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Wizards Heartbeat: Performance EKGs for KCP, Avdija and Beal

Washington Wizards v Sacramento Kings
Wizards forward Deni Avdija.
Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

With the Wizards matchup against the Brooklyn Net postponed due to the pandemic, the team has a rare in-season opportunity to rest, recover from nagging injuries, and get some time on the practice court. Given the team’s struggles since their 10-3 start, the chance to review defensive principles and implement schematic changes should be welcome.

Over the next few days, I’m going to make performance ekgs for the Wizards rotation — fancy-schmancy line graphs showing the ups and downs of each player’s performance over the course of the season.

The ekgs use my Player Production Average metric, which rewards players for things that help a team win and dings them for things that hurt — each in proportion to how much/little it helps or hurts. PPA is pace neutral, accounts for defense, and includes a degree of difficulty factor, as well as a position/role adjustment. In PPA, 100 is average, higher is better, and 45 is replacement level.

In the charts below, the red line is each player’s season average PPA after each game, and the blue line is the player’s 10-game rolling average. The red line will be flatter with smaller fluctuations as the season wears on because it’s a progressively larger sample. The blue line will have more variation. So, when reading the charts, think of the red line as the player’s baseline performance and the blue line as a measure of how he performed over a recent stretch of games.

Today’s randomly selected players:

  • Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
  • Deni Avdija
  • Bradley Beal

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

As would be expected for a 28-year-old in his 9th NBA season, KCP’s category-by-category numbers for the season are basically in line with career norms. As the chart above reflects, the KCP experience has been feast or famine. His efficiency is down a bit for a variety of small-but-normal-looking variations from season to season.

While his full-season PPA to this point is 98 (a shade below average), he’s had 8 games so far (26%) with a score of 200+ (a mark that would be on an All-NBA team over a full season), and 9 with a negative score.

  • 200+ PPA — 26%
  • 150+ — 32%
  • 100+ — 42%
  • less than 100 — 58%
  • less than 45 — 39%
  • negative — 29%

This is about what I’d expect for an average player whose biggest value comes from three-point shooting, which is highly variable from game to game. One thing I noticed in looking at the graphs: KCP’s overall performance was worse earlier in the season when the team was winning and better later when it started losing. There’s probably not much meaning to the observation, except that he’s not a primary driver of wins and losses.

Deni Avdija

In his second season, Avdija is establishing himself as a good defender with some offensive challenges. After some early season fluctuations, his season average PPA has leveled out in the neighborhood of “valued reserve.” Which is completely fine for a youngster figuring out how he’s going to compete in the NBA.

Here’s his season, according to PPA:

  • 200+ PPA — 10%
  • 150+ — 29%
  • 100+ — 39%
  • less than 100 — 61%
  • less than 45 — 42%
  • negative — 26%

While fans have gotten excited about his performance December, PPA suggests a tap on the brakes. His December PPA is 99. That’s better than his performance over the season’s first 21 games but isn’t a mark that cries out for a starting role or significantly more minutes. His development is coming along nicely — no reason to rush things. That said, I’d expect him to start snacking on the playing time of KCP, Kyle Kuzma and Davis Bertans as the season goes on, especially if guys like Bradley Beal and Spencer Dinwiddie can get something going on the offensive end.

Bradley Beal

For a guy who made third team All-NBA last season, and who’s produced at a level of 150+ PPA for the previous five seasons, this year has been distressingly consistent. Since mid-November, Beal’s full season PPA has gone no lower than 93 and no higher than 111.

On the strength of the last three games (171 at Sacramento, 160 at Phoenix, and 336 at Utah), his season average has risen to 111. The three games before that: 60, 37 and 83. His best 10-game stretch scored a 137 — solidly above average, but well short of his previous production level.

Games by PPA:

  • 200+ PPA — 21%
  • 150+ — 36%
  • 100+ — 50%
  • less than 100 — 50%
  • less than 45 — 25%
  • negative — 14%

If they hope to make the playoffs, the Wizards will need to figure out why Beal is playing so poorly (by his standards) and then how to fix it.

UP NEXT: Montrezl Harrell, Spencer Dinwiddie, Davis Bertans and Daniel Gafford.