If the Warriors finish as the eighth worst team in the league, they will have a less than 10 percent chance of getting a top-seven draft choice and keeping the pick. If the Warriors finish as the seventh worst team in the league, they will have a 75 percent chance of getting a top-seven draft pick and, consequently, keeping their pick. Currently Golden State is in the eighth slot, one game behind the Toronto Raptors and New Jersey Nets (whose pick will likely go to the Portland Trail Blazers).
It would clearly be in the franchise's best interest to lose as many games as possible -- to tank the rest of the season. Of course, given the competitive disposition of professional sports, management acknowledgment of this is taboo. After all, the players on the court continue to play hard -- they have professional pride to maintain, jobs to protect, free agent contracts to earn. So in comes the age-old sports tradition of tanking euphemisms.
Here are some useful phrases for such a purpose:
"We're excited to get the young guys more experience."
Against the Spurs on Monday, Coach Mark Jackson started four rookies. Klay Thompson, who emerged as the star of the current Warriors-Lite, has played 40 minutes in each of the last three games. Jeremy Tyler has stood in as the most reliable inside scorer. Charles Jenkins has started 22 games this year, notching enough solid performances to suggest that he might become a pretty serviceable point guard one day. He's also had nights like he did on Monday, when he went 0-8 with one point. But along with Tyler, Thompson, Dominic McGuire, and others, Jenkins has the freedom to shake the growing pains through these insignificant games.
"We hope to get [Star Player X] healthy for next season."
Over the weekend, the Warriors announced that David Lee is done for the season because, as the AP reported, "Team doctors advised that Lee not risk further injury and remain out for the foreseeable future." This comes weeks after the Warriors shelved presumed franchise-player Steph Curry, who's battled nagging injuries for much of his short career. Throw in Andrew Bogut -- out with a fractured ankle since before the season -- and the team's three best players are focused on next year.
"We're trying out different lineup combinations."
The team hasn't taken this route, preferring to maximize the "experience for young guys" strategy. Thompson, Jenkins, Tyler, and Dorrell Wright have been staples of the stretch run starting lineup. Since Lee's injury, Andris Biedrins and Mickell Gladness have filled in at center.
"We wanna see how some of these guys react to pressure situations."
Jenkins pushed the Warriors to a win when he scored a game-clinching runner against Minnesota. He wasn't the only rookie breathing in some crunch-time minutes then. As the Chron's Rusty Simmons reported, "Warriors coach Mark Jackson seemed to be signaling that he was handing over the rest of this season to his team's youth Wednesday, when he subbed three rookies into a four-point game with 5:35 remaining."
"We had great energy and effort tonight."
You can sometimes interpret this as, "Our current lineup really didn't have much of a chance of beating [Veteran Playoff Team X], but we should be impressed by how close they got."
There are some games -- most games really -- when the Warriors are just overmatched. And the string of losses should not necessarily reflect poorly upon the players. So Jackson is sure to harp on his guys' energy and effort.
"I could not be more satisfied with the energy, the effort, the commitment from my guys," Jackson said after the Warriors lost to the Celtics by two.
The strategies behind each of these phrases really do benefit the team in the long run. But, even better, they do so while simultaneously maximizing the team's lottery pick chances.