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2016 NBA Draft: Pelicans could vault to fifth in lottery with some help from the Timberwolves

An epic tank battle is on the horizon.

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Since we last got together the Milwaukee Bucks defeated the Philadelphia 76ers in overtime and earned win number 33 in the process. We bid the Bucks a fond farewell from our tank tracking. With 33 Bucks victories it is now mathematically impossible for the New Orleans to enter the lottery worse than 8th. Progress!

Every prediction places the Pelicans at exactly 31 victories and the Minnesota Timberwolves right around 29 victories. So far this season these teams have played three times, with the Pelicans racking up two victories. While the franchise will never admit regret over winning a game, if there was one win they could take back either of their wins over Minnesota being losses instead would have been incredibly valuable.

Timberwolves Pelicans Knicks Kings
Current Wins 28 30 32 32
ESPN BPI 29 31 32 33
Basketball Reference 29.1 31.0 32.3 32.9
Five Thirty Eight 29 31 32 33
numberFire 29.1 31.0 32.3 32.9

There is still the possibility, however remote, that the Pelicans tie the New York Knicks and/or Sacramento Kings. We'll have a lot more clarity on those chances after tonight. New Orleans plays host to the recently eliminated from playoff contention Chicago Bulls. Minnesota is hosting the Houston Rockets who cling to their playoff chances by a thread. Phoenix hosts the shamelessly tanking Kings who have shut DeMarcus Cousins down for the remainder of the season.

Timberwolves Pelicans Knicks Kings
Monday Rockets Bulls at Suns
Tuesday at Pacers
Wednesday Pelicans at Timberwolves at Rockets

Right now the Pelicans could have between 76 and 44 lottery combinations. Here are the four remaining scenarios.

Pelicans lose out and the Timberwolves win out: New Orleans and Minnesota have 75 combinations with the 76th combination (and 5th in the lottery) being determined by a tiebreaker selection on Friday.

Pelicans lose at least once OR the Kings and Knicks both win at least once: New Orleans finishes 6th with no ties and will have 63 combinations.

Pelicans win out and the Kings OR Knicks win at least once: New Orleans and Sacramento or New York get 53 combinations with 6th in the lottery determined by the tiebreaker selection on Friday.

Pelicans win out and the Kings AND Knicks lose out: New Orleans, Sacramento, and New York each receive 44 combinations. The 45th combination (and 6th in the lottery) is determined by the tiebreaker on Friday. Afterwards, 7th is determined by a second tiebreaker selection between the two remaining teams. The biggest loser slides to 8th in the lottery.

Confused? Hopefully the Pelicans lose tonight to the Bulls and things will be much, much more simple.