In the latest episode of the #SoWizards podcast, Ron Oakes-Cunningham and I get analytical about the Washington Wizards getting off to one of the best starts in franchise history.
While the Wizards are doing a lot right defensively, we’re both wondering what’s going to happen when they run into teams with quality shooting or when opponent three-point shooting starts edging closer to league average.
That’s because while the Wizards are doing a great job of limiting at-rim and three-point attempts, the threes they’re allowing tend to be open or wide-open looks. In my usual nerdy way, I broke down the numbers and found that relative to league average, the Wizards are 3.8 points per 100 possessions better defensively than last season. Three points of that is because opponents are shooting worse from three-point range.
We also discussed the strengths and weaknesses of Rui Hachimura and Deni Avdija, and what each of them need to do to reach their NBA potential. There was some disagreement on Hachimura — Ron likes his game and athleticism while I was more dubious and less optimistic based on my analysis of the numbers.
We also differed on Avdija’s ideal role in the future. I wondered if he might be best as a small-ball center in a reserve role. Ron envisioned Avdija as a backup SG.
We talked position-less basketball, whether Steve Novak should have been a small-ball center, and whether we should just turn the podcast over to Ron’s dog.
The podcast was recorded (in part) during the first quarter of the Wizards win over the Cleveland Cavaliers, which made my thoughts about late-game tactics prescient. Specifically, I wondered whether Beal needed to be The Guy taking the last shot, or if it might be better to let him draw defenders and pass to an open teammate.
In the final 30 seconds of Washington’s win, head coach Wes Unseld Jr. called plays that fit that description exactly — Beal drew defenders and kicked to Kyle Kuzma, who drained a pair of clutch threes to secure the win.
If you have questions you’re interested in hearing Ron and Kevin answer next episode, please send them to kevinbroomwrites at gmail dot com or drop them in the comments.
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