NBA standings: Thunder’s lottery odds improving during losing streak

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Logan Newman
·8 min read
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Last week’s release of the lottery standings included Western Conference teams in the running for a play-in spot because the Oklahoma City Thunder were technically among them.

That’s no more. In the midst of a five-game losing streak, the Thunder have fallen 4.5 games below the 10th place Golden State Warriors and are officially closer to the Detroit Pistons, who they lost to over the past week.

With the Thunder moving up the lottery odds, let’s take a look at the eight teams within four games of the No. 3 odds. We’ll also peak at the Miami Heat’s week, given as the Thunder may end up owning their pick.

Stats for these Friday roundups come from NBA.com and Basketball Reference, while lottery odds are via Tankathon.

9th-best odds: Sacramento Kings (22-30, 2.0 games ahead of Thunder)

The Sacramento Kings have lost five games in a row. Instead of being one game back from the 10th seed, they're 2.5 games behind, and they're not playing like they can catch up. During these five games, D'Aaron Fox shot just 20% from 3, yet he was the only Kings player to average more than 15 points per game. Tyrese Haliburton was down to 11.4, and opponents averaged 118.6 points per game, 11.6 better than Sacramento. It's looking like it will be another lottery season for the Kings. Lottery odds for 9:

1

2

3

4

9

10

11

12

13

4.5%

4.8%

5.2%

5.7%

50.7%

25.9%

3.0%

0.1%

>0.0%

T7th-best odds: Toronto Raptors (20-32, tied with Thunder)

After going 1-13 in March, the Toronto Raptors got off to a 2-0 start in April. Wins! Yet that halted their lottery progress and leaves them tied for the eighth-best odds. After giving up 117.6 points per game in March, they've only allowed 102.5 points over the four games in April -- thanks to the 130-77 whopping over the Golden State Warriors. If there's one positive memory for the Raptors this season, it will be beating Golden State by 53 points. Lottery odds for 8 (if no tie):

1

2

3

4

8

9

10

11

12

6.0%

6.3%

6.7%

7.2%

34.5%

32.1%

6.7%

0.4%

>0.0%

T7th-best odds: Oklahoma City Thunder (20-32)

The Oklahoma City Thunder are 1-6 over their last seven games. The one win? Against the Raptors. That might come back to bite them if they remain tied. Other than that win, the Thunder have done an excellent job tanking this month, and they finally look like a convincingly bad team. They have been outscored by 29.4 points over this five-game losing streak, which according to ESPN is the worst differential since the 1993-94 Philadelphia 76ers. The Thunder had the ninth-best odds last week. They leapt the Chicago Bulls, who are now on a three-game winning streak, and caught up with the Raptors. They'll see if they can keep this ... momentum going. Lottery odds for 7 (if no tie)

1

2

3

4

7

8

9

10

11

9.0%

9.2%

9.4%

9.6%

8.6%

29.8%

20.5%

3.7%

0.1%

6th-best odds: Cleveland Cavaliers (19-32, 0.5 games behind Thunder)

The Cavaliers may have won the battle against the Thunder on Thursday, but Oklahoma City inched closer to success in the war. Cleveland is now only half a game behind OKC in the standings, boding well for the Thunder's odds of taking their spot in the lottery. Cleveland's backcourt duo has been playing very well over the last four games, during which the team went 2-2. Collin Sexton is averaging 24.8 points on 51.5% shooting while Darius Garland is posting 19 points on 54.7% shooting. Perhaps most impressive is Isaac Okoro's jump: In February, he averaged 7.9 points on 41.2% shooting. In March, 6.8 points on 38.4% shooting. Over four games in April: 13 points on a ridiculous 63.3% margin. Small sample size to be certain, but Cleveland is allowed to get excited when good things happen. Lottery odds for 6:

1

2

3

4

6

7

8

9

10

6.0%

6.3%

6.7%

7.2%

34.5%

32.1%

6.7%

0.4%

>0.0%

5th-best odds: Washington Wizards (18-32, 1.0 game behind Thunder)

