The decision to shut down Nene, Trevor Ariza and Martell Webster for the season may actually make a difference in where the Wizards end up in the 2013 NBA Draft lottery. With two games left to go in the season, the Wizards are still bunched up with a number of teams in the mid- to late-lottery range. Here's the situation as it stands.
The Wizards can finish no "higher" than sixth. The Bobcats and Magic are fighting for the top spot, while the Cavaliers and Suns are currently tied for third. The Hornets have 27 wins, but they have just one game left in the season, so there's no way for the Wizards to "catch" them.
The Wizards can finish no "lower" than 9th. The Raptors won their 32nd game by defeating the Nets on Sunday. The most wins the Wizards can finish with is 31. Portland, Philadelphia, Utah and Dallas are ahead of the Raptors.
Here's how Nos. 6 through 10 shake up right now.
T6. Sacramento: 28-52
T6. Detroit: 28-52
8. Washington: 29-51
9. Minnesota: 30-50
The Wizards are one game behind Sacramento and Detroit and one game ahead of Minnesota. All four teams have two games left to play. Here are their remaining schedules:
SACRAMENTO: MON at Oklahoma City, WED vs. LA Clippers.
DETROIT: MON vs. Philadelphia, WED at Brooklyn.
WASHINGTON: MON at Brooklyn, WED at Chicago.
MINNESOTA: MON vs. Utah, WED at San Antonio.
Some quick thoughts on those remaining games:
- SACRAMENTO: The Thunder's magic number to clinch the top seed in the West is 1, so I imagine they'll go all out for the game on Monday. The Clippers are fighting for playoff positioning and will surely go all out on Wednesday, but it's also the potential last game in Sacramento, so the crowd is going to try to push the Kings to a win. PREDICTION: L at OKC, W vs. LAC, 29-53 record.
- DETROIT: Philadelphia has played better recently, but the news about Doug Collins will probably affect them. Which way remains to be seen. Brooklyn is essentially locked into the No. 4 seed and will probably rest their starters on Wednesday. PREDICTION: W vs. PHI, W at BKN, 30-52 record.
- MINNESOTA: The Jazz are playing for their playoff lives on Monday, but that didn't stop Minnesota from putting up a hell of a fight in Utah on Friday. The Spurs, meanwhile, will probably rest their starters on Wednesday, as they're essentially locked into the No. 2 seed and have a number of banged-up players. PREDICTION: L vs. UTA, W at SA, 31-51 record.
- WASHINGTON: The Nets, as noted, will probably rest their starters, but this is a skeleton crew the Wizards are trotting out. It remains to be seen what happens with the Bulls, though. On the one hand, they're fighting with Atlanta for the 5 seed. On the other hand, they too have a number of injured players. Both games are on the road, though, so I'd count on two losses. PREDICTION: L at BKN, L at CHI, 29-53 record.
- The sixth-worst record won the lottery in 2005 (Andrew Bogut) and 2007 (Greg Oden). It moved up into the top 3 in 2003 (Darko Milicic, i.e. the Grizzlies' pick that was Top-1 protected and went to the Pistons), 2010 after winning a tiebreaker (Evan Turner) and 2011 after losing a tiebreaker (Derrick Favors, via the Nets' unprotected pick sent to the Jazz).
- The seventh-worst record won the lottery in 2000 (Kenyon Martin). It has not moved up otherwise.
- The eighth-worst record won the lottery in 2011 (Kyrie Irving, with the Clippers' pick sent to Cleveland at the trade deadline). It moved up to No. 2 in 2001 (Tyson Chandler).
- The ninth-worst record won the lottery in 2008 (Derrick Rose). It has not moved up otherwise.