Russell Westbrook, Anthony Gill and The Centers™ were enough for the Wizards to coast to a 15-point victory over a bad Cleveland Cavaliers, and secure a spot in the NBA’s play-in tournament. The Wizards could get as high as the 8th seed if they win Sunday night and other stuff happens.
Westbrook continued his torrid play with 21 points, 12 rebounds, 17 assists, 3 steals and just 1 turnover. His shooting for the game was a subpar .417 effective field goal percentage, and he still posted an outstanding 121 offensive rating (points produced per individual possession x 100).
Scott Brooks’ hydra center rotation draws mockery, but it seems to work. According to my PPA metric, the Wizards had five players produce at an above average rate (per possession) last night: Westbrook, Gill, Daniel Gafford, Robin Lopez and Alex Len.
The least productive of the three was Lopez, and he had 14 points and 5 rebounds in 16 minutes. Gafford had 12 and 5, plus 3 blocks in his 21 minutes. Len: 4 points, 5 rebounds, a steal and a block in 11 minutes. It’s weird, but at least against the Cavaliers, it worked.
Gill had another terrific outing, and it’s time for the coaching staff to consider making him a regular part of the rotation. He had 12 points, 5 rebounds, an assist, 2 steals and a block in 22 minutes. His offensive efficiency was outlandish, in large part because he was 8-8 from the free throw line.
If the Wizards need minutes for Gill, they could take them from Rui Hachimura, who had another dud game — 14 points on 7-15 shooting and just 3 rebounds, 1 assists, 0 steals, and 0 blocks in 34 minutes.
The game’s other starting forward, Davis Bertans, was similarly unproductive — just 1 rebound and a steal in 32 minutes. In Bertans’ case, the threat of his elite shooting helps even when he’s having an off night.
Hachimura’s halfcourt offensive repertoire is slow, mechanical and predictable. Cleveland defenders, among the league’s worst, were ready for his shoulder-bump-into-a-step-back jumper routine.
Chandler Hutchison is worth a look, though what he’s shown so far is not promising. He’s athletic and makes good cuts but doesn’t finish well at the rim and doesn’t shoot well from deep. His best contribution is likely to be on defense, and he’s pretty mediocre on that end of the floor.
The Wizards might as well play him, at least until Bradley Beal returns to the lineup. He’s played better than Isaac Bonga so far this season (low bar), and he’s no worse than Garrison Mathews.
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: Cavaliers at Wizards
Scoreboard Impact Rating
Below are Scoreboard Impact Rating (SIR) results from last night’s game. It’s based on my PPA metric, but it shows each player’s TOTAL contribution for the game in terms of points on the scoreboard. This may make more sense for a single game — PPA is a per possession metric, which probably makes more sense over a larger sample size.
Since SIR is based on the PPA metric, it 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). The scale is points.
POSS is the number of possessions each player was on the floor in this game.
PTS = points scored
ORTG = offensive rating, which is points produced per individual possessions x 100. League average this season is 112.3.
USG = offensive usage rate. Average is 20%.
ORTG and USG were created by Dean Oliver and modified slightly by me. ORTG is an efficiency measure that accounts for the value of shooting, offensive rebounds, assists and turnovers. USG includes shooting from the floor and free throw line, offensive rebounds, assists and turnovers.
Wizards SIR & ORTG
Cavaliers PPA & ORTG