Wizards are poised for promotion to the playoffs after their recent slump

WASHINGTON — Of course, the Wizards have done some damage to their playoff hopes by losing nine of their last 11 games and seven of their last eight.

They woke up Friday morning the 12th in the Eastern Conference, 2.5 games behind the Bulls, who are 10th and last in the Play-In tournament. Washington is also four games behind the No. 8 Hawks.

A 2.5-game gap doesn’t seem like much, but it does when there are only nine games left on the Wizards’ schedule. The Wizards are also currently without Bradley Beal (knee pain) and Kyle Kuzma (ankle pain) as they will host the Spurs on Friday night.

“Nobody’s going to give us a gift like ‘Here, go and win a game,'” said Kristaps Porzingis. “Nobody cares how we feel and what we’re going through. We just have to keep looking at ourselves.”

Here’s a look at how well the Wizards (32-41) would need to finish this season to overtake the teams ahead if those teams were simply playing at or near .500:

If No. 8 Hawks (36-37) go 4-5: Wizards would need to go 9-0 to avoid tiebreak scenarios

If #9 Raptors (35-38) go 4-5: Wizards would need to go 8-1 to avoid tiebreak scenarios

If No. 10 Bulls (34-38) go 5-5: Wizards would need to go 8-1 to avoid tiebreak scenarios

If these teams just mark time, the Wizards will essentially have to post their best nine-game streak of the entire season to earn a postseason spot. That’s not to say it can’t happen, but it won’t be easy when Beal and Kuzma are together.

Here’s how Basketball Reference limits its odds based on 10,000 simulations:

Make playoffs: 2.5%

8. Earn seeds: 2.3%

Making play-ins: 11.5%

Missing Postseason: 88.5%

The good news for the Wizards is that if things continue like this, they’ll get a top pick in this year’s NBA Draft. If you recall, the Wizards keep their first-round picks if they miss the playoffs because they’re lottery-protected. It’s the first-round pick they sent to the Rockets in 2020 along with John Wall for Russell Westbrook. That pick has since made its way to the Knicks.

While recent losses have hurt the Wizards’ playoff chances, they’ve also improved their chances in the lottery. They currently have the sixth best odds in the lottery as they hold the sixth worst record in the NBA.

If true, the Wizards would have a 9% chance of picking the No. 1, aka Victor Wembanyama, and a 37.2% chance of being selected in the top four. This year is a particularly good draft class and not just at the top.

The Wizards haven’t had such a good lottery chance since 2019, the year Tommy Sheppard took over as their front office architect. That year they also finished sixth in the lottery, falling to ninth place where they selected Rui Hachimura.

Just like playoff scoring, there could be additional movement in the draft lottery. In fact, the Wizards could potentially move up to fifth place in lottery odds. The Magic are currently just 1.5 games behind the Wizards who are 31-43. The Wizards lost to Orlando on Tuesday.

Orlando has 10 games left and is 4-6 in the last 10 games. If they go 4-6 the rest of the way, the Wizards would have to go 2-7 to overtake them in the lottery and avoid a tie. At this rate it’s certainly possible.

Here is how the lotto percentages would change:


1st choice: 10.5%

Top 4 pick: 42.1%

Most likely choice: 6


1st choice: 9%

Top 4 pick: 37.2%

Most likely choice: 7

Of course, don’t tell the players that. Those who remain on the pitch remain on target and the ever-optimistic Porzingis is doing his best to help the team turn things around.

“I think it’s important to keep the big picture in mind, stay in the moment and work every day, just push, push, push until we get over the hill. And then life will look a lot more colourful,” he said.


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