While Corey Kispert’s rookie season rated a bit below average, overall it was reasonably encouraging. Injuries forced him into the starting lineup, where his strengths (shooting and cutting, primarily) and weaknesses (defense, playmaking, rebounding) were on display.
I had him ranked 7th overall in my pre-draft analysis, and while he wouldn’t have been my pick at 15 (Turkish big man Alperen Sengun ranked 5th — and went 16th to the Houston Rockets), it’s fair say Kispert outperformed his draft slot.
According to my PPA metric (in PPA, average is 100 and higher is better — click here for additional information) Kispert was this season 8th most productive rookie, both per possession and totals.
Two players slipped past him in the per possession rankings — Isaiah Jackson and Herbert Jones. In total production, Jackson and Indiana’s Chris Duarte drop (both had their minutes limited by injuries) and Jalen Green from the Houston Rockets and Ayo Dosunmu move ahead.
The narrative of young guys improving this season was mostly fiction, but at least somewhat true for Kispert. His PPA after the team’s first 53 games (he appeared in 48 of them) was 82. In the 29 games after he became a full-time starter, his PPA was 92. For the full season: 87.
His rolling 20-game PPA hit 100 (exactly league average) after the team beat the Los Angeles Lakers in March. He pushed it to a season-high 106 with hot shooting against the Charlotte Hornets in the season finale.
- Wizards silver = rolling PPA after each game
- Wizards red = 5-game rolling average PPA
- Wizards blue = 10-game rolling average PPA
- Cherry Blossom pink = 20-game rolling average PPA
Entering the NBA draft, Kispert’s only plus NBA attribute was his three-point shooting. That largely deserted him in the early going. He came out bricking threes and continued just long enough to make fans start wondering. After 22 games, he was 9-44 from downtown — an anemic 20.5%.
Over his final 55 games, he connected on 103-276 — 37.3%. In the 29 games after he became a full-time starter, he shot 67-168 — 37.6%. That’s good enough to attract defensive attention with sufficient volume, and his 8.8 three-point attempts per 100 possessions probably meets that threshold.
Kispert showed some ability to attack closeouts with right-hand dribble and was a good cutter within the context of the team’s offense. He also shot a well-above-average 62.9% on twos, powered by excellent at-rim finishing (79.1%) and superb floater range efficiency (51.5%). He took few midrange jumpers or long twos.
Ideally, he’ll figure out a way to convert some of those floaters (13.2% of his total FGA) into at-rim attempts (16.7% of total FGA). That could also help get him more trips to the FT line (just 1.7 attempts per 100 team possessions) where he’s a superb 87.1% shooter.
While his usage rate was an extremely low 13.9%, that’s okay for a three-point shooting specialist off the bench. If the team was health and/or good, he wouldn’t have been starting, and his three-point shooting could have provided some solid value.
What does he need to work on this offseason:
- Shooting — He finished up the year shooting at an acceptable level, but if he’s going to be more than an 8th or 9th man, he needs to advance to excellent. That means 40% or higher from three-point range.
- Defense — The role is 3 AND D, and Kispert got cooked way too often to play a major role in high-stakes games.
- Strength — Like most rookies, he needs to work on his body. It’ll help with the first two.
- Getting open — While creating shots with the ball has reached the point of fetish in the NBA, there’s huge value in being able to create looks without the ball. Stephen Curry is the leading practitioner, and Kispert would do well to study and emulate guys like Curry, J.J. Redick and Ray Allen.
Rookie of the Year and All-Rookie
By the way, I think NBA awards voters got it right when picking Toronto Raptors G/F/C Scottie Barnes as Rookie of the Year.
Here’s what my All-Rookie ballot would have looked like (in order by most total production), if I had one:
- Scottie Barnes, Toronto Raptors
- Evan Mobley, Cleveland Cavaliers
- Franz Wagner, Orlando Magic
- Herbert Jones, New Orleans Pelicans
- Josh Giddey, Oklahoma City Thunder