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Wizards beaten by Indiana Pacers, 113-108

Washington Wizards v Indiana Pacers
Wizards small forward Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images

If there’s any lesson to be taken from last night’s Wizards loss to the Indiana Pacers, it might be this: don’t draft for perceived need.

Tyrese Haliburton, recently acquired by the Pacers, had a crappy shooting night and committed four turnovers. He also showcased elite court vision and passing ability, as well as the exuberant leadership that makes teammates love playing with him. The Wizards may not have “needed” a guard in the 2020 draft, but they sure could use one in 2022.

By the way, I’m not alleging a conspiracy, but the Pacers have been making roster moves that seemed designed to tempt me away from following the Wizards. Haliburton is my favorite NBA player. I like his attitude, game, leadership and zeal for engaging with the community.

They also signed one of my other favorites: Terry Taylor, the 6-5 whatever the hell position he plays, who practically jumped off the screen when I was evaluating G League numbers earlier this season. Last night, he scored 18 points on 9-11 shooting and grabbed 9 rebounds, and it was basically a par for the course performance for him.

In addition to the 18 and 9 tonight, he has games of 15 and 8 (with 5 offensive rebounds) in 21 minutes, 24 and 16 with 6 offensive boards (as a 6-5 starting center), and 21, 14 and 5 (with 8 offensive rebounds). This kind of performance would make him Washington’s most productive player.

Anyway, the Wizards were terrible on defense (again) and basically average on offense. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope made threes (5-8) and got 3 steals. Raul Neto hit a couple threes and handed out 8 assists, and Kyle Kuzma had an inefficient 26 points, 15 rebounds, and 6 assists.

Kuzma shot just 9-27 from the floor and committed three turnovers. His 6 made threes brought his shooting to a 44.4% efg. League average is 52.6%. The Wizards shot 52.2% for the game.

Tonight, the Wizards have a makeup game against the Brooklyn Nets that was postponed because so many players were in the Covid protocols. My prediction machine gives the Wizards about a 40% chance of winning. The Nets suffered through an 11-game losing streak, but are now winners of two straight.

Four Factors

Below are the four factors that decide who wins and loses 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, that’s more useful over a full season. In a single game, the raw numbers in each category are easier to understand.

Four Factors: Wizards 108 at Pacers 113

FOUR FACTORS PACERS WIZARDS
FOUR FACTORS PACERS WIZARDS
EFG 0.566 0.522
OREB 7 12
TOV 11 12
FTM 19 13
PACE 97
ORTG 116 111

Key Stats

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 in this game. 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 112.3. 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.

Key Stats: Wizards

WIZARDS MIN POSS PTS ORTG USG PPA GmSC +/-
WIZARDS MIN POSS PTS ORTG USG PPA GmSC +/-
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope 34 69 27 137 24.0% 235 28.3 0
Raul Neto 33 67 10 198 9.9% 230 26.7 -5
Kyle Kuzma 38 77 26 98 34.0% 142 19.0 5
Deni Avdija 32 64 14 120 16.8% 104 11.7 4
Thomas Bryant 24 49 4 163 6.1% 96 8.1 -5
Ish Smith 21 42 10 118 21.3% 97 7.1 -6
Cassius Winston 6 12 3 306 6.2% 337 7.1 7
Isaiah Todd 6 12 0 43 24.9% -127 0.0 -14
Anthony Gill 16 33 5 77 20.6% -57 0.0 -8
Corey Kispert 30 62 9 69 21.8% -75 0.0 -3

Key Stats: Pacers

PACERS MIN POSS PTS ORTG USG PPA GmSC +/-
PACERS MIN POSS PTS ORTG USG PPA GmSC +/-
Lance Stephenson 34 69 11 119 13.3% 161 19.0 5
Terry Taylor 36 73 18 146 14.4% 153 18.9 -9
Oshae Brissett 29 59 17 109 26.5% 182 18.3 0
Buddy Hield 39 80 15 123 17.0% 123 16.7 12
Tyrese Haliburton 39 79 21 107 31.3% 121 16.3 8
Tristan Thompson 21 42 17 153 21.2% 207 14.8 7
Jalen Smith 23 46 8 114 12.5% 116 9.0 3
Duane Washington Jr. 18 37 6 82 19.8% -25 0.0 -1