The Washington Wizards had quite the offseason. A team rarely mentioned during the NBA regular season became somewhat of a darling during this offseason. From surprisingly snagging a top three lottery pick, to drafting the NBA Draft’s supposed most ready prospect, to inking John Wall to a max-deal, Washington had its share of headlines.
All of this played a factor in the ongoing discussion about how Washington is now the chic pick to go from the lottery to the playoffs next season. Nonetheless, the fact of the matter is this: the sole reason the Wizards are being mentioned in this discussion is because of the weakness of the Eastern Conference. With the Milwaukee Bucks, Boston Celtics and,to an extent, the Atlanta Hawks essentially bowing out of playoff contention with their offseason moves, someone has to fill their void.
With these three teams basically tanking for the right to choose one of the jewels in the much hyped 2014 NBA Draft class, seven teams are left to duke it out for the final three spots. Considering that the Philadelphia 76ers gutted their roster on draft night, you can essentially exclude them from contention as well. The same goes for the Orlando Magic and Charlotte Bobcats, whom despite an influx in talent, are still destined to go through another inept season.
This whittles down the field to the Detroit Pistons, Cleveland Cavaliers, Toronto Raptors and the Wizards, giving each team a 75 percent shot at garnering a playoff spot. So if, and when, the Wizards make the playoffs, remember one thing: It wasn’t internal improvement, and it wasn’t revitalized health or better coaching that brought playoff basketball back to the Verizon Center. It was a historically weak Eastern Conference.