Tanks A Lot; Running of the Bulls

The top of the Great Tank standings underwent a major shift over the last two weeks, thanks mostly to the Chicago Bulls and their improbable win streak.

The top of the Great Tank standings underwent a major shift over the last two weeks, thanks mostly to the Chicago Bulls and their improbable win streak. After a ten game losing streak that all but cemented their place atop the tank standings, the Bulls somehow flipped a switch. Beginning with an overtime victory in Charlotte on December 8th, they have now won six games in a row. And not only are they winning, but they are beating good teams. While victories over fringe playoff teams like the Jazz and 76ers were impressive, the ones against the Celtics and Bucks were nothing short of remarkable.

Because of the sudden surge, the Bulls have played themselves out of the top spot in the Great Tank standings, and they’re out of the top-3 altogether. They now find themselves at number five and have an identical record to that of the Kings.

Current Standings - Dec. 20th

Hawks 7-23 GB: 0
Mavericks 8-23 GB: 0.5
Grizzlies 9-21 GB: 2
Bulls 9-20 GB: 2.5
Kings 10-20 GB: 3
Suns 11-21 GB: 3 
Magic 11-20 GB: 3.5
Lakers (PHI) 10-18 GB: 4.0
Hornets 11-19 GB: 4.0
Clippers 11-18 GB: 4.5

Best Tankers

On December 6th, the Orlando Magic were in tenth place in the tank standings after victories over the Thunder, Knicks, and Hawks in the span of a week. They’ve lost every game since, five in a row, and their next game is against the suddenly-mighty Bulls. The Magic’s losing streak has propelled them into seventh place, just a half-game back of Phoenix for the sixth spot.

It is hard to believe that the Memphis Grizzlies had a record of 5-1 at one point. They are a dismal 4-20 since, finally breaking into the top-3 of the tank standings after Chicago’s free fall. A loss to Atlanta last Friday would have helped to close the gap between the Grizz and first-place Hawks, but Atlanta maintained their pace and Memphis won by two.

Worst Tankers

The Bulls.

The Sacramento Kings deserve an honorable mention. Their record over the last ten games is 4-6, with wins over the Bulls, Suns, and 76ers, all of whom are currently lottery-bound. The fourth win came against the Pelicans, who are one loss away from dropping into the bottom 14.

Relevant Games (Last week)

Suns 97, Mavericks 91

Phoenix overcame an 11 point deficit to defeat Dallas in a battle of top-6 teams. The loss by the Mavs kept them comfortable at the number two spot, while the Suns' victory keeps them a half-game below surging Chicago. For now.

Kings 99, Suns 92

The Sacramento victory closed the gap a bit between these teams, and the Suns have revved up their tanking efforts due to the Devin Booker injury. As of Wednesday morning, these teams are essentially tied at the 5/6 spot.

Grizzlies 96, Hawks 94

The Grizzlies have been the best tankers for six weeks straight. Coming into this game on December 15th, the Grizz had won once since November 11th. But the Hawks proved why they are the elite tankers in the Great Tank of 2018, maintaining their number one spot.

Relevant Games (Next week)

Mavericks @ Hawks - 12/23

An early Christmas gift for tank watchers, this should be a matchup between the top two teams in the tank standings. Only a half game separates them, and the loser will control its own lottery destiny. Expect a case of "back soreness", and a couple of "DNP - Rest"s. 

Other Observations

Keep an eye on the Lakers, whose tank relevancy will likely be determined over the next two weeks. While they are only 3.5 games out of the 8th seed in the west, they are also in 8th place in the tank. Between December 20th and January 3rd, Los Angeles plays Houston, Golden State, Portland, Minnesota, Houston again, Minnesota again, and Oklahoma City.

As it stands on December 20th, the Phoenix Suns own two top-15 picks. They have their own (6th) and the Miami Heat's first rounder (14th), which is top-7 protected. Phoenix also currently has four second-round picks, only one of which could change via protections. The most interesting Suns pick to keep an eye on is the protected first rounder that was sent by Milwaukee in the Eric Bledsoe trade. The pick is protected 1-10 and 17-30, meaning if the Bucks finish 11-16 in the tank standings, their pick will belong to the Suns. If everything fell into place perfectly for the Suns, they could have a top-7 pick and two top-14 picks in the 2018 draft. 

In the last version of Tanks A Lot, I wrote that the Bulls’ game against the Knicks was one of the only games that Chicago had a chance of winning before January. I was WAY off. I’m going to redeem myself by boldly predicting that the Bulls will lose seven in a row to end the 2017 calendar year.

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