The Golden State Warriors are far and away the worst team in the NBA, but that doesn't mean that project tank is fully underway for the rest of the season. The team is expecting Stephen Curry to return from a broken hand in early March, but the Warriors won't hold him back any longer than he should or tactically keep him from playing in winnable games.
Owner Joe Lacob warned he won't try to mess with the basketball gods, aiming to play to win upon Curry's return and let the Warriors land where they may in the upcoming NBA Draft Lottery.
“Steph is coming back. That’s not even a discussion internally,” Lacob told Mark Medina of USA TODAY Sports during the NBA's Tech Summit during All-Star Weekend. “He’s ready to play so he should play. By the way, we’ll try to win every game. I’m not really about, ‘Let’s lose every game so we can get the best pick.’ You try to do that, you’re messing with the basketball gods. So we don’t believe in that.”
Plenty of teams have been burned by the basketball gods. Most recently, the New York Knicks, who sported the worst record in the league in 2018-19, wound up with the third pick, while the Phoenix Suns and the Cleveland Cavaliers, who finished tied for the second-worst mark with 19 wins each, got the sixth and fifth pick respectively (Phoenix traded the sixth pick to the Minnesota Timberwolves in the deal for Dario Saric).
The New Orleans Pelicans, who had only a 6% chance to wound up with the top pick, ultimately got it, giving them a generational talent in Zion Williamson.
The Warriors could be easily in line for a top-three pick so long as they finish among the three worst teams this season, but that is a dangerous game Lacob and company aren't willing to play.