The Washington Wizards just finished a critical duo of games for their playoff hopes and NBA Draft Lottery position.
They lost to the Charlotte Hornets on Friday then turned around and beat the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday. These are the teams directly ahead of Washington in the Eastern Conference standings and the draft lottery order, respectively.
Despite dropping Friday’s contest, the Wizards have scraped together a respectable 6-4 record in their last 10 games.
Where does all this leave them in the East, and, conversely, in the lottery order?
Eastern Conference Standings
With a 30-40 record, Washington hasn’t budged from the 11th spot in the East, trailing Brooklyn (36-35) in seventh, Miami (32-36) in eight, Orlando (32-38) in ninth and Charlotte (31-37) in 10th.
As of Saturday evening, Washington is three games out of the eighth and final playoff spot.
There are 12 games left on the schedule, so while the Wizards are inching closer to the eight seed, their window to get it done may be closing faster.
They’re not mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. If a couple other teams decide to take a major tumble, Washington could be poised to step over them.
NBA Draft Lottery
Look, while Bradley Beal has been dragging his team upward in 0.5-game increments, those 40-point, 40-minute efforts are hurting their lottery odds.
The Wizards had been seventh in the lottery order for several weeks, but the Grizzlies overtook them, bumping them to eight heading into the weekend.
Washington’s victory over Memphis on Saturday happened to coincide with a Pelicans loss, pushing the Wiz kids down to ninth position.
The ninth spot translates to 20.3 percent odds of drawing a top-four pick—hello, Duke freshmen!—and 4.5 percent odds of landing number one.
Slipping two spots is a rather large deal in terms of lottery odds. Simulating the drawing, the ninth-place team gets a top-four pick once in every five simulations. The seventh-place team gets a top-four pick once in every three simulations.
At the risk of sounding alarmist, the Wizards can’t play at their current level if they want to make the playoffs. They’re going to need to shift into a higher gear.
The coming week brings four games, including a road-and-home back-to-back. Three of their next four opponents are playoff teams. The week after next is a West Coast road trip.
On the flip side, that tough schedule benefits Washington in terms of climbing the lottery ladder.
Games to Watch
Hornets at Heat, Sunday 1 PM
Pelicans at Magic, Wednesday 7 PM
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