Last month, the Wolves and Knicks played a game in New York that I figured could very well determine which team would wind up with the most ping pong balls in the NBA draft lottery.
Both teams were well along the losing path by then, be it by circumstance or extra effort. I was so sure it would be a crucial game in the draft race that I wrote a preview story for it, dubbing the game “The Battle of Who Could Care Less,” and making other references to Ben Folds Five songs to prove that I have a finger on the pulse of 1990s piano rock music, which is surely what the kids these days are listening to.
Both teams were 14-53 going into that game, tied for the league’s worst record, so it stood to reason that the winner could very well be the draft loser, and vice-versa. While it’s only a matter of a few percentage points difference (25 to 20) in the chances of landing the top pick, having the No. 1 spot going into the draft also ensures falling no further than No. 4; being No. 2 means you could fall all the way to No. 5. In a top-heavy draft, that means something.
In any event, I figured the Knicks had the upper hand in winning that game against the Wolves. It was in New York, after all, and the Wolves were playing the second night of a back-to-back.
But I underestimated New York’s will to lose. Despite a combined 12-for-43 shooting night from Andrew Wiggins and Kevin Martin, The Wolves prevailed in overtime. It pushed their record one-game better than New York’s — 15-53 to 14-54.
Both teams have gone exactly 1-9 since then, keeping the Wolves one game ahead of New York with four to play. The Knicks do have winnable remaining games against the Bucks, Magic and Pistons left. Wolves at Lakers tonight is probably their best bet at getting a win before the year is out.
It wouldn’t be altogether surprising, though, to see both squads lose all of them the rest of the way. It would set up an interesting night on May 19 when the NBA draft lottery is held. That Battle of Who Could Care Less could determine the fate of both franchises.