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NBA Draft Lottery Update: Where the Phoenix Suns stand in the race for lotto balls

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Don't look now... okay, you can look. I don't know why people say that. All they're doing is trying to get you to look...

LOOK NOW, Phoenix Suns fans, and you might see a team that has no interest in intentionally losing basketball games. The Suns have now won three of their last six games, and four of nine overall.

Interim head coach Earl Watson wants to extend his career as a head coach, either in Phoenix or somewhere else. To do that, he needs to get his players to focus more on playing basketball than planning summer vacation.

It's also in the best interest of the players to play hard. These guys are some of the best athletes in the world. And the most competitive. These guys especially don't want to lose games intentionally.

How bad can this get, then?

It depends on what you consider bad. Look at the projected lottery odds here.

Basketball-reference.com simulates the draft lottery 7,500 times and they've concluded that there's very little difference between the team with the 3rd worst record and the team with the 4th worst record. Look at the % for both PHO (Phoenix) and BRK (Brooklyn). Both have a better chance at drafting 5th than any other lotto position, and whether you're 3rd or 4th you've got about the same odds.

draft-lotto-odds-march15

Could the Suns finish as high as 2nd or as low as 5th worst record? Very unlikely.

The 2nd place Los Angeles Lakers are four wins behind the Suns with 14 to play (including two against the Suns). but with the Lakers, their coach is really actually trying to lose games with his awful rotations. Even if the Suns forfeit the two Laker games and lose out the season, there's almost no chance the Lakers won't one-up them in the standing for #2 overall position.

The team in 5th position is the Minnesota Timberwolves, who the Suns just beat on Monday night. The Wolves are still three wins better than the Suns, and they've won 7 of their last 17 games overall. They are trying very hard to win games. It's very unlikely that in 15 games the Suns would win enough games to overtake the Wolves for 5th worst record.

So that leaves the Suns duking it out for 3rd or 4th lotto position.

What could go wrong if the Suns drop to 4th? Very little. If you look closely enough at the simulation above, you'll see that there's very little difference between the odds of final drafting position between those teams with the 3rd and 4th worst records.

With the 4th worst record, you have only a 5% greater chance of drafting 4th or 5th than if you're the 3rd worst record.

Most likely, no matter what the Suns do from here on out, they will finish either 3rd or 4th in the lotto standings after the balls are drawn.

So stop sweating the small stuff.

Oh who am I kidding? Of course you're going to sweat the small stuff. That's what fans do.

I'll give you something to sweat over

Brooklyn and Phoenix finish with same record: what happens?

Even though the Suns lost the season series to the Nets, there is still a coin flip to decide who would draft higher than the other.

And we know how Suns fans feel about coin flips.