The Wizards have made a commitment towards a faster-paced offense this season in order to take advantage of John Wall's speed and the team's improved performance in the 2015 NBA playoffs because of using a smaller lineup. We have seen the changes right away since the Wizards are 10th in scoring average and eighth in team pace for games played through October 31, 2015.
Even though the preseason results indicated that Washington was performing at a high level offensively, that hasn't translated to the regular season thanks to the fact that the Wizards lead the NBA in total turnovers. When you also consider that they have had turnover struggles against three teams who don't figure to be in the NBA championship race, that's a concern.
According to the Four Factors of Basketball Success, turnover percentage (TOV%) is the second most influential factor in the outcome of a game. Let's take a look at the Wizards' turnovers and percentage as well as their opponents' in the first three games of the season.
|Date||Opponent||Wiz TOV%||Wiz Total TO's||Opp Pts off Wiz TO's||Opponent TOV%||Oppenent Total TO's||Wiz Pts off Opp TO's|
|Wednesday, October 28||at Magic||15.20%||18||15||11.70%||16||14|
|Friday, October 30||at Bucks||19.40%||21||20||14.50%||16||16|
|Saturday, October 31||vs. Knicks||14.00%||19||19||15.20%||19||23|
|All Opponents||16.80% (27th)||58||54||14.50% (14th)||51||53|
Stats from Basketball-Reference. Numbers are for games played through October 31, 2015. Numbers in parentheses are where the Wizards rank in the NBA.
From the numbers and percentages above, there are some things that stick out right away.
There are just too many turnovers, period
Forget the TOV%, points off of turnovers, and how turnover prone Wizards' first few opponents are. Washington is averaging nearly 20 turnovers a game, an ugly number regardless of their pace.
It's also not a good thing considering that they were seventh in the league in turnovers per game last season with an offense that wasn't exactly geared to their strengths. Now the Wizards are worse at taking care of the basketball despite having an offense that is supposed to be better suited for them.
The House of Guards has been a 1-2 turnover machine
John Wall and Bradley Beal have committed a combined 24 turnovers in the Wizards' first three games or an average of eight times per game. Wall and Beal are also averaging career highs in turnovers per game and per 100 possessions by a noticeable margin.
|John Wall||Bradley Beal|
|Season||TO/Game||TO/100 poss.||TO/Game||TO/100 poss.|
Stats for the 2015-16 season are for games through October 31, 2015.
As guards and the best players on the team, both Wall and Beal will have high usage rates and high turnovers. If you look at which players commit the most turnovers after a good number of games in the season, the names will be made up of mostly All-Stars and high usage starters.
However, the concern is that both Wall's and especially Beal's turnover numbers and rates have increased to career-highs this season. It is definitely reasonable to assume that they will improve on their turnovers as the season goes on, but the jumps are still a bit surprising nevertheless.
Marcin Gortat has also been turnover-prone
Despite only having a 16.3 percent usage rate, the Polish Machine has averaged three turnovers a game in the first three games, including a four-turnover performance against the Knicks on Saturday. Three of those turnovers were the result of offensive fouls as opposed to traveling or bad passes. However, every turnover Gortat committed in the Magic and Bucks games were because of traveling or bad passes.
Gortat's TOV% of 26.3 percent is poised to decrease considerably because his usage isn't as high as Wall's or Beal's. In addition, players don't commit three offensive fouls in a game very often.
Even Wall would concur based on his postgame interview with the media. Emphasis is mine:
We didn't have too many live turnovers. Most of them were moving screens, stepping out of bounds and things like that. Those are the ones that you can't control. It's the ones where you over dribble too much and make bad decisions in passes. We didn't make shots either. We would have had more assists than 16 but we missed open shots. We gave ourselves a chance to win the game. They just made more shots than we could make.
Still, Gortat's turnovers are also a concern after taking offensive fouls into account.
The Wizards have forced enough turnovers themselves so far and opponents also haven't converted enough points off of Washington's
I listed the Wizards' defensive TOV% in the first data table above because it shows one reason why they have started the season 2-1 instead of 1-2 or even 0-3. Washington has forced 51 turnovers themselves and converted them into 53 points over the first three games.
Meanwhile, the Magic, Bucks, and Knicks were only able to convert the Wizards' 58 turnovers into 54 points. Given how close the Wizards' two wins were, if the Magic or Bucks scored one or two more baskets off of turnovers, that may be enough to change the outcome of the game.
All the Wizards' next three opponents are good at forcing turnovers
Looking ahead, the Wizards have a tough schedule when they play three straight opponents in four days, and that's not all. All three opponents are among the NBA's best at forcing turnovers this season and/or last. In addition, all are at the very least competent on overall defense.
|Date||Team||2015-16 Def Rtg Rank||2015-16 Opp TOV% rank||2014-15 Def Rtg Rank||2014-15 Opp TOV% rank|
|Wednesday, November 4||vs. Spurs||5||4||2||15|
|Friday, November 6||at Celtics||12||1||12||11|
|Saturday, November 7||at Hawks||15||6||6||3|
Stats from Basketball-Reference. Ranks are for games played through October 31, 2015.
When any team plays three games in four days, players' legs are bound to get tired, especially toward the end of such a stretch. The Wizards can't afford to give the ball up the way they have been to teams like the Spurs, Celtics, or Hawks. If they do, this week's three-game stretch will be very long indeed.