The news the Wizards are among the 22 teams invited to resume play in Orlando, FL is good, as more basketball is always a positive thing. But on Thursday, as the rest of the league's return-to-play proposal was released, there was a small note in the fine print that could end up hurting the Wizards.
It involves the draft lottery odds. The eight teams whose season ended are locked into their lottery position. That means the Wizards, who are currently ninth, can now only hurt their chances, not improve them.
If they were to bottom out and lose a bunch of games in Orlando, they can't move any higher than ninth. Given they are only 1 1/2 games ahead of the Charlotte Hornets, who hold the eighth-best lottery odds, there is a possiblity they go into lottery night with fewer ping-pong balls than a team that holds a higher win percentage.
Even with only eight games left in the new regular season format, the Wizards could have moved up to have the seventh-best odds. That would have given them a 31.9 percent chance at a top-four pick. If they stay at ninth, they will have 20.2 percent odds to pick in the top four.
It is also important to note the Wizards will be playing those eight games against all good teams. The 22-team cutoff took out the league's bottom-dwellers.
There is, however, a flip-side that has some positives. The fact they can't improve their lottery odds means they have no reason to tank. That allows them to go to Orlando and battle for a playoff spot without keeping one eye on their future. They don't have incentive to shut down players or anything of the sort.
But if they make the playoffs, they would be taken out of the lottery. And in that scenario, they would pick at 15th or lower.
The new lottery odds rule is one of the more unique changes the NBA made to resume play. And it could arguably end up affecting the Wizards more than any other team.
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