With a couple days between games for the Wizards, it seemed a good time to check in their farm team — the Capital City Go-Go. The team went 9-9 in the Showcase Cup and currently has a 6-2 regular season record. That knowledge, plus ~$2.50, will get you a venti coffee at one of your nine neighborhood Starbucks.
Getting stats in the form needed for my analysis was a proverbial pain in the neck but after a couple hours of data cleansing, I could run full-season numbers on the Go-Go players. Doing the same kind of work for every individual player in G League was more work than I had time to do on a Sunday afternoon.
Compared to the NBA, the G League is higher scoring (116.7 points per 100 possessions to the NBA’s 113.7). At some point, I need to look closer at how to calculate possessions because the G League free throw rules are different. Since 2019, when a shooting foul is called, a player gets one free throw worth two (or one, or three) points until the final two minutes of the fourth quarter or in overtime.
Also, the league used a final target score instead of a running clock in the fourth quarter of its Winter Showcase in Las Vegas.
Using my methods currently in place, the Go-Go have been about average offensively and a bit better than average defensively this season. Compared to league average, they’ve shot poorly from three-point range (31.5% vs. 34.7% average), they’ve been decent from two-point range (55.4% vs. an average of 55.6%), and have shot free throws well (77.7% to 74.3%).
The G League ultimately isn’t about how well the team does, but how successfully it develops NBA talent. Jordan Goodwin was a solid player for the Go-Go last season and emerged this season as a rotation-level guard.
If you want to be optimistic, you could focus on Vernon Carey Jr., the 21-year old center who’s scoring and rebounding well. So far this season, Carey’s shot 64.0% on twos and 35.1% on 37 three-point attempts. Per 100 possessions, he’s averaging 39.0 points, 15.7 rebounds and 4.1 assists. His turnovers — 3.1 per 100 possessions — are acceptable for a player with a 26.9% usage rate.
My eyebrow went up when I saw him at just 1.9 blocks per 100 possessions. That’s not terrible, but it also doesn’t suggest the type of physical dominance I’d hope to see from a big man against weaker competition.
A few others are performing well so far this season, including former NBA guard Kris Dunn (42.9% on 42 three-point attempts), 61.7% on twos, and 4.0 steals per 100 possessions. He’s producing 10.2 assists per 100 possessions...and 5.0 turnovers and 5.1 fouls. He’s also 28 years old.
Devontae Shuler’s been pretty good, as has Devon Dotson. Dotson’s averaging 10.7 assists per 100 to just 2.7 turnovers. And, he’s shooting 26.3% on threes. Shuler’s provided efficient scoring and steals.
Craig Sword, Jules Bernard and Quenton Jackson round out the franchise’s average or better G League players. Jordan Schakel was close, but the Go-Go traded him to the Santa Cruz Warriors for center Trevion Williams.
If you want to get worried, consider how far you have to scroll the table below to get to the team’s “prize” prospects, Johnny Davis and Isaiah Todd. Both players rate replacement level or lower for the G League. In a league producing 116.7 points per 100 possessions, they’re both producing fewer than 100. Davis has shot 32.8% on threes; Todd 25.5%.
Davis rebounds decently for his position. Todd doesn’t. Both players have more turnovers than assists. Neither player is generating the kinds of steals and blocks suggestive of a competent NBA defender. Both foul frequently, however.
Below are estimated Player Production Average scores for the team. I’m calling them estimated because of how annoying it was cleaning and formatting the data, and because I still need to work through how to handle the free throw issue.
PPA is my all-around production metric, which credits players for things they do that help a team win, and dings them for things that hurt — each in proportion to what causes teams to win or lose basketball games. PPA is pace neutral and accounts for defense.
Capital City Go-Go PPA
|Vernon Carey Jr.||20||28.2||137||26.9%||210|