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By the Numbers: Wizards lose to Nets in preseason opener

Washington Wizards v Brooklyn Nets
Washington Wizards guard Raul Neto had an outstanding debut in the team’s 119-114 loss to the Brooklyn Nets.
Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

Keep this in mind: it was a preseason game. Whatever players did — good, bad, in-between — it’s just preseason. It doesn’t count. It’s just one game, and no one played more than 25 minutes.

That said, the Wizards have to be at least somewhat encouraged by what they saw last night in the team’s 119-114 preseason loss to the Brooklyn Nets. Their defense got torched by Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving (and everyone else) in the first half, but the kids dug in, played with more intensity and focus in the second half and made what looked like a laugher into something that resembled an actual game.

There were at least flashes of something good from every young player the team plans to be part of their rotation. Deni Avdija, who entered the draft with questions about his shooting, went 6-6 from the floor, including 3-3 from three-point range.

Troy Brown Jr. had an impressive all-court performance — 14 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals to just 1 turnover and 2 fouls. He shot 5-11 from the floor, including 2-3 from three.

Moritz Wagner, who’s battling for a backup role, had 13 points, 7 rebounds and 4 steals in just 18 minutes. He also had his usual collection of bizarrely stupid plays, but his overall production was excellent.

Thomas Bryant had 10 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists, and hit 2-5 from three-point range. His defensive rotations improved as the game went on, although the Nets continued to hit shots when he challenged.

Garrison Mathews hit a pair of threes, including an amazing off-balance rip, and he drew another foul attempting a three — something he did regularly in his brief playing time last season.

Rui Hachimura’s overall production was unimpressive — 18 points on 16 shots, 4 rebounds, 1 turnover and 4 fouls in 23 minutes — but he shot 3-4 from three. He looked confident pulling the trigger from long range, which would be a welcome development for the second-year forward.

Washington’s best player last night was Raul Neto, the minimum salary point guard they signed to backup Ish Smith, who’s backing up Russell Westbrook. Neto had 17 points and 6 assists, shot 9-10 from the free throw line, and didn’t commit a turnover in 25 minutes.

This is a good spot for a “tap the brakes” moment. At least some Wizards fans are interpreting Neto’s performance as evidence that Smith is expendable. Keep in mind that Neto has played 3,485 career minutes over five seasons. His career PPA (a metric where average is 100, higher is better and replacement level is 45) is 61. His peak PPA was a 72 last season.

In other words, throughout his five-year NBA career, Neto has been well below average. If he replicates the performance level from last season, he’ll be a useful contributor. It’s even possible he’ll be better than Smith, if Smith declines and Neto improves. The point here is that it was a good game, but it’s important to keep in mind — it was just a preseason game.

Everyone else who wore a Wizards uniform was downright awful. Free agent prize Robin Lopez was laughably bad flinging hooks at the rim and getting beat everywhere on the court by everyone. But it was just a preseason game.

Four Factors

Formalized by now-Wizards assistant coach Dean Oliver, the four factors include the key areas that determine who wins and loses in the NBA. The factors:

  • Shooting — measured by effective field goal percentage (efg)
  • Rebounding — measured by offensive rebounding percentage
  • Ball handling — measured by turnover percentage
  • Getting to the free throw line — measured by free throws made divided by field goal attempts.

The factors are not created equal. Shooting is by far the most important. The team that shoots better wins about 78% of the time in the NBA. As shown in the chart below, the Wizards lost two of the four factors, including shooting, and tied in turnovers.

The game was played at a fairly fast-paced 105 possessions — last season, league average was right around 100 possessions per 48 minutes. The Wizards defense was horrific early in the game, but improved significantly in the second half. For the game, they had a defensive rating of 114 (points allowed per possession multiplied by 100), which is similar to the 115.5 they allowed last season.

Wizards 114, Nets 119 — Four Factors

EFG 0.505 0.608
OREB% 26.5% 12.8%
TOV% 14.3% 14.3%
FTM/FGA 0.165 0.392
PACE 105 105
ORTG 109 114

Player Production Average

Player Production Average is my overall production metric. It rewards players for things they do that help a team win and dings them for things that hurt the cause — each in proportion to how much it helps or hurts. PPA is pace neutral and accounts for defense. In PPA, 100 is average and higher is better.

Tables are sorted by total contributions for the game.

Wizards PPA

Raul Neto 25 280
Deni Avdija 24 258
Troy Brown Jr. 22 252
Moritz Wagner 18 245
Thomas Bryant 22 170
Garrison Mathews 20 90
Rui Hachimura 23 64
Anzejs Pasecniks 7 0
Yoeli Childs 7 -47
Anthony Gill 2 -326
Isaac Bonga 22 -59
Caleb Homesley 10 -130
Marlon Taylor 6 -299
Cassius Winston 18 -145
Robin Lopez 14 -280

Nets PPA

Kyrie Irving 17 411
Taurean Prince 22 170
Landry Shamet 21 170
Chris Chiozza 9 322
DeAndre Jordan 17 100
Spencer Dinwiddie 25 61
Jeff Green 17 90
Rodions Kurucs 7 195
Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot 20 68
Tyler Johnson 12 85
Kevin Durant 24 14
Joe Harris 19 18
Reggie Perry 16 0
Jarrett Allen 15 0