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Will the Wizards make the NBA Playoffs? The odds are against it

Profile Picture: Ryan Murphy

Ryan Murphy

January 25th, 2022

If the Washington Wizards’ 2021-22 season was a rollercoaster ride, there are few thrill-seekers who would be brave enough to try it.

Oh sure, the ascent in which they won 10 of their first 13 games would be fun, but the dizzying stretch in which they lost Bradley Beal to COVID-19 and dropped seven of nine games from Dec. 3 to Dec. 16 would have had riders losing their lunch all over the tracks.

Now four months into the season, the Wizards are a game under .500 and in 10th place in the tightly-packed Eastern Conference.

Given the many lows of their season to date, it should come as little surprise that the odds are firmly against the Wizards being part of the playoff field after play-in games have concluded.

Will the Wizards reach the playoffs?

YesNo
+290
-420

Are our oddsmakers on the money, or is there a chance that Washington could catch fire in the second half of the season? Let’s examine the case for and against the Wizards.

The Case for the Wizards

Although the Wizards are just 23-24, it’s worth noting that Washington has been among the teams hardest hit by injuries and COVID-related absences this season. Bruising center Thomas Bryant missed 41 games after tearing his ACL a year ago, power forward Rui Hachimura missed 39 games due to personal reasons, and small forward Davis Bertans missed 15 games with a left foot sprain. Add it all up, and that’s 39.6 points per game missing from the Wizards’ lineup.

The good news (yes, there is a little bit of that), is that all three players are back and contributing to Wes Unseld Jr.’s 10-deep rotation. Washington will also benefit from the league's 13th easiest remaining strength of schedule. Upcoming games against the Grizzlies, Bucks, 76ers, and Suns will be a challenge, but Washington can build some momentum against the Kings, Pistons, and Pacers in early February.

The Case Against the Wizards

Numbers don’t lie, and all the metrics we’ve unearthed suggest the Wizards aren’t a playoff team. Washington ranks 20th in offensive rating, 22nd in defensive rating, and 29th in opponent turnovers. It also sports the third worst point differential in the Eastern Conference (-2.2).

To make matters worse, the Wizards seem to lack the chemistry and cohesion needed to make a big push. That became painfully obvious on Jan. 11, when teammates had to separate Montrezl Harrell from re-arranging Kentavious Caldwell-Pope’s face at halftime of a game against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Harrell was reportedly furious that KCP hadn’t passed to him once despite the fact he was frequently open. Both players failed to connect on any of their punches, which seems fitting given how many times they’ve both missed on the court this season.

Do the Wizards have a few more tricks up their sleeves?

Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy once wrote that "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." The same may be said of the Wizards, whose uniquely miserable season has been marked by missing personnel, losing streaks, and in-fighting.

Taking the Wizards at -420 to miss the playoffs doesn’t provide much value, but it’s absolutely the right call as Washington continues its depressing downward spiral.

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