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By the Numbers: Comparing Wizards players to the league

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NBA: Washington Wizards at San Antonio Spurs
Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal.
Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

As the Wizards get back to playing games regularly — we hope — it’s worth a moment to take stock of how players compare to their peers around the league. Most Washington fans think Bradley Beal is awesome (the front office and the coaches agree), but where does he actually rank against the competition?

That’s as good a place as any to start — how Beal stacks up. Let’s take a look, a few different ways. By the way, I’ll be using my metric Player Production Average (PPA) throughout. If you’re anti-stat, go ahead and sit this one out.

PPA credits players for things they do that help a team win (scoring, rebounding, play-making, defending) and dings them for things that hurt (missed shots, turnovers, bad defense, fouls). PPA is pace neutral, accounts for defense, and includes a “degree of difficulty” factor that rewards guys for playing more difficult minutes. There’s also an accounting for role/position. In PPA, 100 is average, higher is better, and replacement level is 45. It usually takes a score of 200 or higher to be part of the MVP conversation.

Understand, the PPA score is not saying one player is “better” than another in terms of skill, ability, athleticism, or replacability (if the players hypothetically switched teams or were placed on a hypothetical average team). Rather, PPA says something about production so far this season in terms of doing things that help teams win NBA games.

Also, keep in mind that this is a snapshot of the season so far. Every team has 50+ games left on the schedule (the Wizards have 61) and a lot can change over the course of a season.

Back to Beal, as you’ll see in the table below, he leads the Wizards with a 180 PPA. This is the best mark of his career (he had a 160 last season), but the shooting guard competition is tough this season. He currently ranks fifth among SGs in PPA:

  1. CJ McCollum, POR — 230 (best mark of his career)
  2. Jaylen Brown, BOS — 209 (best mark of his career)
  3. Seth Curry, PHI — 195 (best mark of his career)
  4. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, LAL — 187 (best mark of his career)
  5. Bradley Beal, WAS — 180 (best mark of his career)

Sensing a trend?

Notice one prominent name currently not in the top five: James Harden, whose PPA is 169 so far.

The Laws of Physics require that each team has a player who leads that team in PPA. Beal is Washington’s leader, and he currently ranks 16th among franchise-leading players. Seven teams have two or more players with a higher rating. Two teams (the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers) have three.

Top PPA scores for each team (minimum 200 minutes):

  • ATL— Clint Capela 196
  • BOS — Jaylen Brown 209
  • BRK — Kyrie Irving 237
  • CHI — Zach LaVine 152
  • CHO — Gordon Hayward 186
  • CLE — Collin Sexton 162
  • DAL — Luka Doncic 203
  • DEN — Nikola Jokic 228
  • DET — Wayne Ellington 147
  • GSW — Stephen Curry 193
  • HOU — Christian Wood 156 (would have been Harden without the trade)
  • IND — Malcolm Brogdon 163
  • LAC — Kawhi Leonard 250
  • LAL — Anthony Davis 240
  • MEM — Tyus Jones 137
  • MIA — Bam Adebayo 165
  • MIL — Khris Middleton 206
  • MIN — Jarred Vanderbilt 143
  • NOP — Zion Williamson 172
  • NYK — Mitchell Robinson 160
  • OKC — Shai Gilgeous-Alexander 166
  • ORL — Nikola Vucevic 188
  • PHI — Joel Embiid 223
  • PHO — Mikal Bridges 182
  • POR — CJ McCollum 230
  • SAC — Richaun Holmes 137
  • SAS — DeMar DeRozan 176
  • TOR — Chris Boucher 156
  • UTA — Mike Conley 189
  • WAS — Bradley Beal 180

Among all players with at least 200 minutes played, Beal’s 180 ranks 26th. Here’s the top five for each position, along with the highest rated Wizards player with at least 200 minutes:

