Now that the exciting 2013 NBA trade deadline, in which big names like JJ Redick, Beno Udrih, Sebastian Telfair ,and Charles Jenkins changed teams (pardon me while I have a big fat yawn) time to look to the rest of the season, the draft, and free agency.
We potentially acquired one out of the four or so players we need in Eric Maynor, if we re-sign him as our backup point guard. A draft pick, whether we use it or trade it, is very important in getting us closer to contention.
As we all know, our pick will be conveyed to Charlotte unless it is top-12. How likely is that to happen? How high can we realistically go? Let's take a look....
With our six game losing streak, we have now fallen behind the L*kers. We would have the 13th pick if the season ended today. Obviously not good. But there are a few teams that could catch us. Keep in mind Portland sits at 25-29
Dallas Mavericks (24-29)
Cuban's team has been playing pretty well lately, and have much more incentive to try and make a playoff push than go for a late lottery pick. Dirk does not have many years left, and they have a whole bunch of veteran players who won't be thrilled about the prospect of starting vacation in mid-April.
Since they are only half a game behind us and incentivized to win, I fully expect them to pass us. That would leave us with number 12, and the right to retain the pick.
But with a little luck (or lack of luck because of losses?) we could get a higher pick.
Philadelphia 76ers (22-30)
The Sixers have had a disappointing season and are losers of three in a row. But, if they are still within striking distance of the eight seed. The Bucks have had a few late season collapses recently, so there is reason to go for it.
If big Andrew Bynum, who was supposed to carry them to conference contention, comes back strong from knee injuries, they could easily make up the two game difference from us. Even if not, there is a shot.
Toronto Raptors (22-33)
The Raptors have made it obvious that they are all in for a playoff berth this year, especially after acquiring Rudy Gay. They don't own their pick, so obviously there is no incentive to lose.
They are 3 1/2 games behind us, but have been rolling since acquiring Gay and could make that up.
Detroit Pistons (22-34)
This is where I start seeing it become a stretch. The Pistons have already made a cost-cutting move, sending veteran Tayshaun Prince away and could use at least one more young piece to join Brandon Knight, Andre Drummond, and Greg Monroe.
However, they are tired of losing and establishing a winning culture may be more important to them than a few draft spots. At four games behind us, we would probably have to lose quite a few to fall behind Detroit.
Minnesota Timberwolves (20-31)
The Timberwolves are in a interesting (not necessarily good) position. They already moved beyond the asset acquisition phase to the "acquire complementary veterans" phase to bring them to playoff contention. Unfortunately for them, they acquired the injury bug when they signed Brandon Roy.
They have had meaningful injuries to basically every important player. That has pretty much derailed their playoff expectations.
Especially when their star, Kevin Love, has been vocal about wanting to win, getting some more W's in the column to finish the year might be more valuable than draft position. Of course, if Love is riding the bench in a suit the rest of the season, that lessens the impact.
They are 3.5 games back from us. If they can get healthy and rolling they could catch us. It will be interesting to see their strategy to finish the season.
Those are the teams that could realistically pass us. The next closest team (New Orleans) is 6.5 games back.
Looks like our draft range is 8-12, though unlikely to be higher than 10. Unless you want to be optimistic about this year and say we make the playoffs, pessimistic and say we miss the playoffs AND lose our pick, or our really optimistic and say we win the lottery!