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The Wizards aren't losing because they changed their pace, they're losing because they're not good at what matters

Cleveland Cavaliers v Washington Wizards Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

For as much as we like to talk about pace and how it affects a team's style of play, we have to be careful not to give it too much credit. Pace is something you do, but it's not something you can be good at, per se.

This season, the Wizards have the NBA's fifth-fastest pace, jumping up 11 spots from last season. Given how the Wizards have struggled this season, it's easy to point at the change in style as part of the problem, but honestly, it's been the least of the team's issues this season.

In fact, you could argue the change has helped in one very specific way. Washington has been outstanding in transition this season. The Wizards are 2nd in the NBA in fast break points per game, and it isn't leading to more transition opportunities on the other end. Only ten teams allow less fast break points per game than Washington. When you have John Wall and Ramon Sessions as your point guards, you're going to win the battle in transition most of the time.

Problem is, outscoring a team in transition is only one-fifth of the battle. According to Nylon Calculus, 81 percent of all NBA plays this season have been half court plays, and that's where Washington has run into trouble this season.

Washington is 17th in the NBA at scoring on half court plays, averaging 89.2 points per 100 plays, and 24th in half court defense, allowing 92.2 points per 100 plays. They're getting outscored by 3 points every 100 half court plays, which means they're the 22nd best team in the NBA in the half court.

As the rest of the league starts to realize the Wizards can only win games when they can push the ball, it's getting easier to slow then down as we've seen recently. Teams are being more cautious with the ball, which keeps the Wizards from getting out in transition off turnovers, and even when they do give the ball up, they're more disciplined about getting back and preventing easy shots.

The Wizards had the right idea trying to take advantage their speed and skill in transition to get easy points this season like the Warriors have. But as you can see above, the real key to Golden State's success is how they can destroy you in half court sets, which the Wizards have shown they can't do as currently constructed. Until Washington can figure out a way to mimic Golden State's success in that part of the game, they're not going anywhere, no matter how fast or slow they go.