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What I learned from simulating the Wizards’ 2016-17 season 50 times with NBA 2K17

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After several years of steady consistency, a lot has changed for the Wizards this season. They have a new coach, a revamped bench, and a certain level of uncertainty about where the team goes from here.

Most people agree the team will be fine, but what kind of fine? Possibly contending for a top-four seed in the East fine? Respectable first round exit fine? Desperately trying to make the playoffs as a team that’s capped out for the next three seasons fine?

To find out, I thought it would be good to use NBA 2K17’s MySeason feature to simulate the 2016-17 season to see how the Wizards would fare. But to make sure I didn’t stumble into a simulation where the Wizards got extremely lucky or unlucky, it seemed like the only reasonable thing to do was repeat the exercise 49 more times to get a proper feel for things.

Here is a running log of what happened during my quest:

Attempt #1

Things did not get off to a good start. John Wall was great, earning All-NBA 3rd Team and All-Defensive 1st Team honors, but the rest of the roster failed to materialize around him. Bradley Beal missed his standard 20+ games and with him out, the team wasn’t competitive.

Final record: 37-45, 10th in East

Attempt #2

Progress! The Wizards squeak into the playoffs thanks to John Wall earning All-NBA 2nd Team honors and the team holding the tiebreaker over the Milwaukee Bucks, who also finished 40-42. The Cavaliers cruised to a gentleman’s sweep in the first round and Fear The Sword had a field day.

Final record: 40-42, 8th in East

Attempt #3

The Wizards finished with a winning record, so you would think this season is an upgrade over Attempt #2, but the Celtics knocked the Wizards out in 5 games, so it really didn’t feel any better.

Final record: 42-40, 8th in East

Attempt #4

The worst part about this season is John Wall played all 82 games. Several other players did not, but Wall did. He was subjected to this entire, miserable season.

Final record: 31-51, 12th in East

Attempt #5

Thankfully, Wall was spared from playing this entire season, but he logged enough games to earn All-Defensive 1st Team honors, so there’s still a lot to pity here.

Final record: 32-50, 12th in East

Attempt #6

Washington Wizards v Atlanta Hawks Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

John Wall earned the respect of the basketball world, getting named 1st Team All-NBA and 1st team All-Defense. Too bad it couldn’t help him avoid the Cavaliers buzzsaw in the first round.

Final record: 38-44, 8th in East

Attempt #7

Making the playoffs with a 37-45 record is weird. Winning the Southeast Division with a 37-45 record is weirder. Losing to the Bulls in 5 in the first round sounds fairly normal though.

Final record: 37-45, 7th in East

Attempt #8

Despite a 41-41 record, Washington rolls into the playoffs with the 5th seed. The Wizards get revenge on the Pacers for the 2014 playoffs in the first round but they’re dispatched in the second round by the eighth-seeded Orlando Magic.

We call this a Playoff Randy Special.

Final record: 41-41, 5th in East

Attempt #9

Starting to realize maybe this was a bad idea.

Final record: 32-50, 11th in East

Attempt #10

On the one hand, it was neat to see the Wizards’ intriguing talent send Al Horford and the Celtics packing in the first round. On the other hand, it was rough seeing Dwyane Wade and the Bulls sweep the Wizards in the second round, a dozen years after the first time he did it to Washington. Wild finish.

Final record: 39-43, 7th in East

Attempts #11-23

The only good thing that happened during this stretch was the one time where Tomas Satoransky was named 2nd Team All-Rookie. Everything else was bad. Don’t make me relive this.

Attempt #24

After a long stretch simulating the Wizards not making the playoffs, they finally make it back, only to get swept by the Celtics. Oh well.

Final Record: 44-38, 6th in East

Attempt #25

The Wizards really go off the deep end in this simulation. They traded Markieff Morris to Memphis for Tony Allen, but somehow it almost works. Allen is named 2nd Team All-Defense, Wall earned 1st Team All-NBA honors and Washington entered the playoffs ready to make a deep run. They gave Atlanta all they could handle in the first round, but ultimately fell in 7.

Final record: 43-39, 6th in East

Attempt #26

Back to reality.

Final record: 35-47, 9th in East

Attempt #27

This is fine.

Final record: 29-53, 13th in East

Attempt #28

After what I’ve been through to this point, a seven-game loss to the Pistons in the first round doesn’t sound bad. It actually sounds great. Sign me up.

Final record: 42-40, 6th in East

Attempt #29

The only solace I can take in this season is that John Wall had to be awesome to be 2nd Team All-NBA on a team that finished bottom-3 in the East.

Final record: 34-48, 13th in East

Attempt #30

Final record: 29-53, 14th in East

Attempts #31-33

Nothing good happened here. Let’s keep moving.

Attempt #34

The Bucks pulled the Playoff Randy Special on the Wizards, taking the first two games of their first round playoff series on the road, and winning the series in six games before falling in the second round.

Final record: 43-39, 4th in East

Attempt #35

I applaud you for making it this far. Here’s a video that makes me giggle when I’m feeling down:

Look at that dinosaur go!

