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Wizards blasted by Pacers in first game of the season

Stats, analysis, and commentary.

Washington Wizards v Indiana Pacers
Wizards forward Deni Avdija
Photo by Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images

Deep breath in.

This is fine.

Exhale slow.

This is fine.

Deep breath in...

This is exactly the kind of game to be expected when an NBA franchise decides it’s time to rebuild, and that’s what the Wizards are doing. They jettisoned their good to very good professionals and made room for mids and kids. The mids to eat minutes and be mentors, the kids to learn and improve and maybe one day be very good to great.

In the meantime, they’re entering garbage time with six minutes left in the game...to the Indiana Pacers, who finished last season with the same 35-47 record as the Wizards. The franchise trajectories diverge because the Pacers have a star to build around — something the Wizards need to find.

The game itself was ugly. Washington’s offense was bad, and their defense worse. Don’t be fooled by the 120 points — the Pacers and Wizards played at a blazing pace (111 possessions each). Washington’s effective field goal percentage was 50.5%. Last season, league average was 54.5%. The Pacers shot 61.7%.

Defensively, the Wizards struggled with basics like matching up. In one halfcourt set in the second half, the Pacers got a wide open corner three (one of the more valued shots in the game) without so much as running an action. They literally jogged to their spots and the shooter was undefended.

On offense, they broke the play, took bad shots or forced passes. They were fortunate to have just 14 turnovers.

Positives

  • Tyus Jones and Deni Avdija made some nice plays in the first quarter. Avdija finished with 9 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, a steal and 2 turnovers. Jones with 16 points and 6 assists on 12 shots and 2 turnovers.
  • Kyle Kuzma scored efficiently — 25 points in 25 minutes with an offensive rating of 125. League average last season was 114.8.
  • Delon Wright had three steals.
  • Danilo Gallinari hit shots and got open on cuts to the rim even though he can barely move.
  • Bilal Coulibaly had three blocks, including two on Ben Sheppard in the fourth quarter.
  • Corey Kispert did something other than shoot threes. He had five rebounds in 25 minutes, a big number for him. He also got shots up — 11 field goal attempts and a 19.6% usage rate.
Washington Wizards v Indiana Pacers
One of Bilal Coulibaly’s three opening night blocks.
Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Not So Positives

  • Jordan Poole was terrible — 7-18 from the floor, 0-6 from three, 5 assists and 4 turnovers. His shot selection was awful, he got out of control, and he was so focused on trying to draw fouls (and failing) that he failed to make simple basketball plays.
  • Coulibaly was 10th man off the bench and finished the game with an 11.5% usage rate. I can understand him taking a tertiary role early on when the team theoretically still had a chance to win. I’m not sure what’s gained by letting Ryan Rollins run pick-and-roll in garbage time.
  • While Jones and Avdija made good plays in the first, they both disappeared as the game wore on.
  • Kispert’s defense was cringey. He got torched by every Pacer he defended.
  • Tyrese Haliburton should’ve been the pick.

Bright side: there’s only 81 more.

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).

Four Factors: Wizards at Pacers

FOUR FACTORS WIZARDS PACERS
FOUR FACTORS WIZARDS PACERS
EFG 0.505 0.617
OREB 11 10
TOV 14 12
FTM 23 11
PACE 111
ORTG 108 129

Stats & Metrics

Below are a few performance metrics, including the Player Production Average (PPA) Game Score. 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. 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 sometimes producing weird results.

POSS is the number of possessions each player was on the floor in this game.

ORTG = offensive rating, which is points produced per individual possessions x 100. League average last season was 114.8. 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 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.

+PTS = “Plus Points” is a measure of the points gained or lost by each player based on their efficiency in this game compared to league average efficiency on the same number of possessions. A player with an offensive rating (points produced per possession x 100) of 100 who uses 20 possessions would produce 20 points. If the league average efficiency is 114, the league — on average — would produced 22.8 points in the same 20 possessions. So, the player in this hypothetical would have a +PTS score of -2.8.

Stats & Metrics: Wizards

WIZARDS MIN POSS ORTG USG +PTS PPA GmSC +/-
WIZARDS MIN POSS ORTG USG +PTS PPA GmSC +/-
Kyle Kuzma 25 58 125 29.0% 1.7 161 16.6 -10
Tyus Jones 28 66 121 20.5% 0.8 138 16.2 -17
Delon Wright 25 59 126 14.3% 1.0 147 15.4 -15
Danilo Gallinari 17 40 173 21.6% 5.0 197 14.0 5
Deni Avdija 21 48 104 22.7% -1.2 115 9.9 -15
Corey Kispert 24 57 96 19.6% -2.1 43 4.3 -8
Eugene Omoruyi 8 18 110 21.3% -0.2 112 3.6 -2
Daniel Gafford 21 49 157 7.4% 1.5 41 3.6 -23
Jared Butler 3 8 148 19.5% 0.5 184 2.6 2
Bilal Coulibaly 23 54 67 11.5% -3.0 23 2.2 -13
Mike Muscala 8 19 0.0% 0.0 39 1.3 -8
Jordan Poole 26 61 82 35.2% -7.0 2 0.2 -12
Patrick Baldwin Jr. 3 8 0 9.7% -0.9 -113 0.0 2
Ryan Rollins 6 14 37 32.3% -3.5 -172 0.0 -1

Stats & Metrics: Indiana Pacers

PACERS MIN POSS ORTG USG +PTS PPA GmSC +/-
PACERS MIN POSS ORTG USG +PTS PPA GmSC +/-
Bruce Brown 27 63 188 17.1% 7.9 275 31.0 15
Tyrese Haliburton 27 62 124 28.9% 1.6 218 24.3 6
Buddy Hield 25 58 153 15.7% 3.5 227 23.7 15
Jalen Smith 13 31 211 18.5% 5.5 387 21.5 6
Bennedict Mathurin 26 60 110 27.5% -0.8 160 17.1 14
Andrew Nembhard 22 50 138 23.3% 2.7 173 15.5 12
T.J. McConnell 6 14 213 14.6% 2.0 527 13.1 1
Obi Toppin 19 45 128 17.5% 1.1 158 12.6 7
Myles Turner 23 54 100 17.1% -1.3 57 5.5 14
Aaron Nesmith 23 53 116 11.6% 0.1 57 5.5 13
Isaiah Jackson 11 26 112 12.6% -0.1 43 2.0 3
Jordan Nwora 6 13 80 42.2% -1.9 51 1.2 3
Ben Sheppard 6 13 0 5.8% -0.9 -89 0.0 2
Jarace Walker 6 13 29 32.6% -3.7 -147 0.0 3
Kevin Broom