Is Winning Worth it for the Washington Wizards?

Washington Wizards Bradley Beal Jabari Parker (Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images)
Washington Wizards Bradley Beal Jabari Parker (Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Let’s face it. The Washington Wizards are not making the playoffs this year. While their chances at the 8th seed are technically still alive, they’d need nothing short of a miracle to extend their season. It’s time to lose.

With less than a  month left in the NBA’s regular season, many fans of the NBA’s cellar-dwelling teams have turned their focus away from the remaining schedule and towards the off-season. More specifically, the draft. With playoff hopes either dead or dying, attention shifts to those very healthy lottery odds.

The Washington Wizards, however, are still focused on this year. And not because they’ve clinched a playoff birth. It’s because even at 29-39, they haven’t given up yet.

“We will never give up. Never. Not with the group of guys that we have. We’re gonna keep fighting. It’s fun.” coach Scott Brooks said after Wednesday night’s 100-90 victory over the Orlando Magic, according to The Athletic’s Fred Katz.

Yes, technically the Washington Wizards playoff hopes are still alive. But with the Magic, Charlotte Hornets, and Miami Heat all currently standing between the Wizards and the playoffs, those hopes are on life support.

Those still rooting for a first-round meeting with either Kawhi Leonard or Giannis Antetokounmpo will be glad to know the Wizards will play both Charlotte and Miami one more time before the season ends.

But a good portion, if not the majority, of Wizards fans would prefer to see them lose both games vs Miami and Charlotte. They may even prefer if the Wizards lose all their remaining games.

That paints a depressing picture for the next month of Wizards basketball, but it paints a hopeful one for the future. Like it or not, tanking is taking over the NBA as the go-to rebuilding strategy. With limited money to spend this off-season, the Wizards are unlikely to land any big-time free agents. The upside and potential of a top-tier draft pick may benefit the Wizards more than any free agent they can realistically afford.

Winning games now only pushes the Wizards further from the top of the draft board. And continuing to ask Bradley Beal, the NBA’s minutes leader and one of the league’s best fourth quarter scorers, to do everything is a recipe for injury. Especially given Beal’s injury history. Why put him through that additional stress at the end of a lost season only to end up as the East’s 9th or 10th best team?

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While the Wizards can’t go out there and purposefully lose for the rest of the season, they can  help the cause without totally wasting the last month or so of basketball. Give Bradley Beal a well-earned rest; he’s proven he can lead a team, so give him a little less work and responsibility. Without John Wall next season, they’ll need it to be another big one for Beal.

Then, experiment with some new lineups to see who’s worth bringing back in the off-season and who’s better off elsewhere. Play Thomas Bryant and Bobby Portis together. See what Jabari Parker can do with the starters. Set Troy Brown Jr free. Give Chasson Randle the greenest of lights. Try everything!

The Wizards have a lot of decisions to make this off-season. With the playoffs looking like less and less of a reality, why not get a jump on things now?