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By the Numbers: Westbrook helps Wizards enter All-Star break on a winning note

Los Angeles Clippers v Washington Wizards
Even with the missed free throws, Washington Wizards guard Russell Westbrook was the team’s most productive player in its win over the Los Angeles Clippers.
Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

I was hoping to write something kinda ambitious using last night’s game as a leaping off point, but real life interceded. Rather than delay the stat update any longer, I’m including it below.

Even with Paul George sidelined with dizziness, the win over the Los Angeles Clippers is unexpected. With the victory, Washington sends the Clippers into the All-Star break on a three-game losing skid. For the Wizards, it snaps a two-game losing streak and sends All-Star starter Bradley Beal to Atlanta with a feel-good win.

By the way, Beal was the 8th pick when LeBron James and Kevin Durant held the All-Star draft. Beal starts for Team Durant with Kyrie Irving, Joel Embiid, Kawhi Leonard, and Jayson Tatum.

To my eye, with Giannis Antetokounmpo, Stephen Curry, Luka Doncic, and Nikola Jokic, Team LeBron has the stronger starting group.

Back to the Wizards, at the not-quite halfway point, I have them a symmetrical 2.0 points per 100 possessions below average on both offense and defense so far. If they play .500 ball the rest of the way, they’ll finish the year with 32 or 33 wins. My forecast system predicts 26 or 27 wins at the end of the year.

Despite not shooting well against the Clippers last night, the Wizards scored efficiently by avoiding turnovers and making frequent trips to the free throw line. Russell Westbrook, a turnover machine much of the season, had just one turnover to 11 assists.

For Westbrook, the “improved play” narrative has mostly been a mirage (more coming on that during the All-Star break), but he was superb against Los Angeles — 27 points, 9 rebounds, 11 assists, and 4 steals. The 7-15 free throw shooting was the only significant negative. Perhaps he’ll spend the time off figuring out how get back to his career 80% free throw shooting.

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: Clippers at Wizards

EFG 0.561 0.506
OREB 10 11
TOV 17 9
FTM 25 30
PACE 101
ORTG 116 118

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 36 75 222 15
Bradley Beal 37 77 144 4
Deni Avdija 25 52 138 -13
Robin Lopez 26 55 96 -18
Moritz Wagner 19 41 116 26
Davis Bertans 27 56 63 -5
Raul Neto 24 51 61 -20
Rui Hachimura 32 68 -2 11
Garrison Mathews 14 30 -50 10

Clippers PPA

Terance Mann 29 62 176 2
Luke Kennard 21 44 244 23
Ivica Zubac 29 61 143 20
Patrick Beverley 26 54 87 -7
Reggie Jackson 28 59 69 -9
Kawhi Leonard 32 67 45 9
Lou Williams 27 56 35 -3
Serge Ibaka 18 38 -26 -22
Nicolas Batum 30 64 -18 -23