With the end of the NBA season only weeks away, time is running short for teams in the league, even those at the bottom of the standings.
March Madness has begun, and NBA prospects from all over the country are competing against each other in the NCAA tournament. As these players showcase their ability and their talent, many of the worst NBA teams are getting a good look at players they may select on draft day.
But before they can draft an élite player, they have to be in a position to do so. Here is a look at the bottom ten teams in the NBA and how their tanking efforts are coming along.
You can follow Mitch Kunzler on Twitter at @MitchKunzler.
The Bucks have continued their tanking process this past week by doing exactly what is expected of them — losing games.
Milwaukee has the worst record in the NBA, sliding along the bottom of the standings with a 13-56 record. They have lost six games in a row, four in the past week.
While it may seem they have given up completely, the Bucks have put forth some effort. Each of their last three losses have been by less than 10 points.
So while they are certainly tanking, they are at least attempting to mask it.
In the upcoming week, the Bucks will travel to California to face the Sacramento Kings and the Los Angeles Clippers. They will return home to face the Lakers. They will do so without guard Nate Wolters, who broke his hand against Golden State on Thursday.
Since the Kings and Lakers are also in the tanking sweepstakes, it will be interesting to see how the matchups play out next week.
The Sixers have reached an all-time low, which appears to be exactly what they are aiming for.
At 15-53, Philadelphia is on pace to catch Milwaukee for the worst record in the league and is doing so at a rapid pace. Part of the reason is their current 22-game losing streak.
There is no other way to put it, the Sixers are tanking. With a chance to secure two top 10 draft picks, they appear to be doing everything they can to make sure they are in the best position to improve their team in the draft.
In the coming week, the Sixers will have a mountain to climb if they want to win games. But since they don't, it should be more like a ski slope. They will start by hosting the red-hot New York Knicks, who have won seven straight games, followed by a road trip that features playoff caliber opponents in the Chicago Bulls, San Antonio Spurs and Houston Rockets.
By this time next week, the Sixers have a good chance to be riding a 26-game losing streak.
The Magic are only three and a half games behind the Sixers, and while they aren't drawing as much attention, they are a threat to steal the number one pick in the draft.
Orlando has a record of 19-50, and has lost seven straight games. This past week, they dropped games to the Washington Wizards, Golden State Warriors and Phoenix Suns, all of which are in playoff contention.
This coming week, the Magic will face two teams that are also in the tanking sweepstakes. They start with the Utah Jazz and then play the Los Angeles Lakers. After Utah and the Lakers, Orlando will host the Portland Trail Blazers.
As the Lakers and Jazz also have a shot at a high draft pick, it will be interesting to see the approach each team takes to the matchups.
The Jazz have competed well in the Western Conference for years. With the their young team and coach, a lottery pick would help their quest to return to a position of dominance.
Utah has lost six straight games, their last win coming courtesy of the 76ers. This losing streak, however, is a bit deceiving.
Each of the six losses shave come at the hand of a good team. The Atlanta Hawks, Dallas Mavericks, LA Clippers, San Antonio Spurs, Houston Rockets, and Memphis Grizzlies are all contending for playoff spots.
So while the Jazz continue losing games, it isn't necessarily on purpose, they have been outmatched talent-wise.
In the coming week, the Jazz will be at home and host the Orlando Magic, Detroit Pistons, and Memphis Grizzlies. While they are definitely capable of beating Orlando and Detroit at home, it will be interesting to see if they do.
This has been the most difficult season for the Lakers and their fans in recent memory. After suffering injury after injury, and losing game after game, the chance for a lottery pick is the only thing keeping Lakers fans waving the purple and gold flags.
To have a better chance at securing the number one overall pick, Los Angeles has work to do. The Lakers trail the Jazz by one game when it comes to losing, and trail Philadelphia by 10 games.
This past week, the Lakers have faced the top two teams in the Western Conference twice each. The first pair of games came against the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Lakers were able to steal the first game, but lost by nearly 30 points in the second. The next pair of games were against the San Antonio Spurs, who brushed aside the Lakers as if they were old newspapers. The Spurs won both games.
The Lakers will have a chance to dip further in the standings in the coming week, but will have to work a little harder to do so. They start with the Washington Wizards, followed by the Magic, Knicks, and Bucks.
With the Magic and Bucks being two of the three worst teams in the league, a loss to either or both, would help Los Angeles gain ground on the other bottom teams in the league. Win would do the opposite.
Like the Lakers, the Celtics represent a former dominant team that has fallen from grace.
They have a 23-46 record, tied with their West coast rival, and like Los Angeles, has some ground to make up if they want a chance at the top pick.
