Wizards face uphill climb to playoffs after recent slump

Wizards face uphill climb after recent slump originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

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

They woke up on Friday morning 12th in the Eastern Conference, 2.5 games back from Bulls who hold the 10th and final spot in the play-in tournament. Washington is also four games behind the No. 8 Hawks.

A 2.5-game gap may not seem like much, but it is when there are only nine games left on the Wizards’ schedule. The Wizards are also currently without Bradley Beal (knee soreness) and Kyle Kuzma (ankle soreness) as they get set to host the Spurs on Friday night.

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

Here’s a glance at how well the Wizards (32-41) would have to finish this season to pass the teams ahead of them if those teams simply played at or close to .500:

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

If No. 9 Raptors (35-38) go 4-5: Wizards would have to go 8-1 to avoid tiebreaker scenarios

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

Basically, if those teams simply tread water, then the Wizards will have to author their best nine-game stretch of the entire season to earn a postseason spot. That’s not to say it can’t happen, but it won’t be easy with Beal and Kuzma banged up.

Here is how Basketball Reference handicaps their odds based on 10,000 simulations:

Make playoffs: 2.5%

Earn 8th seed: 2.3%

Make play-in: 11.5%

Miss postseason: 88.5%

The good news for the Wizards is if all this keeps up, they will get a high pick in this year’s NBA Draft. If you recall, the Wizards keep their first-round selection if they miss the playoffs, as it’s lottery protected. It is 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.

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While recent losses have dinged the Wizards’ playoff odds, it has conversely enhanced their odds in the lottery. They currently have the sixth-best odds in the lottery, as they hold the sixth-worst record in the NBA.

If that holds, it would net the Wizards a 9% chance at the No. 1 pick, a.k.a. Victor Wembanyama, and 37.2% odds of selecting in the top four. This year happens to be a particularly good draft class and not just at the very top.

The Wizards haven’t had lottery odds this good since 2019, the year Tommy Sheppard took over as their front-office architect. That year, they were also sixth in the lottery and fell to ninth where they selected Rui Hachimura.

Just like with the playoff standings, there could be some additional movement in the draft lottery. In fact, the Wizards could possibly improve to fifth in lottery odds. The Magic are currently just 1.5 games worse than the Wizards with a 31-43 record. The Wizards just lost to Orlando on Tuesday.

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

Here’s how the lottery percentages would change:


1st pick: 10.5%

Top-4 pick: 42.1%

Most likely pick: 6th


1st pick: 9%

Top-4 pick: 37.2%

Most likely pick: 7th

Don’t tell that to the players, of course. Those remaining on the court continue to have one goal in mind 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 working every day just pushing, pushing, pushing until we get over the hump. And then life will look much more colorful,” he said.


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