Watching the San Antonio Spurs come out of the NBA Play-In Tournament as the last team standing would be thrilling, but it would come with some consequences.
The Silver and Black would need to pull off an upset on Wednesday night against the New Orleans Pelicans to get that ball rolling, but one victory in the tournament would not have any NBA Draft Lottery ramifications.
The only way the Spurs could hurt their lottery odds is if they pull off two upsets this week: one in New Orleans and one in Los Angeles against the Clippers. If that's the case, they dip from possibly having a pick between 1-4 and 9-13 to a guaranteed 15th pick. That's a pretty substantial difference.
I recently dove into the exact draft odds the Spurs will have assuming they miss the playoffs, but here's a rough breakdown. There's about a 77% chance they would be picking 9th or 10th in June's draft and a 20% chance they'd land in the top four. That leaves just a 3% shot of them slipping to 11th or lower.
Should Spurs fans be rooting for the team to falter in the NBA Play-In?
Given the fact that a Spurs tournament victory guarantees their draft pick drops, it's been fairly common to see fans rooting for them to fall short in one of the next two games. I'm not one to tell people how to be fans, so I won't. The fact of the matter is there are merits to either approach as a fan.
This young group is undoubtedly starving for some postseason success, and they want to go as far as they possibly can. Do you think Dejounte Murray is hitting the court thinking about the next draft? Of course not. He just wants to win, and that's all you can hope for in your team's leader.
At the same time, it's exciting to think about adding a top 10 pick to this group. Considering a tournament win would only lead to a series against a buzzsaw in the form of the Phoenix Suns, is that worth giving up?
Personally, my heart says this team has done enough during this rebuilding year. They got Coach Popovich the regular season wins record, saw huge growth in Keldon Johnson, and witnessed Dejounte rise up another tier to All-Star status. I'll be rooting them on as I always do in the tournament, and I'll feel let down for a few hours if they're knocked out, but deep down I know that result will be better in the long run.
As always, it's go Spurs go, but the season ending soon wouldn't be so bad either.