NBA Draft: Pistons likely to draft No. 9 in 2012 NBA Draft

I'll take one Anthony Davis, please. Pistons can go from Fear the Fro to Fear the Brow. (Mark Zerof-US PRESSWIRE)

Welcome to the final installment of Battle of the Basement, where we look at the Detroit Pistons and the NBA's assorted collection of terrible teams. Subtitle: Where I get used to the idea that the Pistons will draft ninth overall. It's been a great ride but the thing that I've learned is that the Pistons really did improve as a team since their 4-20 start. But more on that later.

As a reminder, here are the parameters of Battle of the Basement: I don't include the Charlotte Bobcats or the Washington Wizards and have also eliminated the New Orleans Hornets this week. All three have solidified their standings as the three worst teams in the NBA. That leaves the free-falling Golden State Warriors and Minnesota Timberwolves as well as the Toronto Raptors, New Jersey Nets, Sacramento Kings and Cleveland Cavaliers.

As always, 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, instead looking at things through a more complex methodology to examine the best and worst teams.

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Detroit Pistons (22-38)

Wins: Bobcats
Losses: @Magic, Bucks, Bulls
Last 10: 4-6
L10 scoring margin: -3.65
Season margin: -5.52
To date SOS: 23
Future SOS: 28
Power Rating: 25
Hollinger Rating: 25
Predictive Rank: 26
Remaining Schedule: Cavaliers, @Hawks, Timberwolves, Raptors, @Pacers, 76ers

Comments: It's time for some real tanking. I'm talking about sitting Greg Monroe for Vernon Macklin, playing Charlie Villanueva 35+ minutes per game and making Ben Gordon the primary ball handler type tanking. The Pistons have a somewhat realistic chance, especially if they lose out, to rise to No. 4 in lottery odds. But they could also slide to the ninth spot.

Things got started off on the right foot Sunday when the Pistons snatched defeat from the jaws of victory and lost to the Bulls in overtime. The Raptors also crushed the Hawks, the Kings bested the Blazers and the Hornets won ... but it's far too late to really make a difference in their case.

The Pistons have 22 wins, the same as three other teams, while two others have just 20 wins. Sadly, the Pistons could easily win at least three more games -- Cavs, Wolves and Raps -- and are good enough to surprise the playoff-bound squads who are all in the second tier of the Eastern Conference. But as much as my ground-level prognostications are worth (not much), the good folk over at Basketball Prospectus have done the work for me (and it actually is valuable).

Dan Feldman, also the proprietor of PistonPowered, ran a 1,000-game simulation for every team's remaining games to get a good look at the likely draft picture. Long story short, No. 9, here we come! Screw that, No. 1 here we come!!!

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

Cleveland Cavaliers (20-39)
Cavs_medium

Wins: Bobcats, @Wizards
Losses: Pacers, @Pacers, Magic
Last 10: 3-7
L10 scoring margin: -10.89
Season margin: -6.12
To date SOS: 25
Future SOS: 13
Power Rating: 28
Hollinger Rating: 29
Predictive Rank: 28
Remaining Schedule: @Pistons, 76ers, Knicks, @Spurs, @Grizzlies, Wizards, @Bulls

Comments: The good news is that the Cavs have pulled out of their tailspin and won three of their past seven. The bad news is that it could easily have been five of seven as they lost two in overtime. Cleveland is only one game ahead of Detroit in the loss column so Tuesday's matchup between the teams will be crucial. They also have games against the Spurs and Bulls that could be meaningless for the playoff-bound squads, which means that perhaps the lowly Cavs could steal a couple of wins.

Sacramento Kings (20-41)
Kings_medium

Wins: Blazers
Losses: @Mavericks, @Hornets, @Thunder
Last 10: 2-8
L10 scoring margin: -5.00
Season margin: -6.13
To date SOS: 13
Future SOS: 15
Power Rating: 26
Hollinger Rating: 28
Predictive Rank: 25
Remaining Schedule: Spurs, Thunder, @Bobcats, @Thunder, Lakers

Comments: At least the Bobcats are on the schedule! Other than that .... woah boy. And with the news that the Maloofs are being all North Korea and pulling out of the handshake deal to stay in Sacramento two things are possible: 1. The team becomes more listless, the fans get angry and the team loses by 30 points per night. 2. The community and team band together to give them one final good show and the Kings are able to take two of three remaining home games, beating the Thunder and the Lakers.

Toronto Raptors (22-39)

Raptors_medium

Wins: Celtics, @Hawks
Losses: @Pacers, 76ers
Last 10: 5-5
L10 scoring margin: -1.45
Season margin: -3.18
To date SOS: 24
Future SOS: 18
Power Rating: 23
Hollinger Rating: 22
Predictive Rank: 23
Remaining Schedule: Hawks, @Heat, @Pistons, @Bucks, Nets

Comments: Just when I was ready to write off the Raptors they go and beat the Celtics and Hawks in back-to-back games. And when I see their remaining schedule I see a lot of possible victories. The question will be who to root for in the season finale against the Nets as the outcome could have direct consequences for the Pistons.

New Jersey Nets (21-37)
Nets_medium

Wins: 76ers
Losses: 76ers, Celtics
Last 10: 6-4
L10 scoring margin: -2.90
Season margin: -5.30
To date SOS: 29
Future SOS: 9
Power Rating: 27
Hollinger Rating: 27
Predictive Rank: 27
Remaining Schedule: Heat, Knicks, @Bucks, 76ers, @Raptors

Comments: The Nets are playing better lately but they have the toughest remaining schedule of the groups we're examining. Luckily, their most difficult opponents have to visit New Jersey but they are still likely losses.

Golden State Warriors (22-37)
Warriors_medium

Wins: None
Losses: @Nuggets, @Blazers, Mavericks, @Clippers
Last 10: 2-8
L10 scoring margin: -7.05
Season margin: -2.98
To date SOS: 10
Future SOS: 10
Power Rating: 22
Hollinger Rating: 24
Predictive Rank: 22
Remaining Schedule: Spurs, Lakers, @Mavericks, @Rockets, @Timberwolves, Hornets, Spurs

Comments: The Warriors have been just awful since trading Monta Ellis and Ekpe Udoh for an injured Andrew Bogut. They have won just four games since March 14 and will probably lose the next four games as well. But there is a chance that finishing out against the Timberwolves, Hornets and the Spurs (who have never been shy about resting their aging stars) could mean three more wins.

Minnesota Timberwolves (25-32)
Wolves_medium

Wins: None
Losses: Suns, @Nuggets, Clippers, Thunder
Last 10: 1-9
L10 scoring margin: -6.90
Season margin: -1.51
To date SOS: 8
Future SOS: 21
Power Rating: 21
Hollinger Rating: 21
Predictive Rank: 21
Remaining Schedule: @Pacers, Grizzlies, @Pistons, Warriors, Nuggets

Comments: A city in mourning for Ricky Rubio is just anxious to get this season over with. They are luckily out of the Pistons reach and have an important games against the Warriors at home that they must lose. Listen up Minnesota, Kevin Love needs some rest.

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