While there may seem to be two potential scenarios for the home stretch of this Wizards season, either make the postseason or fall further into the lottery, lately they have been doing neither. Even after losing six of their last eight games, they have stayed right where they were when that stretch began, tied for 11th in lottery odds.
Though it's a bit of a coincidence the team they are tied with, the Lakers, has also lost six of their last eight games, it's a reminder that it can get late early in the NBA standings. Washington has 16 games remaining and that may sound like a lot, but it's also possible little may change for them in either direction.
The Wizards are looking up at the Atlanta Hawks, who are now three games up holding the final spot in the East for the play-in tournament. If the 32-34 Hawks go .500 the rest of the way (8-8), the 29-37 Wizards would have to go 12-4 to pass them outright. Atlanta could hold the tiebreaker, as they have a 2-1 edge in the season series with one more meeting left on the schedule.
Now, it's certainly possible the Hawks could freefall and create an opening. They have lost two of their last three games and aren't exactly juggernauts. But the Wizards would have to find a gear that has alluded them for months, as the last time they won two straight games was in January.
The Wizards are trying to navigate an Eastern Conference that is deeper than it has been in quite some time. Last season, the final play-in team was six games under .500. The Wizards had the eight-seed and they were 34-38, while the No. 8 team in the East this season, the Brooklyn Nets, are currently 34-33.
If the losses continue to pile up for the Wizards, as they have lately, the lottery will become more realistic. While it's too late for them to fall to bottom of the league, each spot would increase their percentage chance of getting a high draft pick, if ever so slightly.
But at this point the Knicks are 1 1/2 games ahead in 10th, and the Pelicans are 2 1/2 games up in ninth. It would likely take a significant tumble for the Wizards to move past multiple teams.
If they moved several spots, their percentages would improve to a decent degree. The 10th-best odds yield a 13.9 percentage chance of selecting in the top-4, while the No. 9 spot raises that number to 20.2.
Say the Wizards do not move at all and remain at 11th in the lottery. If they were not tied with another team, they would have a 2% chance at the No. 1 pick, a 9.4% chance of selecting in the top-4 and a 90.2% likelihood of selecting either 11th (77.6%) or 12th (12.6%).
Last year, the Hornets were 11th in lottery odds and ending up drawing the 11th pick. The year before, the Spurs were 11th in the lottery and also stayed put. In 2019, however, the Lakers moved up from 11th in the lottery to fourth.
If the Wizards end up sticking in the lottery, certainly they will hope for some similar luck. In the meantime, the players are hoping to make a late push for the postseason.
"There's a chance to get into this play-in and I feel like everyone should have that goal and that mindset. We're not out of it yet," Kentavious Caldwell-Pope said after Saturday's loss to the Blazers.
No, they aren't out of it yet. But not much is changing in the standings, either.