Turns out, LeBron James is great, and when he’s at his best, he’ll lay waste to a nearly inert Washington Wizards defense. In a game between two of the weaker teams in the NBA, that was enough for the Los Angeles Lakers to coast to a comfortable 122-109 win.
On offense, the Wizards were okay. Their shooting was meh, but they pounded the offensive glass to collect 14 of their misses (Kristaps Porzingis got 6 offensive boards), and they were +10 at the free throw line.
Defensively, they were a wreck. The Lakers had an effective field goal percentage of 60.4% en route to their third most efficient game of the season. James led the way, of course, with an efg of 84.0% and an offensive rating of 169. In scoring 50 points and notching 6 assists, James had just 8 zero-point possessions.
Positives for the Wizards:
- Corey Kispert hit shots — 21 points on 14 field goal attempts, including 5-11 from three-point range.
- Rui Hachimura hit shots early. Hachimura finished with an efficient 15 points and got 6 rebounds. He was 2-3 from three-point range, though he turned down at least three good looks at three-point shots. To maximize the value of his three-point shooting, he needs to be able to launch despite a late closeout or put the ball on the floor and attack the closeout.
- Daniel Gafford provided energy and defense off the bench. He had three blocks and a steal in 20 minutes.
Negatives for the Wizards:
- Kyle Kuzma wasn’t much good. He finished with 23 points and 7 rebounds, but his shooting was meh and he committed 4 turnovers.
- Kentavious Caldwell-Pope — the other former Lakers player making his return — was downright terrible. KCP’s game-to-game value fluctuates with his ability to make shots because he provides so little else. Last night, he was 1-6 from the floor.
- Deni Avdija had another bad game. He missed both his shots and had a turnover. Head coach Wes Unseld Jr. limited him to 11 minutes of playing time.
- The defense. It was awful. Again. James’ performance could happen against any team. Getting burned — repeatedly — on backdoor cuts by Austin Reaves? Not so much. I mean, Stanley Johnson busted Washington’s zone defense with a basic drive down the middle. Malik Monk ran free on the perimeter and shot 5-7 from three-point range on mostly uncontested shots.
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 109 at Lakers 122
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
Key Stats: Lakers