The New York Knicks play the Philadelphia 76ers at home tonight, in the regular season finale, and the game is absolutely must-lose for the New York Knicks. If the Knicks were to win the game, and the Minnesota Timberwolves were to lose to the Houston Rockets tonight, both teams would finish with a 31-51 record. If New York and Minnesota finish with the same record, the tie would be broken by a random drawing conducted by the NBA, and in this scenario the Knicks could end up in the seventh slot in the draft lottery drawing instead of the sixth.
If the Knicks finish sixth in lottery odds, they have a 6.3% chance of winning the lottery and receiving the first overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. They have a 7.1% chance of landing the second pick, and they have a 8.1% chance of picking third. The Knicks could pick no later than ninth in the 2017 NBA Draft if they lose tonight.
If the Knicks were to beat the 76ers tonight, then lose the tiebreaker to the Timberwolves and finish seventh in lottery odds, their chances of winning the lottery would drop to 4.3%. They would have a 4.9% chance of picking second and a 5.8% chance of picking third, and the latest they could pick on draft night is tenth overall.
The 2017 NBA Draft is one of the most loaded draft classes in recent memory, and for a Knicks team that needs to move away from their veterans and build around their young talent like Kristaps Porzingis and Willy Hernangomez, the draft is a huge opportunity to add a major piece. It would be amazing to see the Knicks move into the top three lottery picks, and losing the game tonight would give the Knicks the sixth best chance at doing just that, the Knicks cannot do something that would weaken their odds on lottery night and jeopardize their future by winning this game.
Tonight’s game could determine if the Knicks are picking from a crop of players that includes Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball, Josh Jackson, D’Aaron Fox, Jayson Tatum, Malik Monk or Dennis Smith (potential stars who are ready to contribute right away) or if the Knicks are picking from a crop of players that includes Jonathan Isaac, Frank Ntilikina, or Lauri Markkanen (potential stars who need lots of development).
The Knicks cannot afford to win this game against the Philadelphia 76ers tonight. The good news is that Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis are both listed as doubtful, and the Knicks need to sit both of them to ensure the loss, suit up our celebrity fans like Spike Lee and Michael Rapaport if you need warm bodies tonight. Do not, in typical Knicks fashion, win tonight’s game and then lose the tiebreaker to the Timberwolves costing the team a chance to move up into the top three during the draft lottery.
To the Knicks organization, lose this game, do not force us Knicks fans to stay up late cheering for Minnesota in a meaningless game against the Rockets (who will hopefully rest everyone). It’s a must-lose scenario, the Knicks cannot afford to win this game, do not screw this one up Knicks.