Two straight narrow losses this weekend have left the Wizards in a precarious spot as they look up in the standings and cling to diminishing playoff hopes. Only 16 games remain and their upcoming five-game homestand is basically do-or-die. Given their troubles on the road, if they don't win a good portion or all of the next five, they could be toast.
The Wizards are 27-39, 12 games under .500. The fact they are still in the postseason hunt at all is remarkable and only possible because the Eastern Conference is very thin beyond its top five teams.
In most years, the Wizards record at this point would put the draft lottery fully in focus. Still, we're not far from that being the case.
With their overtime loss to the Timberwolves on Saturday, the Wizards moved below the Dallas Mavericks in the standings. They currently hold the seventh-best lottery odds.
In part because the East is so bad, the Wizards could realistically pick anywhere in the top half of the draft. If they were somehow able to make the playoffs, they could pick as low as 15th, assuming a first round loss to the top seed. If they were to miss the postseason, which is looking probable at this point, they could select as high as first overall.
Keep in mind the draft lottery odds changed this season. In an attempt to discourage tanking, the league created a more balanced system.
The three worst teams will each have a 14 percent chance of getting the top pick. Previously, the team with the worst record had a 25 percent chance of the top pick and the second-worst record netted odds of 19.9 percent.
With those odds lowered, the chances went up for other spots in the lottery. While last year the seventh-worst record yielded a 5.3 percent chance for the No. 1 pick, this year it is 7.5 percent.
Say the Wizards end up seventh from the bottom, as they currently are. Here is how their lottery odds would sort out, according to Tankathon.com:
1st pick - 7.5%
2nd pick - 7.8%
3rd pick - 8.1%
4th pick - 8.5%
5th pick - N/A
6th pick - N/A
7th pick - 19.7%
8th pick - 34.1%
9th pick - 12.9%
10th pick - 1.3%
Not only would they have a 7.5 percent shot at No. 1, they would have a 15.3 percent chance at a top two pick, a 23.4 percent shot at a top three selection and a 31.9 percent chance of picking in the top four.
This year's draft class happens to be headlined by four players. There are the three stars from Duke - Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett and Cam Reddish - and Ja Morant from Murray State.
The Wizards would like to make the playoffs and have exactly one month to try. But pretty soon the draft lottery could be a distinct reality, especially if this coming week at home doesn't go their way.
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