The Timberwolves won consecutive games for the first time since their first two games of the season with a victory over Utah on Monday. They made it three in a row Tuesday at Houston.
For those who like to look at draft odds and wonder about percentage points of landing the top pick, these games likely threw a wrench in the calculations for how many losses the Wolves will have.
Here are the records of the worst six teams: Houston 15-47, Orlando 18-43, Detroit 19-43, Wolves 19-44, Cleveland 21-40, Oklahoma City 21-41.
This, of course, is an atypical year for the Wolves in the lottery. Golden State would get their pick if it is No. 4 or lower as part of the D'Angelo Russell-Andrew Wiggins trade. The NBA recently flattened the odds for the three worst teams in the league to have the same odds of getting the No. 1 pick (14%). The odds of the Wolves getting a top-three pick if they finish with one of the three worst records is 40.1%, per Tankathon (13.4% for the second pick, 12.7 for the third).
If the Wolves were to finish with the fourth-worst record, they would have a 36.6% chance of getting a top-three pick. If they fell to fifth, it would be 31.6%; sixth would be 27.6%. So there aren't too many Wolves pingpong balls taken out for finishing with the fourth-worst record, but it starts to get a little steeper after that.
The next nine days will have a lot to say about where the Wolves end up. After playing Houston, they also play Orlando and Detroit on the road next week. The Magic and Pistons also have one game left against each other.
Tanking is not something the Wolves want to do. There's been too much losing — by a lot — this season, and given the absences of D'Angelo Russell and Karl-Anthony Towns, the Wolves haven't seen what this team looks like when the two of them are healthy.
Since Russell returned to the lineup under coach Chris Finch, the Wolves are 7-4 when both he and Towns play together.
The Wolves would rather go out on a high note this season and develop some momentum rather than have a few more pingpong balls in the June 22 lottery.