Final record: 29-53, 12th in East

Attempt #36

It looks like things are finally starting to go the Wizards’ way. They finish with the third-best record in the East, even though John Wall and Marcin Gortat both miss over a dozen games during the season. They almost blew it in the first round, nearly blowing a 3-1 lead against the Magic, but hang on to win in 7. Unfortunately, they didn’t have much left for the Bulls in the second round, as they were eliminated in 5 games.

Final record: 49-33, 3rd in East

Attempt #37

NBA: Playoffs-Atlanta Hawks at Washington Wizards Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

John Wall had an awesome year and earned Defensive Player of the Year for his performance. Unfortunately he had to accept his award in a wheelchair because he tore his ACL right before the playoffs started. He also had to watch the Wizards get eliminated by the Cavs in the first round. This is the most Wizardsesque simulation to date.

Final record: 40-42, 8th in East

Attempt #38

John Wall only played 32 games, so you can probably imagine how things went down.

Final record: 34-48, 13th in East

Attempt #39

Not gonna lie, I got a little giddy when I saw the Wizards were paired up with the Raptors in the first round. After all, they did sweep them in the 2015 playoffs. Unfortunately they couldn’t channel the same mojo this time around. The Raptors won in 5.

Final record: 40-42, 7th in East

Attempt #40

Bradley Beal played 70 games, which was cool, but then he fractured his leg before the playoffs, which ended his season. Washington wound up losing to the Bucks in 6 in the first round because that seems like a very realistic outcome given the situation.

Final record: 43-39, 3rd in East

Attempt #41

How bad was this season? Yi Jianlian, Trey Burke, and Marcus Thornton led the Wizards in games played. This season was like one of those movies where you touch a butterfly in the past and then when you get back to the present you don’t exist.

Final record: 28-54, 14th in East

Attempt #42

The game is punishing me. It’s punishing me for trying to make something happen that is not supposed to happen.

Final record: 27-55, 11th in East

Attempt #43

John Wall averages 19.7 points, 10.1 assists, 5.7 rebounds, 3.0 steals, and 1.4 blocks per game.

The Wizards finish three games outside of the playoff picture.

Final record: 34-48, 11th in East

Attempt #44

The Wizards traded Markieff Morris for J.R. Smith and Andrew Nicholson for Matt Barnes. It did not go well.

Final record: 26-56 (Wall played all 82 games)

Attempt #45

John Wall and Bradley Beal both played all 82 games.

John Wall and Bradley Beal both played all 82 games.

John Wall and Bradley Beal both played all 82 games.

John Wall and Bradley Beal both played all 82 games.

John Wall and Bradley Beal both played all 82 games.

John Wall and Bradley Beal both played all 82 games.

John Wall and Bradley Beal both played all 82 games.

Final record: 34-48, 12th in East

Attempt #46

Jarell Eddie didn’t play a single second in this season, and I like to think that’s why it all went downhill and Scott Brooks got fired. Then again, interim coach Kevin McHale didn’t play him either.

Final record: 29-53, 15th in East

Attempt #47

The Wizards made the playoffs! Marcus Thornton took 16 shots in 20 minutes in a playoff elimination game. The Wizards were eliminated.

Final record: 41-41, 5th in East

Attempt #48

Final record: 26-56, 14th in East

Attempt #49

My heart can’t take another 38-44 season, in simulation or real life.

Final record: 38-44, 10th in East

Attempt #50

The Wizards took the Pacers to seven games in their first round series. Paul George and John Wall had a great duel, but George’s 32 point performance was enough to help the Pacers to a Game 7 win on the Wizards’ home floor.

What I’m trying to say here is we ended on a high note.

Final record: 44-38

FINAL TALLIES

Best record: 49-33

Worst record: 26-56

Average record: 36-46

Trips to the playoffs: 17 out of 50 (34 percent)

Trips to the second round: 3 out of 50 (6 percent)

OBSERVATIONS

This did not go well at all. The highs were rare and not all that great (Not even one 50 win sim? Bruh.). The average season put the Wizards on the outside of the playoff picture, and the low seasons would be bad enough to make Kings fans think they can reunite Wall & Cousins in Sacramento.

There were a few common themes that seemed to emerge during the Wizards bad seasons. Injuries were the biggest issue. If Wall, Beal, Porter, or one of the team’s centers missed time, it was difficult for the team to stay competitive.

If the team wasn’t getting injured, they were often trading players that hurt the team’s depth. One of the things that seemed to happen quite frequently is the team would trade one or both of Markieff Morris, Andrew Nicholson and most of the time the deals did not make the team better.

Whatever the case, John Wall was frequently put in a position where he had to do way too much. Most of the seasons where Wall put up the best numbers and got the most accolades were in years where Wall was just trying to drag them into the playoffs. The years where he did not rack up the awards were usually the ones where the team wound up with the best records.

The big takeaway here is that while NBA 2K still thinks John Wall is great, they’re pretty unconvinced about the rest of his supporting cast. The path to success this season will need a strong dose of John Wall, but he’s going to need the rest of the roster to stay healthy and stay together if Washington stands any chance of making some noise this spring.