NBA Draft Lottery positioning update: Suns closing in on best odds
A 15th-straight loss by the Phoenix Suns on Sunday set a franchise record and inched them closer to finishing the 2017-18 season with the best NBA Draft Lottery odds.
Four games remain on Phoenix’s schedule, and injuries to Devin Booker, T.J. Warren, Elfrid Payton and Alex Len have lately limited the tools interim coach Jay Triano has to deploy. As the year’s end draws closer, it’s a wonder if the Suns will be able to turn to any of those players — or if they will be cautious with their futures in mind.
Here’s a look at the final stretch of the NBA season, where Phoenix stands and what the other teams who are looking forward to the draft have on their respective plates to wrap the year.
1. Phoenix Suns
Outlook: Holding a 2.5-game lead on the Memphis Grizzlies as of Monday morning, Phoenix has winnable outings against two bottom-feeders, plus a game against the Golden State Warriors, who could presumably shut down all their stars — them taking the second seed in the west looks like the only possible final result. The Suns’ game against the Pelicans this Friday will give them one chance to play spoilers with New Orleans clinging to the eighth seed in the Western Conference.
Games to close the season: Tuesday vs. Sacramento, Friday vs. New Orleans, Sunday vs. Golden State, April 10 at Dallas
2. Memphis Grizzlies
Outlook: Did you know the Grizzlies signed MarShon Brooks? That wasn’t a good idea if they wanted to see a tank through. The 29-year-old wrapped his season in China and in his first two games with Memphis scored a combined 45 points and shot 60 percent from the field. One of those games last week led to a wild upset of the Portland Trailblazers. An ankle injury kept Brooks out of the last game, but his potential return would help the Suns.
Games to close the season: Wednesday at New Orleans, Friday vs. Sacramento, Sunday vs. Detroit, April 9 at Minnesota, April 11 at Oklahoma City
3. Atlanta Hawks
Outlook: Atlanta faces a series of motivated teams to close out the year. Miami and Washington are fighting with the Milwaukee Bucks for the sixth, seventh and eighth seeds in the Eastern Conference. Boston remains two games back of Toronto for the No. 1 seed out east, so perhaps that game remains meaningful. And the Sixers are currently a half-game back of the Cleveland Cavaliers for the No. 3 seed. The Hawks just beat the Orlando Magic to end a five-game skid, which isn’t saying much.
Games to close the season: Tuesday at Miami, Wednesday vs. Miami, Friday at Washington, Sunday at Boston, April 10 vs. Philadelphia
4. Orlando Magic
Outlook: The Magic have lost three games in a row since beating Phoenix on March 24. Those teams were the Nets, Bulls and Hawks, all three of which are looking at high lottery odds. To close the season for Orlando, it’s three games of lottery implications followed by three games against teams potentially fighting for playoff positioning.
Games to close the season: Tuesday at New York, Wednesday vs. Dallas, Friday vs. Charlotte, Sunday at Toronto, April 9 at Milwaukee, April 11 vs. Washington
5. Dallas Mavericks
Outlook: Compared to teams like Orlando, Memphis and Phoenix, the low-scoring Mavericks have been a bit more competitive against playoff teams like Minnesota and Cleveland.
Games to close the season: Tuesday vs. Portland, Wednesday at Orlando, Friday at Detroit, Sunday at Philadelphia, April 10 vs. Phoenix
6. Sacramento Kings
Outlook: A chance to extend Phoenix’s losing streak on Tuesday could also end a wishful bid for the top odds.
Games to close the season: Tuesday at Phoenix, Friday at Memphis, April 9 at San Antonio, April 11 vs. Houston