What if the Nets pick isn't top 6?

** The Good **
The Clips beat Boston 2 nights ago, which is good because it puts LAC a solid 5 games ahead of the Nets.

** The Bad **
New Jersey beating Golden State without D Will.

** The Ugly **
3 game win streak.  Yuck.

The Nets, as the Knicks before them, might end up seriously decreasing the value of this pick for the Jazz.  The other cellar dwellars have no motivation to keep winning.  The Nets have no motivation not to.  A coworker said to me yesterday, "No way the Knicks finish that well [last year] if they've still got their pick."  It's a solid point.



Before the games of 3/11:
1. Cleveland (12 wins)
2. Sacto (15 wins)
3/4 Washington/Minny (16 wins)
5. Toronto (17 wins)
6. New Jersey (20 wins)
7. Detroit (23 wins)
8. Milwaukee (25 wins)
9. LAC (25 wins)
10. Charlotte (26 wins)
11. Indiana (27 wins)
12. Golden State (28 wins)

If the Nets somehow sneak past all 6 of those teams below them, it'll be a nightmare.  They've won 3 in a row and have a big game against the Clips.  If they can beat the Clips without D Will, then all bets are off.  The Jazz could be owner of the #12 pick in a weak draft instead of a potential top 3 pick.

I will be the first to tell you that I underestimated D Will's (as well as Sundiata's) effect on this team.  All of a sudden, Brook Lopez is playing like a monster.  26 & 10 last game vs GS, 34 & 14, and 24 & 2 in the 2 games vs TOR.  They're winning close games, even the GS game *without* D Will.  They played Phoenix to a near draw at 104-103.  They've got confidence and they're playing tough.



Here are the games NJ has left:

vs LAC, vs BOS, vs CHI, @ MIL, @ WAS, vs IND, @ CLE, @ ORL, @ ATL, vs HOU, @ NY, @ PHI, vs MIA, vs MIN, @ DET, vs NY, @ TOR, vs CHA, @ CHI

The games I now expect them to win:
@ WAS, vs IND, @ CLE, vs MIN, @ DET, @ TOR, vs CHA

Additional games that I think will be competitive:
vs LAC, vs CHI, @ MIL, vs HOU, @ PHI, vs NY

That's a potential 13 wins and a solid 7.  Very ugly. 



In contrast, let's look at Golden State:
vs ORL, vs MIN, @SAC, vs DAL, @ PHO, @ DAL, @SA, @HOU, vs TOR, vs WAS, @ OKC, @MEM, vs DAL, @POR, vs LAL, vs SAC, @ DEN, vs POR

I think they're solid vs MIN, vs TOR, vs WAS, vs SAC
and competitive @ SAC

That's 5 wins. If I did my math right, if both NJ and GS win all of the games I've estimated to be expected or competitive, they would end up with identical 33-win seasons.  While it's somewhat unlikely that NJ will win all 4 of vs CHI, vs HOU, @ PHI, @ NY, it wouldn't be too outrageous to think that they might pick up a couple of unexpected wins somewhere else or that GS might lose a couple of their gimmes.



I haven't checked out all of the teams' remaining schedules, but I think it's reasonable to say that NJ might be the best of the bad teams at this point.  The only team that I think is better and that wants to keep winning is the Clippers and that will be tested tonight.  Spots 1-5 are pretty much set.  Those teams aren't jumping NJ.  Detroit and Charlotte are showing signs of tanking.  I would hope that Milwaukee would be too proud to tank, but I really don't know.  Hopefully Bogut can make a difference there.  Indiana and GS are both pretty hard to read.



It's not unrealistic to think that the Jazz might be looking at pick 8-11 before any draft shenanigans like Houston and/or Golden State winning the lottery and jumping into picks 1-3.

All comments are the opinion of the commenter and not necessarily that of SLC Dunk or SB Nation.

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