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Land The Picks, Sam: Lakers On The Way Up?

The chaos in Phoenix could potentially for Sixers fans come lottery night.

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Team: Los Angeles Lakers (8-29)

Protections: 1-3 in 2016 and 2017, unprotected in 2018

Pick Status: Alright, so the Lakers are the league's second-worst team at 8-29, touting the NBA's worst defensive efficiency (107.7) and a player development program riding in the backseat of Kobe's Farewell Tour Bus with motion sickness and no Dramamine. But with other teams in the West like Phoenix, Denver and even New Orleans right on the cusp of bottoming out, this pick isn't necessarily as much of a long-shot to convey this June as it's seemed.

(Pulling out a win last night over Sacramento would've been pretty big for Philly, but I digress.)

The Lakers are on an absolute unconscious tear through the league since Christmas, going 3-5 and leveling off their season's Sixers esque -10.8 NetRtg with just a -3.8. They took care of business against the Celtics, Sixers and Suns, and although the Oklahoma City game tonight is a wash, Sixers fans should be keeping an eye on the match-ups that follow with Utah and New Orleans. There's a massive clump separated by just four games from the third slot through the 10th, and who knows, maybe a couple other teams really bottom out (Phoenix looks like a prime candidate; ownership has never had the stomach for a full-fledged tank job, but they may not have a choice). In which case, the Lakers pick could start flying closer to the sun than we thought it would.

Chance of Pick Conveying: As of today, the pick has a 44.2 percent chance of convey, and a 55.8 percent chance of remaining in the top-3.

Team: Miami Heat (21-14)

Protections: 1-10 in 2016, unprotected in 2017

Pick Status: Miami will make the playoffs, but it's unclear where they'll really land in April. I expect the standings to look more divisive than they do today as we move forward - Boston is currently the East's 9-seed at 19-17, while Chicago is the 2-seed at 22-12. The Heat are afloat at 21-14, but having avoided the major injury bugs to Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh at the halfway point, I'd say they're as good of a bet to finish in the bottom of half of the playoff picture as they are to assume the second slot by season's end. It really could go either way.

Chance of Pick Conveying: A near-lock

Team: Oklahoma City Thunder (25-11)

Protections: 1-15 in 2016 and 2017

Pick Status: I'd say the Sixers are in good shape here barring a Westbrook/Durant injury, but who am I kidding. They're in good shape here regardless. The West is a tire fire. Sacramento is as close to the 8-seed as they are to a top-7 pick. This one's a mortal lock.

Chance of Pick Conveying: Monte Morris is already a Sixer

Team: Sacramento Kings (15-21)

Protections: Philly has the right to swap their first-round pick with Sacramento's first round pick, as long as it's in the top-10.

Pick Status: Sacramento is a really strange team, with lots of players who are talented in a vacuum that make no sense as one holistic unit. As I said, they're as close to a playoff appearance as they are to a top-7 pick right now (this would be how ugly parity really looks in practice, Mr. Commissioner). There are plenty of circumstances in which the Sixers and Kings do and do not swap picks, so we can save those for May, but Sixers fans should be rooting for the Kings to stay in the top-10 this season (and next).

If Sacramento stays in the top-10 this season, not only are swap rights in play, but they won't owe their first to Chicago, which in effect pushes the unprotected 2018 first-round pick they owe Philly back to a scheduled 2019 conveying. Which, as Danny Leroux savvily pointed out at Sporting News, is the draft for the first season after DeMarcus Cousins's contract expires. So you could say it would be optimal for that first-rounder to convey in 2019, at least from a long-term glance.

Chance of Pick Conveying: Currently at 10th, the pick has a 4 percent chance of jumping into the top-3.

Team: Golden State Warriors (33-2)

Protections: Philly has the right to swap the less favorable of Miami's 2016 first-round pick (protected 1-10), or Oklahoma City's 2016 first-round pick (protected 1-15), for Golden State's 2016 first-round pick.

Pick Status: The Warriors are good.

Chance of Pick Conveying: It conclusively will not

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