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Every team in the NBA has now played at least 40 games, meaning within a matter of days, the entire league will have crossed the halfway mark in the season. That makes this the perfect time to zoom out and take a look at the state of the Wemby Watch as a whole. Right now, two major storylines stand out:

  • Every team in the NBA has won at least 10 games, meaning every team in the NBA is on pace to win at least 20 for the season. That, in itself, is not especially newsworthy. The NBA's worst team finishes with 20 or more wins roughly half of the time. But remember, this was supposed to be the year in which teams fell over each other trying to get worse. That can still happen. Most egregious tanking starts at roughly this point on the schedule, as the trade market opens up and teams have a clear path to the bottom.
  • Right now, there are three teams that have staked out their position at the bottom. In all likelihood, the Rockets, Pistons and Hornets will be in the last three slots. San Antonio, with 13 wins, is in pole position for No. 4, and Orlando, with 15 wins, is well-positioned for No. 5. But after that? There are 10 teams with between 17 and 20 wins. In other words, there is plenty of room for any one of those teams to steer into the skid and finish at No. 6. This is critically important considering the revamped lottery odds. Over the past few seasons, Memphis has landed Ja Morant from the No. 7 slot, New Orleans got Zion Williamson at No. 8, Charlotte got LaMelo Ball from No. 8 and Toronto got Scottie Barnes from No. 7. Recent history suggests someone is likely to leap into the top four. Someone is going to take the initiative to try to be that team.

So today, we're going to do something a bit different in the "Race to the Bottom" segment. The Pistons, Hornets, Rockets, Spurs and Magic are exempt for a day. We're going to instead rank those 11 teams between 17 and 20 wins by the likelihood that they try to sneak into the race themselves.

Wembanyama gets revenge against former team

One of the most highly anticipated games on the schedule for Wembanyama and his Mets 92 team did not disappoint this week as they took on ASVEL -- Wembanyama's former team. Wembanyama finished one rebound shy of a double-double but had 15 points, five blocks, and the play of the day that lifted his team past ASVEL.

After winning MVP honors at the LNB Pro A's All-Star game just prior to the New Year, Wemby and Mets 92 had a two-week layoff -- which was important after they lost three of their last five before the All-Star break -- but they now appear to be back on track and in the hunt near the top of the league's standing. Ditto for Wembanyama, whose massive season still has him atop the league leaderboard in scoring, rebounding and blocked shots. (There's a reason he's No. 1 with a bullet in our latest mock draft.)

Watching Wemby

On deck for Mets 92 this week is an important regular-season battle with Dijon on Sunday afternoon that may go a long way toward deciding which team wins the league. Mets 92 is second in the race behind Monaco and Dijon sits in fourth, so a win for Mets 92 would keep them in the hunt and a loss would push them further back while bumping Dijon up. You can watch all the games for free streaming through the NBA app.

  • Sunday, Jan. 15: Boulogne-Levallois vs Dijon | 1 PM ET
  • Wednesday, Jan. 18: Boulogne-Levallois vs. Fos-sur-Mer | 2 PM ET
  • Friday, Jan. 27: Boulogne-Levallois vs. Roanne | 2:30 PM ET

Dijon is led by All-Star Markis McDuffie who was a star college player at Wichita State now leading the team in scoring and rebounding on the season. Looking ahead to next Wednesday, the rematch against Fos-sur-Mer pits Wembanyama -- who scored 32 and had 10 rebounds in the first meeting -- against former Clemson star Gabe Devoe as well as Garlon Green, the brother of long-time NBA player Gerald Green, who leads the team in scoring on the year. 

Race to the Bottom

10-9: Los Angeles Lakers/Minnesota Timberwolves: These two are pretty straightforward. Neither controls their pick. They might end up at the bottom of the standings, but they have no incentive to get their intentionally.

8. Golden State Warriors: This one is self-explanatory as well. The Warriors are the defending champions, and they've seemingly righted the ship over the past few weeks. 

