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SportsMonday: Tanking Ranking

Four NBA teams have a good shot at the bottom three spots. But those three spots aren't really that valuable. Then again, the top pick in this year's NBA draft will be spectacularly valuable. Because that pick will almost certainly be used to select Duke freshman wunderkind Zion Williamson.

Welcome to the 2019 chase for the No. 1 pick!

The Bulls' atrocious play under new coach Jim Boylen has been brutal to watch, most recently Sunday's 104-101 home loss to the terrible Cavaliers, but it has also put them in better position to win the lottery, by a little bit.

This year, for the first time, finishing in the bottom three means a team has a 14 percent chance of winning the 2019 draft lottery that will be held on May 14. But finishing fourth-worst only drops your percentage chance to have your lottery ball selected to 12.5. Up until this year, the worst team had the best chance, the second-worst had the second-best and so on.

If you don't know Mr. Williamson's game, you should be able to familiarize yourself relatively quickly. Of course there are all sorts of highlights all over the place but you won't fully appreciate the 6-7, 285-pound high flyer (his vertical leap has been measured at an off-the-charts 45 inches) unless you see him in a game. And those are all nationally televised and streamed. Among other things, Williamson is averaging over 21 points per game by shooting a ridiculous 67 percent from the field.

He is, quite simply, tremendously fun to watch.

Next up, the Blue Devils travel to South Bend this evening for a game that starts at 6 p.m. Central on ESPN. They are then in action this Saturday at 11 a.m. at home against St. John's back on ESPN, and then on Tuesday, Feb. 5 they host Boston College at 6 p.m. again. That game will be televised on ESPN or ESPN2.

The lottery rules change hasn't really worked out the way commissioner Adam Silver hoped. He hoped that by making it so that the worst three teams have the same chance to get the top pick, fewer teams would have incentive to tank hard chasing the absolute worst record.

But the way it stands now, the Bulls (11-39), Knicks (10-38), Cavaliers (10-41) and Suns (11-41) are all within a game-and-a-half of each other and are all in pursuit of a spot in the bottom three. So there is certainly incentive for all of those teams to tank hard.

The next-worst team in the league, the Atlanta Hawks, has 15 victories. So they have an outside chance of falling into one of the best lottery odds slots. No one else has less than 20 wins. By the way, the team with the fifth-worst record has a 10.5 chance in the lottery, so it isn't such a big deal to finish in that spot either.

The team that doesn't deserve to win the lottery at all is Cleveland. That's because the Cavaliers already hit the lottery jackpot multiple times earlier this decade. In an outrageous run of good fortune, the team from the Mistake by the Lake drafted first overall in 2011 (Kyrie Irving), 2013 (Anthony Bennett, maybe the biggest draft bust of all time) and 2014 (Andrew Wiggins). If they only translated those picks and the return of LeBron into one championship, well, too bad or them. They clearly deserve to completely suck for a while longer.

Then again, the Cavs essentially have the lead. And that was why the Bulls' 104-101 loss to them Sunday was undeniably big. The game was notable most for the fact that a couple of the guys the Bulls are counting on to lead the rebuild, Kris Dunn and Zach LaVine, both failed in the clutch.

The fact that the only way those guys have raised their games during the Boylen Era/Error is to raise the number of ridiculous turnovers they commit per game, well, now that hopefully will actually be a good thing, at least for the rest of this season.

The Bulls are back in action Tuesday in Brooklyn and Wednesday in Miami. Both games start at 6:30 p.m.


Jim "Coach" Coffman welcomes your comments.

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