The Golden State Warriors' Race to the Bottom: Can They Tank Hard Enough?

Kevin WilliamContributor IMarch 23, 2012

The Golden State Warriors' Race to the Bottom: Can They Tank Hard Enough?

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    The question on every Golden State Warriors fans' mind going forward is if the team can lose enough games to keep their draft pick in 2012. The pick is owned by the Jazz and is top-seven protected, meaning the Warriors would have to get a pick from one to seven to keep the selection. 

    Hoping for losses leaves a bitter taste in most fans' mouths, but keeping the selection is more important than winning games right now. In a deep draft full of potential stars, the Warriors can't afford to lose their pick. Warriors brass clearly knows this, as owner Joe Lacob has said he is working on a trade to keep the draft pick even if it falls outside the top seven. However, for this exercise, it will be assumed that the Warriors will not successfully make this trade and they will have to lose their way into the draft pick.

    After an introduction to the Warriors' current stats, the following is a slide-show with all the teams that they can potentially pass to increase their chances of keeping their draft pick.

    Note: Having one of the seven worst records does not guarantee a top-seven draft pick because of the lottery process. This is more an analysis of the teams the Warriors need to pass to increase their chances. 

Golden State Warriors

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    Current Record: 19-26, .422, 9th Worst Record in NBA

    Remaining Opponents' Winning Percentage: 51%

    Remaining Home Games: 10

    Remaining Road Games: 11

    Most Recent Starting Five: David Lee, Dorell Wright, Jeremy Tyler, Nate Robinson, Klay Thompson

    Team Analysis: Under Mark Jackson, the Warriors play their hardest every night. They do not have a single guy on the team loafing it. However, their roster is in disrepair right now. They are being cautious with Stephen Curry because of his ankle injury and he may not play the rest of the year. Monta Ellis was traded for Andrew Bogut, who will likely not play the rest of the year. Their center rotation consists of Andris Biedrins and Jeremy Tyler. The current roster leaves a lot to be desired.

    Projected Record: 24-42

Charlotte Bobcats

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    Current Record: 7-37, .219, Worst Record in NBA

    Remaining Opponents Winning Percentage: 45%

    Remaining Home Games: 13

    Remaining Road Games: 9

    Most Recent Starting Five: Reggie Williams, Tyrus Thomas, Bismack Biyombo, Gerald Henderson, D.J. Augustin

    Team Analysis: This team is bad. Really, really bad. They have a couple intriguing young players in Kemba Walker and Bismack Biyombo but the team is headed nowhere this year. Eduardo Najera played five minutes for them in their last game. Yes, he is still in the league.

    Projected Record:10-56, 14 wins fewer than the Warriors' projected record

Washington Wizards

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    Current Record: 11-35, .239, 2nd Worst Record in NBA

    Remaining Opponents Winning Percentage: 47%

    Remaining Home Games: 10

    Remaining Road Games: 10

    Most Recent Starting Five: Trevor Booker, Chris Singleton, Nenê, Jordan Crawford, John Wall

    Team Analysis: The Wizards have a few good pieces in Nenê, Wall and Booker. Aside from those three, the roster is severely lacking in talent. However, they have no significant injuries and Nenê is an upgrade over JaVale McGee so they could be slightly better the remainder of the season.

    Projected Record: 17-39, 7 wins fewer than the Warriors' projected record

New Orleans Hornets

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    Current Record: 12-35, .255, 3rd Worst Record in NBA

    Remaining Opponents Winning Percentage: 50%

    Remaining Home Games: 8

    Remaining Road Games: 11

    Most Recent Starting Five: Trevor Ariza, Jason Smith, Chris Kaman, Jarrett Jack, Marco Belinelli

    Team Analysis: The Hornets have won two out of their last three games with wins against the Nets and Clippers. Nonetheless, the fact remains that the Hornets are not a good team. They have a couple established big men in Kaman and Emeka Okafor but not much else. Their best player, Eric Gordon, only played two games and will likely not play the rest of the season. Plus, the two aforementioned bigs, Kaman and Okafor, are older and may sit some of the remaining games (Okafor has missed the last month with a sore left knee).

    Projected Record: 15-41, 9 wins fewer than the Warriors' projected record

New Jersey Nets

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    Current Record: 15-33, .313, 4th worst record in NBA

    Remaining Opponents Winning Percentage: 47%

    Remaining Home Games: 10

    Remaining Road Games: 8

    Most Recent Starting Five: Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries, Shelden Williams, Deron Williams, MarShon Brooks

    Team Analysis: On paper, the Nets roster is pretty good. They have a great player in Deron Williams and a few other solid ones in Wallace, Humphries and Brooks. If Brook Lopez was healthy, they would have an even better roster that could compete every night. Yet, Lopez is out for the rest of the season and it's possible he won't play the rest of the year (why rush him back?). If Wallace can mesh with the roster, they have a chance to surprise some teams the rest of the year. But, it remains to be seen if this will happen and they just got crushed by the lowly Wizards at home. 

