NBA draft lottery race: Teams clustered behind Bobcats, Magic

USA TODAY Sports

The Bobcats and Magic have a stranglehold on the two worst records in the league, but there's a bunch of teams behind them battling for the third-worst record.

Unless the Charlotte Bobcats or Orlando Magic go on some sort of surprise run, those two teams are in pretty good shape to have the most ping pong balls in the upcoming NBA draft lottery. The Bobcats currently lead the race for the most ping pong balls by 2½ games, and the way they have been playing for most of the year, it's hard to envision them blowing that.

But more intriguing than the race for the most and second-most ping pong balls is the battle for third-most ping pong balls. There's a cluster of teams bunched up for that spot, with 2½ games separating seven teams. The New Orleans Hornets currently own the third-worst record in the league at 22-46, but both the Cleveland Cavaliers and Detroit Pistons are only a half game better. The Phoenix Suns, Washington Wizards, Sacramento Kings and Minnesota Timberwolves are in the mix as well, with the Toronto Raptors and Philadelphia 76ers holding outside shots if they're in the mood for some serious tanking.

With the Cavs possibly losing rookie Dion Waiters to arthroscopic surgery, they seem like a pretty good bet to fall in the standings considering Kyrie Irving and Anderson Varejao are on the shelf as well. The Kings and Wizards would seem like the teams least likely to fall, but both of them have pretty brutal schedules down the stretch that could lead to plenty of losses. The Hornets also have a rough closing schedule, so they could easily hang on to that third-worst record.

Here are the standings for the NBA draft lottery race:

W L GB
Bobcats 15 52 -
Magic 18 50
Hornets 22 46
Cavaliers 22 45 7
Pistons 23 46 7
Suns 23 45
Wizards 23 43
Kings 24 44
Timberwolves 23 42 9
Raptors 26 41 11
76ers 26 40 11½
Trail Blazers 31 36 16
Mavericks 32 35 17
Jazz 34 33 19

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