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Wizards defense goes AWOL in loss to Hawks

Washington Wizards v Atlanta Hawks
Washington Wizards guard Jerry West...umm...Spencer Dinwiddie was the team’s most productive player in their loss to the Atlanta Hawks.
Photo by Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images

Tomorrow’s film session won’t be pleasant for the Wizards — at least when they’re talking defense. The Atlanta Hawks are a good team, but the Wizards blew assignments, missed rotations and repeatedly failed to close out on shooters, and the Hawks lit them up with 118 points in just 94 possessions.

The Wizards entered last night’s game dead last in contested shots, and then challenged a season low 26 Hawks attempts, according to NBA.com tracking data. That’s about 20 fewer contests than their season average.

Atlanta took advantage of the lax defense by posting a .536 effective field goal percentage. Trae Young and Bogdan Bogdanovic did a good job of getting into the lane and drawing fouls or finding teammates for easy baskets...or fouls. The Hawks ended the night 29-29 from the free throw line.

The Wizards were a perfect 16-16 from the free throw line, but lost that battle by 13. They also got thumped on the offensive glass — the Hawks grabbed 13 offensive rebounds (somehow, the statue known as Danilo Gallinari got four) and had a mid-90s-esque 31.0% offensive rebound rate.

What kept Washington in the game was Atlanta playing almost equally lax defense. The Hawks contested just 25 Wizards field goal attempts. This was not a stellar example of quality defensive basketball — from either team.

Quick thoughts on individual players:

  • Spencer Dinwiddie played an outstanding, nearly mistake-free game on the offensive end. His combination of efficient scoring and playmaking produced 18 points for the Wizards on just 13 possessions used.
  • Deni Avdija provided a nice demonstration of the value a player can have when he takes and makes open shots, attacks with the dribble when he has a clear advantage, plays with effort on defense and avoids mistakes. He won’t shoot 4-5 most nights, but he may be starting to sketch out how he succeeds in the NBA.
  • Bradley Beal continues to inefficiently guzzle offensive possessions. Last night, he had a usage rate of 31.4% and an offensive rating of just 97 — in a game where his team’s ortg was 21 points higher. His shooting was good (efg: 54.8%), but he committed 4 turnovers. He entered the night with the highest turnover rate of his career, and it got worse. The Wizards will need him to turn things around on offense.

Four Factors

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

I’ve simplified them a bit. While the factors are usually presented as percentages, that’s more useful over a full season. In a single game, the raw numbers in each category are easier to understand.

PACE is possessions per 48 minutes.

Wizards 111 at Hawks 118

FOUR FACTORS HAWKS WIZARDS
FOUR FACTORS HAWKS WIZARDS
EFG 0.536 0.552
OREB 13 7
TOV 11 12
FTM 29 16
PACE 94
ORTG 125 118

Key Stats

After the double overtime win over the Boston Celtics, I introduced the Player Production Average (PPA) Game Score (very similar to the one I used to call Scoreboard Impact Rating). PPA is my overall production metric, which credits players for things they do that help a team win (scoring, rebounding, playmaking, defending) and dings them for things that hurt (missed shots, turnovers, bad defense, fouls).

Game Score (GmSC) converts individual production into points on the scoreboard in this game. The scale is the same as points and reflects each player’s total contributions for the game. The lowest possible GmSC is zero.

PPA is a per possession metric designed for larger data sets. In small sample sizes, the numbers can get weird. But, some readers prefer it so...why not both? Reminder: in PPA, 100 is average, higher is better and replacement level is 45. For a single game, replacement level isn’t much use, and I reiterate the caution about small samples producing weird results.

Now numbers.

POSS is the number of possessions each player was on the floor in this game.

PTS = points scored

ORTG = offensive rating, which is points produced per individual possessions x 100. League average last season was 112.3.

USG = offensive usage rate. Average is 20%.

ORTG and USG are slightly modified versions of stats created by Wizards assistant coach Dean Oliver and modified slightly by me. ORTG is an efficiency measure that accounts for the value of shooting, offensive rebounds, assists and turnovers. USG includes shooting from the floor and free throw line, offensive rebounds, assists and turnovers.

Wizards: Key Stats

WIZARDS MIN POSS PTS ORTG USG PPA GmSC +/-
WIZARDS MIN POSS PTS ORTG USG PPA GmSC +/-
Spencer Dinwiddie 29 56 14 135 23.4% 204 25.5 12
Deni Avdija 18 35 9 182 10.7% 201 15.6 8
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope 30 59 11 121 14.8% 99 12.9 -15
Bradley Beal 34 67 24 97 31.4% 86 12.8 -19
Corey Kispert 11 22 5 169 10.1% 244 12.0 12
Kyle Kuzma 34 66 18 111 21.4% 72 10.6 -7
Montrezl Harrell 33 66 13 129 17.8% 61 8.8 1
Aaron Holiday 14 27 5 168 11.2% 119 7.1 12
Davis Bertans 3 6 2 234 15.0% 218 2.9 -12
Daniel Gafford 15 29 4 93 18.5% 38 2.4 -8
Raul Neto 19 38 6 95 23.0% 4 0.4 -19

Hawks: Key Stats

HAWKS MIN POSS PTS ORTG USG PPA GmSC +/-
HAWKS MIN POSS PTS ORTG USG PPA GmSC +/-
Bogdan Bogdanovic 34 68 16 185 13.4% 251 27.4 20
John Collins 31 62 12 161 15.5% 213 21.2 7
Clint Capela 33 65 16 180 13.2% 188 19.7 2
Danilo Gallinari 17 33 12 139 25.0% 303 16.0 0
Cam Reddish 27 53 15 121 21.8% 172 14.7 2
Trae Young 36 71 26 110 33.2% 95 10.9 19
Delon Wright 12 23 2 136 10.3% 168 6.3 -12
De'Andre Hunter 27 53 11 91 16.7% 21 1.8 5
Gorgui Dieng 10 19 2 75 18.2% -20 0.0 0
Lou Williams 13 25 6 75 26.8% -72 0.0 -8