The Wizards and Knicks engaged in a contest to see which could come closer to flinging a basketball from some distance in an effort to shatter a backboard or break a rim. Neither team succeeded, though it wasn’t for a lack of effort.
The Knicks won the actual game despite a 40-point outburst from Kyle Kuzma. Corey Kispert and Daniel Gafford helped some, though Gafford inexplicably got just 17 minutes.
For New York, the hero was Jalen Brunson, who had 34 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists with just 1 turnover.
Instead of the usual good/not-so-good stuff — I’ve already covered the good stuff, to be honest — here are a few observations and thoughts from last night’s game.
Kuzma was very good though one play late bugged me. He decided to drive, and the Knicks sent the man guard Kristaps Porzingis to help. That left Porzingis wide open out top at the three-point line, and Porzingis was 3-4 from deep in the second half. Instead of making the simple pass to an open teammate, Kuzma threw up a spinning fadeaway from 22 feet, which missed. Make. The. Pass.
Sometimes I hate how my own brain works. The Official Narrative is that Kuzma is great in the clutch. When I hear such claims, I automatically wonder if it’s true, and then I look it up. And...sigh...it’s not true.
In the clutch this season (last five minutes of a game, score within five points), Kuzma is 14-34 from the floor (41.2%), 5-21 from three (23.8%), and 4-8 from the free throw line. In 79 minutes, he has 1 assist and 4 turnovers. The team is -18 in those situations. These numbers include last night’s 1-2 shooting from the floor, and 2-3 from the free throw line.
By the way, in the clutch, Bradley Beal is 17-25 (68.0%) from the floor and 15-17 from the free throw line. He also has a staggering 11 turnovers in 51 clutch minutes — that works out to 10.8 turnovers per 100 possessions. Washington has been +7 in the clutch with Beal on the floor.
As rough as Kuzma has been in the clutch this season, Porzingis has been worse — 5-18 from the floor (27.8%), 2-8 from three, and 18-21 from the FT line. He also has 3 assists to 3 turnovers and 10 personal fouls in 69 clutch minutes. The Wizards have been -24 during Porzingis’ clutch minutes.
Understand — none of the above clutch data is offered in criticism of any of the players. Each of the three has their strengths and weaknesses. They deserve credit when they make good plays and critique when they don’t. The numbers above are more about a check on The Narrative, which often takes a single success and constructs a story around it.
Other recent entries in the category of The Official Narrative:
- Rui Hachimura has been consistent. He hasn’t.
- Kyle Kuzma has been consistent. He hasn’t.
- The Wizards season has been hamstrung (see what I did there?) by injuries. It hasn’t.
- Kuzma has been awesome in the clutch all season. Not so.
Below are the four factors that decide wins and losses 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, I often find the raw numbers more useful when analyzing a single game.
Four Factors: Knicks at Wizards
Stats & Metrics
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. 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 112.0. 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.
Stats & Metrics: Wizards
Stats & Metrics; Knicks