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The Great Four Team Tank-Off of 2014

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Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE

The 2014 draft has been more hyped than any draft in recent memory since possibly the 2003 draft that featured LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, and as such, increased attention has been given to "tanking" as teams have torn down their rosters to chase the top picks.

As of today, it looks like the bottom-3 worst teams are relatively locked in: Milwaukee (12-50), Philadelphia (15-47) and Orlando (19-45).  From there it gets more interesting though, as four teams are essentially in a tie for 4th-7th:  Los Angeles Lakers (22-42), Utah Jazz (22-41), Boston Celtics (22-41) and your Sacramento Kings (22-41).  Just outside are the Knicks (24-40), Cavs (24-40) and Pistons (24-39).

The difference between the 4th slot and the 7th slot in terms of lottery odds is significant:  The 4th worst team has an 11.9% chance of moving to 1st overall and a 37.8% chance of moving into the top 3 while the 7th worst team only has a 4.3% chance of moving to 1st and a 15% chance of moving into the top 3.  As such, how these teams finish the final 20 games of the season will mean a lot for draft positioning, so let's take a look at their remaining schedules.

Los Angeles:

  • Road Games Remaining: 8
  • Home Games Remaining: 10
  • Back to Backs Remaining: 4
  • Games against > .500 teams Remaining: 13
  • Games against sub-.500 Teams Remaining: 5
  • Combined Record of Remaining Opponents: 627-504 (.554)

Utah:

  • Road Games Remaining: 8
  • Home Games Remaining: 11
  • Back to Backs Remaining: 3
  • Games against > .500 teams Remaining: 11
  • Games against sub-.500 Teams Remaining: 8
  • Combined Record of Remaining Opponents: 635-562 (.530)

Boston:

  • Road Games Remaining: 11
  • Home Games Remaining: 8
  • Back to Backs Remaining: 4
  • Games against > .500 teams Remaining: 10
  • Games against sub-.500 Teams Remaining: 9
  • Combined Record of Remaining Opponents: 583-601 (.492)

Sacramento:

  • Road Games Remaining: 10
  • Home Games Remaining: 9
  • Back to Backs Remaining: 5
  • Games against > .500 teams Remaining: 13
  • Games against sub-.500 Teams Remaining: 6
  • Combined Record of Remaining Opponents: 629-567 (.526)

Objectively speaking, the Lakers have the hardest remaining schedule, with the Jazz and Kings fairly close behind, but that doesn't necessarily mean they will not win games they aren't supposed to or lose to teams they shouldn't.  The Lakers are coming off a win against the Thunder after all.

There are also only two games in the upcoming future in which any of these four teams play each other and these will matter a lot in the final standings:

  • April 2nd, Kings vs. Lakers
  • April 14th, Lakers vs. Jazz
I've made my thoughts on draft lottery positioning clear but that doesn't mean I don't see the benefits of higher standing.  So while I won't root for the Kings to lose and will celebrate when they win, I will still be hoping to see the Celtics, Jazz and even Lakers add some more wins before the season is over.