Fifteen games into the season, the picture of this year’s Wizards is still fuzzy. A better than average defense seems likely, though top 12 seems more probable than top 5.
The offense seems headed towards below average with a lack of playmaking and subpar shooting.
The Wizards currently rank 8th in defensive rating (points allowed per 100 possessions) and 17th in offensive rating (points scored per 100 possessions. Their ortg is right at league average, which doesn’t quite capture their performance so far this season.
Accounting for the quality of their opponents thus far, the Wizards offense is underperforming average by 1.6 points per 100 possessions. If they continue to play as they have, they’re likely to see their offensive efficiency ranking slide into the 20s.
There are reasons to think they’ll improve offensively. Bradley Beal has had consecutive good games after an abysmal start to the season. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is probably going to start shooting better, as could Raul Neto. In fact, my in-season three-point percentage forecaster predicts that 5 of the 8 regular three-point shooters will end the season with a better percentage than they’ve shot so far.
Naturally, there are also reasons to think they’ll stay where they are or get a little worse. Montrezl Harrell has been an efficient scorer but never to this degree. And Spencer Dinwiddie’s efficiency was cooled after a hot start.
What’s clear is that Washington’s offense is heavily reliant on Dinwiddie and Beal for playmaking. Neto’s a decent passer but is more of a diminutive SG than a playmaking PG. The same is true of Aaron Holiday. Both have performed PG duties, and both have elevated turnover rates and assist to turnover ratios below 2/1.
Beal’s become a turnover machine as well. Among players with at least 125 minutes played, he’s tied for 9th most turnovers per 100 possessions. Here’s the list:
- James Harden, Brooklyn Nets — 6.9 tov per 100 team possessions
- Russell Westbrook, Los Angeles Lakers — 6.9
- Kevin Porter Jr., Houston Rockets — 6.4
- Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks — 5.9
- Jalen Suggs, Orlando Magic — 5.8
- Trae Young, Atlanta Hawks — 5.8
- Paul George, Los Angeles Clippers — 5.7
- Darius Garland, Cleveland Cavaliers — 5.6
- Kira Lewis Jr., New Orleans Pelicans — 5.5
- Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards — 5.5
Turnovers in themselves aren’t necessarily a problem, though in general, the fewer the better. Big-time playmakers are often high in turnovers — they compensate by having positives that significantly outweigh the negatives. In Beal’s case, he has an ast/tov ratio of just 1.4 — well below average (about 1.7), and solidly below the 2.0 mark of better playmakers.
Note: I’m not comparing Beal to the freakish Chris Paul who produces 15.4 assists per 100 team possessions with an ast/tov ratio of 4.7. That’s 4.7 assists per turnover.
Player Production Average
Player Production Average (PPA) metric 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), each in proper proportion to how much it contributes to winning or losing.
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 225 or higher to be part of the MVP conversation.
The PPA score is not saying one player is “better” than another in terms of skill, ability, athleticism, or replaceability (if the players hypothetically switched teams or were placed on a hypothetical average team). Rather, PPA shows production so far this season in terms of doing things that help teams win NBA games.
Wizards PPA through games played Nov. 18
Most Productive PER POSSESSION (min 125 minutes)
- Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors — 319 PPA
- Jimmy Butler, Miami Heat — 285
- Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets — 254
- Chris Paul, Phoenix Suns — 237
- Kevin Durant, Brooklyn Nets — 234
- Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks — 223
- Ja Morant, Memphis Grizzlies — 211
- Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers — 197
- Mike Conley, Utah Jazz — 193
- James Harden, Brooklyn Nets — 185