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Wizards add poor defense to offensive woes in blowout loss to the New Orleans Pelicans

Washington Wizards v New Orleans Pelicans
Washington Wizards guard Raul Neto made enough free throws to be the team’s most productive player in their blowout loss to the New Orleans Pelicans.
Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

Going to New Orleans the night before Thanksgiving, the Wizards could have stomped the sad-sack Pelicans and signaled their hot start was more than a hot streak. Instead, they got stomped, 127-102, and the beat-down they took just raised more questions.

Earlier in the day, Ron Oakes-Cunningham and I put out the latest episode of the #SoWizards Podcast where we discussed what’s missing from the Wizards offense. We identified two main issues:

  1. Their offense doesn’t create many open shots. They’re dead last in the league in attempting open shots.
  2. They’re among the league’s worst teams so far this year in converting the open shots they manage to get.

Both 1 and 2 are part of the same problem: no one on the team is reliably creating power plays — drawing multiple defenders, forcing defensive rotations and creating advantages for their teammates. That includes Bradley Beal, who was third team All-NBA last season, and considered by many to be the team’s Franchise Player.

Last night, basically no one for the Wizards played well. Raul Neto came off the bench to make some garbage time free throws. Anthony Gill had some nice garbage time production.

When the game was still in its competitive portion, the rotation was meh — at best. Montrezl Harrell and Spencer Dinwiddie were okay. Beal, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Daniel Gafford, Deni Avdija, Kyle Kuzma, Aaron Holiday, and Davis Bertans all played variations of crappy.

Meanwhile, the much-ballyhooed defense let Brandon Ingram go for 26 points on 15 shots, and Josh Hart notch 16 on 8 FGA.

The Wizards have had some good wins this season. Last night was a bad loss. The Pelicans stink, and they blew the Wizards doors off. And it wasn’t even really a case of New Orleans playing unusually well. Their effective field goal percentage was just 52.6% — slightly below their season average of 53.5%.

The problem: Washington’s offense has been struggling for weeks. Last night, they added subpar defense to their offensive woes. That’s a recipe for getting stomped.

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.

Four Factors: Wizards 102 at Pelicans 127

FOUR FACTORS PELICANS WIZARDS
FOUR FACTORS PELICANS WIZARDS
EFG 0.526 0.470
OREB 12 13
TOV 10 19
FTM 27 23
PACE 105
ORTG 121 97

Key Stats

Below are a few performance metrics, including 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 I’m including PPA scores as well. 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.

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. Points produced is not the same as points scored. It includes the value of assists and offensive rebounds, as well as sharing credit when receiving an assist.

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.

Key Stats: Wizards

WIZARDS MIN POSS PTS ORTG USG PPA GmSC +/-
WIZARDS MIN POSS PTS ORTG USG PPA GmSC +/-
Raul Neto 21 46 13 135 20.1% 161 23.9 -11
Anthony Gill 6 14 8 156 29.4% 389 17.6 3
Montrezl Harrell 24 52 10 103 23.4% 97 16.3 -8
Spencer Dinwiddie 25 54 11 107 27.3% 89 15.4 -17
Bradley Beal 28 62 23 96 31.4% 43 8.6 -18
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope 23 50 9 101 14.6% 50 8.0 -17
Daniel Gafford 14 32 8 108 22.3% 66 6.7 -19
Deni Avdija 25 55 3 82 7.6% 32 5.5 -8
Kyle Kuzma 28 60 7 91 15.1% -9 0.0 -13
Aaron Holiday 18 39 4 76 13.6% -43 0.0 -6
Corey Kispert 8 18 3 65 21.4% -107 0.0 3
Davis Bertans 19 42 3 37 17.9% -194 0.0 -14

Key Stats: Pelicans

PELICANS MIN POSS PTS ORTG USG PPA GmSC +/-
PELICANS MIN POSS PTS ORTG USG PPA GmSC +/-
Brandon Ingram 32 69 26 155 22.3% 323 29.9 21
Josh Hart 32 70 16 175 12.6% 302 28.4 23
Willy Hernangomez 22 49 13 130 21.5% 248 16.2 14
Herbert Jones 30 65 4 130 6.3% 160 13.9 9
Trey Murphy III 5 12 8 192 28.3% 654 10.4 0
Jonas Valanciunas 24 53 21 107 38.2% 127 9.1 11
Nickeil Alexander-Walker 24 51 12 107 21.5% 122 8.5 14
Tomas Satoransky 14 30 4 126 18.6% 186 7.5 10
Garrett Temple 13 29 4 107 10.2% 46 1.8 8
Devonte' Graham 21 46 12 103 21.9% 14 0.9 13
Jose Alvarado 4 9 0 248 5.3% 41 0.5 0
Naji Marshall 5 12 5 88 46.4% -13 0.0 0
Kira Lewis Jr. 13 28 2 43 16.9% -52 0.0 2