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The simple reason the Wizards keep losing

If your team can’t shoot as well, rebound as well and turn the ball over more, your team is probably gonna lose.

Golden State Warriors v Washington Wizards
That feeling when Moritz Wagner — who hasn’t played in the last five games — is the Wizards’ most productive player against the Knicks.
Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

Here’s the kind of game it was last night: During 3-4 consecutive possessions in the second quarter, Knicks All-Star forward Julius Randle got the ball on the wing with an open lane and a (redundancy alert) meh Wizards defender on him. On each of those possessions, Randle made some moves before settling for midrange jumpers.

I tweeted this:

And, Randle finished the night with 37 points on 24 field goal attempts, including going 7-10 from three-point range. What’s strange is that despite the efficient scoring, it wasn’t a great night for Randle. He managed just 6 rebounds and 2 assists in 38 minutes, as well 3 turnovers and 5 fouls. It was a very good night, but not great.

That’s really the case for his Knicks teammates as well. When the Wizards fell behind by 20...and then 30...I never felt like the Knicks were playing well. They were blowing Washington out because the Wizards were playing that bad.

The numbers (see table below) bear that out for the most part. The Wizards who played well did it mostly in garbage time. The “stars” and the rotation guys were mostly awful.

Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook were replacement level for the night. Garrison Mathews did basically nothing for 21 minutes. What little Rui Hachimura did was bad.

There’s nothing to take from this loss. No one’s semi-competent performance in garbage time should give hope. The humiliation may temporarily motivate the team to give extra effort, to focus more on execution, to pay heed to what the coaches are telling them. But it won’t last because the players aren’t good enough.

Firing Scott Brooks won’t hurt, but it won’t help either. This team needs an infusion of productive talent across the board. Their best players aren’t elite. Their rotation players are below average. Their end of bench guys don’t belong in the league.

They’ll rally and win some more games and maybe even inch a notch or two closer to 10th place. But that won’t change the truth about the team. The simple reason the Wizards keep losing: the players aren’t good enough. Not close.

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 at Knicks

EFG 0.598 0.538
OREB 12 7
TOV 10 16
FTM 21 28
PACE 100
ORTG 131 113

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

Mortiz Wagner 23 49 119 1
Deni Avdija 22 46 119 -5
Troy Brown Jr. 15 32 134 12
Alex Len 12 24 155 -10
Cassius Winston 5 11 298 -1
Raul Neto 19 39 70 -8
Isaac Bonga 16 33 72 -12
Bradley Beal 32 68 33 -20
Russell Westbrook 29 60 36 -17
Garrison Mathews 21 44 39 -19
Robin Lopez 7 15 100 -5
Anthony Gill 5 10 26 1
Rui Hachimura 34 71 -2 -7

Knicks PPA

Mitchell Robinson 31 64 214 9
Julius Randle 38 79 169 21
Alec Burks 29 61 153 11
Reggie Bullock 31 64 141 17
RJ Barrett 39 82 92 16
Elfrid Payton 21 44 139 12
Nerlens Noel 17 36 155 9
Immanuel Quickley 12 25 215 -2
Jared Harper 2 4 0 0
Kevin Knox II 2 4 0 0
Frank Ntilikina 10 21 -22 0
Obi Toppin 8 17 -184 -3