Friday, April 13, 2007

Where Will Portland Draft?

Admittedly, this is something that I’ve been thinking about for a few months, once it became clear the team wasn’t going to make the playoffs.  And lets be honest, would this team really learn much from getting its asses whipped in four straight games by Dallas anyway?

So where will Portland likely end up drafting?  Hopefully #1.  But assuming they don’t win the lottery or get a top three pick, where is the team likely to end up?  If the season ended today, Portland would pick #6.  (A great place to be, by the way.  Given the talent in this year’s draft, I’d be happy with anything in the 5-8 range.)  

But could that change?  Atlanta would need to win three more games and Portland would have to lose out in order to “climb” all the way up to #4, so that’s out.  But it is conceivable that the Blazers could jump Seattle into the #5 spot.  In fact, those two teams play in Portland on Saturday night, and one might assume that the loser has the inside track for the #5 pick.  On the other side, there are a whopping five teams that are either a half or a full game “behind” Portland in the race to climb the draft list.  

But let’s take a closer look.  Following are each of the teams immediately surrounding Portland in the standings, their remaining schedule, a projection of how they’ll perform and a guess at the final record.  Given how close the teams in the 5-11 range are, we’ll focus on that segment.

11. Philadelphia, 33-45.  Remaining: vs Orlando (L), @Det (L), vs Cle (L), @Tor (L).  Final record: 33-49.

10. New York, 32-46.
 Remaining games: @NJ (L), @Tor (L), vs NJ (L), @Cha (W).  Final record: 33-49.

9. Minnesota, 32-46.  
Remaining: vs SA (L), @GS (L), @Den (L), @Mem (W).  Final record: 33-49.

8. Sacramento, 32-46.  
Remaining: vs GS (L), @LAC (L), vs NOK (W), vs LAL (L).  Final Record: 33-49.

7. Charlotte, 32-47.
 Remaining: @Chi (L), @Mil (W), vs NY (L).  Final record: 33-49.

6. Portland, 31-47.  
Remaining: @LAC (L), vs Sea (W), @UTA (L), vs GS (L).  Final record: 32-50.

5. Seattle, 31-48.  
Remaining: @Por (L), @LAL (L), vs Dal (L).  Final record: 31-51.

Taking the projected records and flip-flopping the order, we’d end up with this:

5. Seattle (31-51)
6. Portland (32-50)
7 – 11: Charlotte, Sacramento, Minnesota, New York, Philly.  (33-49)

Holy cow.  What a crowd.  It sure would be nice to avoid that pack of predators lurking behind Portland (Bobcats!  Wolves!  So many dangerous animals to avoid).  You can now see how important that A. the Portland-Seattle game on Saturday is, and B. That Knicks-Bobcats game next Wednesday is.  I would never say that we should root for Portland to lose games ...and I would never advocate the franchise tanking games; that’s a rerehensible act that should be punished and not rewarded.  And Kevin Pritchard is on record as saying something to the effect of “I’ve told the team that they need to go out and win ballgames.  Don’t worry where we pick — 5, 8, 10 — wherever it is, we’ll make a good pick.  You guys just go out and win and let us worry about that.”  Which is great to hear.  But given how an extra win could potentially push the team from the #6 pick to the #11 pick, maybe we should, um, root for “the bench guys to get some playing time”.  How about that?  Then we aren’t rooting for them to “lose”, we aren’t advocating tanking, we just want those poor bastards who didn’t play much this year to get some extra PT.  I’ve always thought that Luke Schensherer could use a good 35-40 minutes of playing time, don’t you agree?

Happy Friday.


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