Point Guard

  1. Kyrie Irving, BRK — 237
  2. Damian Lillard, POR — 207
  3. Luka Doncic, DAL — 203
  4. LeBron James, LAL — 196
  5. Stephen Curry, GSW — 193

43. Ish Smith, WAS — 57

Shooting Guard

  1. CJ McCollum, POR — 230
  2. Jaylen Brown, BOS — 209
  3. Seth Curry, PHI — 195
  4. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, LAL — 187
  5. Bradley Beal, WAS — 180

Wing

  1. Kawhi Leonard, LAC — 250
  2. Khris Middleton, MIL — 206
  3. Paul George, LAC — 193
  4. Gordon Hayward, CHO — 186
  5. Jayson Tatum, BOS — 185

20. Deni Avdija, WAS — 99

Forward

  1. Anthony Davis, LAL — 240
  2. Kevin Durant, BRK — 226
  3. Giannis Antetokounmpo, MIL — 185
  4. Zion Williams, NOP — 172
  5. John Collins, ATL — 161

38. Davis Bertans, WAS — 72

Center

  1. Nikola Jokic, DEN — 228
  2. Joel Embiid, PHI — 223
  3. Clint Capela, ATL — 196
  4. Nikola Vucevic, ORL — 183
  5. Rudy Gobert, UTA — 168

17. Thomas Bryant, WAS — 130

Again, this is a snapshot of how players have produced so far this season. The rankings will surely shift as the year plays out.

Let’s move to rookies because fans in DC are excited about Deni Avdija’s performance so far. As you’ll see below, first year players generally don’t contribute much. Just four players rate above average so far (five, if you want to count Avdija’s 99). By coincidence, that’s the same number of rookies with at least 125 minutes and a negative PPA. Top five rookies so far:

  1. Xavier Tillman, MEM — 135
  2. Tyrese Haliburton, SAC — 130
  3. LaMelo Ball, CHO — 109
  4. Devin Vassell, SAS — 109
  5. Deni Avdija, WAS — 99

The negative four?

  • Theo Maledon, OKC — -2
  • Anthony Edwards, MIN — -3
  • Aleksej Pokusevski, OKC — -26
  • Killian Hayes, DET — -93

And, scores for the top five draft picks:

  1. Anthony Edwards, MIN — -3
  2. James Wiseman, GSW — 66
  3. LaMelo Ball, CHO — 109
  4. Patrick Williams, CHI — 63
  5. Isaac Okoro, CLE — 24

Wizards PPA through January 24

PLAYER GMS MPG PPA
PLAYER GMS MPG PPA
Bradley Beal 11 35.6 180
Thomas Bryant 10 27.1 130
Raul Neto 11 16.9 111
Garrison Mathews 6 16.5 110
Rui Hachimura 7 27.7 105
Deni Avdija 11 23.2 99
Isaac Bonga 9 14.1 97
Robin Lopez 12 16.8 74
Alex Len 1 21.0 73
Dāvis Bertāns 11 24.0 72
Anthony Gill 5 4.8 66
Moritz Wagner 5 13.6 65
Ish Smith 11 19.3 57
Russell Westbrook 8 35.6 51
Jerome Robinson 7 17.9 43
Cassius Winston 2 12.0 30
Troy Brown Jr. 7 17.6 26
Anžejs Pasečņiks 1 6.0 -350

Reasons for the Wizards second-to-last place record are etched in their numbers. Despite the outstanding scoring from Beal, the team continues to lack elite overall production, and they don’t make up for it with solid and better production from the rest of the lineup.

Russell Westbrook has been playing hurt, and he’s been near replacement level production.

Raul Neto appears to be earning playing time over Ish Smith.

Garrison Mathews surely deserves an extended look. When the team is at full health, he can take Jerome Robinson’s minutes, who’s producing at replacement level so far this season.

That’s enough for now. If you’re interested in someone in particular, please let me know in the comments or email me at kevinbroomwrites at gmail.com.