It was understood going into the season that the 09-10 Wizards team would rely heavily on its jumpshooting. To a roster of players that already relied heavily on Js, particularly of the two-point variety, were added Mike Miller and Randy Foye.
The conventional wisdom on J-heavy teams is that they will be inconsistent from game to game, and quarter to quarter, depending on how many shots are falling. Pairing that up with a good, consistent defense can bring some measure of consistency, but that would probably be a bit much to ask from this team, right? So the thinking was instead that this team has so many (potentially) effective shooters at so many positions that while it would lay the occasional egg, there would be more good nights than bad. Obviously, that hasn't quite worked out.
How many Js go up, how few go in, and some related comments on the team's defense and pace, all after the jump.
CLANG, CLANG, CLANG
No team in the league has missed as many Js as the Wizards. They both take more than almost anyone and miss at a higher rate than almost anyone.
First, the "leaders" in highest rate of jumpshots, with their success rate on those shots:
A team can make that list and still have success, obviously, but a 41.7% on the Js is hard to get away with.
To illustrate, here are the worst teams by eFG% on their jumpshots, with the percentage of Js among their total shots:
The team that used to be the Seattle Supersonics is the only one anywhere near managing a .500 record, and they are less J-reliant than the Wizards are.
If that doesn't offend the basketball purists out there sufficiently, I'll throw out one more, related note: This team has assists on only 54% of its Js, tied for 5th worst in the league, so it is safe to assume that many of these missed (and of course made) 3s are the result of one-on-one moves or freelancing.
But, check out this list for something GOOD that we probably wouldn't have predicted before the season:
These are the league leaders in defensive eFG%. That's right, the Wiz are second in the league at defending (or, "defending," if you are skeptical) jump shots AND their opponents are taking a higher rate of their attempts from the perimeter than is the case for any other team (the rest of the top 5 in that category are Boston, Orlando, Dallas, and Sacramento). When you take into account the fact that the Wiz have not been terribly efficient at defending inside, it seems unlikely that the Wiz actually force opponents to take low percentage perimeter shots in the way you might assume the Celtics or Lakers do. One might suspect that opponents watch the barage of low-percentage jumpshots launched by the Wizards and are just unable to help themselves. Whatever the cause, this has been a significant factor in the Wizards' relative competitiveness.
As best as I can tell, they not only have missed the most Js in the league, but they have also defended the most missed Js in the league. So, if you are finding this team hard to watch, this could be the reason. I mean, aside from the losing.
BROTHER, CAN YOU SPARE A DIME
Sorry for the weak pun, but it is deserved given this team's pitiful lack of sharing.
I already noted above that it has a big unassisted-J-attempt problem. Well, as even a casual observer probably would have guessed, it also has a big unassisted-early-shot problem. (And, the team is 27th in overall assist percentage, so they aren't doing much better in later offense.)
Here are the league bottom-dwellers in percentage of early shot clock (using up to 10 seconds of the clock) buckets that are assisted, with the associated eFG% and the percentage of their shots that are early:
|TEAM||EarlyAst%||Early eFG%||Early Att%|
The Wizards have the 4th worst Early eFG% in the league. The only team that is worse that doesn't appear on this list is Indiana.
But, it is important to emphasize that this is in no way a "pace" problem in the conventional sense--it isn't the result of just playing too fast. Yes, the Wizards are the 9-th fastest playing team in the league by possessions per game, but they actually are right in the middle of the pack (tied for 15th) in the percentage of their shots that are taken early in the shot clock. So, they rarely run the clock down far, but they also aren't a running team. (Can't help but wonder whether this is the worst of both worlds.) The reason they shoot a low percentage is because they aren't helping each other get those early shot clock opportunities--guys are just taking it on themselves to create something by themselves, counter to Flip's offensive principles, not to mention basic hoops common sense.
Whatever voodoo the Wiz are working on opposition jumpshots is not carrying over to early shot clock shooting. The opposition is shooting essentially the same percentage of its shots without using much clock (which could be good), but is making them at a higher rate (and they are assisted at a much higher rate). That hurts. Some of that may just be a consequence of turning the ball over too much and giving the opposition too many transition opportunities, but it doesn't really explain why the Wiz aren't getting or completing as many oppoturnities themselves.
It is a commonplace in the NBA for a struggling coach to throw his struggling team under the bus (right or wrong) by saying that the team's problems would be solved if only the players would "trust the offense" and "take good shots." This seems to be a classic example of a team that needs to do just those things.
(Note: The above team stats, with the exception of overall pace, were drawn primarily from 82games.com)