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It’s time to end delusional thinking about the Wizards

Toronto Raptors v Washington Wizards
Washington Wizards center Robin Lopez.
Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images

What’s wrong with the Wizards isn’t going to be fixed by more minutes for Garrison Mathews, Isaac Bonga, Alex Len, Moritz Wagner, or Troy Brown.

Replacing Scott Brooks with any thought of salvaging this season would be akin chugging Four Loco as the ship breaks in half.

Team Brickman, led by Ryan McNaught, built this Lego depiction of the Titanic breaking in half as it sank.
The Brothers Brick

They can’t X and O their way out of this. Trying harder isn’t the solution.

Sure, fire Brooks because his contract is up at the end of the season, because it can signal an internal and external strategic shift to planning for the future, and because maybe a different voice and perspective accelerates whatever development is possible from the youngsters.

But, the Wizards now rank 21st in offensive efficiency. They’re 29th in defense. They have the league’s third worst winning percentage against what’s been the league’s third easiest schedule. In strength of schedule adjusted scoring margin, they rank 29th. Thinking this is a talented team that needs to find consistency is delusion.

All available information is saying the same thing: the players aren’t good enough. Some are young enough to think they may one day be quality players if they work hard, but they’re not ready to help the team win now.

It’s time for the team’s decision-makers — and its fans — to end the delusion that “gelling” or better coaching or puzzling out the right lineup combination will make this group competitive. The roster is patched together from a thrift store grab bag of castoffs, returns, and refurbs. The players aren’t good enough.

The team’s cap sheet made “cheap, available, and willing to take whatever money was available” more important than on-court production. And it show on the court.

It’s time to end delusional thinking and accept reality. One of Tommy Sheppard’s oft-repeated axioms is that the players will tell you how much they should play and what the team’s strategy should be based on how they perform on the court.

The message from this year’s Wizards is loud and clear.

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.

Also, someone asked why pace was always the same. The answer: I typically average possessions because they’re approximately equal between teams in each game. The actual count can fluctuate by a possession or two based on end of quarter stuff. So, today I’ve tweaked the table to report each team’s possessions without averaging. In this game, the Toronto Raptors had two “extra” possessions.

Four Factors: Raptors at Wizards

EFG 0.629 0.522
OREB 9 12
TOV 12 14
FTM 20 19
PACE 104 102
ORTG 131 112

Player Production Average

Below are Player Production Average (PPA) results from last night’s game. PPA is my overall production metric, which 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). PPA is a per possession stat that includes accounting for defense and role. In PPA, 100 is average and higher is better.

PPA is a per possession stat. The table below is sorted by each player’s total contributions for the game.

POSS is the number of possessions each player was on the floor in this game.

Wizards PPA

Robin Lopez 19 40 189 -9
Alex Len 21 46 160 2
Bradley Beal 37 82 95 -20
Russell Westbrook 34 74 80 -22
Rui Hachimura 32 70 75 -11
Deni Avdija 27 58 43 -11
Troy Brown Jr. 2 5 416 -3
Davis Bertans 28 62 32 -21
Raul Neto 27 59 31 -5
Ish Smith 4 10 164 -1
Anthony Gill 2 5 182 -3
Jerome Robinson 2 5 0 -3
Garrison Mathews 2 5 -184 -3

Raptors PPA

Kyle Lowry 33 71 279 14
Norman Powell 32 69 256 11
Pascal Siakam 34 75 179 27
Chris Boucher 25 53 212 16
DeAndre' Bembry 24 52 233 -1
Aron Baynes 21 46 83 3
Fred VanVleet 34 75 54 27
Terence Davis 19 41 93 12
Matt Thomas 2 5 62 3
Paul Watson 2 5 -77 3
Stanley Johnson 14 29 -65 -5