Right now the Jazz are in fourth place in the NBA Draft order. Jazz will recall the 2004-2005 season where the Jazz also landed in fourth, and they had a 17.2% chance of sliding to sixth or worse, and they did. Fortunately they were able to con Portland into trading down so they could get Deron Williams.
In fourth place, they have a 37.8% shot at moving up, and an additional 9.9% of staying put. Which means it’s slightly more likely they wind up at fifth or worse if they manage to keep their current position in tank rankings.
They’re not going to catch the Bucks or Sixers so let’s focus on 3rd-6th place, all still possibilities.
The Orlando Magic still have a road game against the Bulls, and a home game against the Pacers. The Magic are the worst road team in the NBA (4-36). In fact, the only road game they’ve won since December 17 was against the Sixers. But one of those four road wins was against the Bulls. The Bulls are fighting for position against the Raptors for third place in the East, and even though the Pacers’ play has been woeful lately, it’s hard to envision them losing to the Magic for their last game unless they had #1 clinched. It’s not impossible for the Magic to win one of those games, but it’s highly highly unlikely.
The Jazz are in fourth place, but they face the depleted Lakers tonight. Pau Gasol will not be in the line-up, so it’ll be the F5 at home against Marshall, Meeks, Johnson, Hill, Kelly and Sixth Man Swaggy. Unless the Jazz sit Trey Burke, they will win this game and push themselves to a fifth-place tie. Their final game is on the road against the T-Wolves, who gain nothing by winning or losing, other than sending their fans home happy.
The Lakers and Celtics are tied for fifth as of this moment, but for simplicity, I’m treating them as if there is no tie. Now they should lose tonight, and then they play on the road against the Spurs. Gregg Popovich can sit Parker, Ginobili, Duncan and they’ll still probably win. The Spurs have #1 sewn up, so it’s conceivable the Lakers upset the resting Spurs. It’s also conceivable the Lakers could still beat the Jazz. Most likely scenario though has the Lakers ending their season with a nine-game losing streak.
That brings us to Boston. The Celtics won their last two games, and they next play the Sixers on the road. I see the Celtics play with more pride and make it a three-game win streak. They end their season at home against the Wizards. The Wizards might still be fighting for position that night, but there’s a good chance they’ll be locked in at sixth in the East, and they rest some guys. Celts will probably win one of those games and stay in sixth place.
Now, if every team finishes their season under the most likely circumstances, there will be a tie between the Lakers and Jazz for fourth. There would be 199 balls (out of 1000) for the two of them, so they’d flip to see who gets that extra ball. That would also drop their Top 3 odds from 37.8% to about 33.5%. If Celtics lose out and we have a three-way tie for fourth, the Jazz’s Top 3 odds slide to 29.5%. But to think positively, they could wind up being tied for third, where their Top 3 odds would then go to 42.3%.