knicks and Los Angeles (each will have a 7.5% chance), with a random drawing held after the end of the season to determine which team will be #5 and which team will be #6, which is a pretty big thing to be decided by a random drawing.
If Memphis beats Minnesota, the positions will be:
4th- three-way tie between Memphis, New York and Los Angeles (each will have a 9% chance), a random drawing held after the end of the season to determine which team will be #4, which team will be #5 and which team will be #6.
Those are the likely scenarios, but here are the worst and best case scenarios, just for fun:
4th – Memphis – 11.9% chance
5th – Los Angeles – 8.8% chance
6th – Knicks – 6.3% chance
4th – Knicks – 11.9% chance
5th – Memphis – 8.8% chance
6th – Los Angeles – 6.3% chance
After that, the Bucks are locked in at #7, while the Bulls, Nets and Bobcats can make things interesting for the #8-10 spots, as the Bobcats have 30 wins, the Bulls 31 and the Nets 32.
The Pacers (or, in the case of a shocking collapse, the Hawks) will likely be #11, leaving #12 and #13 to Sacramento and Portland, respectively.
That leaves whoever doesn’t make it between Denver and Golden State for #14.
In closing, Saturday night, root for the Timberwolves to tank like they’ve never tanked before, and luckily, since there is still a chance for Memphis to tie them, they will likely have a good reason to try to lose.