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Inside the Numbers: Wizards’ defense reverts to form in loss to Warriors

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NBA: Golden State Warriors at Washington Wizards Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

At what point do the Wizards get embarrassed? When does competitive pride emerge? When does a team that plays with so much energy and enthusiasm stop getting kicked in the teeth on defense?

The answer to all three of these: at least one more game.

The Wizards’ defensive performance in this 125-117 loss to the reeling Golden State Warriors should be downright humiliating. For Washington, at least in raw terms, it wasn’t even among their 10 worst defensive performances of the season.

I say “raw terms” because I was looking strictly at defensive rating (points allowed per possession x 100). But, account for the level of competition and it’s putrid. The Warriors entered the game with the NBA’s worst offense. Dead last at 104.7 points per 100 possessions. They hung 125 points on the Wizards.

The Wizards defensive rating against this patchwork Golden State roster was 126 — 16 points worse than league average and 9 points worse than Washington’s historically bad average.

With a chance to earn their first three-game win streak of the season — facing a team that came in 2-15 since an improbable four-game winning streak in December — laid down defensively.

They oughta be embarrassed.

Four Factors

In his book Basketball On Paper, Wizards assistant coach Dean Oliver formalized the four factors (offensive and defensive) that determine who wins and loses in the NBA. If you want more info and don’t feel like paying for Oliver’s book, you can check out the primer I wrote for the Wizards site a few years back.

The most important stat is shooting from the floor, and the Wizards let the Warriors — the NBA’s second worst shooting team this year — have a .580 efg. They also gave up 12 offensive rebounds to a team that mostly ignores the offensive glass.

Wizards-Warriors Four Factors

4FACTORS WIZARDS WARRIORS
4FACTORS WIZARDS WARRIORS
efg 0.560 0.580
orb 0.06 0.27
tov 0.11 0.14
ftm 0.29 0.28
ortg 118 126
pace 100

Player Production Average and Scoreboard Impact Rating

Below are results from a couple metrics I developed. Player Production Average (PPA) is an overall production metric that’s pace neutral and accounts for defense. It rewards players for doing things to help their team and debits them for things that don’t — each in proper proportion. In PPA, 100 is average and higher is better.

Scoreboard Impact Rating (SIR) translates overall production into points on the scoreboard in this game.

Wizards PPA and SIR

WIZARDS MIN PPA SIR
WIZARDS MIN PPA SIR
Bertans 32 226 34
Beal 39 173 31
Bryant 29 182 25
Smith 23 92 10
Hachimura 26 43 5
Wagner 12 82 5
Mahinmi 9 103 4
Brown 23 29 3
Thomas 25 -20 0
Payton 11 -190 0
Bonga 10 -297 0

Warriors PPA and SIR

WARRIORS MIN PPA SIR
WARRIORS MIN PPA SIR
Robinson III 32 248 31
Burks 29 268 30
Lee 34 130 17
Chriss 26 168 17
Green 33 131 17
Looney 10 209 8
Evans 26 42 4
Paschall 24 -16 0
Spellman 13 -68 0
Poole 14 -82 0

It’s difficult to give too much credit to individual players for having good games when the team’s defense was so atrocious. The Wizards’ top performers:

  • Davis Bertans — 19 points on 9 field goal attempts, plus 4 rebounds and 5 assists.
  • Bradley Beal — 43 points and 6 assists. The scoring number was gaudy and on decent efficiency, but there’s more to the game than scoring.
  • Thomas Bryant — 11 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 blocks in 29 minutes. With Moe Wagner returning to action tonight, it’s time for Ian Mahinmi to return to the bench.

The Warriors didn’t exactly distinguish themselves on defense either. Their defense is among the NBA’s worst, and the Wizards shot .560 (efg) and posted an offensive rating of 118. They got solid to excellent production from nearly everyone who played significant minutes — the exception was Eric Paschall, who managed 10 rebounds in just 24 minutes, but shot just 5-13 from the floor, 4-9 from the free throw line, and committed 2 turnovers and 2 fouls.