The Washington Wizards “furious comeback that falls just short” loss to the Atlanta Hawks last night offers a kind of Rorschach test for fans of the team.
The Wizards outshot the Hawks 62.4% to 48.9% (effective field goal percentage), which is normally the best indicator of victory. The team that shoots better from the floor wins 78% of the time in the NBA.
If you’re a more optimistic sort, you probably felt encouraged that the team’s youngsters, Rui Hachimura, Deni Avdija and Thomas Bryant hit shots and scored efficiently. Combined, they were 16-22 from the floor, and 6-10 from three-point range. Bryant was the least efficient of the three with an offensive rating of 124, which is only 13 points per 100 possessions better than league average.
You might also be cheered by Kentavious Caldwell-Pope shooting 10-12 from the floor (including 6-6 from three-point range) en route to 28 points. He tacked on 5 rebounds and 5 assists with just 1 turnover. To maintain your good mood, just ignore the fact that the team’s other six players who got minutes collectively shot 20-51 from the floor, and 2-13 from three.
KCP, Hachimura, Avdija and Bryant combined for an efg of 94.1%. The rest of the team: 41.2%.
And, Hachimura grabbed 6 rebounds in 26 minutes, snapping his run of four consecutive one-rebound games.
If you’re on the more curmudgeonly side or you disdain moral victories, you might notice that shooting, as well the fact that the team could not defend without fouling (Atlanta won the free throw battle 28-8), couldn’t get to the free throw line (just 9 attempts in the game), gave up 13 offensive rebounds (including 8 to Clint Capela), and committed 14 turnovers to the Hawks’ 4.
If you’re rooting for the Wizards to be part of the NBA’s Draft Lottery (again), you’re likely happy they lost to the team just ahead of them in the standings.
Overall, I’m closer to the curmudgeon side of things. For the most part, it felt like the Wizards played out the NBA maxim that it’s a “make or miss” league. Nothing I saw had me thinking the team has more than a collection of midlevel role players. They have 20 games left to show otherwise.
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: Hawks 117 at Wizards 114
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: Hawks