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Kevin takes Wizards questions from his e-mailbag

Dallas Mavericks v Washington Wizards
Wizards guard Corey Kispert
Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

If I’ve ever written my own “mailbag” story, I don’t remember doing it. That could be a sign of advancing age. Or CTE (I have had at least two concussions). Or, maybe I’ve never written my own mailbag story?

Regardless, I’ve received a few interesting comments or questions in response to some recent articles, and I thought I’d reply here. I’ve paraphrased the questions, and/or edited them for length and clarity.

How could you characterize Corey Kispert’s rookie year as “somewhat promising” when he broke the all-time [franchise] rookie record for threes, beating Bradley Beal?

The three-point record had more to do with how the game has evolved than Kispert being unique or special. This season, the average team attempted 35.2 threes per game. In Beal’s rookie season, no team had that many. The Houston Rockets led the league with 28.9 three-point attempts per game. That’s two fewer than the Wizards attempted — and Washington was 29th in three-point attempts.

In addition, Beal was limited to 56 games and 1,745 total minutes while Kispert played 77 games and 1,801 minutes. The ability to stay healthy gave Kispert the opportunity to hoist 84 additional threes. He beat Beal’s record by 21. With a bit of math, we can see that Kispert shot 25.0% on those additional threes.

For the year, Beal shot 38.6% from three as a rookie in a league that collectively shot 35.9%. Kispert shot 35.0% in a league that shot 35.4%. Given the different league contexts, Beal had the more impressive three-point shooting season even though Kispert is the current franchise champion in rookie threes.

Who does your metric have as MVP this season?

At the risk of Drew Hanlen spamming my inbox with Yay Points! arguments, to me, it boiled down to two players: Nikola Jokic from the Denver Nuggets and Giannis Antetokounmpo from the Milwaukee Bucks. To be clear, I thought Hanlen client, and Philadelphia 76ers center, Joel Embiid had a great season that belonged in the MVP conversation. He still wasn’t quite as good as the other two, however.

If I look at things on a per possession basis, Giannis is in front (248 PPA to Jokic’s 237). But, Jokic played seven more games and 272 additional minutes, which pushes him to the top in total production.

The Official Narrative Machine had the MVP race as Jokic or Embiid. For giggles, here’s the per 100 possession numbers for each:

  • Jokic: 39.5 points, 20.1 rebounds, 11.5 assists, 2.1 steals, 1.2 blocks, 5.5 turnovers. Ortg: 125. Usage: 33.4%.
  • Giannis: 43.4 points, 16.8 rebounds, 8.4 assists, 1.6 steals, 2.0 blocks, 4.7 turnovers. Ortg: 122. Usage: 35.5%
  • Embiid: 45.4 points, 17.4 rebounds, 6.2 assists, 1.7 steals, 2.2 blocks, 4.7 turnovers. Ortg: 119. Usage: 37.2%

Here’s another breakdown using advanced numbers from Basketball-Reference.

  • Jokic 15.2 Win Shares, +13.7 Box Plus/Minus, +9.8 Value Over Replacement Player
  • Giannis 12.9 WS, +11.2 BPM, +7.4 VORP
  • Embiid 12.0 WS, +9.2 BPM, +6.5 VORP

I understand the case for Embiid — despite Hanlen going on Twitter to make terrible arguments on his behalf. But I think the data and The Eye Test agree (at least for me) this year in picking Jokic.

Is there a metric we can use to argue that Bojan Bogdanovic was actually good in Washington? Even in 40% of his games with the Wizards?

Using meaningful stats and metrics that correlate with winning, no. Constructing our own metric that cherrypicks what he did well and weighs that heavily, and then diminishes the value of what he did poorly? Maybe.

It’s a challenge, because despite the impressive “The One Who Got Away” energy, Bogdanovic mostly played bad in Washington. Here’s his regular season performance EKG. I didn’t bother with the playoffs because it was just that bad.

Bogdanovic played 26 regular games with the Wizards. Here’s how his performance rated:

  • Great games (200+ PPA): 3
  • Very good games (150-199 PPA): 1
  • Above average (100-149 PPA): 4
  • Below average (100> PPA): 18
  • Below replacement level (45> PPA): 15
  • Negative (0> PPA): 7

Overall, his performance rated average or better just 8 times in 26 games — 31% of the time. When the Wizards traded for him, he’d been playing below average. He was worse than that in Washington. Since leaving, he’s gotten better and has been above average the past several seasons.

Back to coming up with a metric that makes him look good: considering he shot 39.1% from three and 93.4% from the free throw line while producing almost twice as many turnovers as assists and doing nothing on the defensive end, I’d recommend emphasizing made threes and free throws while implementing steep penalties for misses, and other stuff like assists, steals, and blocks.

If all else fails, a jersey number adjustment could do the trick.

Have questions or want to be part of my next mailbag (whenever that may be), contact me on Twitter @So_Wizards or shoot me an email at kevinbroomwrites at gmail dot com.