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Wizards’ spiral continues against Brooklyn Nets

Stats and analysis of Washington’s 7th straight loss.

Brooklyn Nets v Washington Wizards
Washington Wizards wing Will Barton had his best game of the season in the team’s loss to Kevin Durant and the Brooklyn Nets.
Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images

The Washington Wizards got thumped by the surging Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and the surging Brooklyn Nets. It was Washington’s seventh loss in a row and 9th in 10 games. And now they enter one of the more difficult portions of their schedule.

Here’s what’s on tap the next few weeks:

The next time they’ll be favored to win is December 30 against the Orlando Magic — nine games into the future. And then they have two in Milwaukee followed by a trip to Oklahoma City and then home to face the New Orleans Pelicans.

It’s possible they could lose 12 of their next 13.

But enough about the wreckage of the future.

Good Stuff

  • Jordan Goodwin wasn’t great, but he was good enough to reinforce the notion that he should remain a part of the backcourt, even when the team is at full health. He plays hard, gives a good effort on defense, and has some playmaking and scoring skills. On a night when he didn’t have his A game, he was still reasonably productive.
  • Will Barton had his best game of the season — 22 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists. He defended pretty well too.
  • Daniel Gafford bounced back from a subpar outing the Indiana Pacers to give the Wizards 10 points (on just 4 field goal attempts) and 10 rebounds in 20 minutes of floor time. The Nets averaged less than a point per possession when Gafford was defending the middle.

Not So Good Stuff

  • Kristaps Porzingis was having a crappy game when he had to leave because of tightness in his back. He didn’t return. Before folks get mad about “crappy” — he had 20 points and just 3 rebounds in 24 minutes. His shooting was fine (7-11 from the floor), but had had 1 assist and 5 turnovers.
  • Kyle Kuzma was atrocious — he used 21 field goal attempts and 4 turnovers to score 20 points and generate 3 assists. His offensive rating was a dismal 79 on a usage rate of 29.6%.
  • The two healthy members of Washington’s Big Three (Porzingis and Kuzma) combined for an offensive rating 89 — the Wizards ortg for the game was 100.
  • Deni Avdija was missing in action, again — 8 points, 7 rebounds, 1 turnover, 4 fouls in 27 minutes. Based on the video of him complaining to the refs after nearly every call, perhaps someone on the coaching staff should give him a tutorial on what does and does not constitute a foul in the NBA.

The Broadcast

I know. I said I was going to stop watching the Wizards’ broadcast. In my defense, the Brooklyn feed was glitching at my house, and the Washington feed operated properly.

Here’s what grates me from Chris Miller and Drew Gooden. It’s not that they root for the Wizards — that’s normal for the hometown broadcast team. It’s that they do it with unmoored cheerleading that speeds way past “keeping things positive” and dives deep into propaganda and misleading their audience.

For example, last night they put a graphic up on the screen showing Avdija’s per game averages in The Glory Stats over the past three games. Those numbers: 11.7 points, 6.7 rebounds, 5.3 assists. Miller and Gooden then intoned some stuff about Avdija stepping up when the team needed him and some other cliches. What didn’t they mention?

  • That three games is basically worthless as a sample size.
  • That he averaged 39.1 minutes per game over those three games.
  • That the NBA averages for an individual player getting 39.1 minutes per game would be 18.3 points, 7.1 rebounds and 4.0 assists.

Is all that necessary during the broadcast? Of course not. But don’t sell that the kid is suddenly playing much better when a) his overall quality of play has been about the same as it had been, b) that his per game averages were obviously inflated simply by playing more minutes, and c) that his performance was actually still below average.

If they wanted to be honest and sound hopeful, they could have noted the per game averages and talked about how it’s been encouraging to see Avdija cut down on the fouls in recent games, and how that’s enabled him to stay on the floor for big minutes over the past three games.

Or, there was Miller calling Porzingis “literally unguardable,” which they then picked up and used throughout the broadcast without ever acknowledging The Unicorn’s 5 turnovers or spiraling three-point shooting the last five games.

Anyone new to basketball who listened to Miller and Gooden talk about the team, would have to believe that the Wizards are one of the NBA’s true powers. In their telling, The Big Three are deserving All-Stars, the youngsters are rapidly improving and emerging as soon-to-be stars, the coach is a steady Leader of Men, and the front office is run by a shrewd talent evaluator and negotiator.

It’s fine to pull for the team and present positives. But it can be done with balance, accuracy and meaning. Misleading the audience is crappy, especially when there’s ample opportunity to educate about what makes players and teams good or bad. What I’m describing is possible — it happens on other team broadcasts I watch regularly.

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: Nets at Wizards

EFG 0.539 0.538
OREB 7 6
TOV 11 19
FTM 16 15
PACE 100
ORTG 112 100

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

Will Barton 33 69 22 142 22.8% 257 32.4 4
Daniel Gafford 20 42 10 142 15.0% 197 15.3 9
Jordan Goodwin 36 75 11 102 17.5% 97 13.2 -6
Kristaps Porzingis 24 50 20 105 34.1% 90 8.2 -22
Deni Avdija 27 55 8 132 10.7% 60 6.0 -3
Corey Kispert 36 74 9 79 16.0% 12 1.6 -26
Kyle Kuzma 39 81 20 79 29.6% -2 0.0 -3
Devon Dotson 12 25 0 41 12.6% -54 0.0 -6
Anthony Gill 8 17 0 0 6.1% -136 0.0 -6
Taj Gibson 5 10 0 0 18.2% -243 0.0 -1

Stats & Metrics: Nets

Kevin Durant 33 69 30 138 29.9% 368 46.7 11
Kyrie Irving 36 75 24 125 26.0% 226 31.1 9
Nic Claxton 26 53 9 185 9.3% 211 20.5 22
T.J. Warren 19 39 12 137 24.8% 243 17.2 -1
Ben Simmons 23 47 10 102 22.5% 102 8.8 7
Joe Harris 23 47 11 119 15.3% 90 7.7 -2
Cam Thomas 19 39 5 107 14.2% 32 2.3 -5
Edmond Sumner 12 26 4 74 23.1% 21 1.0 8
Markieff Morris 6 13 2 54 31.2% -125 0.0 4
Yuta Watanabe 21 44 2 36 13.8% -81 0.0 13
Seth Curry 22 45 3 42 12.3% -85 0.0 -6