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5 questions for the Wizards now that the NBA is coming back

5 questions for the Wizards now that the NBA is coming back

The Wizards just barely made the cut. With the league set to resume with a 22-team group, they are Team Number 22, and now scheduled to play at least eight more games in their 2019-20 campaign.

It has been a long time since they last played, and weeks will pass before they play next. But here are five questions for the Wizards as they prepare to get things going again...

What happens to their lottery odds?

There has been a lot of focus on the Wizards possibly making the playoffs, especially with the NBA's return-to-play format's play-in tournament, but really the much bigger question is where this all could leave them in the draft lottery, which is expected to be in August. The Wizards went into this season knowing it was about the future and the best result for their future would be a high draft pick.

The Wizards currently have the ninth-best odds, which means they hold a 20.2 percent chance of picking in the top four. But they will have eight regular-season games that could change their situation dramatically. If they qualify for the playoffs, they will pick no better than 15th.

But if they bottom out, they will not be able to improve their standing, as the odds for teams that miss the postseason will be based on their March 11 records. What that means is the Wizards could have fewer ping-pong balls than teams with better win percentages on lottery night.

Will they make the playoffs?

The most interesting part of this return-to-play format for fans seems to be the adjusted playoff bracket and, interestingly enough, it will affect the Wizards very directly. They could technically make the playoffs if they are fewer than four games behind the eighth-seed once the regular season closes. Right now they are 5 1/2 games behind the No. 8 Magic who are just a half-game behind the Brooklyn Nets.

If the Wizards get in, their work will be cut out for them. They would have to beat the eighth-seed twice and then face the Giannis Antetokounmpo-led Milwaukee Bucks in their first-round series. Even if they were obliterated by the Bucks, they could view it as getting their young players some playoff experience and also tout the fact their team made the playoffs ahead of schedule, even if it were by way of a very unusual circumstance. 

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Who will be helped/hurt by the break? 

By the time the NBA returns, about 4 1/2 months will have passed between games. It will be close to an entire offseason, except no one knew this long of a break was coming before it began.

That presents an interesting dynamic for the players. Some will benefit from the break, while some might be hurt by it. Injured players will have time to heal, but those without the resources to keep working out and playing basketball will take time to get into midseason form. And they will have to find that rhythm playing a season format that is now a sprint to the finish line. 

We know Bradley Beal has a gym and basketball court at home, so he should be fine. But what about the players without courts, weights and workout equipment? 

Any postseason awards?

Beyond their playoff hopes, there are a few things individual players have to play for as the season closes out. Beal, for instance, has a shot at making All-NBA for the first time in his career. Since he wasn't an All-Star, the odds are probably stacked against him, given there are nine fewer All-NBA spots than there are for the All-Star Game. But also, Beal has taken his game up a level since the All-Stars were picked. He is now second in the NBA in scoring.

Another player to watch in this regard is Rui Hachimura. He has a very good shot at making the All-Rookie team. It's a deep class of rookies, so first-team may be difficult, but he could make second-team and would be the first Wizards player since Beal in 2013 to earn the honors.

Will Wall play?

It's probably still fair to ask, even though we have heard the answer a million times by now, but do not expect John Wall to return to the court this season, no matter the fact it was pushed back and he was given more time to recover. The Wizards outlined a plan to hold him out this entire season and are sticking to it. Wall also seems to be completely on board, just this week saying he is not playing and has no problem with it.

So, the answer is no, unless the team changes their tune unexpectedly.

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Charles Barkley jokingly admits he doesn't know anyone on the Wizards besides John Wall and Bradley Beal

Charles Barkley jokingly admits he doesn't know anyone on the Wizards besides John Wall and Bradley Beal

Without John Wall, Bradley Beal and Davis Bertans, Washington's three best players, the Wizards hopes of making the playoffs in the NBA's Orlando restart have taken a hit.

On Thursday, Wizards coach Scott Brooks joined the Inside the NBA team on TNT, where Charles Barkley genuinely asked him who has to step up for the team when the games begin.

Brooks' response was unexpected, yet also hilarious. Here was the exchange:

Barkley: "Obviously, without John and Bradley, you're two best players, give us two names that really need to step up for you guys?"

Brooks: "Well, I think we should play that game where you name two guys on our team besides those two guys." 

Barkley: "Let me tell you something, I don't know anybody on your team! So I want you to tell us two players on your team."

To Barkley's credit, much of the national media has not paid any attention to the Wizards this season. The team only had one game on national TV this season, a November clash with the lowly Cleveland Cavaliers.

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When basketball does resume, the Wizards are eight games back of the Orlando Magic for the eighth spot in the East. Washington needs to make up two games over the final eight contests in order to force a play-in game for the conference's final playoff spot.

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Report: Wizards players Thomas Bryant, Gary Payton II test positive for coronavirus

Report: Wizards players Thomas Bryant, Gary Payton II test positive for coronavirus

The Washington Wizards have their first reported cases of coronavirus, as center Thomas Bryant and Gary Payton II have tested positive, according to the Washington Post.

The timing of the tests prevented Bryant and Payton II from traveling with the Wizards to Orlando, FL as they entered the NBA's restart bubble at Disney World. The team, however, is hopeful they can join them before long.

Head coach Scott Brooks first dropped a hint on Thursday night when addressing the media on a video conference call from Orlando.

"A couple of guys did not make the trip. Hopefully they will be joining us soon. But with the CBA medical [restrictions] I can't get into who did not participate," Brooks said.

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That suggested coronavirus was the likely reason. If it were another injury, he could specify just as they did with Bradley Beal days earlier when they explained why he wasn't going to play in the restart. A basketball injury also wouldn't prevent them from traveling.

Coronavirus generally stays in the system for 10 to 14 days. It is unclear when Bryant and Payton II contracted the virus, or when they tested positive. The Wizards' first exhibition game is July 22. They play their first regular season game on July 31.

Bryant and Payton II are the first cases involving the Wizards made public. It is not known whether any others have tested positive previously, as team officials have deferred to league statements on related matters.

There have been dozens of positive tests throughout the league in recent months, including some that shut down practice facilities.

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