Question: What happens to the Washington Wizards when a strong effort from Daniel Gafford is not joined by anyone else on the roster?
Answer: The Wizards lose by 25 to the Utah Jazz.
Losing to the Jazz was expected. Getting stomped, 123-98 — not too good.
The past few games, Washington vacillated between good offense/bad defense and good defense/bad offense. Last night, they were bad on both ends.
Gafford put up a fight. He went 6-6 from the floor en route to 14 points and 11 rebounds in 23 minutes while going against All-NBA center Rudy Gobert and the massive Hassan Whiteside. His production tallied to a PPA (see description below) of 192 (an outstanding mark). None of his teammates who played more than 11 minutes rates above average.
Despite Gafford’s efforts, the Jazz big men destroyed the Wizards on both ends. Gobert and Whiteside went 17-19 from the floor for a combined 38 points, 25 rebounds and 5 blocks.
Donovan Mitchell scored an efficient 28 points and contributed on defense.
For the Wizards, meaningful production (as measured by PPA) from the 72 minutes played by Spencer Dinwiddie, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Raul Neto was zero. Bradley Beal, allegedly the team’s franchise player, performed below replacement level.
Montrezl Harrell couldn’t handle the size of Gobert and Whiteside.
Last night was an inauspicious beginning to a brutal stretch of schedule. Before last night’s game, my prediction machine had the Wizards favored in just one more game in the month of December. My guess is they’ll win as many as four, but given the quality of their opponents, I think more than that is unlikely.
Solutions are unlikely to come from the coaching staff, in part because I don’t think there’s anything particularly wrong with the schemes or the allocation of playing time. Wes Unseld Jr. could try tightening the rotation, but it’s hard to see how dropping Corey Kispert and Aaron Holiday from the rotation would induce Beal and Dinwiddie to play better.
Thomas Bryant could provide some help when he returns from the torn ACL — at least in theory — because he provides offensive dimension the team lacks. But he’s been a poor defender, he’ll still need to overcome the psychological hurdles that often linger after a serious injury, and playing him would mean sitting Gafford or Harrell, who have been the team’s most productive players.
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.
Four Factors: Jazz 123 at Wizards 98
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
Key Stats: Jazz