The Wizards snapped a four-game losing streak with a win over the Orlando Magic, and this week was enough for them to move up one spot in the lottery odds. That win is the only game this month that Bradley Beal has played in. Russell Westbrook is averaging a triple-double with 22 points 13.3 rebounds and 10.8 assists in April, but the Wizards have been wasting another wonderful season from the guard. At this point, the team has to hope they'll get a draft spot that allows them to leap into playoff contention next year. Lottery odds for 5:

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10.5%

10.5%

10.6%

10.5%

2.2%

19.6%

26.7%

8.7%

0.6%

4th-best odds: Orlando Magic (17-34, 2.5 games behind Thunder)

With an 0-3 week, the Magic gained sole control of the fourth-best odds in the league. Their trade deadline strategy has worked, as they are 2-5 since trading away their best players. At this point, the Magic would have a 36.6% chance of entering the top three of the draft, which could help the Thunder -- if the team Orlando overtakes is the Rockets. Lottery odds for 4:

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

12.5%

12.2%

11.9%

11.5%

7.2%

25.7%

16.7%

2.2%

3rd-best odds: Detroit Pistons (16-36, 4.0 games behind Thunder)

The Pistons are 3-2 so far in April, a stretch that includes a win over the Thunder, which has helped OKC inch closer to them. The 6.5-game "lead" Detroit had a over the Thunder a week ago has shrunk to 4.0 games. That's still a wide margin, but it's not unfeasible -- especially if Josh Jackson keeps playing the way he has. A career 29.7% 3-point shooter, Jackson is suddenly hot from behind the arc, making 50% of his looks since the start of the month. The team is shooting 39.9% from deep in April, which has helped them score at least 120 points in three of their five games. Lottery odds for 3:

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

14%

13.4%

12.7%

12.0%

14.8%

26%

7.0%

2nd-best odds: Houston Rockets (14-37, 5.5 games behind Thunder)

The Rockets beat the Dallas Mavericks and very nearly pulled off an upset over the Phoenix Suns before falling 133-130. Yet "nearly" is not a W, and they went 1-3 to open the month and keep a tight hold on this No. 2 spot in the lottery. If Houston does manage to slip out of the top three, it would be because John Wall. He returned from injury to drop 31 in the win over the Rockets and is not planning to have a procedure done on his knee that would cause him to miss more time. With him and Christian Wood on the court, Houston at least has some weapons that could win them a few games. Oklahoma City would get control of the pick if it lands outside the top four. Lottery odds for 2:

1

2

3

4

5

6

14%

13.4%

12.7%

12.0%

27.8%

20.0%

Best odds: Minnesota Timberwolves (13-39, 7.0 games behind Thunder)

At this point, the only thing that can save the Timberwolves' season is Cade Cunningham (or Evan Mobley. Or Jalen Suggs. Whoever is available at their pick -- if they keep it). Nothing else will do. They went 1-3 this past week as the sad season continues. Not even Karl-Anthony Towns' 31 points per game to open the month can create wins. For that, the tanking continues, and Minnesota hopes they land in the top three to avoid shipping their pick to the Warriors. Lottery odds for 1:

1

2

3

4

5

14%

13.4%

12.7%

12.0%

47.9%

Miami Heat: 18th pick (27-25)

If the Rockets land in the top four, the Thunder would receive the draft pick of the Miami Heat. The Heat have won five of their last six games and are hanging onto a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. During those six games, Jimmy Butler is averaging 23 points, Bam Adebayo is posting splits of 17.3 points/10.2 boards/6.0 assists, Tyler Herro is shooting 45.7% from 3 and Duncan Robinson is at an absurd 51.9% on 8.7 3-point attempts per game. Miami is one game above the seventh-place Boston Celtics and two ahead of the eighth-place New York Knicks. Yet they're also tied for fourth in the Eastern Conference. Only four games separates the fourth-place trio from the 10th-place Chicago Bulls. The Thunder don't want the Heat's pick, because that would mean they don't get Houston's, but it's time to start paying attention to Miami if you haven't been. It could be anywhere from the mid-teens to low-20s.

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