Despite a recent stretch in which the Hornets have gone just 2-8 since mid-March - with the two victories coming against the Mavericks and Lakers, go figure - its impossible for them to move up any higher than the 11th slot in the May 18 draft lottery. Thats because of the 10 teams in the league that have a worse record than New Orleans (35-43), none are even within striking distance in the standings. Indiana (29-48) has the NBAs 10th-worst record, but the best the Pacers can do is 34-48.
With four games remaining, the Hornets mathematically could finish anywhere from the 11th- to 14th-worst record in the league, but it seems fairly safe to project they will wind up at No. 11.
Following Sundays games, here are the top four records of teams not currently in the playoff field (projected position in draft lottery as of today):
Memphis 39-37 (14)
Houston 38-38 (13)
Chicago 37-39 (12)
New Orleans 35-43 (11)
As you can see from the chart, New Orleans cant catch Memphis unless it wins out and the Grizzlies lose all six remaining games. Houston only needs to go 2-4 the rest of the way to be assured of finishing ahead of New Orleans, while the same holds true for Chicago if the Bulls go at least 3-3. (Its also possible that Toronto could miss the playoffs instead of Chicago and therefore replace the Bulls on this list, but lets not get into that now, for the sake of simplicity).
In case youre wondering what the odds are of the 11th team in the draft lottery getting the No. 1 overall pick, New Jersey was 11th last year. The Nets went into the 09 lottery with a 0.9 percent chance at Blake Griffin. The Nets chances at the No. 2 and No. 3 choices were 1.06 and 1.29 percent, respectively.