In their fourth and final game of the 2022 preseason, the Wizards got their tails kicked by the New York Knicks. Washington wraps the exhibition games with a 1-3 record, which matters not at all.
The Wizards shot poorly in all four games. With the exception of the Golden State Warriors in the second contest in Japan, so did their opponents. Here’s Washington’s three-point shooting performances:
For those keeping score, that’s 36-144, which comes to 25%. While long-range shooting was a weakness last season, and probably will be again, they’ll shoot better than that in the regular season.
Preseason basketball is often a time for young players to go hard and show coaches they deserve more minutes and a bigger role. With Deni Avdija (groin) and Corey Kispert (ankle) out of action, there wasn’t a lot of that.
There was much ado about Rui Hachimura’s preseason performance, which for the most part left me still skeptical that he’s ready to make a leap. This is as good a spot as any to shift to talking about individuals, and I’ll start with Hachimura.
Per 100 possessions — 26.6 points, 13.5 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.4 steals, 0.0 blocks.
Suffice to say that I didn’t see the breakthrough that others did. He did some scoring on fairly poor efficiency (about 12 points per 100 possessions below last season’s league average) and collected defensive rebounds at a nice rate. But, the 6-8 forward who’s often praised for his athleticism managed 1 offensive rebound in 106 minutes (and 222 offensive possessions) and 0 blocks.
Preseason PPA: 94
(For new readers: PPA is short for Player Production Average, which is my overall rating metric. In PPA, 100 is average and higher is better. Replacement level is 45.)
Per 100 possessions — 16.8 points, 7.6 rebounds, 7.0 assists, 2.9 steals, 3.5 blocks.
Wright had an excellent preseason, especially on the defensive end. He’s not a great shooter (he’s not going to shoot 44% from three in the regular season), but he does lots of the work that teams need done to win games. A low usage, do-everything defender might be a good complement to Bradley Beal in the starting lineup.
Preseason PPA: 186
Per 100 possessions — 17.0 points, 3.4 rebounds, 10.7 assists, 3.4 steals, 0.6 blocks.
Morris is better than he looked through much of the preseason. Even with the crappy shooting (just 2-15 from three), he did a good job playmaking for teammates while avoiding turnovers. In the final preseason, the Wizards were a preposterous -36 in his 24 minutes of playing time. He has to shoot better, and he will.
Preseason PPA: 72
Per 100 possessions — 25 points, 7 rebounds, 8 assists, 5 steals, 0 blocks.
He played in just two preseason games, and was excellent in both despite shooting just 2-10 from three-point range. Overall, his offensive game wasn’t efficient, but he got some rebounds, did some playmaking, gave some defensive effort and avoided turnovers. Not bad. He played exactly 100 possessions, by the way.
Preseason PPA: 203
Per 100 possessions — 17.6 points, 7.6 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 0.0 steals, 2.4 blocks.
While I thought Kuzma got majorly overrated last season, he’s not this bad. His efg was just 38.1%, and he shot 4-20 on threes. He had zero offensive rebounds, and his defensive board work was lacking as well. And his turnovers were elevated. The team was outscored during his minutes on the floor in all four games, and his PPA score was negative in three of the four. Yikes.
Preseason PPA: -42
Per 100 possessions — 21.1 points, 2.7 rebounds, 8.8 assists, 1.4 steals, 0.7 blocks.
His shooting was meh, and he didn’t exactly distinguish himself defensively, but...he was fine. As he’s been through much of his career, during the preseason he was an average-ish wing who should be a solid contributor for another season or two.
Preseason PPA: 98
Per 100 possessions — 16.6 points, 12.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 0.6 steals, 4.0 blocks.
Gafford’s efg was 70.6%, and he did a nice job getting offensive boards, but his overall efficiency was only about average because turnovers accounted for a whopping 28% of his possessions. Fouling (5.4 per 100 possessions) continues to be a problem, and he got pushed around on the defensive boards. Like Kuzma, the team was outscored during Gafford’s minutes in all four games.
Preseason PPA: 79
Per 100 possessions — 36.5 points, 10.5 rebounds, 4.9 assists, 4.9 steals, 2.4 blocks.
The first game in Japan mostly stunk, but the last two were superb. He scored efficiently, contributed on the defensive glass and flashed some nice passing skills. Negatives? Rampant fouling (8.9 per 100 possessions) and turning his ankle.
Preseason PPA: 169
Per 100 possessions: 6.2 points, 7.4 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 2.5 steals, 0.6 blocks.
Davis was as overwhelmed in preseason as he was in summer league. He shot 2-21 in the exhibition games — an efg of 9.5% — and missed all six of his three-point attempts. He tried on defense, and he hit the defensive glass, but his performance seems to warrant a few weeks in the G League so he can work on his game in a lower stress environment.
Preseason PPA: -71
Games that matter start Wednesday with a road game against the Indiana Pacers.