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Schmeelk: Knicks Have Opportunity To Pick Up More Pingpong Balls Before Season Ends

Losing To Mavericks, Bulls Could Help Lottery Spot

John Schmeelk
March 13, 2018 - 2:21 pm
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Last time we checked in on the Knicks' efforts to secure the best possible place in the draft lottery, it was at the All-Star break, and they were ninth. They were about five games behind a group of the seven worse teams in the league, with the Bulls only a couple of games ahead of them. They sat in ninth place with a lot of work to do.

Today, they still sit in ninth, but in a far more realistic position to get closer to the top of the lottery after going 1-7 since the break. Here are the standings courtesy of Tankathon.com:

Team                   Record                Games Back       Last 10                Streak

1. MEM               18-49                   --                          0-10                     L18

2. PHX                 19-49                   .5                         1-9                       L5

3. ORL                 20-47                   2.0                       2-8                       L4

4. ATL                 20-47                   2.0                       2-8                       L3

5. SAC                 21-47                   2.5                       3-7                       L2

6 BKLYN              21-46                   3.0                       2-8                       L1

7. DAL                 21-46                   3.0                       3-7                       L1

8. CHI                  23-43                   5.5                       3-7                       W1

9. NYK                 24-43                   6.0                       1-9                       L7

The Knicks have not only been losing a ton of games (15 out of 16), but some of the teams ahead of them have actually won a few, putting them in striking distance of moving up a spot or two with 15 games remaining. Making up four or more games in such a short stretch is a bit unrealistic, which means the goal should remain getting as high as sixth, with seventh as an excellent consolation prize. Ninth is still the lowest the team will pick.

There is a significant difference between ninth and sixth, as you see from the NBA lottery odds chart below:

Seed                    1st Spot         2nd Spot     3rd Spot       Top 3          Seeded Place     Lower

Worst Record    25%                 21.5%            17.8%           64.3%         NA                       35.7%

2                          19.9%            18.8%            17.1%           55.8%         NA                       44.2%

3                           15.6%           15.7%            15.6%           46.9%         NA                       53.1%

4                           11.9%           12.6%             13.3%           37.8%        9.9%                    52.3%

5                           8.8%             9.7%               10.7%            29.2%       26.1%                 44.7%  

6                           6.3%             7.1%                8.1%             21.5%       43.9%                  34.6%

7                           4.3%             4.9%                5.8%             15%          59.9%                  25.1%

8                           2.8%              3.3%               3.9%             10%          72.4%                  17.6%

9                           1.7%              2%                  2.4%              6.1%         81.3%                  12.6%

10                        1.1%               1.3%               1.6%              4%             87%                     9%

11                        .08%               .09%                .12%             2.9%           90.7%                  6.4%

Moving from ninth to sixth would increase the Knicks' chance of landing a top-three pick by 14 percent, while moving into seventh would raise their odds by 9 percent. However, it's the Knicks, who haven’t moved up in the draft since they took Patrick Ewing, so the point is probably moot. But you still want the best odds possible in case pigs do in fact start flying and hell does actually freeze over.

MORE: Schmeelk: Knicks Fan Guide To The NCAA Tournament

The Knicks have two big games in their next four. They play the Mavericks on Tuesday night and the Bulls on Monday at Madison Square Garden. Losses against both teams would go a long way toward potentially ending the season with worse records than both of those teams. Wins would make it much more difficult to pass either team.

Here are the team’s schedules:

New York Knicks – 15 games remaining (10 home, five away)

• Three games vs. teams with bottom-nine records (vs. Dallas, vs. Chicago, vs. Orlando)

• Three games vs. nonplayoff teams with better records (vs Charlotte, at Charlotte, vs. Detroit)

• Nine games vs. playoff teams: (vs. Philadelphia, at Miami, vs. Minnesota, at Washington, at Philadelphia, vs. Miami, vs. Milwaukee, vs. Cleveland, at Cleveland

 

Chicago Bulls – 16 games remaining (eight home, eight away)

• Five games vs. teams with bottom-nine records (at Memphis, at New York, at Orlando, vs. Brooklyn, at Brooklyn)

• Three games vs. nonplayoff teams with better records (at Detroit, vs. Charlotte, vs. Detroit)

• Eight games vs. playoff teams (vs. L.A. Clippers, vs. Cleveland, vs. Denver, vs. Milwaukee, at Houston, at Miami, vs. Washington, at Boston)

 

Brooklyn Nets – 15 games remaining (seven home, eight away)

Note: They do not own their pick, so they have no motivation to lose games

• Five games vs. teams with bottom-nine records (vs. Dallas, vs. Grizzlies, at Orlando, at Chicago, vs. Chicago)

• Two games vs. nonplayoff teams with better records (vs. Charlotte, vs. Detroit)

• Eight games vs. playoff teams (vs. Toronto, at Philadelphia, at Toronto, vs. Cleveland, at Miami, at Philadelphia, at Milwaukee, at Boston)

 

Dallas Mavericks – 15 games remaining (five home, 10 away) 

• Five games vs. teams with bottom-nine records (at New York, at Brooklyn, at Sacramento, at Orlando, vs. Phoenix)

• Three games vs. nonplayoff teams with better records (vs. Charlotte, at L.A. Lakers, at Detroit)

• Seven games vs. playoff teams (at Toronto, at New Orleans, vs. Utah, vs. Timberwolves, at Cleveland, vs. Portland, at Philadelphia)

 

Based on the standings and schedule, the Knicks have the best shot to catch the Bulls and Nets in the standings, with an outside shot of passing Dallas. If I had to guess, the Knicks will finish in the eighth spot.After that, I think there is a slightly better shot of finishing ninth than seventh, with sixth being a long shot.

Whatever happens, the Knicks are in a fairly good spot. Luka Doncic (forward, Real Madrid), DeAndre Ayton (center, Arizona), Mohamed Bamba (center, Texas), Marvin Bagley III (power forward, Duke), Michael Porter Jr. (forward, Missouri), Jaren Jackson Jr. (power forward/center, Michigan State), Trae Young (point guard, Oklahoma), Mikal Bridges (forward, Villanova), Wendell Carter Jr. (center, Duke), and Collin Sexton (point guard, Alabama) are all considered high-end prospects, and one of them will be there whenever the Knicks end up picking.

The Knicks are going to have the chance to get a good player, but the more they have to choose from and the better chance they have of moving into the top three, the better. That means the most pingpong balls as possible. Other than developing some of the young players on the roster, that’s all Knicks fans have in the final month of the season.

For everything Knicks, Giants, and the world of sports, follow John on Twitter at @Schmeelk