NBA Draft: In Battle of the Basement, Pistons losing at right time

James Michael McAdoo. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

It is week 3 of Battle of the Basement, Detroit Bad Boys looks at the Detroit Pistons and the NBA's worst teams. The Pistons have hit the skids at an opportune time, and if their most recent loss, of the blowout variety at the hands of the Knicks, is any indication, they won't be doing a lot of winning in the near future.

As a reminder, here are the parameters of Battle of the Basement: I don't include the Charlotte Bobcats, who look clearly like the team that will finish with the league's worst record. That leaves the Detroit Pistons along with the Washington Wizards, New Orleans Hornets, Toronto Raptors, New Jersey Nets, Sacramento Kings and the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Wiz look to have locked into the second-worst record so I might stop including them as well. The Golden State Warriors and Nets should be in full on tank mode thanks to some minimal lottery protection on their first-round picks in the upcoming draft.

To explain some of the information below, the future strength of schedule number is courtesy of teamrankings.com, as well as the power ratings and the predictive end-of-season rankings. The Hollinger rating comes from John Hollinger's power rankings on ESPN. Both systems use numbers beyond strictly wins and losses and instead uses more complex methodology to examine the best and worst teams.

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Detroit Pistons (16-32)

Wins: None
Losses: Nuggets, Heat, Knicks
Last 10: 4-6
L10 scoring margin: -3.56
Season margin: -6.08
To date SOS: 22
Future SOS: 26
Power Rating: 26
Hollinger Rating: 26
Predictive Rank: 27
Upcoming Week: @Wizards, @Cavs, @Bulls, Bobcats

Comments: Detroit is in a tailspin. The team obviously misses Rodney Stuckey and while they were competitive in the 115-116 heartbreaker to Denver, I think blowing that game and being on the road really took the wind out of their sails against the Heat and Knicks. Their to-date strength of schedule shot up from 27 to 22 and conversely they are losing more and their margin of (not) victory has rocketed up as well.

This next week will be perhaps the most important of the season for the Pistons. They play three extremely winnable games this week, but the first two are on the road where they struggle mightily. If they go 1-3 in the next week they have a better shot at finishing in the bottom four. Especially if they lose to the Cavs who seem to be struggling even more than the Pistons and who they are jockeying with closely for draft position.

This week's spin of the ESPN draft lottery machine has the Pistons selecting James Michael McAdoo at No. 6, even ahead of Harrison Barnes, who goes one pick later to the Kings.

Check out the teams battling the Pistons for a lottery spot after the jump.

Washington Wizards (11-37)
Wizards_medium

Wins: @Nets
Losses: Pacers, Hawks, @Celtics
Last 10: 2-8
L10 scoring margin: -4.38
Season margin: -7.44
To date SOS: 21
Future SOS: 28
Power Rating: 29
Hollinger Rating: 28
Predictive Rank: 29
Upcoming Week: Pistons, @Pacers, 76ers, @Raptors

Comments: The Wizards are pretty much locked into the No. 2 slot in the draft odds so it's not too upsetting that they went 1-3 instead of 3-1. They lost heartbreakers to both the Pacers and Hawks. However, what that does say is that the team is improved and should be extremely competitive when the Pistons come to town.

New Orleans Hornets (12-36)
Hornets_medium

Wins: Clippers
Losses: Warriors, Spurs
Last 10: 3-7
L10 scoring margin: -3.63
Season margin: -4.79
To date SOS: 3
Future SOS: 10
Power Rating: 27
Hollinger Rating: 25
Predictive Rank: 26
Upcoming Week: @Clippers, @Warriors, @Blazers, @Lakers, @Suns

Comments: The Hornets have been cursed all season by a brutal schedule and the advanced metrics say they are a better team than their 12-36 record indicates. But they just can't seem to hit a soft spot in their schedule and that remains true in the next week. They have a brutal five-game road stretch with two sets of back-to-backs. If they can manage to best the struggling Clippers again and beat the tanking Warriors and Blazers, the Hornets might have a chance to leapfrog the Pistons in the standings by season's end.

Toronto Raptors (16-33)
Raptors_medium

Wins: Knicks
Losses: @Knicks, Bulls, @Bulls
Last 10: 3-7
L10 scoring margin: -1.19
Season margin: -3.80
To date SOS: 29
Future SOS: 25
Power Rating: 26
Hollinger Rating: 25
Predictive Rank: 24
Upcoming Week: Magic, Nuggets, Heat, Wizards

Comments: The Raptors get a home slate this week but they are against some pretty tough teams. Looking ahead, the Raps have a particularly easy schedule starting with the upcoming Wizards game. If they can beat at least one of the Magic, Nuggets or Heat, the Raptors will likely stay in the Pistons' rear-view mirror.

New Jersey Nets (16-34)
Nets_medium

Wins: Bobcats
Losses: Cavaliers, Wizards, @Hawks
Last 10: 3-7
L10 scoring margin: -5.50
Season margin: -6.14
To date SOS: 25
Future SOS: 20
Power Rating: 28
Hollinger Rating: 29
Predictive Rank: 28
Upcoming Week: Jazz, Pacers, @Warriors, @Kings

Comments: Last week I said the Nets were in "win now" mode. Boy, was I wrong. I assumed trading for Gerald Wallace and getting Brook Lopez back meant they wanted to finish strong in an effort to convince DWill to stay. But I overlooked the power of the pick, as the Nets seem intent on not forfeiting their pick to the Blazers this year. The pick was traded to Portland in the Wallace deal and is only top-three protected. Well, they look like a team ready to finish in the bottom three and hoping the balls bounce their way.

Cleveland Cavaliers (17-29)
Cavs_medium

Wins: @Nets
Losses: @Hawks, @Magic, Suns
Last 10: 4-6
L10 scoring margin: -6.87
Season margin: -4.65
To date SOS: 23
Future SOS: 24
Power Rating: 24
Hollinger Rating: 27
Predictive Rank: 25
Upcoming Week: @76ers, Pistons, Bucks, @Knicks

Comments: Losing an overtime thriller to the Hawks stings but the Cavs can bounce back with a winnable week of games coming up. Two games at home against the sadsack Pistons and Bucks and two road games against teams that don't bring it every night. As the standings look more clarified it seems that the Pistons chief rivals for a spot in the top four are the Cavs, Raps and Kings. So root for them at all costs.

Sacramento Kings (17-31)
Kings_medium

Wins: Grizzlies
Losses: Jazz, @Warriors
Last 10: 5-5
L10 scoring margin: +0.19
Season margin: -5.54
To date SOS: 18
Future SOS: 14
Power Rating: 23
Hollinger Rating: 24
Predictive Rank: 23
Upcoming Week: @Rockets, Spurs, @Jazz, Nets

Comments: The Kings are probably playing the most competitive ball on this list in the last few weeks. Unfortunately, their schedule is about to get a whole lot tougher. The play 14 of their final 18 games against teams in the thick of a playoff race. Hopefully by mid-April when the teams in the West have their spot in the playoffs secure they will rest players or let off the gas a little bit and the Kings can pull out some victories.

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