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Why is Tomas Satoransky falling out of the Wizards’ rotation?

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A combination of smaller things happened simultaneously, which are resulting in less playing time for the sophomore point guard.

Washington Wizards v Toronto Raptors - Game Two

Tomas Satoransky had a career year during the 2017-18 regular season. He averaged a7.2 points and 3.9 assists a game while shooting 52.3 percent from the field and 46.5 percent from three. Satoransky also started 30 games in place of John Wall this season and played admirably, keeping Washington in playoff position til the end.

But now, Satoransky has fallen out of the rotation. So what gives?

Our stats guru, Kevin Broom ran his player production average (PPA) analysis for the Wizards through Game 4 of their series against the Raptors. The results are to the left. For reference, here’s what a PPA score means:

  • 225+ — league Most Valuable Player candidate
  • 200+ — typically All-NBA level (top 15-20 in the league)
  • 150+ — All-Star level
  • 100 — average
  • 75 — valued reserve
  • 45 and below — replacement level
Kevin Broom

John Wall has played spectacular, as his PPA of 206 indicates. In fact, the Wizards’ starters are all playing above average except Marcin Gortat who has a PPA of 90. In Gortat’s case, his Game 2 performance significantly lowered his PPA.

As for the reserves, while Mike Scott is playing at a high level with a PPA of 118, Ian Mahinmi looks spectactular with a PPA of 190. That said, he’s only averaging nine minutes a game, partly because of his absurdly high foul rate of 12 per 100 team possessions.

Satoransky actually has the worst PPA of -37 while playing just 9.5 minutes a game. Ultimately, it came from a low sample size where he shot just 1 of 8 in four games. Satoransky’s most productive performance was in Game 2 when he scored three points.

Ultimately, it’s unlikely that Satoransky just got worse in the last couple of weeks. He’s just playing very little at the moment and his metrics are quite prone to wild swings because of his limited playing time.

It’s more likely that Brooks just favors playing other point guards with tendencies that differ from Satoransky’s, especially during this time of year.

The Wizards signed Ty Lawson specifically for their current playoff run. Lawson had a 14 point and 8 assist performance in Game 2 which may have been enough for Brooks to consider using him more that Sato. After playing 31 minutes in Game 2, Lawson averaged 15.5 minutes a game and effectively fell back to Earth. In fact, Lawson was scoreless in Game 4.

Satoransky only averaged 8.1 shots per 36 minutes while Lawson averaged 12.1 shots per 36 minutes in his NBA career. Given that some of the NBA’s best score-heavy guards who can play the point like Russell Westbrook and James Harden have played for Brooks before, it may just be that he wants to play someone who is more willing to take shots.

That said, Satoransky is still playing more than Tim Frazier, who played six total minutes in the playoffs. And John Wall’s average playing time has also gone up from 34.4 minutes in the regular season to 37.5 minutes per game in this playoff series.

Ultimately, it appears that a combination of low shooting, Lawson’s arrival and early Game 2 impact, and Wall’s increased postseason playing time are resulting in Satoransky’s drop in playing time during the postseason. I get that regular season basketball is different than playoff basketball. But I also think that Satoransky deserves more opportunities to show what he can do in the postseason. Hopefully, we’ll see him get another shot to play significant minutes at some point during the rest of the playoffs.