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Inside the numbers: hyper-efficient Bryant fuels Wizards’ second win

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Washington Wizards v Brooklyn Nets
Wizards center Thomas Bryant is 26-30 from the floor over the past three games.
Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

The Wizards won their second in a row and raised their record to 2-5 with last night’s win over the Brooklyn Nets. They did it despite shooting poorly from the floor (effective field goal percentage: .471) and allowing Brooklyn to shoot well (efg: .580) by winning the turnover battle 20-13 and getting 13 offensive rebounds to the Net’s 7.

Thomas Bryant led the team in overall production (see chart below) with 21 points on 12 field goal attempts and 14 rebounds. Bryant is back to being hyper-efficient — over the past three games, he’s shot 26-30 from the floor, including 5-6 from three-point range. His 12 defensive rebounds may be an encouraging sign that he’ll resume the solid board work he’s done over the previous two seasons in Washington. Bryant also led the team with 3 screen assists, which led to 7 points.

Bradley Beal took over backcourt rebounding duties from Russell Westbrook, grabbing 10 rebounds, including 4 on the offensive end. He also had 5 assists, a steal and a pair of blocks, which helped overcome a subpar shooting game (9-25). Beal had another solid defensive night. He and Bryant tied for the team lead with 10 contested shots each.

Beal’s backcourt partner Westbrook missed a triple-double for the first time in a Wizards uniform, but the bigger issue with him continues to be his shooting accuracy and shot selection. Last night, he was 7-25 from the floor and 1-7 from three-point range. He did a lot more attacking, which got him to the free throw line (9-12). He’s still pulling the trigger on two-point jumpers much too frequently.

Russell Westbrook shot chart vs. the Brooklyn Nets.
NBA.com

The Wizards ran four postups for Westbrook vs. the Nets, which should be difficult to defend because of his explosiveness and proximity to the rim. As he’s done throughout the season on offense, Westbrook let the defense off the hook by taking jumpers. He shot 0-3 on those postup jumpers. He scored when he went to the basket, drew a foul and made the free throws.

Westbrook drove 18 times, which produced just 7 points on 8 shooting possessions and 1 assist. He shot 1-5 from the floor on dribble penetration. Over the course of the season, I think a Westbrook who attacks off the dribble (or from the post) with a goal of drawing defenders and kicking to open teammates will be of greatest value to the Wizards.

Washington also ran 10 postups for Rui Hachimura, which were more productive. Hachimura shot 3-3, drew a foul (1-2 from the free throw line) and passed out 4 times, which produced 2 assists. He also had one turnover, which came on an offensive foul. In total, the Wizards got 11 points on 10 Hachimura postups, which is good efficiency for a halfcourt set.

Hachimura’s overall production was ho-hum — he scored 15 points on 11 shots (pretty good), but managed just 2 rebounds in 33 minutes. While he was 0-3 from three-point range, it was encouraging that he didn’t pass on open looks from distance. His on-ball defense was excellent — tracking data credited the Nets with shooting 2-12 when Hachimura was defending, and he was credited with contesting 8 of those 12.

In the latest round of Ish Smith vs. Raul Neto for a spot in the rotation, Smith was very good and Neto was not. Overall, it continues to make sense for Neto to get more minutes because he seems the more consistent shooter.

In an encouraging sign for the Wizards, Davis Bertans was back to his Mad Bomber ways, shooting 4-10 from three. He added 6 rebounds in 31 minutes. He also scored on a clever play design.

The action was set up to look like a staggered pindown for Beal — something the Wizards run frequently. As Nets defenders reacted, Bertans flashed open across the lane for an easy layup. (Click the link above to see the play — unfortunately, NBA.com doesn’t support embeds.)

Robin Lopez was solid for a second straight game, though I think 20 minutes is too many, especially when Bryant is playing as well as he was.

Scott Brooks had Jerome Robinson in the rotation for a second straight game. Robinson had some good moments on the defensive end with 3 deflections (tied for the team lead with Westbrook) in 12 minutes. On offense, it was another rough game. My guess is he’ll remain in the lineup even though it would make more sense for those minutes to go to Isaac Bonga or Troy Brown Jr.

Four Factors

Below are the four factors that decide who wins and loses in basketball — shooting (efg), rebounding (offensive rebounding percentage), ball handling (turnovers), fouling (free throws made divided by field goal attempts).

Four Factors: Wizards at Nets

4 FACTORS NETS WIZARDS
4 FACTORS NETS WIZARDS
EFG 0.580 0.471
OREB% 0.163 0.228
TOV% 0.184 0.064
FTM/FGA 0.346 0.240
PACE 109 109
ORTG 112 113

Player Production Average

Below are Player Production Average (PPA) results from last night’s game. PPA is my overall production metric, which 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 a per possession stat that includes accounting for defense. In PPA, 100 is average and higher is better.

PPA is a per possession stat. The table below is sorted by each player’s total contributions for the game.

Wizards PPA

WIZARDS MIN PPA +/-
WIZARDS MIN PPA +/-
Thomas Bryant 28 270 -1
Bradley Beal 36 128 -2
Ish Smith 11 284 4
Robin Lopez 20 145 2
Davis Bertans 31 90 16
Rui Hachimura 33 68 -11
Russell Westbrook 38 43 0
Raul Neto 14 41 -3
Deni Avdija 16 -5 -9
Jerome Robinson 12 -49 9

Nets PPA

NETS MIN PPA +/-
NETS MIN PPA +/-
Kyrie Irving 39 173 11
Kevin Durant 38 132 9
Joe Harris 27 176 9
Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot 24 181 8
Jarrett Allen 25 157 -5
Jeff Green 16 68 -8
DeAndre Jordan 15 28 1
Landry Shamet 17 -10 -15
Caris LeVert 25 -17 -3
Taurean Prince 15 -52 -12