The Entire Pre-Lotto Draft Picture

Since I was curious about how all the potential lottery teams could fare in the last two weeks, I did some research and thought that I would share my opinions on what I think will probably happen.

Philadelphia has the number one spot locked in. If they were to win all of their last seven games AND the Lakers lost all of their last seven they would only wind up in a tie for first... and there's just no way that's going to happen. It would actually be easier for the Suns to catch and/or pass the Lakers for the number two spot. That would only take the Lakers winning five of their last seven games while the Suns lost all seven of their last games. At this point, I wouldn't put it past the Suns to lose all of the rest of their games but there's no way that the Lakers are going 5-2 in the last two weeks.

So that brings us to the Suns and the Nets. Neither team is likely to move out of the 3-4 range. Minnesota is five games better than the Suns and 3.5 games better than the Nets so it's extremely unlikely that either team falls to number five. But it could go down to the wire as to which teams ends up 3rd and 4th.

Minnesota and New Orleans are almost locked into the 5th and 6th spots. With Minnesota having only a 1.5 game lead on New Orleans (and the Pels continuing injury problems), they could easily swap positions by the end of the season too. But they are both too far back to threaten to move up higher in the draft order and also too far ahead of other teams to be likely to fall further down in the draft order.

Next comes the five teams that are no more than two games apart for the 7th through 11th spots, New York, Sacramento, Milwaukee, Orlando and Denver. The odds are that none of them are going to win enough games to fall further down than the 11th spot but also none of them are going to lose enough games for move up past the number 7 spot. It's a muddle and it probably will come down to that last day or two of the season to sort out where each of them will fall in that 7 to 11 range.

At the tail end of the lottery bound teams things get a little interesting. Of course the Suns own Washington's pick in this year's draft and the Wizards fall into this group of teams. First off, for the Wizards to make the playoffs in the East, they would have to go 4-3 in their last seven games while the Pacers would have to go 0-8 AND the Bulls would have to do no better than 2-6. There are some other combinations that would get the Wiz in as the 8th seed but those would require them to win even more than four of seven games and I just see that as extremely unlikely.

The 12th, 13th and 14th lotto picks could belong to Washington, Dallas, Utah, Houston or Chicago. Indiana and Portland could also fall into the mix but between Portland, Dallas, Utah and Houston at least three of those teams are going to make it into the Western Conference playoffs even if they wind up with records worse than the Wizards. And that's good for the Suns of course because no matter how badly those four Western teams play in the last two weeks, it means that only one of them might actually count in determining the lotto draft order since at least three of them will make it into the playoffs.

Well, that's it. What it boils down to is that the Suns should have two pre-lottery drawing draft picks, one either 3rd or 4th and the other somewhere between 12th and 14th. Hopefully the lottery drawing will be kind this year and let us move up in the draft order... and not be kind to the Wizards.