Tools for Tanking – Your Guide to the Last 7 Games

Everything you need to “enjoy” the last two weeks of a long season.

They don’t want us to get Anthony Davis. Or so it seems.

As the Raptors play out their remaining 7 games while jockeying for ping pong balls and auditioning D-Leaguers, there are a dozen other teams doing the same, all with the hopes of improving their odds at selecting The Unibrow. Alternatively, teams can hope to just move positions in the draft, with the #2 or #3 pick being available via the lottery, and any 1-spot increase still holding value. This is obvious, so even as Davis is the prize most think of initially, teams (and fanbases) see obvious value in improving their draft slot these last two weeks.

We’ve all spent a bit of time hypothesizing about who the Raptors may take, or where they may land, but it’s all been kind of long-term conjecture and hoping against hope. Today, I bring you a few Tanking Tools. Nothing too scientific, of course, but as that glorious April 26th date inches closer (the last game of the season), it means June 28th (draft day) is inching closer as well. But what does it all mean, and what can we expect?

Where Will We Finish?
Blow the chart below up so you can see it larger. It’s not complicated, but briefly – it shows a team’s current record, their Hollinger Power Rating, their remaining schedule, and their projected finish based on ESPN’s Playoff Odds feature.

Based on the Playoff Odds feature, the Raptors would be expected to slide from their current spot of 4th to 6th. This likely accounts for the fact that the Raptors are a bit stronger than their record indicates, and they have a pair of games against very beatable teams. That said, the Odds don’t recognize that the team will, in all likelihood, play the remaining 7 games with little or no contribution from Jose Calderon, Jerryd Bayless, Andrea Bargnani, and Linas Kleiza. 4 of the team’s key players are currently injured to varying degrees, and it would behoove the franchise to sit them all down. This might not be possible for Jose, with no other point guards on contracts longer than 10-days, but I doubt we’ll see Bargs, Bayless, or Kleiza again (disclaimer: I didn’t see the game last night, so my Kleiza assumption is just that, an assumption).

It seems the Raps are a lock to lose to Boston, Atlanta (twice), and Miami. Milwaukee would be a sure loss if their still in the playoff hunt at that point, but a toss-up if they’ve been eliminated. Detroit and New Jersey are likewise toss-ups, games nobody will want to watch as the tanking will be blatant. The Odds have the Raps pegged to go 2-5, but a 1-6 finish (I’m giving them the season-ending win against the Nets to drive Tank Nation crazy) would leave them at 21-45, placing them in a 3-way tie with Cleveland and Sacramento for spots 4 through 6. If they finished tied, they SPLIT the number of ping pong balls and thus the odds for finishing in each spot. A coin flip determines the order if no team wins a lottery spot. So…to be optimistic but realistic, I’ll pencil the Raptors in for 5th (40%), with a 20% chance of 4th, 30% chance of 6th, and 10% chance of 7th.

Where Would They Pick?
The chart below is one I’ve used before and shows the odds of finishing in each draft slot given a final seed in the standings.

Based on the assumptions I used in the previous section, we get the following chart determining where the Raptors would pick.

Low and behold, the Raptors would be expected to pick right around 5th. I’m essentially giving them an 8% chance at Anthony Davis, a 27% total chance of picking in the top-3, but a 53% chance of picking out of the top-5 altogether. This may not seem great, but we can’t really claim to deserve better when a) we have Jonas coming and b) we haven’t been anywhere in the arena of awfulness that Washington, New Orleans and Charlotte have resided in all year.

So Who Would They Pick?
Anthony Davis, obs.

Okay, so there’s just an 8% chance of that happening. Damn. Everyone is going to have their own rankings from #2 on down, but here are a couple of looks at who is suggesting who is going where, including my own ranking of the prospects strictly in terms of how I’d like them on the Raptors.

I’m assuming since everyone is vocal and everyone has their own rankings that these will be ripped apart, so allow me these quick notes:

Robinson and MKG – 2A and 2B in my books.
Lamb – Might be a bit high and slightly redundant with DD, but he’s a great complement in a pick-and-roll offense and Casey may be able to get more motor from him.
PerryI’d roll the dice as early as 5 and let him play the wing, where he seems a better fit mentally. He could be a nasty defender if motivated and coached.
Up to this point I went “best talent” but outside of the top-6 or so, it’s certainly acceptable to draft for a need. Both guys make a team better, and I gave Lillard the slight nudge based on scoring upside.
Just don’t see them being able to develop him and Jonas at the same time, but luckily they won’t slip this far.

Later in the draft season I’ll hypothesize about potential 2nd round picks or trade scnearios to get other 1st round picks (e.g. using our cap space to take on a contract, with a pick as enticement).

In the comments, leave your own Mocks or your rankings of who you’d like to see the Raps take, 1-10. If there are enough responses I may take the time to merge them all into a “Raptors Republic Reader Rankings (R4)” and publish in a later draft article.

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