There’s been a lot of buzz around the league about the Wizards lately. They have racked up an impressive 33-13 record since the start of December, which is the best record in the East since that point. Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, and Markieff Morris are all having arguably their best seasons while John Wall has vaulted into the MVP conversation.
The surge has helped Washington make up big ground in the NBA standings. The Wizards currently hold the third seed in the Eastern Conference, one game back of the Boston Celtics and three games back of the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers. More importantly, Washington’s performance is changing the way analytical models view their outlook for the rest of the season, including FiveThirtyEight’s.
The FiveThirtyEight NBA forecast is based on 50,000 simulations of the season and it accounts for team fatigue, travel distance to games, and home courts with higher altitudes. “Elo” ratings are a measure of team strength based on head-to-head results and quality of opponent, while the “CARMELO” projections estimate a player’s future performance based on the trajectory of other, similar NBA players. CARM-Elo ratings, which power the forecast model, blend these two metrics to measure a team's quality based on both its game results and its roster.
Get it? CARM-Elo Ratings? Me neither. Anyways, according to FiveThirtyEight, the Wizards’ now have the fourth-best odds of winning the NBA title this season.
That’s right. Your Washington Wizards, are more or less tied with Boston for the best chance to win the title of teams in the East. The Wizards and Celtics both sit at a 6 percent chance, while Cleveland sits at 4 percent.
Now, we certainly have to take this with a grain of salt because these are the same statisticians who told us the Golden State Warriors likely would not blow a 3-1 lead, that New England likely would not have won the Super Bowl after being down 28-3, and that Hillary Clinton was likely going to be the 45th President of the United States.
However with a dumpster fire raging in Redskins Park, an impending Capitals collapse in the postseason, and baseball games that mean anything still too far away, D.C. fans deserve something nice. Remember, just one year ago Washington was scratching and clawing before ultimately falling short of reaching the postseason. This season? They are legitimate championship contenders.