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Wizards lose to Hornets despite another excellent game from Westbrook

The point guard is great at putting up stats and he really had a great game. But the wins just aren’t coming along with these performances.

Charlotte Hornets v Washington Wizards
Washington Wizards guard Russell Westbrook.
Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

While it wasn’t pleasant, the Wizards loss to the Charlotte Hornets should have been expected. The Hornets have been better this season, and the Wizards ground out a tough win against the Indiana Pacers the night before.

Russell Westbrook and Rui Hachimura each played big minutes (39 and 36 respectively), and few of those minutes could be accurately described as easy.

For a second night in a row, Westbrook was excellent. He didn’t shoot as well (just 7-20 from the floor, but 4-9 from three-point range), and he committed 5 turnovers, but he grabbed 15 rebounds (15 of them, including 5 offensive boards), handed out 14 assists, and contributed a couple steals and some decent defense.

Hachimura was better overall than he was against the Pacers. His shooting was above the team average (though worse than Charlotte’s and below league average) and he committed just 2 turnovers.

The second-year forward has two challenges in applying his skills in a way that generates production that helps his team win games. First, improving his offensive efficiency. If he’s going to take a couple dozen shots a game (as he has in Bradley Beal’s absence), he needs to shoot better. The .500 he shot against the Hornets is below average. His efg for the full season is a bit below average. That could be okay, except...

The second challenge: he needs to add dimension to his game beyond scoring. Last night, he had just 4 rebounds and 3 assists in 40 minutes of playing time. Once again, zero steals or blocks.

I know some will argue that he helps some with his defense. To my eye — and the various statistical measures of defensive effectiveness — the narrative of his improved defense has sped past the reality.

It’s encouraging to see his aggression on the offensive end. But to reiterate, he either needs to score at above average efficiency or add something else to his production profile. Ideally, he’ll do both.

Back to last night’s game, the Wizards’ centers played well again. Robin Lopez had 16 points on 11 field goal attempts, and 11 rebounds in 27 minutes. Alex Len had 10 points on 6 shots and 5 rebounds in 21 minutes. The bigs combined for 7 offensive rebounds.

The rest of the team was mostly forgettable. Jerome Robinson, who started in Beal’s spot for a second straight game, was awful again. Garrison Mathews, who probably should be starting in Beal’s spot, was even worse.

As good as Chandler Hutchison was in his Wizards debut is as bad as he was last night.

Deni Avdija was spectacularly bad — 1-10 from the floor, 1-7 from three-point range, and 8 rebounds. The Hornets targeted him on defense in the fourth quarter and Avdija responded by fouling out.

Next up for the Wizards is a trip to Detroit for a winnable game against the Pistons (though Detroit is still favored). After that they come home for a game against the Dallas Mavericks, and then hit the road.

From April 5-14, they have 6 consecutive games away from DC with matchups against the Toronto Raptors, Orlando Magic, Golden State Warriors, Phoenix Suns, Utah Jazz, and Sacramento Kings. My prediction system forecasts them as favorites only against Orlando.

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: Hornets at Wizards

EFG 0.544 0.460
OREB 9 15
TOV 14 13
FTM 16 12
PACE 102
ORTG 111 102

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

Russell Westbrook 38 81 193 -6
Robin Lopez 27 57 167 -12
Rui Hachimura 40 86 82 -4
Alex Len 21 44 139 4
Cassius Winston 11 23 172 -6
Jerome Robinson 36 77 22 -7
Garrison Mathews 15 31 -68 -9
Chandler Hutchison 21 44 -56 -7
Deni Avdija 32 69 -144 -3

Hornets PPA

Devonte' Graham 29 63 304 11
Terry Rozier 39 83 185 8
Gordon Hayward 39 83 168 3
Cody Zeller 24 51 164 11
Miles Bridges 25 54 78 9
Caleb Martin 16 34 93 -1
Cody Martin 21 44 33 8
Bismack Biyombo 24 51 -30 -3
P.J. Washington 23 50 -64 4