Where has the season gone? It seems like yesterday our hearts were filled with the joy of watching a second season with Philadelphia 76er Brandon Davies and now he's gone as our hopes and dreams that this season could last forever. But it won't last forever, so move on we must and move on we will by looking at how the Sixers' draft picks are looking now that games are becoming a premium. As always, please check out standings updated every ten minutes at TANKATHON and Derek's Daily Draft Pick Tracker.
Sixers Pick [15.6% chance of being 1st overall]: Tankathon is indeed an apt title of a web site to track what is currently happening at the bottom of the NBA standings because it is indeed a tankathon. The Timberwolves have lost their last five games, the Magic have lost nine of their last ten games, and the Sixers have lost their last four games, and then there are the Knicks. Oh, the Knicks. The Knicks have lost their last eight games. Regardless of how much you may dislike the Knicks, you can't help but admire all that they have not accomplished this season. They are two games ahead of the Timberwolves, 3.5 games ahead of the Sixers, and with 6-7 games left in the regular season, it seems impossible for them to be caught. The Knicks seem like a virtual lock to end the season with a worse record and even though three of their remaining games are theoretically winnable (vs. Sixers, @ Magic, vs. Pistons), the Knicks are a special breed of awful that have avoided challenging for the longest losing streak in NBA history through sheer happenstance. The Knicks are not falling out (rising above?) this. Don't bother getting your hopes. You'll leave as disappointed as Knicks fans.
Speaking of perennial disappointments, let's talk about the Timberwolves! More specifically, let's look at their remaining schedule and compare it to the Sixers'.
Timberwolves schedule: vs. Magic, @ Kings, @ Trail Blazers, @ Lakers, @ Warriors, vs. Pelicans, vs. Thunder. Hey look, there's some winnable games in there in addition to the Warriors and other top of the standings bullshit. The Sixers are only two wins ahead of the TWolves and the Magic, Lakers, and Kings are all theoretically winnable games for the Wolves. If only Sixers lack winnable games....
Sixers schedule: @ Hornets, @ Knicks, vs. Wizards, @ Bulls, vs. Bucks, vs. Heat. Oof, the Sixers have some winnable games in there as well. The Sixers' losses against the Lakers have done a lot, and quite possibly enough, to ensure the Lakers don't overtake them for the 3rd worst record, but I remain unconvinced the Sixers will overtake the Timberwolves for 2nd worst overall record, and I'd bet my life savings the Knicks end the season worst of all. Get used to seeing the number 15.6 a lot around here.
Lakers Pick [16% chance it conveys to the Sixers at 6th overall, 1.2% chance it conveys to the Sixers at 7th overall]: The Sixers losing twice to the Lakers was the best thing that could happen for many reasons. For one, it decreased the chance the Lakers would outtank the Sixers, and secondly, it prevented a decrease in the chance this pick could convey to the Sixers in 2015.
Lakers upcoming schedule: vs. Trail Blazers, vs. Clippers, @ Cllippers, @ Nuggets, vs. Timberwolves, vs. Mavericks, @ Kings, vs. Kings. The Lakers have quite a few winnable games left (Nugs, Wolves, Kings x2), which is excellent news. The Lakers at this stage are closer to passing Orlando and moving into the 5th worst record than falling behind the Sixers. If the Lakers do pass the Magic, the odds the pick conveys to the Sixers increases from 17.2% to 44.8%, and given the depth of the 2015 class, this pick conveying while not harming the Sixers is what the Sixers want the most right now.
Heat Pick [Conveys to Sixers at 15th overall]: By far the most complex of the picks the Sixers own, this pick is best if conveyed to the Sixers at 11th overall, but if the Heat fall to the tenth worst record in the league it becomes a complete disaster scenario. The Nets are on a five-game winning streak and have passed Miami. They need to stay there, and hope either one of Hornets, Pacers, Celtics to pass Miami along with the Jazz, or hope two of Hornets, Pacers, Celtics pass Miami along with the Jazz stumbling. The Heat are 5-5 in their last ten games, but their last two have been losses. I feel reasonably certain the Heat pick won't devolve into the disaster scenario just for the sheer number of things that need to happen for that to happen, but we're dealing with mediocre teams here whose performances can and have fluctuated. Despite the fact that it sounds so cliche, what happens with this pick is up in the air at this moment and even with only a week and a half remaining in the season, anything can happen.
Thunder Pick [Conveys to Sixers at 19th overall]: The Pelicans have won their last three games to continue to insert some pressure on the Thunder to encourage them to continue to win games and not rest starters. The Thunder resting starters almost assuredly would mean the Wizards would push the Thunder to draft pick protection. The Pelicans have done enough losing, now they need to do some winning, although not enough winning to actually pass the Thunder.
The Thunder and Wizards are both currently 42-33 so, uh, yeah, uh, this thing could be going to a coin flip. As if watching ping pong balls was not stressful enough as it was, now the number of first round picks the Sixers get in 2015 could hinge on a coin flip.
For the love of my liver, Thunder, please just win more games than the Wizards and end this drama.