The Brooklyn Nets are a complete joke, but unless your name is Mikhail Prokhorov, you already knew that. The problem for the Celtics, though, is that Brooklyn’s spot for May’s draft lottery.
The Phoenix Suns called the Nets’ incompetence and not only raised, but went all in with their effort to be an embarrassing, sad excuse of a basketball organization. Sir Chuck agrees. The Suns now sit at 14 wins, identical to the Nets. Unfortunately, given tha thte Suns now have every incentive to tank and the Nets have every incentive to win, the Suns will likely finish below the Nets in the standings. They join the Lakers and 76ers as the 2 teams who will likely finish below the Nets in the standings.
The good news is that the Minnesota Timberwolves won 3 of their final 4 games before the All Star break to pull to 17 wins, and the 3 game difference between the T-Wolves and the Suns/Nets is a massive one for teams as pathetic as these. Also, the Timberwolves are responsibly building a team with veteran leadership galore, as opposed to a team like the 76ers or the Suns. Can you really see KG allowing for the T-Wolves to tank for a third of the season?
After that, no other team has fewer than 20 wins. Assuming Minnesota doesn’t implode, Brooklyn doesn’t go on an incredible run, and New Orleans or Milwaukee doesn’t suffer a collapse of epic proportions, the Nets will give the Celtics the 4th best chance at the #1 pick.
Of course, now that they’ve traded Markieff Morris, the Suns may improve their locker room culture enough to become a real basketball team again… ah screw it, who am I kidding? I recently heard a stat on the Dunc’d on Podcast that will tell you how bad the Suns are now. In clutch situations — defined as within the final 5 min of a game in a 5 point game or less — since Eric Bledsoe went out for the year, the Suns are 55 points per 100 possessions worse than their opponents. That’s so bad that it’s almost impossible. The Suns play the Nets next Tuesday in Phoenix, and if the Suns pull that one out, there’s a small chance that they’ll finish ahead of the Nets. But don’t hold your breath.
The team to root for, shockingly is… the Lakers! Believe me, I hate rooting for the Lakers more than anyone, but if the Suns finish worse than the 11 win Lakers, regardless of whether or not the Nets do as well, that’s huge for Laker haters like ourselves. The Lakers lose their pick if it falls outside the top 3, and if they go into the lottery with the 3rd slot, it’s way more likely that a single team will jump them than if they finished 2nd and we needed 2 teams to jump them. In short, the Suns had better go one of two ways: Either suck enough to finish behind the Lakers, who might try their hardest down the stretch because they want to honor Kobe. Or, they need to do well enough that they finish better than the Nets.