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Wizards begin critical 10-game stretch with win over the Orlando Magic

Stats, analysis and commentary

Orlando Magic v Washington Wizards
Washington Wizards guard Delon Wright had a mini-perfect game in the team’s 138-118 win over the Orlando Magic.
Photo by KeShawn Ennis /NBAE via Getty Images

Last night against the Orlando Magic, the Washington Wizards embarked on a 10-game stretch of games that could determine the future direction of the franchise. After kicking the Magic in the teeth, the Wizards are 20-26 and sit in 11th place in the East.

Washington has nine more games until the trade deadline, including several against intentionally weak opponents. To add some challenge, six of the next seven are on the road, where the Wizards are just 8-16. Here are the team’s estimated chances of winning each of the next nine, according to my prediction machine:

  • at Dallas Mavericks 40%
  • at Houston Rockets 65%
  • at New Orleans Pelicans 33%
  • at San Antonio Spurs 66%
  • at Detroit Pistons 62%
  • Portland Trail Blazers 55%
  • at Brooklyn Nets 33%
  • Cleveland Cavaliers 41%
  • Charlotte Hornets 72%

That tallies to 5-4, and the Wizards would hit the trade deadline at 25-30. CORRECTION: an earlier published version has the record at 24-30. Apologies for the brain fart. Thanks to WarsawKen for pointing it our.

That would probably be the most #SoWizards outcome because it would keep the team around 10th or 11th in the East but would be just good enough to make Ted Leonis and the front office believe they’re a trade away from...whatever it is they think they’re close to achieving.

An extreme run in either direction (say eight or nine wins or losses) would likely be better for the team’s long-term success. A losing binge against this weak a schedule should transform the team into deadline sellers. It could puncture what I think is the team’s delusion about how good they are and force a reckoning with reality.

A spate of wins might lead them to conclude the roster is good enough as is and make them hesitant to trade future assets. And, a strong winning streak could also signal that maybe the team leaders are correct about being a competitive team

Back to last night, as mentioned, the Wizards curb stomped the Magic, 138-118. It really wasn’t even that close. Virtually everyone for Washington played well. Only a few Orlando players were even adequate.

Good Stuff

  • Apparently Nikola Jokic is playing against the game — trying to achieve a triple-double perfect game. That’s double digit points, rebounds and assists but with zero missed shots or turnovers. Last night, Delon Wright had a mini-perfect game — 15 points, 3 rebounds, 8 assists and 3 steals with zero missed shots or turnovers. He was 5-5 from the floor, 3-3 from three-point range, and 2-2 from the free throw line.
  • Rui Hachimura transmogrified into a scoring juggernaut for the night — 13-22 from the floor, and 3-5 from three-point range. He added 5 rebounds and 2 blocks. In full: 30 points in 30 minutes. Not bad.
  • Kyle Kuzma played an excellent game with 25 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assists with just 1 turnover.
  • Monte Morris was hyper-efficient — 4-5 from the floor, 2-3 from three, and he had 6 assists to zero turnovers.
  • Bradley Beal had another strong performance as he works his way back from the hamstring injury. He had 17 points on 14 field goal attempts, as well as 4 rebounds and 8 assists. His passing is radically improved from his early days in the NBA.
  • It’s great to see Markelle Fultz playing well. He’s struggled with injuries and confidence since entering the NBA, but he’s found a home with the Magic. The shot is still janky, but he’s big for his position, quick and he plays strong and tough.

Not So Good Stuff

  • Kristaps Porzingis wasn’t having much of a game, and it got worse when he landed awkwardly and rolled his left ankle. Head coach Wes Unseld Jr. told reporters after the game that it didn’t look bad.
  • Rough outing for Deni Avdija, who played one of his better games of the year in the team’s win against the New York Knicks. Against Orlando: 0-5 from the floor, 0-3 from deep, and 0-2 on free throws. While I thought he should have been called for an offensive foul on the drive that got him to the free throw line, I was happy to seem attack aggressively and lower his shoulder to power his way to the rim.

Just Stuff

  • Don’t believe the if only the Wizards had been healthy propaganda. First, because one of the team’s “y’all have hope” talking points was its depth. Second, because the team hasn’t been unusually beset by injuries. They’re 20th in games missed due to injury — only 10 teams have had players miss fewer games. They’re 10th in salary earned by players out with injury. Injuries suck, but it’s worth remembering that they affect every team to some extent. The Wizards have had about average injury luck so far this season.
  • The Magic are probably a guard and a year or two of experience from being a pretty dangerous team. They’re big and skilled and could clear up to $55 million in cap space this offseason. Whiffing on Jalen Suggs is a setback (barring radical improvement) but the bright side is it shouldn’t be too challenging to upgrade what he’s given them.

Four Factors

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: Magic at Wizards

EFG 0.551 0.632
OREB 9 9
TOV 10 8
FTM 20 18
PACE 101
ORTG 117 136

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

Delon Wright 24 50 15 258 13.7% 500 43.6 20
Rui Hachimura 30 63 30 134 27.4% 272 29.7 20
Kyle Kuzma 32 67 25 119 30.5% 222 25.7 19
Monte Morris 24 51 10 218 10.3% 230 20.2 0
Bradley Beal 28 59 17 134 24.2% 157 15.9 -1
Daniel Gafford 24 51 14 160 18.4% 174 15.3 18
Corey Kispert 16 33 8 209 9.8% 217 12.4 9
Kristaps Porzingis 23 48 17 116 29.3% 61 5.1 5
Anthony Gill 2 5 0 250 5.4% 212 1.7 1
Taj Gibson 13 27 2 65 19.8% -67 0.0 5
Deni Avdija 25 52 0 0 8.9% -104 0.0 4

Stats & Metrics: Magic

Markelle Fultz 29 62 23 150 26.6% 239 25.6 -2
Wendell Carter Jr. 31 66 11 112 14.1% 95 10.8 -3
Gary Harris 20 42 9 174 11.4% 121 8.7 -10
Franz Wagner 27 57 20 127 26.0% 86 8.4 -17
Mo Bamba 20 41 8 151 14.1% 118 8.4 -11
Paolo Banchero 28 60 15 117 22.8% 79 8.1 -6
Bol Bol 16 34 11 100 31.3% 122 7.1 -11
Terrence Ross 24 51 8 98 15.1% 48 4.2 -7
Cole Anthony 22 46 6 66 17.3% 49 3.9 -17
Moritz Wagner 8 17 4 86 34.1% 40 1.2 -11
Admiral Schofield 2 5 0 0.0% 0 0.0 -1
Jalen Suggs 13 27 3 66 16.9% -96 0.0 -4