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NBA Standings: New kids on the block threaten Pelicans lottery draft odds

The warm bodies brought in by Dell Demps to replace all the injured may actually perform a little too well over the remainder of the schedule.

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Pelicans are on pace to set an NBA record for the most missed games by a roster. As of this writing -- yeah, it can change at the drop of a hat -- 21 different players have suited up for the franchise during the 2015-16 season. Yet despite this and the fact their top-7 scorers from last year are done for the season, there is a real chance New Orleans could start dropping down the lottery standings and thereby significantly worsen their odds of drafting Ben Simmons, Brandon Ingram or another top prospect.

For some time now, the Pelicans have held fast onto the 6th worst record in the league. However, as winners in two of their last three, there is cause of concern. New Orleans knocked off two teams this week possessing better win/loss margins and were within 6 points of the perfect-at-home San Antonio Spurs late in the fourth quarter.

In their remaining seven games, five of the matchups will come against all of the teams currently sporting worse records: Sixers, Lakers, Suns, Nets and Timberwolves. Conceivably, the Pelicans could finish this forsaken season by winning 7 of their last 10 games, maybe even 8 of 10 if the Chicago Bulls are eliminated from the postseason prior to their matchup inside the Smoothie King Center.

That could make for devastating news because have a look at the chart from Tankathon: New Orleans is within striking distance of a glut of five teams.

If New Orleans was to finish the 2015-16 season on such a positive note as described above, they could find themselves 11th on this list at the conclusion of the final day of the regular season. The odds of winning a top-3 pick would drop from 21.5% to 2.9%. Equally as scary, they would assuredly lose out on the opportunity to draft a prospect slipping out of the top-5. Recent mocks have indicated that could wind up being Buddy Hield or Jamal Murray.

No one should directly fault the New Orleans front office for adding Tim Frazier, Jordan Hamilton and James Ennis during the Pelicans final stretch, but man, would it ever be depressing if Alvin Gentry finally cashes in on a slew of wins because he's surrounded by better fitting cogs.