After a late run to the postseason last year, the Wizards retooled their roster to add depth and shooting as a way of maximizing franchise cornerstone, Bradley Beal.
However, Washington's offseason maneuvers haven't convinced certain projection models like FiveThirtyEight's that they'll improve their positioning from that 2020-21 campaign. Per 538's preseason forecast, the Wizards are projected to finish 11th in the Eastern Conference with a 34% chance of making the playoffs.
Finishing 11th would put the Wizards just outside the play-in tournament, basically meaning they'd be the first team out in the East standings. Last year, 538 projected the Wizards to finish 11th in the East as well but gave them just an 11% chance at the postseason.
To sum up, the Wizards have a better chance at making the playoffs this year than they did at the start of last season, but they're still not expected to finish within the top-10 in the conference.
The landscape of the East could certainly be playing a role here. The conference is as deep as it's been in years, with bonafide title contenders at the top (Nets, Bucks) and perennial playoff teams below them like the Celtics, Sixers and Heat.
Then there's the tier of playoff hopefuls that all have decent claims at a spot in the Eastern Conference bracket. The Knicks, Raptors and Pacers are all projected to finish above the Wizards and have each made the playoffs in one of the last two seasons.
If one of New York, Toronto, Indiana or even Chicago doesn't play to expectation, the Wizards could easily be a team to step up and take their place in the playoff picture. By replacing Russell Westbrook with Spencer Dinwiddie, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Montrezl Harrell and Kyle Kuzma, the Wizards are a much deeper team and are built to have more regular-season success than last season.
At the end of the day, though, these are all educated guesses. 538 had the Lakers and Celtics as the teams with the best chance of winning the championship last season, and they both failed to make it out of the first round of the playoffs.