As we enter the season's stretch-run, the Bobcats position as a playoff team appears to be set. Who we play in the playoffs and what draft pick we receive in the offseason, on the other hand, is still a long way from being decided. Therefore, I have taken it upon myself to let you guys know which teams we should be rooting for and against collectively in order for us to maximize our upcoming opportunities. I'll be ranking them from who we should be rooting the hardest for and against, respectively.
1) Brooklyn/Washington: This one is pretty obvious, right? I'm lumping them together since we want them both to lose equally, since getting anything other than the 7 or 8 seed is of paramount importance. Whether we climb all the way to 5 is irrelevant, we just don't want to play the Heat, no matter what.
2) New Orleans: Currently holding the 10th best record in the league, having them lose would be really great, since if they could easily end up being the team that keeps Detroit from finishing with the 8th best record in the league. If they tank down the stretch, it may be too difficult to for Detroit to outpace teams like Sacramento, Boston and Utah in their race to the bottom, leaving us with the #9 pick. So c'mon Pellies, start losing!
3) Sacramento/Boston/Utah: If I didn't make it clear it in the previous paragraph, I will now: these three teams are 7th, 6th, and 5th in the league respectively, and are currently two games (or more) worse than Detroit. As long as all three of them continue to lose own the stretch, we'll only need one additional team to outpace the Pistons down the stretch to get us the best case draft pick.
4) Portland: Self-explanatory; the more the lose, the earlier in the 20s the draft pick they give us is. It's currently 24th, but if they sputter down the stretch, we may gain a couple more places!
5) Indiana: If we can't climb up to the 5th or 6th seed, who would you rather see in the first round? We'll probably lose regardless, but I'm sure most of you agree that we might actually win a game or two if we face the Pacers instead of the Heat.
1) Detroit: You want their draft pick this year, I want their draft pick this year, we all want their draft pick this year! We shouldn't be rooting for them to win too much, but winning enough games to keep them safely slotted at 9 or 10 would be great, thanks. With Drummond recently leaving a game with a neck injury, lets hope they don't just sit him the rest of the season, cause they would seriously suck then. Who is their backup C anyway?
2) Golden State/Dallas/Memphis/Phoenix: They are currently all the teams that are below Portland in the standings. They're all still quite far back too (3 to 5 games back in the loss standings) but not too far that they aren't threatening the Trail Blazer's position. It's probably too much to ask all of them to pass them (that'd consequently give us another lottery pick!), but if two of them go on a hot streak along with Portland's continued struggles, suddenly finding ourselves with the #21-22 pick would be pretty damn cool, right? Throw in Toronto and Chicago too, especially since they'll face an easier schedule in this goal.
3) Atlanta: I'ma keep this one brief. I'd rather be the 8th seed and face Indiana than the 7th seed and face Miami. Get it?
4) Miami: I know its tough rooting for the Heatles, which is why they're below Atlanta. But honestly, having them be the #1 seed instead of Indiana would be more desirable if we do finish at #7. I don't want to face the wrath (and tears) of LeBron James anymore than we have to. More Paul George pls.
5 New York/Cleveland: It'd be better if we could choose one or the other, but it doesn't work that way. Keeping them ahead of Detroit maximizes our draft pick at 9, as one of them dropping below the Pistons makes the #10 pick the most likely result. While having them both ahead makes it also a likelihood that we don't get the pick at all, I'd rather just root heavily against the Pellies, thank you very much. They're both only 1 game ahead of Detroit in the loss column still, so this one could be close. If one of them goes on a huge losing streak, then you can feel free to start rooting against them. Until then, I'd like to play it safe and have them both continue their (relative) hot streaks.