Thursday, April 3, 2008

The 2007-2008 NBA Ping Pong/Relegation Standings

(While those Western powerhouses are getting all of the attention as they jockey for playoff position, I thought it would be worth shedding a light on the knock-down, drag out fight for the top draft picks in the upcoming drafts. After all, only one of those "good" teams can win a title this year while a few of these remarkably bad teams have the chance to nab a player that fans will cheer for the next decade. I mean, would you rather be one of the #7 seed in the East or at the very bottom right now? Would you rather have had the number one draft pick in 1985 or overachieved and made it to the 1985 Western Conference Semi-Finals?)

TeamRecordGames BehindRemaining Games
Miami13-62-@WAS, DET, CHI, MEM, @CLE, @TOR, ATL
Seattle17-58+4HOU, DEN, @DAL, @HOU, @SAN, DAL, @GS
Minnesota19-55+6.5@PHO, MEM, @CHA, NOH, @ORL, @MEM, @DET, MIL
Memphis20-55+7*GS, @MIN, PHO, @MIA, MIN, @POR, @DEN

As you can see, the Miami Heat have the inside track on the most ping pong balls in the upcoming draft lottery. Their magic number to clinch the NBA's worst record and a 1 in 4 chance of the top pick (which is what you get for having the worst record in the league) is 4. If they lose 4 times or if the Sonics win four times then the Heat clinch the worst record**. The Heat's magic number in regards to the T-Wolves is just 2 and it is 1 for the Knicks and Grizzlies. So, it's going to be hard for anyone to unseat Pat Riley's crew from the top spot at the bottom. In fact, looking at the Sonics brutal slate of games (all remaining games are against teams in the playoff mix out West) it looks like it will be hard to snag second (to last) place from them. Still having to navigate the Texas Triangle during the last week of the season is certainly a good omen if you're banking on one of the top two picks, since finishing second in the Ping Pong/Relegation Standings gets your squad a 19.9% chance at the top pick and an 18.8% chance of the second pick.

All that being said, I think the Knicks can lose the rest of their games. Fingers crossed. On paper the only ones you have to worry about them winning are at home to Charlotte and away to Indiana. Still, I suspect that a 2-5 finish could leap frog them ahead (or behind) of Minnesota, who is frankly a better team and has a whopping four winnable games left. Two of the T-Wolves winnable contests come against the Memphis Grizzlies, the team with the most direct affect on the teams in this heated basement barn-burner. Fresh off two victories over the Knicks in the last week and a half, they still have two on deck with Minnesota and one tilt to go with Miami.

*Having beat the Knicks in both meetings this season, the Grizzlies will finish a spot below them if they finish with the same record. 

**The Heat and Sonics split their season series, 1-1, so I'm not sure how the tie-breaker would work if it were necessary. 

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