This summer, the Mavericks will be looking to draft a young player to add to their new core, preferably one who can contribute from the moment he arrives. Luckly, this is just the type of player you can expect when you are poised for a top-10 draft pick.
With two games left in the season, the Mavericks lottery position is yet to be decided. Based on record, as of today, they have the ninth spot in the draft. Their current record is 32-48 with both the Minnesota Timberwolves and Sacramento Kings each having one more loss (31-49) with two games remaining for each team.
There is an opportunity for the Mavs to leapfrog both teams and moveup to the seventh spot, but there are a bunch of things which need to happen in order for this to come to pass.
Here’s a look at the remaining schedules of the teams involved and the results needed for the Mavericks to get the best possible draft pick.
Game 81 vs Phoenix Suns
The Suns have won only two of their last 10 games, but have actually been playing better in the last week. This game is very winnable for the Kings, but it will interesting to see if they’ll be thinking draft pick or pride. In mid-March the Kings beat the Suns 107-101, so let’s hope that they can repeat this and avoid a loss.
Game 82 @ Los Angeles Clippers
This game is obviously not likely to go in favor of the Mavericks as the Clippers are the superior team and should win handily. With the fourth seed and home court advantage over the Utah Jazz on the line, the Clippers are sure to throw everything they have at their last two games against the Houston Rockets and the Kings. Perhaps the Kings will be willing to play the role of spoilers, trying to hurt the playoff seeding of one of the teams in their division. For the sake of the Mavericks’ draft pick, let’s hope so!
Game 81 vs Oklahoma City Thunder
The sixth seed is set in stone for the Thunder, but I’m sure that won’t stop them from trying to win out their season and further convince the league of Russel Westbrook’s MVP candidacy. The Timberwolves were able to steal a game off the Thunder earlier in January, but it took big performances from Karl Anthony-Towns and Ricky Rubio to get them over the line. With the Timberwolves current form, losing seven of their last 10 including their last four, this game probably will not help the Mavs’ draft odds.
Game 82 @ Houston Rockets
The Wolves now get to play the other team in that first round matchup with the Thunder, and the game is another likely loss for Minnesota. This is great for their draft number, but again, not great for the Mavericks. The Rockets will be looking to win this game for all the same reasons as the Thunder, with their MVP candidate in James Harden badly wanting to take the award this year.
Harden has recently said that he believes winning is the most important aspect of the MVP race, so he’s surely going to try to go out with a bang in the regular season, going for wins and posting all sorts of big numbers.
Game 81 @ Denver Nuggets
The Nuggets have been one of the most fun teams to watch in the second half of the NBA season. With big play coming from guys like Nikola Jokic and Wilson Chandler, Denver had their shot at the playoffs before Russell Westbrook ripped it straight out of their hands with this buzzer beater on Sunday.
What does this mean for their draft odds, though? They will likely get the 13th pick and will probably not try to lose just to potentially get the 12th pick from the Detroit Pistons. It will mean more for the Nuggets franchise to go out winning with some momentum going into next season, which holds a lot of promise for this up-and-coming team.
Game 82 vs Memphis Grizzlies
With the seventh seed locked up, here isn’t much to be gained from the Grizzlies going big for the win here. We may see further rest for Zach Randolph and maybe even one or two more players as they gear up for their first-round matchup against the San Antonio Spurs. Given that it’s the final home game of the regular season, we may see the Mavericks go all out and try and get one last win in front of the home crowd and not feel the need to rest any players.
It’s also worth mentioning that by this game, the seeding odds could already be set if the Kings and the Timberwolves lose their games. It’ll be interesting to see how the game unfolds if the Mavericks know that a loss would guarantee them better draft odds.
So an obvious conclusion from this is that the Kings and the Timberwolves need to win both of their remaining games and the Mavericks lose their last two. If this is the case, the Mavericks will increase their odds for a higher pick.
But wait! There are tiebreakers!
Well then, there’s a scenario that could play out where all three teams could actually end up with the same win/loss record. What happens then? I’ve already overloaded you with so much info, it’s probably best you come back tomorrow to find out in part two!