With the Washington Wizards in the mix for the last spot in the Eastern Conference playoff picture, we take a look at teams that had success not tanking.
Well here we are, Wizards fans. We’re 53 games in and sitting on a 20-33 record, past the all-star break, and the Washington Wizards sit just 3 games out of 8th in the Eastern Conference.
And the fandom in DC is divided, with some clamoring for the tank in order to secure a high draft pick to play alongside John Wall in his return from Achilles tendon surgery, and the other side bent on making a playoff appearance in a weak Eastern Conference.
While I personally agree with the former and think that cooler heads prevail in this situation, the latter group who want to make a push for the playoffs aren’t without their own precedent. There are at least seven teams I have identified in the past decade (I’ll dub it the “modern era”) that have snagged the 7th or 8th seed in their respective conferences and gone on to do big things.
Some of them were even in similar situations, with injuries to key players that deflated their record only to see it skyrocket the next season when that player returned.
And it’s key to note that Bradley Beal, the lone star still on the floor for our Washington Wizards, has already voiced his frustration just last month over losing. It’s no surprise to those that have been following this whole saga when you look and the Wizards are a hot 5-2 over their last seven games prior to the all-star break.
Plus, with Beal missing the all-star game in one of the biggest snubs in the history of the game, he’ll be extra motivated to prove that he belongs among the greats in the game. I wouldn’t be surprised if he led the league in scoring when all was said and done.
With 29 games remaining, the Washington Wizards are at a crossroads, so if they want to go for the 8th (or possibly even 7th) seed and a playoff berth, which teams have done that in the past and been successful? Here’s seven of them, from least similar to most similar.