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Kuzma and Beal lead Wizards to win over the Hornets

Charlotte Hornets v Washington Wizards
Wizards forward Kyle Kuzma
Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Ravaged by injuries and Covid, Wes Unseld Jr. used just eight players — really just a seven-man rotation — and the Wizards won a shootout with the Charlotte Hornets, 124-121.

Kyle Kuzma was terrific again — 36 points, 14 rebounds, 6 assists, as well as 6-11 from three-point range. The only mar on his stat line was 5 turnovers. As has been his norm this season, he nailed several threes late.

In his second game as the team’s point guard, Bradley Beal was very good — 35 points, 7 rebounds, 8 assists. He had 4 turnovers, but an acceptable 2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. He even hit 3-8 from three-point range.

My in-game text messages were evenly divided between opinions that Beal’s ball handling isn’t good enough to be a full-time PG, and that he should immediately become the team’s full-time PG. My thought: his ball handling is plenty good enough to play PG, and his growth as a playmaker is impressive.

Daniel Gafford did a good job in the middle — 6-7 from the floor, 11 rebounds, 3 blocks and just 1 foul. Interestingly, the team’s defense was worse when he was out there.

Corey Kispert made a couple threes and played some solid defense. Davis Bertans made 4 threes en route to 14 points, and the team’s defense was excellent when he was in the game. No, the quality defense probably wasn’t because of Bertans.

In the losing effort, the Hornets got terrific performances from Miles Bridges, Gordon Hayward, Terry Rozier, Mason Plumlee and Jalen McDaniels. They got poor performances from Cody Martin, Kelly Oubre Jr., LaMelo Ball and Ish Smith. Charlotte utterly collapsed when Oubre played — -17 in just 12 minutes.

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.

Four Factors: Hornets 121 at Wizards 124

FOUR FACTORS HORNETS WIZARDS
FOUR FACTORS HORNETS WIZARDS
EFG 0.548 0.552
OREB 13 10
TOV 8 15
FTM 7 28
PACE 103
ORTG 117 120

Key Stats

Below are a few performance metrics, including the Player Production Average (PPA) Game Score (very similar to the one I used to call Scoreboard Impact Rating). PPA is my overall production metric, which credits players for things they do that help a team win (scoring, rebounding, playmaking, defending) and dings them for things that hurt (missed shots, turnovers, bad defense, fouls).

Game Score (GmSC) converts individual production into points on the scoreboard in this game. The scale is the same as points and reflects each player’s total contributions for the game. The lowest possible GmSC is zero.

PPA is a per possession metric designed for larger data sets. In small sample sizes, the numbers can get weird. But some readers prefer it, so I’m including PPA scores as well. Reminder: in PPA, 100 is average, higher is better and replacement level is 45. For a single game, replacement level isn’t much use, and I reiterate the caution about small samples producing weird results.

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 last season was 112.3. Points produced is not the same as points scored. It includes the value of assists and offensive rebounds, as well as sharing credit when receiving an assist.

USG = offensive usage rate. Average is 20%.

ORTG and USG are versions of stats created by Wizards assistant coach 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.

Key Stats: Wizards

WIZARDS MIN POSS PTS ORTG USG PPA GmSC +/-
WIZARDS MIN POSS PTS ORTG USG PPA GmSC +/-
Kyle Kuzma 41 88 36 116 34.2% 229 31.9 5
Bradley Beal 43 93 35 123 31.4% 179 26.3 4
Daniel Gafford 36 77 15 180 11.3% 164 20.2 -2
Corey Kispert 23 50 12 188 13.1% 248 19.9 -1
Davis Bertans 21 44 14 165 17.5% 244 17.2 12
Deni Avdija 40 85 7 92 14.9% 61 8.3 1
Alize Johnson 6 13 0 0 6.3% 18 0.4 -1
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope 31 66 5 33 19.3% -170 0.0 -3

Key Stats: Hornets

HORNETS MIN POSS PTS ORTG USG PPA GmSC +/-
HORNETS MIN POSS PTS ORTG USG PPA GmSC +/-
Miles Bridges 42 90 23 128 20.0% 222 31.5 8
Gordon Hayward 38 83 27 133 23.1% 204 26.7 3
Terry Rozier 32 69 25 134 24.9% 242 26.3 6
Mason Plumlee 27 59 8 228 9.3% 179 16.6 4
Jalen McDaniels 20 43 4 141 9.1% 198 13.6 -2
Cody Martin 24 51 7 102 13.3% 56 4.6 -10
Kelly Oubre Jr. 12 27 7 87 23.1% 41 1.8 -17
LaMelo Ball 31 68 18 84 27.7% -43 0.0 -1
Ish Smith 13 29 2 61 19.6% -138 0.0 -6