2018 NBA Draft

Poll: Which Team Will Finish Last In NBA?

While the NBA’s trade deadline and buyout season have given several contending teams a chance to load up for the stretch run, they’ve also given a number of teams at the bottom of the NBA’s standings to prepare for a run of their own — with two months left in the 2017/18 season, the race for the league’s worst record is on.

It’s not unusual for lottery-bound teams to be incorporating young players into their lineups and positioning themselves for a run at the No. 1 pick in the draft at this point in the season. But the sheer number of clubs in contention for that top spot in our reverse standings this year is a little out of the ordinary.

Currently, the Kings (17-38) are in pole position in the race to the bottom, but the Suns (18-40), Hawks (18-39), Mavericks (18-39), Magic (18-38), Grizzlies (18-37), and Nets (19-39) are all within one game of them in the standings. The Bulls (20-36) and Knicks (23-35) aren’t currently part of that logjam, but both teams have essentially given up their playoff hopes and wouldn’t mind getting into the conversation for that No. 1 pick down the stretch too.

Those teams all have between 24 and 27 games left in the regular season, which means that any victory from here on out could have a legitimate impact on a team’s lottery odds. It’s hard to imagine any team with more than six or seven wins the rest of the way having a real shot at finishing the season with the NBA’s worst record.

The playoff push from the top teams in each conference over the next two months is probably the race more worthy of attention, but the race to the bottom will be fascinating, and the stakes are significant — barring some major changes on lottery night, the teams that finish with the NBA’s worst records will have a shot to draft a potential star like Luka Doncic, Deandre Ayton, Mohamed Bamba, or Marvin Bagley III. Whereas a team that goes on a hot streak the rest of the way might end up with the eighth or ninth pick, missing out on that group of possible franchise-changers.

Of course, one team whose end-of-season results will be especially fascinating is Brooklyn. The Nets are the only club of those listed above who won’t have their own pick available in this year’s draft — Cavaliers fans figure to be monitoring Brooklyn games almost as closely as Nets fans in the coming weeks.

What do you think? Which team will finish with the NBA’s worst record? Which teams will come closest? And which of the clubs above do you expect to ultimately miss out on a top-five pick? Vote below and join our discussion in the comment section!

Trade Rumors app users, click here to vote.

2017/18 NBA Reverse Standings

Throughout the 2017/18 NBA season, Hoops Rumors is maintaining a feature that allows you to keep an eye on what the 2018 draft order will look like. Our 2017/18 Reverse Standings tool, which lists the NBA’s 30 teams from worst to first, will be updated daily to reflect the outcomes of the previous night’s games.

Our Reverse Standings take into account playoff teams in each conference, so they’re essentially a reflection of what 2018’s draft order would look like with no changes to lottery position. In addition to not considering the results of the lottery, our tracker lists teams in random order when they have identical records. At the end of the year, those ties would be broken via random drawings.

Traded first-round picks are included via footnotes. For instance, the note next to Oklahoma City’s pick says that the Thunder will send their pick to the Timberwolves if it’s not in the top 14. As of today, the Thunder are tied for 20th in the lottery standings, meaning their pick would head to Minnesota.

Our Reverse Standings tracker can be found at anytime on the right sidebar under “Hoops Rumors Features” on our desktop site, or on the “Features” page in our mobile menu. It’s a great resource not just for monitoring a team’s draft position, but also for keeping an eye on whether or not traded picks with protection will be changing hands in 2018. So be sure to check back often as the season progresses!

Note: Mobile users are advised to turn their phones sideways when viewing the Reverse Standings in order to see team records and lottery odds.

And-Ones: Sports Betting, Trade Targets, Mock Drafts

The NBA is on board with allowing consumers to bet on its games, but only if the league gets a piece of the action. As Brian Windhorst of ESPN lays out, the NBA formally requested on Wednesday that a set of laws be put into place if sports wagering is legalized nationally. One of the league’s requests? It wants to receive 1% of every bet placed on an NBA game.

Such a system would create a massive revenue stream for the NBA and other professional sports leagues, particularly if lawmakers open up additional paths for placing wagers on games. According to Windhorst, the league – represented by attorney Dan Spillane, who made his case to a New York State Senate committee – suggested that fans should be able to make legal bets on smartphones and kiosks, rather than just at casinos and racetracks — the U.S. Supreme Court is currently weighing a case to make sports betting at casinos and racetracks outside of Nevada.

“We have studied these issues at length,” Spillane said in his statement. “Our conclusion is that the time has come for a different approach that gives sports fans a safe and legal way to wager on sporting events while protecting the integrity of the underlying competitions.”

