In what feels like an annual event, the Wizards are limping to the trade deadline with the franchise in disarray. Their designated franchise player Bradley Beal is having wrist surgery that will end his season.
Domantas Sabonis, the All-Star big man they’d hoped to acquire to pair with Beal, got traded to the Sacramento Kings, and the primary asset the Indiana Pacers got back was second year guard Tyrese Haliburton — who the Wizards should have picked ninth instead of Deni Avdija.
Montrezl Harrell and Spencer Dinwiddie, two of the team’s key acquisitions this past offseason, are unhappy. The coaching staff can’t figure out how to form useful lineup combinations from the meh assemblage of players the front office has made available.
With Beal out of action, any hope of competing for a spot in the play-in tournament is gone. The team is currently 11th in the Eastern Conference Standings and 13th in the conference in strength of schedule adjusted scoring margin. My prediction machine forecasts they’ll finish with 35 or 36 wins, which gives them about a 14% chance of finishing 9th or 10th and a 3% chance of actually making the playoffs.
Here’s where they rank leaguewide in key quality metrics:
- Strength of schedule adjusted scoring margin: 23rd
- Offensive rating: 22nd
- Defensive rating: 23rd
Here’s where they are in the four factors that decide winning and losing:
Offensive Four Factors Rank
- efg: 22nd
- tov%: 11th
- oreb%: 26th
- ftm/fga: 5th
Defensive Four Factors Rank
- defg: 11th
- dtov%: 30th
- dreb%: 16th
- dftm/dfga: 24th
Understand: the Wizards aren’t bad because Beal is out. They’ve been just as bad when he’s played. The problem remains what it has been since the summer, which is the same problem they’ve had for years: they lack talent.
With the trade deadline looming this afternoon, the Wizards should be looking to make trades that will bring value for older players like Montrezl Harrell and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Everyone on the roster should be available in trade talks because no one is a building block for a contending team.
Think of it like this: What’s the ideal role for Wizards’ players?
- Spencer Dinwiddie: 3rd guard
- Kyle Kuzma: high-minute reserve playing all three frontcourt spots
- KCP: reserve SG/SF
- Corey Kispert: reserve SG/SF
- Daniel Gafford: backup center
- Thomas Bryant: backup center
- Harrell: backup center
- Rui Hachimura: reserve forward
- Deni Avdija: reserve forward
- Aaron Holiday: 5th guard in a three-guard rotation
- Raul Neto: 5th guard in a three-guard rotation
- Davis Bertans: unplayable this season, but at his best — backup forward
Some of these guys could start for a well-constructed team with a true franchise player. Kuzma and KCP played key roles for the title-winning Lakers. But they were role players, not the driving force.
The point isn’t pessimism. The team has a few players good teams can use in important roles, and Tommy Sheppard should be working on deals that will bring the Wizards back young players and draft picks to fill their many roster needs.
He said he’s willing to take big swings. Now’s the time.
Player Production Average
Player Production Average (PPA) metric 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), each in proper proportion to how much it contributes to winning or losing.
PPA is pace neutral, accounts for defense, and includes a “degree of difficulty” factor that rewards playing more difficult minutes. There’s also an accounting for role/position. In PPA, 100 is average, higher is better, and replacement level is 45. It usually takes a score of 225 or higher to be part of the MVP conversation.
The PPA score is not saying one player is “better” than another in terms of skill, ability, athleticism, or replaceability (if players hypothetically switched teams or were placed on a hypothetical average team). Rather, PPA shows production so far this season in terms of doing things that help teams win NBA games.
Washington Wizards PPA through 53 Games