The NBA is set to return at the end of the month, as 22 of the league’s 30 teams will converge on Orlando to complete the season at Disney World.
Over the next few weeks, hypothetical scenarios will be released to look at how each of the 22 teams can and will win the NBA title. That starts with the teams with the worst odds.
The Washington Wizards (24-40) have the worst record of any team that will return to finish their season and sit 5.5 games behind the Orlando Magic for the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference. Hypothetically, Washington’s best chance at making the playoffs may come through a play-in tournament with the Brooklyn Nets.
The Nets will be without stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, who are both recovering from injuries and will not play the remainder of the season. The Wizards sit six games back of Brooklyn, and they will finish two games better than them in the final eight regular-season games and would force a play-in tournament.
The return of John Wall will propel the Wizards to a playoff spot, as they defeat the Brooklyn Nets to earn the No. 8 seed.
Next, a date with the Milwaukee Bucks and reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo await Washington. This will be an extremely tough matchup for any team, but the Wizards are up for the challenge in this hypothetical scenario. Bradley Beal continues his high-scoring ways, as he and Wall outscore the Bucks, and pull off the stunning upset in six games.
That leads to a conference semifinal series with the fifth-seeded Indiana Pacers. Once again, Wall and Beal outperform their Pacers counterparts, as the duo combines to score 83 points in a deciding Game 7.
On to the Eastern Conference Finals, where the Toronto Raptors await. Pascal Siakam has had a monster postseason, along with Fred Van Vleet, who has added to his postseason legacy by hitting clutch shots down the stretch. But in this series, it is Rui Hachimura who comes up as the hero. Hachimura’s rookie season has been a quietly strong campaign, but it is quiet no more as he explodes in the ECF, averaging almost 20 points. Washington has now extended an improbable run that continues to the NBA Finals.
The matchup for the Wizards in the playoffs is another team that has been hot from deep with two strong scorers–the Houston Rockets. James Harden and Russell Westbrook have finally broken back into the NBA Finals for the first time since 2012 by defeating LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference Finals.
This matchup turns out to be a dream for Washington. Houston’s hot streak runs cold early in the series as Washington jumps out to an early 2-0 lead in the series. The Rockets come roaring back, winning three straight to take a 3-2 lead. But for a final time in what has been one of the most improbable playoff runs in NBA history, Bradley Beal rises to the occasion again, dropping 45 and 47 points in the final two games as Washington becomes the 2019-2020 NBA Champions.
As you can see, Washinton’s route to a title is improbable, but it is indeed, very possible with the right matchups. Be on the lookout over the next few weeks for the rest of this series.