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ESPN’s Real Plus/Minus projects Wizards will finish 3rd in East in 2017-18

NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Washington Wizards Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Wizards may not have been able to make a big move to challenge Boston or Cleveland for the top spot in the East, but based on some new projections for next season, it doesn’t look like their uneventful offseason is going to cause them to fall back in the standings.

On Thursday afternoon, the ESPN released their Real Plus/Minus projections for every team in the NBA. Washington finished third in the East, less than two wins behind the Cavaliers and Celtics.

Here’s what Kevin Pelton of ESPN had to say about Washington’s projection:

The Wizards bring back largely the same roster -- they're fifth in the percentage of projected minutes played by returning players -- so it's no surprise that Washington is expected to finish in largely the same spot as last season, when it went 49-33.

Surprisingly, ESPN doesn’t have the Raptors (who finished ahead of the Wizards last season) or the Heat (who finished last season on a tear) as Washington’s biggest threat. Instead, the next two closest teams in the standings are the Bucks (who also had a fairly uneventful summer) and the Hornets (who traded for Dwight Howard).

Like any projection, there are caveats to consider:

  • A lot can still change between now and the start of the season, especially depending on what happens with Kyrie Irving and Carmelo Anthony.
  • You can only do so much to project who gets injured and for how long.
  • As LeBron James demonstrates year after year, he really doesn’t care about the regular season and regularly invites teams to take the top seed in the East, just so he can humiliate them on their home floor. What a jerk.

Still, if nothing else, these projections should serve as encouragement the Wizards are - for better or worse - right about where they were last season.