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the NBA:

And-Ones: Predictions, Discipline, Prospects

In a debut installment of a new feature, Marc Stein of the New York Times made a number of predictions for the upcoming year in basketball. The scribe ventures a guess that this is the year the Trail Blazers blow up their backcourt of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum.

Stein writes that dealing one of the star guards would be the easiest way for the Blazers to balance their roster, something that could come in handy if the organization seeks to go in a new direction. Bear in mind, however, that Stein’s prediction applies to this year and not necessarily to this season.

Stein also makes a series of arguments that a pair of big names stay with their current teams, despite ongoing speculation to the contrary. The Times journalist says that LeBron James to the Lakers is no guarantee and that Cleveland stands a legitimate chance of retaining the King.

On a similar note, Stein reasons that DeMarcus Cousins isn’t likely to find the market teeming with attractive salary offers this season and that he’ll end up staying put with the Pelicans.

There’s more from around the league:

  • One possible solution to curb the growing tension between NBA players and referees is to ramp up the discipline assigned to players who act hostile to officials. “The hammer has to drop from above,” one Western Conference team official told Ken Berger of Bleacher Report. “When you had David Stern and Rod Thorn there, none of this stuff was going on because they weren’t going to put up with it. I think we’ve gotten away from that. There’s something every night.
  • Four active front offices have made a dozen or more trade deadline deals over the course of their tenures, Bobby Marks of ESPN weighed in on them and the rest of the league’s executives in his latest for ESPN Insiders.
  • There has been plenty of movement among the DraftExpress team’s list of the top 100 NBA prospects. Jonathan Givony of ESPN recently broke down a number of NCAA players who’ve recently seen their values rise dramatically.

Checking In On Traded 2018 First Round Picks

While it’s possible that more 2018 first round picks will be on the move at this season’s trade deadline, nearly one third of the NBA’s teams have already moved their own first-rounders. In total, eight of 30 first-rounders for 2018 are owed to new teams, and many of those picks include conditional protections. As such, it’s worth checking in on the likelihood of all those selections actually changing hands this June, now that we’re more than halfway through the 2017/18 season.

With the help of our 2017/18 Reverse Standings, let’s dive in and see where things stand for those eight traded picks…

No drama:

  • Suns to acquire Heat‘s pick (top-seven protected). Currently projected to be No. 23.
  • Hawks to acquire Timberwolves‘ pick (lottery-protected). Currently projected to be No. 25.
  • Nets to acquire Raptors‘ pick (lottery-protected). Currently projected to be No. 27.
  • Hawks to acquire Rockets‘ pick (top-three protected). Currently projected to be No. 28.

We’ll start with the picks that are locks to change hands. The four selections listed above appear very likely to fall somewhere in the 20s, well out of their protected ranges.

Given how streaky the Heat have been over the last year and a half, it’s possible they could slip down the standings a little, but their pick is extremely unlikely to land in the top seven, so the Suns will get it this season. That actually could be good news for the Heat, since it would create a little flexibility for them when it comes to trading future first-rounders going forward.

Worth watching:

  • Cavaliers to acquire Nets‘ pick (unprotected). Currently projected to be No. 7 or 8 (tie).
  • Timberwolves to acquire Thunder‘s pick (lottery-protected). Currently projected to be No. 21 or 22 (tie).

Since the Nets‘ first-rounder is unprotected, there’s no question that Brooklyn will lose it, but it’s still a pick worth monitoring all season. Its value could increase or decrease significantly depending on how the Nets play in the second half, and there’s also no guarantee that the Cavaliers will still own it by the time June rolls around.

As for Oklahoma City’s pick, we nearly put the club in the “no drama” list above, but OKC is only two games ahead of the ninth-seeded Nuggets. Even though the Thunder seem very likely to hang onto a playoff spot in the West, it’s probably a bit premature to call them a lock. Nonetheless, the Timberwolves should get that pick.

Very much up in the air:

  • Sixers or Celtics to acquire Lakers‘ pick (Sixers receive it if it’s No. 1 or between 6-30; Celtics get it if it’s between 2-5). Currently projected to be No. 5.
  • Suns to acquire Bucks‘ pick (top-10 protected and protected between 17-30). Currently projected to be No. 16, 17, 18, or 19 (four-way tie).

The fate of the Lakers‘ 2018 pick is one of the most fascinating off-court storylines of this season. Both the Sixers and Celtics have very solid foundations of young talent in place already, so acquiring another top-10 pick would just be an added bonus for either team. The Lakers currently have the fifth-worst record in the NBA, but even if they finish the season in that same slot, the lottery could flip the pick from Boston to Philadelphia — the Sixers would get the pick if the Lakers won the lottery, or if another team leapfrogged L.A. and slid the Lakers’ pick out of the top five.

