But he can point to Dallas’ 109-103 win over the Pacers last night as proof his team isn’t completely devoted to losing.
There’s a clear line in the NBA standings between competitive and uncompetitive teams. Those beneath the line:
- Suns (18-44)
- Hawks (18-43)
- Kings (18-42)
- Magic (18-42)
- Grizzlies (18-41)
- Mavericks (19-42)
- Nets (20-41)
- Bulls (20-40)
- Knicks (24-38)
The worst team above the line is the 26-34 Lakers, who don’t have their own 2018 draft picks and have enough talent to put up decent fights. Brooklyn also already traded both its own 2018 draft picks, but the Nets’ roster is so lacking, they resemble tankers.
Those bottom nine teams had lost 35 straight games against the rest of the league before the Mavericks’ victory. The last win had come more than two weeks earlier, when the Hawks beat the Pistons.
Expect much more losing from the bottom group. The incentive is high leading up to what appears to be a top-heavy draft. The lottery standings are so tight, each win could be detrimental. This is the final year before the NBA evens lottery odds in an attempt to dissuade teams from chasing the absolute basement.
The Kings lost to the Timberwolves later last night, which could start another streak. The Bulls (at Hornets), Nets (at Cavaliers) and Kings (at Trail Blazers) are all on the road tonight.