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Westbrook leads Wizards to third straight win

Could a longer win streak be coming?

New Orleans Pelicans v Washington Wizards
Wizards guard Russell Westbrook dishes an assist in Washington’s overtime win over the New Orleans Pelicans.
Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images

The Wizards won their third straight game because Russell Westbrook was excellent, Daniel Gafford made some exciting and timely plays, and...well...that’s about it, really. The team didn’t play well, but against the Pelicans, Westbrook and Gafford were enough for a two-point overtime win.

A look at the coming schedule reveals it’s not entirely implausible that Washington could extend its winning streak.

Here’s the upcoming slate with my estimated chance of the Wizards winning:

  • DET — 47%
  • OKC — 71%
  • GSW — 45%
  • @OKC — 57%
  • CLE — 65%
  • SAS — 42%
  • LAL — 33%

The Wizards have a decent chance of winning each of the next six games. It would be highly improbable for them to win all six (I estimate they have about a 2.3% chance of running the table until they meet the Lakers), but Westbrook has been playing well and they getting contributions from Gafford, Robin Lopez, Davis Bertans, Ish Smith, and Raul Neto.

It’s reasonable to think they could win four of the next six and put themselves in position to make the play-in tournament. Stranger things have happened.

All that said, it’s prudent to tap the brakes a bit. They won (barely) despite not shooting well, allowing 11 offensive rebounds (to their 3), and getting outshot at the free throw line. They’ll need to play better if they want to continue winning.

As mentioned previously, Westbrook was terrific last night — 36 points on 24 field goal attempts, 15 rebounds, and 9 assists vs. just 4 turnovers. Westbrook had 3 of the team’s 4 made threes. He also made an array of clutch plays in the fourth quarter and overtime to secure the win.

Gafford made a number of spectacular plays, such as repeatedly blocking Zion Williams around the basket. He had 18 points, 7 rebounds and 4 blocks in 26 minutes. His PPA (see below) was a bit below average because of 2 turnovers and 5 fouls.

Fouls have been an issue for Gafford throughout his career, and it’s something he needs to fix if he’s going to play extended minutes. The aggression, effort and athleticism are impressive. He needs to control that, though — something likely to come as he gains experience. The 22-year old is still just under 1,100 career minutes.

Bradley Beal scored 30, but it was a rough night for him — just 10-29 from the floor and 0-9 from three-point range.

Rui Hachimura had another terrible game — 6 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals in 42+ minutes. He was 3-13 from the floor and 0-5 from three.

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: Pelicans at Wizards

EFG 0.448 0.490
OREB 11 3
TOV 15 13
FTM 28 23
PACE 105
ORTG 110 111

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.

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 44 95 180 6
Ish Smith 15 32 224 6
Alex Len 16 34 202 -5
Daniel Gafford 26 57 82 16
Raul Neto 21 46 91 10
Deni Avdija 20 44 11 2
Garrison Mathews 7 14 23 -5
Robin Lopez 11 25 0 -9
Bradley Beal 42 93 -13 -13
Isaac Bonga 21 47 -73 13
Rui Hachimura 42 93 -48 -11

Pelicans PPA

Brandon Ingram 42 92 180 5
Naji Marshall 33 73 201 15
Steven Adams 30 65 165 7
Willy Hernangomez 20 45 175 11
Eric Bledsoe 34 73 19 11
James Johnson 26 56 22 -12
Jaxson Hayes 9 21 28 -11
Wes Iwundu 0 0 0 0
Lonzo Ball 20 43 -9 -17
Kira Lewis Jr. 19 43 -13 -13
Zion Williamson 31 68 -83 -6