Meanwhile, while the Bucks have been up and down this season, they seem like a good bet to make a second-half push and avoid finishing in the middle of the pack. For now though, their first-rounder is still very much in play for the Suns, who would receive it if it falls in the 11-16 window.

And-Ones: Non-Guaranteed Deals, Maker, Morris

The Rocketsrelease of Bobby Brown today may be the first in a series of roster moves made by NBA teams before Sunday night. Sunday (January 7) is the last day for clubs to waive a player on a non-guaranteed contract to avoid having that player’s salary become fully guaranteed for the season.

We’ve compiled our own list of players on non-guaranteed contracts to keep an eye on, but over at ESPN.com, Bobby Marks goes one step further, running through each team in an Insider-only piece and assessing each non-guaranteed player’s chances of surviving the cut. As Marks details, some of the players on non-guaranteed salaries, such as Spencer Dinwiddie in Brooklyn, are in no danger of being cut. But others, like Bucks swingman DeAndre Liggins, may be holding their breath until that deadline passes.

Here are a few more odds and ends from across the NBA:

  • Thon Maker‘s brother Matur Maker will bypass college and enter his name into the 2018 NBA draft pool, according to reports from Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog.com and Evan Daniels of 247Sports.com. The younger Maker almost certainly won’t be a lottery pick like his brother in Milwaukee, but he’s hoping to make a similar prep-to-pro leap. He plans on hiring an agent in the spring, guardian and mentor Ed Smith tells Daniels.
  • Earlier today, we passed along word that former Suns guard Mike James was being eyed by China’s Guangdong Southern Tigers as a potential replacement for Edwin Jackson. However, as Emiliano Carchia of Sportando relays, it appears Guangdong will sign another ex-NBA guard, Darius Morris, rather than James.
  • While you could make a case for several other players, including Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell, there’s no question that Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma and Warriors big man Jordan Bell have been two of the biggest steals from the 2017 draft. Mike Schmitz of ESPN (Insider link) examines what lessons NBA front offices and scouts can learn from Kuzma and Bell.

2017/18 NBA Reverse Standings

Throughout the 2017/18 NBA season, Hoops Rumors is maintaining a feature that allows you to keep an eye on what the 2018 draft order will look like. Our 2017/18 Reverse Standings tool, which lists the NBA’s 30 teams from worst to first, will be updated daily to reflect the outcomes of the previous night’s games.

Our Reverse Standings take into account playoff teams in each conference, so they’re essentially a reflection of what 2018’s draft order would look like with no changes to lottery position. In addition to not considering the results of the lottery, our tracker lists teams in random order when they have identical records. At the end of the year, those ties would be broken via random drawings.

Traded first-round picks are included via footnotes. For instance, the note next to Miami’s pick says that the Heat will send their pick to the Suns if it’s not in the top seven. As of today, the Heat are tied for 17th in the lottery standings, meaning their pick would head to Phoenix.

Our Reverse Standings tracker can be found at anytime on the right sidebar under “Hoops Rumors Features” on our desktop site, or on the “Features” page in our mobile menu. It’s a great resource not just for monitoring a team’s draft position, but also for keeping an eye on whether or not traded picks with protection will be changing hands in 2018. So be sure to check back often as the season progresses!

Note: Mobile users are advised to turn their phones sideways when viewing the Reverse Standings in order to see team records and lottery odds.

And-Ones: Doncic, Gee, Mexico City, NBPA

A highlight of Real Madrid star Luka Doncic crossing over former Trail Blazers forward Victor Claver went viral on Thursday, and representatives from a number of NBA teams were on hand to see it in person. According to international basketball reporter David Pick (Twitter link), the Sixers, Suns, Clippers, Magic, Mavericks, Pelicans, Wizards, and others all had officials in attendance.

Of course, given how highly regarded Doncic is, most of these teams are unlikely to have a shot at him in the 2018 NBA draft. In singling out some of the risers and fallers in the latest update to their 2018 big board, Jonathan Givony and Mike Schmitz of ESPN (Insider link) explain why Doncic is at the top of their rankings.

According to Givony and Schmitz, who refer to Doncic as “the most productive European prospect of all time,” the 6’8″ guard could have a legit chance to win the EuroLeague’s MVP award this season. Some scouts worry about his athleticism, his defense, or his ability to create shots, so it’s not a lock that he’ll go No. 1 in June. But Doncic, at age 18, is already one of the best scorers and facilitators in Europe, in the eyes of Givony and Schmitz.

