SAN FRANCISCO – The NBA Draft Lottery is the one day on the league’s annual calendar when failure is rewarded, with 14 franchises hoping to leverage their shortcomings into a prosperous future.
And the Warriors, who haven’t attended since 2012, are making a beeline for it in 2020.
The lottery is in Chicago this year, on May 19, and it remains among the league’s most anticipated events. Over the final seven weeks of the regular season, each Tuesday we will offer a look at the five teams with the worst records in the NBA, as one of them almost certainly will win the rights to the No. 1 overall pick:
1. Warriors (13-48)
Last three games (1-2): Lost to Washington Wizards, won at Phoenix Suns, lost to Los Angeles Lakers.
Next three games: Tuesday at Denver Nuggets, Thursday vs. Toronto Raptors, Saturday vs. Philadelphia 76ers.
Outlook: Good. Even with the expected return of Steph Curry, the Warriors need an upset to avoid going 0-3 and tightening their grip on the league’s worst record.
Hardest game to lose: 76ers, who have injury issues and are awful on the road.
2. Cavaliers (17-44)
Last three games (0-3): Lost to Utah Jazz, lost to Indiana Pacers, lost to New Orleans Pelicans.
Next three games: Wednesday vs. Boston Celtics, Saturday vs. Nuggets, Sunday vs. San Antonio Spurs.
Outlook: Excellent. The Celtics and Nuggets are fighting to retain top-four playoff seeds, and the prideful Spurs are hoping to extend a postseason-appearance streak to an NBA record 23 consecutive seasons.
Hardest game to lose: Spurs, who haven’t looked this vulnerable since the mid-1990s.
3. Timberwolves (17-42)
Last three games (1-2): Lost at Dallas Mavericks, lost at Orland Magic, won at Miami Heat.
Next three games: At Pelicans, vs. Chicago Bulls, vs. Magic.
Outlook: Dicey. After getting a load of Zion Williamson, who could go for 40, the struggling Bulls visit, followed by a Magic team that runs hot and cold. Karl-Anthony Towns (wrist) might be able to return this week, but it might be wise to, um, play it safe.
Hardest game to lose: Bulls, and this is particularly true if Zach LaVine (left quadriceps) is not back in the lineup.
4. Hawks (19-44)
Last three games (2-1): Lost vs. Memphis Grizzlies, won vs. Portland Trail Blazers, won vs. Brooklyn Nets.
Next three games: Friday at Wizards, Saturday at Grizzlies, Monday vs. Charlotte Hornets.
Outlook: Fair. They’re trending in the wrong direction, winning four of their last seven games. With a relatively soft upcoming schedule, the Hawks are in danger of losing ground in this race.
Hardest game to lose: Hornets, who only have eclipsed the 100-point mark once in their last five games and are 1-6 within the Southeast Division.
5. Knicks (19-42)
Last three games (2-1): Won vs. Houston Rockets, won vs. Bulls, lost at 76ers.
Next three games: Wednesday vs. Jazz, Friday vs. Oklahoma City Thunder, Saturday vs. Detroit Pistons.
Outlook: Good. The Jazz are exploiting their soft schedule to recover from late-February slump and the Thunder have stunk it up only once in 2020.
Hardest game to lose: Pistons, who aren't really trying anymore and only are a half-game behind New York.