The race for the NBA playoffs is really heating up as the regular season begins to wind down. The Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors are tied atop the west, while the Toronto Raptors are neck and neck with the Boston Celtics for eastern supremacy. But the real battle appears to be at the bottom with eight teams currently sitting with twenty wins or less. Here’s a look at the top contenders in this year’s polarizing tank race.
Right now, the Phoenix Suns own the best odds to land the number one pick at 21.8%. This is the third straight season the Suns have been basement dwellers, but it was certainly not GM Ryan McDonough’s vision in the off-season. Phoenix was in heavy pursuit of Kyrie Irving back in the summer, but when that deal fell apart, the team figured its young core could keep the ship afloat. Then, all of a sudden, Eric Bledsoe wanted out and the Suns have yet to dig out of the massive hole they’ve dug in the west. SG Devin Booker remains the lone bright spot; his 25.2 PPG is tied for ninth-best in the league.
The Memphis Grizzlies have lost 14 straight games. 14! And seemingly out of nowhere this team currently has the worst record in the league (18-45). Grizzlies season-ticket holders are very upset with the team’s clear attempt to tank the season away. And to make matters worse, this team decided to stand pat at the trade deadline when a big return was expected for Tyreke Evans. It appears Memphis’ only hope is to win the lottery, with little else in place to kickstart a full-blown rebuild.
This entire organization appears to be crumbling in 2018. Not only is the team 20-45 in the twilight of Dirk Nowitzki’s career, but management is in disarray as well. Earl Sneed was recently let go after countless sexual harassment allegations, and now owner Mark Cuban has been accused of inappropriate behavior. Yet somehow, the off-court drama has not been bad enough to distract fans from an absolute mess on the court.
Oh, how the mighty have fallen. This team has gone from first to fourth to fifth to a possible last-place finish in the Eastern Conference. What was once a perennial contender, is now a shell of itself, three years after winning 60 games and reaching the Conference Finals. This is simply what happens when a team trades Jeff Teague, loses Al Horford and Paul Millsap in free agency, and is simply left with Kent Bazemore as its highest-paid player.