    Projected Record: 21-45, 3 wins fewer than the Warriors' projected record

Toronto Raptors

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    Current Record: 15-32, .319, 5th worst record in NBA

    Remaining Opponents Winning Percentage: 51%

    Remaining Home Games: 11

    Remaining Road Games: 8

    Most Recent Starting Five: Andrea Bargnani, James Johnson, Amir Johnson, Jose Calderon, DeMar DeRozan

    Team Analysis: The good news is that they have Andrea Bargnani back. The bad news is that he has not seemed to help them win games as they are 2-7 since his return. There is no reason to believe this team will overcome its lack of impact players and start playing at a significantly higher level than they have this whole season. 

    Projected Record: 20-46, 4 wins fewer than the Warriors' projected record

Detroit Pistons

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    Current Record: 16-30, .348, 6th worst record in NBA

    Remaining Opponents Winning Percentage: 49%

    Remaining Home Games: 10

    Remaining Road Games: 10

    Most Recent Starting Five: Tayshaun Prince, Jason Maxiell, Greg Monroe, Ben Gordon, Brandan Knight

    Team Analysis: Before the current three-game losing streak, the Pistons won four out of five, including wins against the Lakers and Hawks. They have played tough in the three road losses at Phoenix, LAC and Denver. The team's only significant injury is Rodney Stuckey. Therefore, the Pistons could very well surprise some teams and win more games than their current record would suggest. They will be favored in winnable home games against Charlotte, Washington, Cleveland and Toronto

    Projected Record: 24-42, same as the Warriors' projected record

Sacramento Kings

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    Current Record: 17-30, .362, 7th worst record in NBA

    Remaining Opponents Winning Percentage: 53%

    Remaining Home Games: 10

    Remaining Road Games: 9

    Most Recent Starting Five: John Salmons, Jason Thompson, DeMarcus Cousins, Isaiah Thomas

    Team Analysis: The Kings have won three of their last four games, narrowly losing by one point to the Jazz. They have no significant injuries and are playing their best basketball of the season. If Tyreke Evans can stay healthy (he came off the bench last game), the Kings could be poised for a positive ending to the season.

    Projected Record: 25-41, 1 win more than the Warriors' projected record

Cleveland Cavaliers

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    Current Record: 17-27, .386, 8th worst record in NBA

    Remaining Opponents Winning Percentage: 49%

    Remaining Home Games: 10

    Remaining Road Games: 12

    Most Recent Starting Five: Antawn Jamison, Alonzo Gee, Tristan Thompson, Anthony Parker, Kyrie Irving

    Team Analysis: The Cavaliers have a better record than their roster would suggest. They have been playing decently lately, winning four of their last eight, including wins at Denver and Oklahoma City. As long as Kryie Irving stays healthy, they should be able to win a handful of their remaining games. 

    Projected Record: 23-43, 1 win fewer than the Warriors' projected record

Milwaukee Bucks

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    Current Record: 21-25, .457, 10th worst record in NBA

    Remaining Opponents Winning Percentage: 44%

    Remaining Home Games: 12

    Remaining Road Games: 8

    Most Recent Starting Five: Carlos Delfino, Ersan Ilyasova, Drew Gooden, Monta Ellis, Brandon Jennings

    Team Analysis: Having won seven out of 10, the Bucks are playing some of their best basketball of the season. Couple that with the recent addition of Ellis for an injured Andrew Bogut and the Bucks are poised to make a push for one of the last playoff spots in the East. 

    Projected Record: 32-34, 8 wins more than the Warriors' projected record

Portland Trail Blazers

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    Current Record: 22-25, .468, 11th worst record in NBA

    Remaining Opponents Winning Percentage: 50%

    Remaining Home Games: 10

    Remaining Road Games: 9

    Most Recent Starting Five: LaMarcus Aldridge, Nicolas Batum, Joel Przybilla, Raymond Felton, Wesley Matthews

    Team Analysis: The Blazers blew up their current roster in much the fashion the Warriors did. They dealt Gerald Wallace and Marcus Camby and fired coach Nate McMillan. Despite that, they still have All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge and a few other decent players in Batum, Matthews and Jamal Crawford. While their roster is depleted, they will likely still be able to win enough games to be better than the Warriors.

    Projected Record: 29-37, 5 wins more than the Warriors' projected record

Recap: It's Going to Be Close

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    Here is a recap of the standings I projected:

    1. Charlotte Bobcats, 10-56
    2. New Orleans Hornets, 15-41
    3. Washington Wizards, 17-39
    4. Toronto Raptors, 20-46
    5. New Jersey Nets, 21-45
    6. Cleveland Cavaliers, 23-43
    7. Detroit Pistons, 24-42
    8. Golden State Warriors, 24-42
    9. Sacramento Kings, 25-41
    10. Portland Trail Blazers, 29-37
    11. Milwaukee Bucks, 32-34

    This is an inexact process but I think it sheds light on the current situation. The Warriors roster is very bad and there is a chance they win less than the five I projected. While their effort to keep the pick via trade with the Jazz is admirable, it may be more wise to stay the course and see if they can lose enough games. 

    It's probably going to be very clumped around the sixth and seventh pick, with the Cavs, Pistons, Warriors and Kings fighting to get a better pick. However, the Warriors have the most depleted roster of those teams and it's very possible they end up with the sixth or seventh worst record.