If you bet on the Washington Wizards to beat the Detroit Pistons...you WON!
Yes, it was against the Pistons, one of the very worst teams in the NBA this season. Yes, it took overtime and a last-second three from Kyle Kuzma.
But it was a win.
And it was a win the Wizards needed after three straight losses and a brutal schedule for the rest of the month.
It wasn’t impressive. The Pistons have been terrible. They entered the game 29th in offense and 23rd in defense, and gave Washington everything they could handle. Detroit’s 114 offensive rating was their third best offensive game of the season.
Frank Jackson came off the bench for 19 points on 9 field goal attempts for a preposterous offensive rating (points produced per possession x 100) of 196. League average this season is 108.8. Washington’s MVP for the game may have been Jackson’s teammates, who were unable to get him the ball for even routine heat checks. His usage rate was an anemic 13.8%.
Jerami Grant ended up with 28 points on 6-16 shooting because the Wizards couldn’t stop fouling him. He was 14-15 from the free throw line.
Isaiah Stewart had a solid 11 points and 10 rebounds, and did a credible job defending inside.
Hamidou Diallo made a few shots (not his norm) and played good defense.
Top producers for the Wizards were Kyle Kuzma — 26 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, a game-winning three in overtime, and some quality trolling of the Detroit crowd — Raul Neto (10 points, 5 assists, and the team was +12 in his 24 minutes), and Daniel Gafford (7 points, 10 rebounds, 6 blocks).
Spencer Dinwiddie caught lots of flack for another seemingly quiet game. He shot just 3-9 from the floor, but 2 of the 3 makes were from three-point range. He was 4-4 from the free throw line, and he had 6 rebounds, 7 assists and 2 steals. While he wasn’t aggressive offensively (just a 17.8% usage rate), he was efficient (124 ortg) and the team was productive on both ends of the floor when he was in the game.
His overall impact graded out ahead of backcourt partner Bradley Beal’s 25 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists even though Beal shot better. Why? Turnovers, fouls, and the team was worse on both ends of the floor when Beal was out there.
Deni Avdija gave ample fodder for fans and critics. His overall performance was about average, and he was 4-9 from the floor with a couple threes and six rebounds. He also defended well. On the other hand, the Pistons dared him to drive left by leaving him open lanes to the basket on multiple possessions, and he passed out of each opportunity. And he continued his habit of stepping into shooters, committing dumb fouls and whining to the ref when whistled for it.
Overall, Avdija’s performance was more encouraging than not. He was a good connector on offense and his defense was good. The team was +14 in his 21 minutes on the floor.
Kudos to Anthony “Break Glass in Case of Emergency (or Garbage Time)” Gill. He got eight minutes of playing time when Gafford rolled an ankle and Montrezl Harrell got into first half foul trouble, and he did everything a team could want from a guy at the end of the bench. He hit a floater, made a couple free throws, and grabbed a couple rebounds.
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: Wizards 119 at Pistons 116
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: Pistons