Utah Jazz: Tank Watch

As  I scanned TornBySports, an article containing predictions about the Utah Jazz and the NBA caught my eye. Rightfully so, I read it and enjoyed the analysis my colleague John English brought forward.  With a month remaining in the 2013-2014 NBA regular season, the Jazz are closing a season of ups and downs with interesting story lines coming to a close. I decided to take English’s article a step further for the #RigginforWiggins and #Sorry4Jabari fans. As tank fans know, draft order has been the most interesting story-line of this season, one which you followed with vigor throughout the season. With that season now in review, and a small sample size ahead, I looked at win/loss records of the bottom tier teams and offer my predictions on how things look to play out in regards to the Jazz upcoming draft picks.

Right now, the Jazz are fresh off a loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday night. The Jazz hung with a good, veteran team in a game that consisted of 17 ties and 18 lead changes only to fall with few minutes remaining. With that loss, the Jazz sit with a record of 22-43 as they wait to take on the LA Clippers on Friday night. The way the schedule is, this is what I currently envision:Enes Kanter, Samuel Dalembert, Vince Carter, Dirk Nowitzki

  • Fri 14    vs L.A. Clippers — Loss
  • Sun 16    @ San Antonio — Loss
  • Mon 17    @ Houston — Loss
  • Wed 19    @ Memphis — Loss
  • Sat 22    vs Orlando  — Win
  • Mon 24    vs Detroit  — Win
  • Wed 26    vs Memphis  — Loss
  • Fri 28    @ New Orleans — Win
  • Sun 30    @ Oklahoma City — Loss
  • Mon 31    vs New York  — Loss
  • Fri Apr 4    vs New Orleans  — Loss
  • Sun 6    @ Golden State — Loss
  • Tue 8    vs Dallas  — Loss
  • Fri 11    vs Portland  — Loss
  • Sat 12    @ Denver — Win
  • Mon 14    vs L.A. Lakers — Win
  • Wed 16    @ Minnesota — Loss

That tallies up to be 12 Losses and 5 Wins. They could surprise us with a few extra wins as teams start resting players once playoff matchups materialize and approach. As well, the Jazz have been consistently inconsistent this year as they fight and hang with the top teams on a regular basis. Might a few extra wins sneak in there? Sure.  However, if the Jazz finish the way I think, the final record would go down as 27-55. Salt Lake Tribune writer Steve Luhm predicted prior to the season the Jazz would win 27 games and if it happens that way, he should try his luck in Vegas. Many other sports writers also envisioned a 26-28 win season for our Utah home team.

27 wins aren’t bad (good?) enough to catch the professional tankers in Milwaukee, Philadelphia, or Orlando. They are too far ahead (below?) the league that I think they’ll stay that way. However, draft position starting at 4 is up in the air as the Jazz have the Lakers, Sacramento, and Boston to fight against.

I looked at each of these teams remaining schedule and tried to dissect it all. First, take this into account:

  • The Lakers have 18 games remaining, 10 at home and 8 away. 13 games will be against teams who are above .500 and 14 against Western Conference teams.
  • Sacramento has 17 games remaining, 9 at home and 8 away. They also play 13 against .500 or better teams and 13 vs. the West.
  • Boston has 17 games left, 7 at home and 10 on the road. They only play 10 teams above .500 and a huge chunk of games, 14, are against the East.Kobe+Bryant+Utah+Jazz+v+Los+Angeles+Lakers+CpdY0a_TB5Al

With this in mind, I think the Jazz will finish worse (which is better) than the Boston Celtics. Boston plays in the “easier” Eastern Conference and gets the opportunity of playing the 76ers twice. I project the Celtics to notch about six more wins and finish with 28 wins.

The Kings, on the other hand, should notch a few wins, but I can’t see them winning more than 4. I penciled them down to get three more W’s (including one against the Lakers which is a lose-lose situation for Jazz draft fans) which would finish them with 26 wins.

As for the Lakers, well, it’s frankly a lost cause now in Hollywood. Both Nash and Bryant are out for the rest of the year (which we all saw coming) and they have a tough remaining schedule. Honestly, finding two wins was tough but that’s what I’m giving them. That gives them 24 on the season.

So, theoretically, the worse records in the NBA will fallout something like this:

  1. Bucks
  2. 76ers
  3. Magic
  4. Lakers
  5.  Kings
  6. Jazz
  7. Celtics

In case you were wondering, Marcus Smart is #6 on Chad Ford’s latest NBA Draft Big Board. And on the ESPN Lottery Mock Draft, Aaron Gordon of Arizona consistently landed at #6 when I spun the wheels.  Unless a few extra losses pile up for us and few extra W’s for other teams, #6 is realistically where the Jazz will land in the June draft.

Oh, and not to pour any salt in any wounds, but if you were still holding out hope for two lottery picks, you might as well give it up. The Warriors are going to make the playoffs, like it or not, as they currently sit as the #6 seed and it doesn’t look they’ll fall unless Steph Curry decides to join Bugs Bunny and crew on the ToonSquad for the rest of the year. The Utah Jazz own Golden State’s 2014 pick so if they were to miss the playoffs, an additional lottery pick would belong to the Jazz. Since it isn’t going to happen, the Jazz will have an early 20 pick instead. Most mock drafts and draft orders I’ve seen, give the Jazz another pick at #21.

I for one am anxious to see how the season unfolds (and see how close I get to final W/L records) as I’ve followed draft speculation all season. May the odds be ever in your favor, Utah.