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Wizards lose the Next Man Up Bowl to the Miami Heat

Stats and analysis of Washington’s loss

Washington Wizards v Miami Heat
It would be statistically unlikely to get a photo of Wizards forward Kyle Kuzma not shooting during last night’s game against the Miami Heat.
Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images

The Wizards-Heat matchup last night was a classic “next man up” battle. Miami got back some of its actual NBA roster for the game. Washington was missing significant chunks of its rotation.

The Wizards inactive list included starting guards Bradley Beal and Monte Morris, backup guard Delonte Wright, and backup forward Rui Hachimura.

For the Heat: Jimmy Butler, Max Strus, Duncan Robinson, Victor Oladipo, and Omer Yurtseven.

Just eyeballing the names, I’d guess the missing players worked slightly in Miami’s favor. Butler is the best player on either team, and Max Strus is decent, but the Wizards were missing two starters and two high-minute reserves, including their titular franchise player. Call it a wash, I guess.

While the Wizards defense wasn’t good (it wasn’t bad either), the real problem was on the offensive end where they once again could not solve Miami’s 2-3 zone. In the first half, they repeatedly tried to feed the ball to someone stationed at the elbow. That someone was usually Kristaps Porzingis, though some elbow touches went to Kyle Kuzma, Jordan Goodwin and Deni Avdija.

With the exception of Avdija, whoever got the ball at the elbow turned into the “soft” belly of the Heat zone and bricked took a shot from the floater range. This was both inefficient and maddening because that’s exactly the shot Miami wanted them to take.

Washington still shot a decent percentage from the floor (52.8% efg), but committed 14 turnovers, grabbed just 7 offensive boards, and failed to get to the free throw line (or make them when they got there).

On defense, they did a solid job forcing misses, holding the Heat to a below average 50.5% effective field goal percentage. But Washington failed to control the defensive boards — Miami’s Bam Adebayo, Caleb Martin and Jamal Cain had 4 offensive rebounds each. Cain’s came in just 18 minutes on the floor.

Also, Martin, Kyle Lowry and Tyler Herro shot a combined 14-25 from three-point range. Lowry was 5-6 from deep.

The Good

Deni Avdija had a solid game — 12 points, 9 rebounds, 10 assists, a steal and a block. He even hit a stepback three. He had a bad stretch in the fourth quarter with some fouls and sloppy turnovers, and his defense was solid but not exceptional, but he played well. His usage was reasonable (18.5%), his efficiency solid (112 points produced per possession x 100 — league average is 112), and even his turnovers were acceptable given the 10 assists.

Will Barton had one of his better games of the season — 13 points on 10 field goal attempts, as well as 7 rebounds and 7 assists in 29 minutes. His defense wasn’t much help, though he did have the misfortune of sharing the floor with Daniel Gafford and Anthony Gill, both of whom played poorly.

The cherry blossom uniforms are great. If it was my decision, that would be the full-time look, along with a new name.

The Not So Good

Kristaps Porzingis had a poor outing. The 21 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists look fine, but he took 19 shots, connected on just 2-9 from three-point range, and committed a passel of bad fouls. On 29.9% usage, his offensive rating was a crummy 96.

Corey Kispert needs to find a way to take more shots and contribute more on offense. Last night, his usage was just 12.2%, and he launched 6 threes in 83 possessions on the court. I counted at least three times he was open from deep and turned down the shot because of an aggressive closeout. That contributed to his three turnovers. He doesn’t contribute in enough other ways to justify significant playing time if he’s not taking and making threes.

The Kinda Good

Kyle Kuzma scored 33 points. As a friend texted me after the game, Kuzma kept on shooting until he got hot. As I texted back, then he kept shooting until he got cold again. Kuzma was not shy about pulling the trigger. He took 27 shots and missed 11 threes. Even so, it was actually one of his better offensive nights, in part because he committed zero turnovers. He also had just one assist. And, his defense was largely missing in action, as was his rebounding work.

Jordan Goodwin got the start at guard and was okay. He hit a three, delivered three assists and gave a solid defensive effort.

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: Wizards at Heat

EFG 0.528 0.505
OREB 7 14
TOV 14 12
FTM 11 19
PACE 101
ORTG 104 112

The 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

Kyle Kuzma 40 84 33 112 29.0% 139 28.5 -9
Deni Avdija 41 85 12 112 18.5% 127 26.5 -3
Will Barton 29 62 13 117 20.4% 149 22.5 -10
Jordan Goodwin 25 52 8 110 14.6% 65 8.2 -1
Kristaps Porzingis 33 70 21 96 29.9% 31 5.3 -3
Daniel Gafford 10 21 4 93 22.3% 81 4.2 -10
Taj Gibson 5 10 4 132 22.4% 140 3.5 5
Johnny Davis 6 12 0 0.0% 98 2.8 -6
Corey Kispert 39 83 8 80 12.2% 14 2.7 -5
Anthony Gill 13 26 2 53 10.9% 11 0.7 2

Stats & Metrics: Heat

Caleb Martin 40 85 24 157 17.5% 276 40.6 -2
Kyle Lowry 35 74 28 147 24.9% 260 33.3 19
Jamal Cain 18 37 6 112 21.4% 170 11.0 8
Dewayne Dedmon 13 27 9 155 20.2% 194 8.9 2
Bam Adebayo 35 74 15 94 23.7% 65 8.3 6
Haywood Highsmith 38 79 5 80 7.0% 53 7.2 16
Tyler Herro 29 62 17 93 26.0% 29 3.2 -10
Nikola Jovic 12 26 7 73 28.0% 10 0.5 -8
Gabe Vincent 19 40 2 52 19.6% -140 0.0 9