The Washington Wizards have dealt with more than their fair share of injuries this season. No one is going to argue this point. Alan Anderson, the team's biggest free agent signing over the summer, has only played 9 games this season. Bradley Beal and Nene have each missed over 20 games with various ailments. And let's not forget they've been forced to waive two players (Martell Webster and Gary Neal) in order to clear roster spots for healthy, replacement-level players.
Other than John Wall and Ramon Sessions, every other player on the team has missed at least one game due to injury. Cumulatively, the Wizards have lost 277 games to injury this season as of April 3. That's the third-highest mark in the league, according to Man-Games Lost.
Certainly, you could make the argument this season would have gone better if the Wizards were healthy. Washington never got a chance to see how a fully-healthy Alan Anderson could have made a difference with this year's squad. Beal and Nene's frequent absences put more pressure on John Wall to create offense and play through pain to try to keep the Wizards afloat.
That said, blaming injuries on the Wizards' performance this season is a hollow excuse. Need proof that a team can overcome serious injuries and still contend for a playoff spot? Look at the Memphis Grizzlies. They've lost more games to injuries than the Wizards, yet they're 41-36 and clinging on to the fifth seed in the Western Conference, despite their recent slump.
And keep in mind, the Grizzlies haven't just lost more games to injury, but they've lost far better players than Washington in most instances. They lost Mike Conley, Marc Gasol, Brandan Wright and Mario Chalmers for the season. Zach Randolph and Tony Allen have each missed over a dozen games as well. If you're looking for some analytical context, the Grizzlies' Lost-Value Over Replacement Player (VORP) Value is 2.891. Washington's Lost-VORP is just 0.372. Kevin Broom has also written about how little the games lost to injury have affected the team this season.
Memphis survived devastating injuries to their core this season while Washington couldn't figure out how to compensate for the absence of much less critical players that most could have predicted would miss time, based on their recent injury histories. This speaks volumes about each franchise's ability to build teams with the depth to survive injuries, and establish a culture that enables players to step up and fill bigger roles when needed.
Oh, and don't forget that Memphis traded away Jeff Green and Courtney Lee at the deadline for future draft picks. The Grizzlies knew they were too injured to make a deep playoff run and flipped some of their healthy players into future picks to reload for when everyone's healthy again. So not only are the Grizzlies in a better position than the Wizards right now, but they put themselves in a much better position for the future while Washington was busy dealing away a first-round pick in a futile attempt to salvage their season.
When we look at back at everything that went wrong for the Wizards this season, injuries will get brought up a lot, and they should be. But when we look back, we also need to remember injuries just exacerbated issues the team already had with a lack of depth, a lack of leadership, and a lack of foresight.