If there was one promising takeaway from the New York Knicks falling into a well of despair two months into the season, it was that they would have a shot at the No. 1 pick in the draft.
Last Saturday, with three games left in the season, the Knicks were 15-64, owners of the worst record of the league, giving them the best odds to win the No. 1 pick in June.
Since then, the Knicks have won two -straight games, beating the Orlando Magic and No. 1-seeded Atlanta Hawks. They now have the second-worst record in the league, sitting behind the Minnesota Timberwolves, who are 16-65.
Monday night’s win over the Hawks decreased the Knicks’ lottery odds by a pretty wide margin. The team with the worst record not only has the best odds at the No. 1 pick, they are guaranteed a top-four pick.
Again, the Knicks just dropped fro 25% chance at No. 1 to 19.9% and went from 0% chance at No. 5 pick to 12.3% with that win.
— Jared Dubin (@JADubin5) April 14, 2015
This is a precarious scenario for the Knicks. With one game remaining in the season, the Knicks are fighting with the Timberwolves for the worst record and the Philadelphia 76ers for the second-worst record.
Here are the remaining schedules for each team:
- Knicks (17-64) vs. Pistons (31-50)
- Timberwolves (16-65) vs. Thunder (44-37)
- 76ers (18-63) vs. Heat (36-45)
The Knicks have the most winnable game of the bunch, while the 76ers and Wolves are both playing teams fighting for a playoff spot.
There’s also a nightmare scenario for the Knicks, as detailed by ESPN’s Ian Begley. If the Knicks win their game and the 76ers lose, they will be tied for the second-worst record in the NBA. If the draft lottery goes berserk and neither the Wolves, Knicks, nor Sixers get a top-three pick, the Wolves will automatically draft fourth. The Knicks and Sixers would then fight for the fifth and sixth picks, and if the ping pong balls don’t bounce the Knicks’ way, they could draft sixth.
It’s an outside shot, and according to Begley, the third-worst team in the NBA still has a 96.5% chance a top-five pick, where there is still considerable talent in the draft. If the Knicks lose their final game, they will have the second-worst record in the league and still have a decent chance at the No. 1 pick.
Nonetheless, it was a wholly avoidable situation if the Knicks had just continued to lose their final games. After a season’s worth of tanking, they may have blown their chances at the No. 1 pick by winning meaningless games and doing theoretical damage to their future.
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