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The Numbers Crunch: Bilal Coulibaly shines in Wizards loss

Stats, analysis, commentary.

Washington Wizards v Brooklyn Nets
Washington Wizards rookie Bilal Coulibaly posts best game of his career in the team’s loss to the Brooklyn Nets.
Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images

The afternoon started like one of the Washington Wizards’ trademark no-contest games. The Wizards fell behind by as much as 17, and trailed by 15 at the end of the first quarter. Then they whittled away at the Brooklyn Nets’ advantage, and even threatened to win by clawing their way to a five-point lead with 4:08 to play.

Then Wes Unseld Jr. remembered his tank trump card and reinserted the starters. That was all the Nets needed to go on a 15-2 run to end the game with a win.

In a proud moment for Jordan Poole, someone on Twxtter named him the Brooklyn Nets Player of the Game.

Here’s what Poole did in the final minutes of a close game:

  • 4:41 — made a 24-foot step back three — 90-87
  • 3:34 — missed 26-foot jump shot
  • 3:25 — fouled Nic Claxton who was posting him up under the basket
  • 2:34 — grabbed a rebound
  • 2:30 — bad pass turnover (this is the one where he was trying to get the ball to Kuzma on the sideline despite Brooklyn’s Mikal Bridges being in the way. Wizards were up two when he made that pass.
  • 2:03 — with the scored tied at 92, Poole inexplicably fouled Bridges 35 feet from the basket. Then after what was an obvious foul, he argued with the ref.
  • 1:46 — bad pass turnover down one.
  • 0:28 — down five clear path foul

Then he committed two more intentional fouls, including his sixth with 17 seconds on the clock.

Poole doesn’t deserve all the credit for Brooklyn’s win, of course. Kyle Kuzma shot 1-5 over the final four minutes. Tyus Jones committed a turnover. Still, when it came down to careless turnovers, poor shot selection, and terrible decision making, Poole was the clear pick as Nets player of the game.

Musings & Observations

  • This was the best game of Bilal Coulibaly’s young career. The 19-year old was active, shot well, attacked closeouts, did some drive-and-kick playmaking, and defended like...well...a veteran from another franchise where the team plays defense. He started the second half in place of center Daniel Gafford, and played almost the rest of the way. Memo to Unseld: MORE!
  • Coulibaly’s final stat line: 20 points on 8-12 shooting from the floor and 4-7 from three, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 steals, 2 turnovers, 3 deflections. In a game where both teams had offensive ratings (points per possession x 100) under 100, Coulibaly’s individual offensive rating (points produced per individual possession x 100) was 133 with a usage rate of 18.4%. He was one of only two Wizards players with offensive efficiency above league average (the other was Danilo Gallinari).
  • While I’ve so far raved about Coulibaly’s offensive game, his defense was better. There were multiple possessions where he helped teammates, made timely switches, defended up or down a position, and generally disrupted the Brooklyn offense.
  • It’s impossible to understate how damaging the play of Kuzma, Poole and Jones was against Brooklyn. The team defense was significantly worse when the trio was on the floor. The offense was a wreck too, and it was because of them. Their combined offensive rating was 68. Collectively, they were 9-33 from the floor, 2-14 from three, and produced 6 assists and 5 turnovers. Atrocious.
  • Deni Avdija had another poor shooting game — 6-18 from the floor, and 1-8 from three. He had 3 assists and 2 turnovers. I don’t like his shooting form from three. To my eye, the arms seem disconnected from the biomechanical drive that starts with the legs. There’s something in his motion that seems to interrupt the power chain and make the release inconsistent. Something also seems off at the end — the freeze the follow through part. he does it, but the action doesn’t seem fully connected to the shot he just took. At least he competes on defense and the boards.
  • For a second game in a row, the Wizards lost in large part because of their inability to grab defensive rebounds. The Nets had 20 offensive boards, which led to 21 second chance points.
  • While the team’s defensive rating looked good against Brooklyn, I don’t think it was because the Wizards played stellar defense. For example, by my count, Mikal Bridges was 1-1 on contested three-point attempts, and 1-13 on threes that were open or wide-open.
  • Wizards ball handlers should be grateful “carries” aren’t an officiating point of emphasis this season.

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 Nets

EFG 0.432 0.439
OREB 7 20
TOV 12 18
FTM 18 16
PACE 103
ORTG 92 99

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

Bilal Coulibaly 34 73 133 18.4% 2.9 339 46.1 2
Danilo Gallinari 20 42 142 21.1% 2.6 201 15.7 14
Landry Shamet 20 42 102 17.3% -0.7 122 9.6 12
Daniel Gafford 16 35 107 14.2% -0.2 141 9.3 -4
Deni Avdija 38 80 75 23.5% -7.0 57 8.5 -1
Corey Kispert 27 57 96 19.0% -1.7 63 6.7 4
Kyle Kuzma 31 67 78 29.2% -6.5 -18 0.0 -29
Jordan Poole 32 69 75 20.2% -5.1 -59 0.0 -22
Tyus Jones 23 49 12 10.9% -5.4 -102 0.0 -16

Stats & Metrics: Nets

Nic Claxton 28 60 170 10.5% 3.7 261 29.3 8
Day'Ron Sharpe 19 41 140 18.8% 2.2 277 21.5 -4
Spencer Dinwiddie 31 66 113 16.0% 0.2 118 14.5 13
Royce O'Neale 31 65 110 14.4% -0.1 109 13.3 -2
Mikal Bridges 34 74 86 37.2% -6.9 87 12.0 17
Dennis Smith Jr. 19 42 116 21.6% 0.4 121 9.4 -10
Cameron Johnson 35 74 77 20.5% -5.3 -18 0.0 15
Trendon Watford 9 20 62 16.3% -1.6 -108 0.0 -1
Lonnie Walker IV 14 29 68 23.9% -3.0 -78 0.0 -1
Dorian Finney-Smith 20 43 76 16.8% -2.5 -95 0.0 7