The New Orleans Hornets beat the Houston Rockets in Overtime yesterday, making it their 5th victory in 6 games. Whatever the opposite of tanking is (aeroplaning?), the Hornets are doing it. Yesterday's victory gives them 20 wins on the season, tying them with the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Sacramento Kings. Yes, the Kings have a chance to be the worst team in the Western Conference this year. I don't care if it improves our lottery odds, that still feels terrible.
The Kings have arguably the toughest remaining schedule of the three. They play the Oklahoma City Thunder twice, the Lakers once, and the Bobcats once. I would not be surprised to see the Kings lose all four or win three of the four (I don't see us beating the Thunder twice in a week.).
The Hornets have three games remaining, all on the road. They face the Clippers, the Warriors and the Rockets again. The game against the Warriors will be interesting, because the Warriors are perhaps the only truly tanking team, as they're trying to get into the top-7 to keep their pick, and are currently tied with the Nets and Raptors in win totals at 22.
Cleveland has five games remaining, and face a pretty tough schedule themselves. Tonight they play the Knicks at home, and then they have to play the Spurs and the Grizzlies on the road in back-to-back nights. They follow that up with their home finale against the Wizards, and end their season in Chicago the very next night.
If the Kings end up tied with one or both of these teams, the ping pong balls would be split. This happened last year when the Kings tied with the Jazz (Technically the Nets, but the pick had been traded to Utah as part of the Deron Williams trade). A coin flip is tossed to designate who gets which slot and who gets any extra ping pong balls. Last year the Kings won the coin flip with the Jazz and fell to the 7th spot, while Utah jumped to the 3rd spot. Just another reason why I hate the lottery.
The Kings have failed to select in the Top 3 since 1991, when they selected Billy Owens and traded him for Mitch Richmond. The last three years, the Kings have been slotted at 1, 3, and 5 prior to the lottery, and ended up falling to 4, 5, and 7 respectively. Theoretically, the Kings have had a 45.5% combined chance in the past three years to land in the Top 3, and have failed each time. The odds of them landing where they have are about 23.9%. So in a sense, the Kings have beaten the odds!
It seems likely the Kings will land somewhere in the 3-5 range. Here are the (theoretical) odds for each:
As you can see, the difference between 3rd and 5th is almost double the Ping Pong Balls. Regardless, I will not root for the Kings to lose. The Ping Pong Balls have never shown any love to Sacramento, so why should they begin now? One thing that could change our luck however is sending Isaiah Thomas to represent us at the lottery. Chris Webber, Tyreke Evans and Kevin Johnson couldn't bring it home, but I think the Basketball Gods would appreciate the irony of the 60th pick bringing home the 1st pick.