7. Portland Trail Blazers: If the Blazers wanted to take a step back, they'd have done so in one of the many more natural opportunities the past few seasons have presented. So long as they employ a healthy Damian Lillard, though, they aren't going to lose intentionally. They might, however, take a short-term step back. Jerami Grant is a free agent this offseason, and if Portland can't sign him to an extension before the trade deadline, it wouldn't be crazy to make a lateral move with the intention of competing again next season.

6. Chicago Bulls: The Bulls don't control their pick unless it lands in the top four. All signs, to this point, suggest that they aren't going to take the proactive step they'd need to take in order to get there. Might an injury or two change their minds? Or could someone blow them away with an offer for DeMar DeRozan or Zach LaVine? Probably not, but that top-four protection keeps the door open for the time being.

5. Atlanta Hawks: If Atlanta wanted to take a step back, now would be the time to do it. The Hawks control their first-round pick in 2023 and 2024, but then send two of their next three to San Antonio in the Dejounte Murray deal. Having a new general manager in Landry Fields gives them extra flexibility to do so, but there just isn't a logical step in that direction. The Hawks aren't going to trade Murray or Trae Young, and after years of rumors, it doesn't seem like anyone plans to meet their price for John Collins

4. Washington Wizards: Here's where things start to get interesting. Bradley Beal's no-trade clause complicates a full teardown, but the Kyle Kuzma rumors have run wild in recent weeks. At the very least, he's become one of the likeliest trade targets on the market, and given the history of injuries suffered by Beal and Kristaps Porzingis, it wouldn't be overly surprising to see minor ailments turn into extended absences in March and April. The Wizards detest tanking, but if they're far enough out of the play-in race in a month or two, they might not have a choice. 

3. Toronto Raptors: The center of the trade universe. The Raptors have done this before, when the infamous "Tampa Tank" brought them Barnes. Masai Ujiri scoffed at the idea of fighting for a play-in spot in 2021. "Everybody's like 'why don't you get in the play-in?' Play-in for what?" Ujiri asked a reporter at the time. If he thinks the Raptors have slipped out of the meaningful portion of the playoff conversation, he won't hesitate to make a move or two.

2. Utah Jazz: The Jazz are already slipping. They've lost seven of their past nine games and are now below .500. Lauri Markkanen has earned a place as a long-term cornerstone, but all of the other veterans figure to be available. Jordan Clarkson has discussed an extension with the Jazz, and if a deal can't be reached, he'd likely net the highest return. 

1. Oklahoma City Thunder: The Thunder went 9-24 from Feb. 1 on last season. They were 8-30 from March 1 on in 2021. The Thunder are masters of their craft. They start hot and finish slowly enough to wind up with a great pick. Rinse. Repeat. 

Loss of the Week

There's no better loss for a Wemby Watcher than the free-throw driven loss. It comes with so much plausible deniability. "Don't blame us, we can't defend them at the line!" Are your young players fouling too often? No! They're just playing aggressively. That's the attitude we like to see out of them! It's the perfect combination of correctable and random. Losing a free-throw game today doesn't mean you'll lose it a year from now.

That's what the Oklahoma City Thunder must be telling themselves right now, because on Tuesday, the Miami Heat went 40 for 40 at the foul line, a new NBA record for most attempts without a miss. Jimmy Butler made more free-throws (23) than the Thunder attempted (21). Butler won the game himself with an and-one on a layup trailing by two in the final seconds.

The Thunder won't lose much sleep over it. They shot miserably from deep (9 of 35) and Josh Giddey still managed to make a bit of history. Oklahoma City's young guys will eventually get better at defending without fouling, but tonight, it earned them a loss that will wind up being fairly helpful a few months from now.

Games of the Weak

Wednesday, Jan. 11: Bulls at Wizards: These teams have played three games in the past year or so that have been decided by four points or less. This game may not be especially entertaining, but it'll probably be close.

Thursday, Jan 12: Hornets at Raptors: This is a nice litmus test for Toronto. If they can't beat the Hornets at home, that's a sign that it's probably time to make a trade. 

Friday, Jan 13: Magic at Jazz: On Tuesday I witnessed the 6-foot-3 Anfernee Simons block the 6-foot-11 Moritz Wagner on a dunk attempt. We've reached the point where, good or bad, every Orlando Magic basketball game includes something you've never seen before, and I encourage you to indulge.