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What To Watch For: Thunder's Playoff, Draft Pick Scenarios

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Wednesday night will be the most exciting night of the NBA season. Even more than opening night, even more than trade deadline day.

It will determine the Thunder's playoff seed, whom Oklahoma City will play, and whether the Thunder will add a second first-round draft pick to its 2014 arsenal.

Let's start with the simple part. If OKC beats the terrible Detroit Pistons, it will clinch the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference Playoffs. The Thunder could also clinch the two spot if the Clippers fall against the Trailblazers.

If the Thunder inexplicably lose to Detroit and the Clippers beat Portland, then OKC would slip to the No. 3 seed and play the Golden State Warriors.

So let's assume the Thunder beats Detroit and clinches the No. 2 spot.

The Mavericks travel to Memphis to face the Grizzlies, and the winner of that game will clinch the No. 7 seed and become Oklahoma City's first-round opponent.

It's that simple. So if you're a Thunder fan, you can watch that Dallas at Memphis game and cheer for whichever team you'd prefer the Thunder to play.

But keep this in mind…

If Dallas wins, the Thunder would secure the Mavs' top-20 protected draft pick for 2014. This is the case because a win would get Dallas to 50-32 and would guarantee that the Mavs' pick would be No. 22.

The draft pick rolls over, so if the Thunder doesn't take it this year, they'll get it eventually.

But with the 2014 draft field being projected as one of the deepest in recent memory, this is a really good year to have an extra pick. OKC could potentially draft a guy at No. 22 that would normally go top 12 in most drafts.

Now, if Memphis beats Dallas, there's still a way the Thunder can get that pick this season.

The Toronto Raptors and Chicago Bulls both sit at 48-33, one game behind the 49-32 Mavs. If the Raptors and Bulls lose their respective games at the Knicks and Bobcats, the Mavericks' pick would transfer to the Thunder anyway because Dallas would still finish with a better record (and therefore a higher draft pick) than either Toronto or Chicago.

If Dallas loses and Toronto and Chicago both win, they would finish with a three-way tie at 49-33, and the NBA would use tiebreakers to determine draft order. In that case, the Thunder would only have a 33 percent chance at snatching that draft pick this season.

Now that you know what's on the line, sit back, relax, and enjoy the drama. 

 

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