As goals go, it seems classically Wizards. In the NBA regular season, eight teams per conference earn a spot in the playoffs. Naturally, the Wizards are battling hard for ninth.
I know it's basically a motivational gimmick. I know the season was lost with that horrific start. I know making it to ninth would be a sign of the team's improvement from that woeful beginning. But still.
Finishing ninth doesn't deodorize the season. It doesn't change the fact that the team wasn't good enough to compete for the playoffs, unlike other teams that suffered significant injuries. And, it doesn't change the fact that major roster work still must be done -- at literally every spot on the floor.
Internally, I'm in favor of teams doing whatever they want to motivate players. If it's hustle charts or pizza parties or video games or striving for ninth -- fine. But don't go public with the team's quest for a moral victory consolation prize. Just say the team will play hard and try to win as many games as possible the rest of the way, and that it hopes to be in the playoffs next year.
So anyway, all that aside, the goal is ninth. What'll it take? Right now, Philadelphia holds that spot with a 30-43 record. I project the 76ers to finish with 34 wins. I project Washington to finish with 32. Somehow they'll need to make up a couple games over their final nine. By my math, the Wizards will need to finish at least 7-2 to have a realistic shot at ninth.
So...umm...go Wizards. I guess.
Here's this week's Player Production Average (PPA) update. PPA is a stat I developed that credits players for things they do that help a team win and debits them for things that don't. PPA is pace-adjusted, per minute measure that accounts for defense and includes a "degree of difficulty" factor based on the quality of the opponent during a player's minutes on the floor. In PPA, 100 = average, higher is better, and 45 = replacement level.
Largely a status quo update. The biggest improver was Jan Vesely, who finally raised his PPA out of the single digits. Bradley Beal and Trevor Booker each improved a little. Chris Singleton played even worse than he had been playing.