The Knicks are unlikely to tank for a better NBA draft pick under Thibodeau

To get a glimpse of the big disparity in the approaches to the end of the season shown on Sunday, the lowly Magic played former Knick Ignas Brazdeikis for 37 minutes in which they were outplayed by 37 points.

The Knicks challenged 30-year-old Alec Burks to an overwhelming win 33 minutes after they were already eliminated from the playoffs.

Tom Thibodeau teams aren’t tanking, and the Knicks, who have won five of their last seven – showing hope for the future while hurting chances of a near-term draft – is further evidence.

The Knicks (35-44) have the best record among teams currently eliminated from the postseason and play-in tournament, giving them the 12th best chance of landing the top pick in May’s draft lottery .

If the Knicks, who have three games left, finish in the same position, they would have a 1.5 percent chance of landing the top pick. It would be more doable to jump into the top 4 – with a 7.2 percent shot – but most doable to stay straight at 12, which would happen with an 86.1 percent chance.

Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau
Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau
NY Post: Charles Wenzelberg

The three most recent No. 12 picks were San Antonio’s Joshua Primo, Sacramento’s Tyrese Haliburton (since traded to Indiana) and Charlotte’s PJ Washington.

The Knicks host the Nets, travel to Washington and host the Raptors to finish the season, and the matchup with the Wizards (34-44) could decide the seeding “battle.” In the event of a tie, the lottery teams split their ping-pong balls evenly.

With less than a week left in the season, the Knicks could “pass” the Wizards and the loser of the Western Conference play-in tournament. The Pelicans (34-44) and Spurs (33-45) are likely heading for the 9-10 game, and whichever team is eliminated may have a worse win ratio.

If the Knicks lose and the Lakers win, they would have the same record and split the odds. If the Knicks don’t win another game and get help from the Lakers, Wizards and the West’s play-in loser, they might as well position themselves as a tie in eighth place.

But the Knicks haven’t and won’t bother increasing their lottery percentages.

“We have guys that are growing,” Thibodeau said last week. “I don’t believe in the other stuff [tanking].” The Knicks are unlikely to tank for a better NBA draft pick under Thibodeau


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