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Daily Digits: The Wizards’ dip in assist percentage tells us something

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NBA: Washington Wizards at Sacramento Kings Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Daily Digits is a new daily feature we’re doing at Bullets Forever this year where we take a look at stats about the Wizards. We’ll dive into the numbers, add some context, and discuss how they affect the product on the court.

Today’s stat is the percentage of Wizards baskets which have been assisted this season, which is...

52.2%

Assist percentage in and of itself doesn’t say much about a team. Last season, the three teams that finished lowest in assist percentage were the Thunder, Blazers, and Pacers, who all made the playoffs comfortably last season. The Rockets, who took the Warriors to the brink of elimination last season, finished 22nd.

So on the one hand, it isn’t alarming that the Wizards are 24th in assist percentage through the five games of the season. But considering the Wizards assisted on 63.1 percent of their shots last season—the third-highest assist percentage in the league—and that they’ve been top-ten in that category five of the last six years, it certainly signals a tactical shift, whether intentional or unintentional.

Based on John Wall and Bradley Beal’s comments after Friday’s loss to the Kings—and Washington’s 1-4 record—it doesn’t seem like it has been a good shift by any means.

If the Wizards were a better isolation team, they might be able to get by with a more individualistic approach, but they aren’t. They’re averaging just 0.87 points per possession on isolations, which is right near the league average for those plays. If the Wizards can’t get on the same page about who needs to get the ball, it could lead to a lot of missed shots and hurt feelings this season.