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Daily Digits: Believe it or not, the Wizards’ hustle stats are very good

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NBA: Boston Celtics at Washington Wizards Geoff Burke-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 number of passes the Wizards deflect per 48 minutes, which is...

13.9

For as bad as the Wizards have been on defense this season, you wouldn’t know it by checking out the stats in NBA.com’s hustle section. Washington is currently fourth in passes deflected per 48 minutes. They’re also fourth in loose balls recovered per 48 minutes. They’re currently tied for the lead in charges drawn this season.

It would be easy to dismiss stats like these when they don’t line up with what we’re seeing on the court. The Wizards don’t look like a team that’s putting it all on the line right now, and their record certainly doesn’t support that idea either.

So what’s going on here? There are two important things to keep in mind. First, deflecting passes, drawing charges, and box outs are all well and good, but you only get half the story if all you see is the positive results. If I had to guess, the Wizards are also right near the top of the league in playing possessions 5-on-4 defensively because someone gambled for a steal and missed.

The other thing is that all these hustle stats are individually-based. It speaks to how everyone is trying to make something happen on their own rather than working as a unit to force stops. What I think these stats end up illustrating is that they’re working hard to make something happen, but they’re not working hard together, which is a much trickier issue to work around.