Here’s more from around the basketball world:

  • Veteran NBA swingman Alonzo Gee is headed to the G League, according to Adam Johnson of 2 Ways & 10 Days, who tweets that the Heat‘s affiliate (the Sioux Falls Skyforce) has claimed Gee off waivers. The 30-year-old, who has appeared in regular season games for six NBA clubs, last played for the Nuggets in 2016/17.
  • After reporting last week that the NBA intends to establish a G League franchise in Mexico City, Marc Stein of The New York Times takes a deep dive into the issue and outlines why the league is more seriously considering the viability of eventually expanding to Mexico — not just with a G League team, but with an NBA club. The fact that Mexico City shares a time zone with so many current NBA clubs is a major plus, as commissioner Adam Silver observes.
  • The players’ union and former NBPA executive director Billy Hunter have reached a settlement in their legal battle, according to Liz Mullen of SportsBusiness Journal (Twitter links). After the NBPA fired Hunter in 2013, the longtime executive director sued the union for $10MM+, and the union counter-sued. Terms of the settlement weren’t disclosed, but Hunter said in a statement that he’s happy about “moving forward after years of hard-fought litigation on both sides.”

And-Ones: 2018 Draft, Ball Bros, Two-Way Deals

A pair of NCAA freshmen, Duke’s Marvin Bagley III and Arizona’s DeAndre Ayton, are making strong cases to become the first overall pick in the 2018 NBA draft. For now though, Jonathan Givony of ESPN (Insider link) still has Real Madrid point guard Luka Doncic coming off the board first, writing that the international star would be a nice fit for the Bulls.

Givony’s mock draft also features Michael Porter Jr., who recently underwent back surgery, slotting in as the No. 4 overall pick. There was some concern in the wake of Porter’s injury that his stock might fall precipitously, but Givony’s blurb on Porter going to the Hawks doesn’t even mention the young forward’s health situation, which suggests that it’s not viewed as a major red flag at this point. NBA teams will get a closer look at Porter’s back in the spring, at which point it will become clearer whether or not he’s still a top-five pick.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Lonzo Ball‘s younger brothers, LiAngelo Ball and LaMelo Ball, are exploring the possibility of signing with a team overseas, according to Shams Charania of The Vertical, who reports that representative Harrison Gaines has initiated contact with international teams. LiAngelo, who was pulled out of UCLA’s program this week, isn’t considered an NBA prospect. LaMelo is viewed as a probable pick in the 2019 draft, but he’s still just 16 years old and probably isn’t ready to compete at a professional level, says Evan Daniels of 247Sports.com.
  • Players on two-way contracts aren’t allowed to spend more than 45 days with their respective NBA clubs. However, the criteria for a day spent in the NBA are complicated, and most teams aren’t making service time information publicly available. That makes it difficult to keep tabs on how close two-way players are to their 45-day limits, as Adam Johnson of 2 Ways & 10 Days details. One thing we know: Wednesday will mark Mike James‘ 45th day in the NBA, so the Suns will have to clear a roster spot in order to convert his contract to a standard NBA deal.
  • Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders spent time with the Northern Arizona Suns, Phoenix’s G League affiliate, and provides an all-access look at what a day in the G League looks like.

2017/18 NBA Reverse Standings

Throughout the 2017/18 NBA season, Hoops Rumors will be maintaining a feature that allows you to keep an eye on what the 2018 draft order will look like. Our 2017/18 Reverse Standings tool, which lists the NBA’s 30 teams from worst to first, will be updated daily to reflect the outcomes of the previous night’s games.

Our Reverse Standings take into account playoff teams in each conference, so they’re essentially a reflection of what 2018’s draft order would look like with no changes to lottery position. In addition to not considering the results of the lottery, our tracker lists teams in random order when they have identical records. At the end of the year, those ties would be broken via random drawings.

Traded first-round picks are included via footnotes. For instance, the note next to Miami’s pick says that the Heat will send their pick to the Suns if it’s not in the top seven. As of today, the Heat are 13th in the lottery standings, meaning their pick would head to Phoenix.

Our Reverse Standings tracker can be found at anytime on the right sidebar under “Hoops Rumors Features” on our desktop site, or on the “Features” page in our mobile menu. It’s a great resource not just for monitoring a team’s draft position, but also for keeping an eye on whether or not traded picks with protection will be changing hands in 2018. So be sure to check back often as the season progresses!

Note: Mobile users are advised to turn their phones sideways when viewing the Reverse Standings in order to see team records and lottery odds.

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