The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

The Wizards’ turnaround is now unprecedented in the history of the NBA

John Wall lets another victory sink in Wednesday in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

The Wizards’ unexpected transformation from bottom-dwelling punch line to dominant force of unyielding destruction was already remarkable before Wednesday night. But during the second game of a five-game road trip — a win in Denver, 24 hours after a win in Phoenix — it became literally unprecedented.


Like, something that had never happened before.

In the grand scope of human existence.

Wizards continue march through West with win in Denver

According to the team, the Wizards are now the first franchise in NBA history to start a season 2-8 or worse, and then reach 15 games over .500. They’re 39-24 now, a mark no 2-8 team has ever come close to reaching.

The Wizards, of course, are 37-16 since that dreadful start, which is tied for the third-best record in the league over that span. They’ve been even better since Jan. 1: 24-8, .750 basketball, just percentage points behind the Spurs for the NBA’s second-best record in 2017.

Their place in franchise history is even more outlandish: This outfit is now the second-winningest Wizards team through 63 games in the past 40 years. (The 1979 Eastern Conference champion Bullets were 43-20 at this point. The best Gilbert Arenas-era teams had just 35 wins at this point.)

Kevin Durant thought his Warriors season was over. Then he got a phone call.

But go back to the first stat. These Wizards, according to the team, are just the sixth NBA team to get even 10 games above .500 after starting 2-8 or worse. But no one did it this quickly. The 1993 Celtics made it to 14 games over .500 — on March 31. The 2007 Raptors also got to 14 games over .500 — on April 15. The 2005 Bulls made it to 13 games over .500 — on April 19. The 1996 Cavaliers made it to 13 games over .500 — on April 20.

Here are the teams that have been double-digit games over .500 after such poor starts. The best of ’em finished with 48 wins. That’s a target well within Washington’s reach.

2016-17 Washington Wizards – Thru 10 (2-8) – Most Games Over .500 (15)
2006-07 Toronto Raptors – Thru 10 (2-8) – Most Games Over .500 (14)
1992-93 Boston Celtics – Thru 10 (2-8) – Most Games Over .500 (14)
2004-05 Chicago Bulls – Thru 10 (1-9) – Most Games Over .500 (13)
1995-96 Cleveland Cavaliers – Thru 10 (2-8) – Most Games Over .500 (13)
1977-78 Seattle SuperSonics – Thru 10 (2-8) – Most Games Over .500 (12)