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Wizards’ winning streak ends at 4 with improbable loss to Thunder

Stats and analysis of the team’s defeat.

Oklahoma City Thunder v Washington Wizards
Wizards forward Deni Avdija celebrates after scoring on the Oklahoma City Thunder...while the Thunder rush back to the other end for a dunk.
Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Against the Oklahoma City Thunder, a team designed to lose, the Wizards made 17 threes on 50% shooting from deep, had an effective field goal percentage of 61.0%, and had 32 assists on 44 field goals — and lost on a last-second three from Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. For most NBA teams, this would be improbable. For Washington, it’s #SoWizards.

The loss snapped a four-game winning streak and dropped the Wizards record to 8-7.

The game featured one of those moments that seem to happen with regularity to this franchise. With barely over a minute to play, Deni Avdija powered down the lane for a strong left-handed finish to tie the game at 116. On the play, he fell into teammate Jordan Goodwin — the G-League alum on a two-way contract who was playing his way into a permanent spot in the rotation — who writhed in pain for several minutes with an apparent leg injury before walking to the locker room.

And Avdija finished the sequence by sitting in the lane flexing while Oklahoma City pushed the ball upcourt for a dunk.

This is not to suggest Avdija is to blame for the loss. He didn’t play particularly well, but he had far more success defending Gilgeous-Alexander than anyone else on the roster. Avdija stymied SGA drives multiple times by deploying his super power — not going for fakes. SGA seemed to get acquainted with the scouting report in the second half and had more success with quick, strong moves.

Why the Wizards give up switches that take Avdija off the opposition’s top perimeter threat remains a mystery to me. As does the decision to use Monte Morris, the team’s smallest and least effective perimeter defender, on the 6-6 SGA on the final shot. Watch here.

Overall, this was an entertaining game filled with fun and weirdness. A few thoughts and observations:

  • The Wizards gave up separate leads of 16 and 17 points. OKC’s biggest lead of the night was 3 points.
  • Bradley Beal returned to action after missing five games with COVID and “reconditioning.” He played well — 25 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists and just 1 turnover. The team was +10 in his 37 minutes, which with a bit of math means they were -11 in the 11 minutes he rested. Also, don’t blame the defense on Beal — they were actually a little better on the defensive end with him in the game.
  • Rui Hachimura scorched the nets with 6-8 shooting from the floor, including 2-3 from three-point range. He also tied his career high with 3 steals.
  • Kyle Kuzma was one assist shy of a triple-double. Or three turnovers. Or one assist and three turnovers from a quadruple-double. Anyway, 18 points, 10 rebounds, 9 assists, and a below average PPA because of all the turnovers.
  • To the eye, Avdija seemed to be defending well. The team defense was atrocious with him out there, however — a 131 defensive rating. Will Barton saved him from the ignominy of worst team defensive rating. The Wizards had a defensive rating of 138 with Barton in the game.
  • While Morris got beat on that final shot from SGA, the team defense was good when he was in the game (108 drtg) and he was hyper-efficient on offense — 11 points on 4-7 shooting (including three threes), plus 4 assists, 2 steals and no turnovers.
  • The Thunder were +32 in the 27 minutes Lindy Waters III on the floor. Based on his bio — Waters was born in Norman, Okla., went to Oklahoma State and now plays for the Oklahoma City Thunder — it’s kinda reasonable to think Sam Presti may have discovered him by walking outside Paycom Center and asking taller passersby, “Do you play basketball?” until he found Waters.

The Four Factors

Below are the four factors that decide wins and losses 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, I find the raw numbers more useful when analyzing a single game.

Four Factors: Thunder 121 at Wizards 120

EFG 0.642 0.610
OREB 9 11
TOV 15 19
FTM 17 15
ORTG 123 122

Stats & Metrics

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. 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 112.0. 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.

Stats & Metrics: Wizards

Bradley Beal 37 76 25 133 24.7% 207 29.4 10
Kristaps Porzingis 36 75 27 143 24.1% 199 27.8 16
Rui Hachimura 18 36 14 187 17.2% 392 26.6 -3
Monte Morris 27 56 11 178 10.7% 210 22.0 24
Kyle Kuzma 39 80 18 99 25.9% 86 12.8 13
Deni Avdija 30 61 12 96 21.7% 25 2.8 1
Will Barton 16 34 5 122 12.1% 34 2.2 -17
Daniel Gafford 6 12 2 206 6.1% 22 0.5 -14
Jordan Goodwin 20 40 4 83 14.4% 0 0.0 -15
Corey Kispert 11 23 2 59 20.0% -142 0.0 -20

Stats & Metrics: Thunder

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander 35 71 42 149 39.6% 346 46.2 9
Lindy Waters III 27 55 9 147 11.2% 223 22.8 32
Luguentz Dort 34 69 16 113 19.9% 90 11.5 -4
Kenrich Williams 26 53 9 116 13.6% 101 10.0 16
Jeremiah Robinson-Earl 13 27 8 149 20.6% 168 8.6 0
Aleksej Pokusevski 14 29 8 159 15.2% 128 6.9 -21
Aaron Wiggins 27 55 7 150 7.4% 62 6.5 -5
Jalen Williams 28 57 10 96 24.0% 43 4.6 0
Josh Giddey 20 42 11 90 26.3% -4 0.0 -23
Jaylin Williams 6 12 0 31 16.8% -161 0.0 -2
Mike Muscala 11 22 1 55 9.0% -96 0.0 3