In the wake of Friday's loss to the Timberwolves, which almost assuredly guarantees the Wizards will miss the playoffs, plenty of people have suggested the Wizards tank to save the Top-9 protected pick they traded to Phoenix to acquire Markieff Morris at the trade deadline. If you can't make the playoffs, at least keep one of your building blocks for the future, right?
Yeah, well it's not that easy. As it stands, the Wizards are tied for the 12th-worst record in the NBA at 35-37 with the Jazz. The three teams directly below Washington in the standings are Denver (31-42), New York (30-43), and Milwaukee (30-43). Put another way, the Nuggets are further behind the Wizards than the Wizards are behind the Pistons, and the Bucks and Knicks are only a half-game closer to the Wizards than the Wizards are to the Hornets.
If the Wizards decided to shamelessly give up on the rest of the season and not win a single game from here out, they would still need the Nuggets to win five of their last nine, and the Knicks and the Bucks to each win six of their last nine to finish with 36 wins and move ahead of Washington in the standings. You're asking three lottery-bound teams to finish the season a combined 17-10. Good luck.
Even if that were to somehow happen, the Wizards would still be in danger of losing their pick depending on what happened in the draft lottery. If one of the teams with the 10th-14th best odds moved into the top 3, they would get bumped back to having the 10th pick, which would then put it back in Phoenix's hands.
As dark and depressing as it sounds, there's really no point to tanking now. Even if you're trying to advocate tanking just to help improve their lottery odds, that's still really hard and still fairly pointless. If Denver finishes on a tear and passes the Wizards, that only helps Washington's odds of getting into the top 3 by 0.4 percent.
Honestly, the Wizards might as well just keep pushing for that playoff bid. While the odds are incredibly slim at this point, they're better than the odds of getting that pick back through anything else other than sheer luck.