This past week, the Celtics lost games to the Phoenix Suns, New Orleans Pelicans, and Dallas Mavericks before beating the defending champion Miami Heat. This sort of inconsistency helps a team inconspicuously tank, but as the season's end draws nearer, any win could hurt their chances.
In the coming week, Boston will have some good opportunities to lose games. With a game against the Brooklyn Nets, and a pair of games against the Toronto Raptors, the Celtics should lose all three games, as both the Nets and Raptors are competing for seeding in the playoffs.
The Kings have made a big effort to improve this season, they really have. By acquiring Rudy Gay and Jason Terry, they proved they wanted to win this year. But, for whatever reason, they just haven't clicked.
The Kings win games here and there, but they are nowhere close to where they had hoped to be. They don't have much of an identity, and their lack of direction could hurt them when the season ends.
At this point, they have no shot at making the playoffs, and terrible as this may sound, winning games doesn't do much for them future-wise. If they continue to win games here and there, they will significantly hurt their chances at getting one of the top five picks.
The Kings have a first round draft pick, and in a draft like this one, it isn't wise to take a pick for granted. Sacramento need to realize this season is a lost cause and choose the path of tanking. They will have an excellent chance at starting that journey this coming week.
The Kings start by playing the San Antonio Spurs, followed by the Bucks and Knicks. Losing to the Spurs and Knicks should be easier because of how well they are playing. Losing to the Bucks on the other hand, will be a bit tricky because of how determined Milwaukee is in tanking.
The Pistons' first round draft pick belongs to the Charlotte Bobcats, so unless they plan on trading for draft picks, the draft won't bring a lottery star their way.
What the Pistons can and should do, however, is make a push for the playoffs. With how terrible the Eastern Conference has been this year, slipping into the post-season isn't as tough of a task as it sounds.
Detroit is six and a half games behind Atlanta for the final spot in the East. A quick win streak could be just enough for the Pistons to slip in, and they have the ability to do it. But they will have to overcome some obstacles in their coming schedule.
This next week, the Pistons start off by playing the Suns, a team that can get hot at any given time, and is also fighting to stay in the playoff hunt. Detroit then heads to Los Angeles to take on the formidable Clippers, followed by games against the Jazz and the Clippers.
If the Pistons can win at least three of their upcoming games, and continue to win consistently, their playoff aspirations could be reachable as the season winds down.
The Cavaliers are tied in the standings with the Pistons, but unlike Detroit, stand at the crossroads.
The first decision would be to shoot for the playoffs. The conference is terrible, the Hawks are catchable, what could there possibly be to lose? Well, that brings them to decision two.
Unlike the Pistons, the Cavaliers actually do have something to lose — a first round draft pick. They could join the other teams and tank.
The Cavaliers have a roster full of players that were high draft picks, as well as players like Luol Deng who have proven to be All-Star caliber players. But at the same time, the team Cleveland has built should be doing better.
Cleveland has shown that simply getting a lottery player won't change your franchise. Does Cleveland want to tank to secure yet another lottery pick? It's up to them.
If they choose to chase the lottery, they will need losses in the coming matchups that include the Houston Rockets, New York Knicks, Toronto Raptors and Detroit Pistons.
The Pelicans are also a head-scratcher when it comes to their roster. With a team that includes Anthony Davis, Ryan Anderson, Tyreke Evans, Jrue Holiday, and Eric Gordon, the Pelicans should be a lock to go to the playoffs. However, that is not the case.
Injuries to Anderson and Holiday, combined with Tyreke Evans not being able to find the groove he had as a rookie, has resulted in the Pelicans being a below average team. And to make matters worse for New Orleans, it has no first round draft pick in 2014, having traded the pick to the 76ers in exchange for Holiday.
The Pelicans have no choice but to trudge along and try to end the season on some sort of positive note. If they do, and regroup in the off-season, they could be a scary team next season. The emergence of Davis as a star in the league has certainly been beneficial this season, and New Orleans hopes he can be the focal point of their future.
The coming games for the Pelicans pose a big test, as they feature four playoff teams. They first head to Atlanta to play the Hawks, before returning home to play the Miami Heat, Brooklyn Nets, and Los Angeles Clippers. If New Orleans can win three out of the four, it would be huge for their confidence.
As the end of the season gets closer, teams continue to tank. With the future lottery picks on full display during March Madness, the excitement among the NBA teams will certainly grow. Along with that excitement, will come reinforced efforts, and more desperate measures in the tanking sweepstakes.
Tune in, you won't want to miss it.