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The Race To The Bottom Of The NBA

Welcome to The Lab, FiveThirtyEight’s basketball podcast. On this week’s show (March 1, 2018), Neil, Chris and Kyle chat about Jimmy Butler’s recent injury and how it might affect the Minnesota Timberwolves, who are currently on track to make the playoffs. Next, they dive into tanking in the NBA. As of our taping, eight teams were within 2.5 games of having the league’s worst record. The crew take a look at why that number is so high this season and offer suggestions on how to reduce tanking. Plus, a significant digit on the New Orleans Pelicans’ Anthony Davis.

Here are links to what was discussed this week:

  • Keep an eye on our 2017-18 NBA predictions, updated after every game.
  • Jimmy Butler is out indefinitely after surgery to repair his meniscus, per ESPN.
  • Deadspin’s Patrick Redford warns that we should get ready for the NBA tanking campaign of a lifetime.
  • Significant Digit: 41.5 and 15.0. Coming into Wednesday’s game, that was the number of points and rebounds per game that Anthony Davis of the Pelicans was averaging over his last six games. The Pelicans won all six games.

Neil Paine was the acting sports editor at FiveThirtyEight.

Chris Herring was a senior sportswriter for FiveThirtyEight.

Kyle Wagner is a former senior editor at FiveThirtyEight.