A month ago, things were looking good for the Jazz in regards to acquring this year’s draft pick from the Golden State Warriors. Then the front office in the bay area realized what Jazz fans who pay attention have known all year: if the Warriors’ pick is 8th or higher, it goes to the Jazz. Seemingly, a decision was made in the front office to go into full-blown tank mode. On March 14, the Warriors were. Since then, they are 4-19. To their credit, they seem to actually be playing hard. They gave the Jazz a run for their money back on 4/6 but a team can only do so much when they are continually handicapped by their front office.
Consider the moves the Warriors have made. Before the trade deadline they traded one of their best players, Monta Ellis, to Milwaukee for former-Ute Andrew Bogut knowing he was likely to miss the rest of the season. The team owner openly admitted that the move was made for the future, essentially conceding this season was already lost. Next, they shut down Stephen Curry for the year, a move that is easily justifiable considering the lingering issues he has had with his ankle. Trust me as a owner of Curry on my fantasy team, he has been plagued by injuries all year. The most clear evidence that the Warriors are now the Tankers is the decision to shut down David Lee for the season. That puts their three best players (Bogut, Curry, Lee) out for the year and severely hampers their chances to win. To top it off, they have inserted every rookie on their roster into the starting lineup.
The frustration with their tank job is from the perspective of Jazz fan who wants that lottery pick. My dream scenario is for the Jazz to make the playoffs, which would force Utah to lose their own draft pick to Minnesota as part of the Al Jefferson trade, and for the Warriors to land at 8th or 9th in the lottery, forcing them to surrender the pick to the Jazz. How likely is that to happen? Let’s take a look at their remaining schedule as well as the teams threatening to overtake them.
After losing to Dallas yesterday, the Warriors are 22-40 with 4 games to play. The Bobcats and Wizards have locked up the worst and second-worst records but after that, it’s a mess. The Warriors could finish anywhere from 3rd-worst to 9th. Here are the relevant standings as of today (Saturday 4/21) including their draft position if the lottery went exactly as it should:
9. Detroit (23-40)
8. Golden State (22-40)
7. New Jersey (22-41)
6. Toronto (22-41)
5. Cleveland (21-41)
4. Sacramento (20-43)
3. New Orleans (20-43)
2. Washington (16-46)
1. Charlotte (7-55)
If it ended today, the Jazz get the pick but with how close the teams are, nothing is certain. Look at the Hornets. With Eric Gordon back they are 7-3 in their last 10 games, playing randomly inspired basketball now as if they had something worth playing for. What the Jazz really need is for GSW to win at least one more game this year to get some separation from that pack.
The Warriors have 4 games left: @HOU (4/21), @MIN (4/22), NOH (4/24), SAS (4/26).
In theory, those are all winnable games for the Warriors. Houston is on a tailspin, playing their way out of the playoff race with every loss. The Timberwolves are tanking as bad as the Warriors. The Hornets are suddenly dangerous but still a bad team. With any luck, the Spurs will have their seeding determined for that final game and will rest all their stars to gear up for the playoffs.
I’m not incredibly optimistic the Warriors will win another game this year. But if you’re like me and obsessing about what the Jazz need to do to get into the playoffs (win out) isn’t enough of a fix for you, now you can obsess over whether the Warriors win and the Nets, Raptors, etc all lose.
Go Tankers! I mean, go Warriors!