The Bottom Five:
If the NBA Draft Lottery were to happen today, and the ping-pong balls were to hold true to odds, the Phoenix Suns would be given the 4th pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. Here is a look at the bottom five teams and their current records, as well as a look at their up-coming games this week, and some predictions on where they could be positioned afterward.
5. Detroit Pistons: 24-49
With a four game road trip on the horizon, all against teams with better records than themselves, it is quite possible the Pistons could finish the week 0-4. Still, I expect them to get at least one win, either against Toronto or Minnesota, and will probably be 25-53 by the start of next week, and stay in the 5th spot.
4. Phoenix Suns: 23-51
The Suns have a short schedule this week, against two high powered opponents. Although the Suns have shown the ability to play their best against the toughest teams in the league, I believe the most likely outcome of both these games would be two more added to the loss column. The Suns will likely be 23-53 to start next week, and could move into the 3rd lottery spot.
3. Cleveland Cavaliers: 22-49
The Cavs have a busy schedule this week with two road games and two home games. Despite the fact that the Cavs have been in a major slump due to Kyrie Irving's shoulder injury, he's reportedly set to return tonight against New Orleans, and I think the Cavs should win against both the Hornets/Pelicans as well as the Celtics at home this week. I expect the Cavs will finish the week with a record of 24-51, and move up to the 4th spot.
2. Orlando Magic: 19-55
The Magic have three road games this week all against playoff teams. Unless a fluke happens or one of these teams decides to rest their starters for the night, I can't see Orlando winning anything, and should finish the week at 19-58...remaining in the second lottery position.
1. Charlotte Bobcats: 17-56
The only game I could see the Bobcats maybe winning this week is against the Bucks...and I still doubt it happens. Still, I'm going to say they either get a win against the Bucks or the 76ers at home and finish 1-3 on the week, which would give them a record of 18-59 going into next week, and still good/bad enough for the first position in the lottery.
The Race for 8th
Right now, the Los Angeles Lakers are in a virtual tie with the Utah Jazz for the 8th and final spot in the Western Conference Playoffs, and are currently ahead of the Dallas Mavericks by 1.5 games. As I'm sure everyone reading this is well aware, if the Lakers miss the playoffs, the Suns will receive their first round pick...likely the 14th overall. However, if the Lakers make the playoffs, they get the Miami Heat's pick instead, which will likely be the 30th or 29th overall at best. So yeah, the Suns very much have a vested interest in the Lakers' success, or lack thereof. Here is a look at these three teams' current records, and what they may look like by the end of the week.
8. Utah Jazz 38-36
Upcoming games this week: 4/1 vs. Portland Trailblazers, 4/3 vs. Denver Nuggets, 4/5 vs. New Orleans Hornets
The Utah Jazz have not been the same team since the all-star break, and have since let the Lakers back in a race that at one tome looked very unlikely. Still the Jazz were able to get a win last night, and with three home games this week, could go 2-1 overall giving them a record of 40-37 at the end...which might be good enough to stay in 8th place, for now.
9. Los Angeles Lakers 38-36
Upcoming games this week: 4/2 vs. Dallas Mavericks, 4/5 vs. Memphis Grizzlies
The game against the Mavericks could have huge implications in the Lakers' playoff aspirations. Although they will be playing at home, Steve Nash suffered a hamstring injury last night which could either sideline or stifle him in the upcoming game(s). Although listed as day to day, hamstring injuries can linger, especially with older players, and will likely have an effect either way. Still, there's nothing more dangerous than a cornered Mamba, and it's very possible the Lakers could overcome yet another obstacle in their tumultuous season. I have a feeling they will win against the Mavericks but will lose against the Grizzlies, giving them a record of 39-37 on the week...and still barely out of the playoffs for the time being.
10. Dallas Mavericks 36-37
Upcoming games this week: 4/2 @ L.A. Lakers, 4/4 @ Denver Nuggets, 4/5 @ Sacramento Kings
The Mavs have a tough week ahead with the Lakers and Nuggets on the road...then a back-to-back against the Kings. I don't think Dallas will be able to pull out more than one win this week which will give them a 37-39 record at the end of the week, which will keep them in the 10th spot and further out of contention.
Feel free to voice your opinions and predictions in the comments below!