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The Numbers Crunch: Wizards lose grip on the ball and the game, fall to Raptors

Stats, analysis, commentary.

Washington Wizards v Toronto Raptors
Washington Wizards rookie Bilal Coulibaly
Photo by Vaughn Ridley/NBAE via Getty Images

The Washington Wizards lost their grip on a 23-point second-half lead, and lost to the Toronto Raptors to run their losing streak to three and fall to 2-8 on the season. The game itself was competitive, especially in the second half, entertaining and educational.

Before I go too deep into on-the-court escapades and whatnot, I have to give a shoutout to the superb Toronto Raptors broadcast. They made liberal use of unique and intriguing camera angles without getting pretentious or missing action, and their blurred background, focus-shifting shots coming in and out breaks was fascinating to watch.

One of the coolest shots was used during free throws. The camera was set at a level that included the heads of fans sitting at floor level. They blurred the heads and move the camera in a manner that was thoroughly engrossing. And then they cut quickly back to standard shots to avoid missing any of the action.

Former Raptors guard Alvin Williams gave a clinic on being an analyst who’s definitely rooting for his team, definitely focused on the Raptors, and still providing real analysis and insight without cheerleading, lying, or BSing his audience. He thoughtfully explained why the Raptors were losing, criticized the players, said what they needed to do to win, and the dissected what they were doing well during the comeback.

Back to the game, the Wizards held a significant lead most of the game. Toronto led 7-6 just two minutes into the game, and then didn’t pull ahead again until 8 seconds remained in the contest. Here’s the game flow from

Musings & Observations

  • Another good game from Bilal Coulibaly. He disappeared a bit on offense (just a 10.9% usage rate) but made a big impact on defense (3 steals, 1 block, and a couple breakaway dunks).
  • Kyle Kuzma was last night’s Rorschach test. Did he shoot well? Did he play well? My answers: his shooting was great — 14-25 from the floor and 4-7 from three. His effective field goal percentage was an outstanding 64.0%. And yet, his offensive rating (points produced per individual possession x 100) was a well-below average 104. That was because of 6 turnovers to just 3 assists. His defense was good for much of the game...but he committed 5 fouls. And, in 38 minutes, the 6-10 forward had 3 rebounds, zero steals, and zero blocks.
  • Kuzma participated in one of game’s more maddening moments. Late in the fourth quarter, the refs awarded an out-of-bounds call to Toronto. Several Wizards on the floor, including Kuzma, wanted the play reviewed. He ran down to Washington’s bench twirling his finger in the air to get Unseld to initiate the review. Meanwhile, the Raptors inbounded the ball and had a 5-on-4 power play, which they converted. Was Kuzma correct in calling for a review? Absolutely. But there’s no excuse for leaving the action. Twirl your finger and yell at the coach while setting up to defend.
  • Head coach Wes Unseld Jr. continued to experiment with Deni Avdija as a primary ball handler. The Raptors countered with full court pressure, which forced him into a turnover. He had another turnover on a drive to the basket where he got ripped, and a third late in the game when he tried to go iso on Malachi Flynn. He got forced left and ended up leaving his feet with no shot and no viable pass options. To be a full-time ball handler, he needs to develop that left hand.
  • Unseld also tried Avdija on a pair of isos against Flynn in the final two minutes. On the first, Flynn forced Avdija left and then fouled him on a spin move. On the second, Flynn forced him left, and Avdija turned it over in the play described above.
  • Daniel Gafford played well and wasn’t in foul trouble yet sat the entire fourth quarter. I understand that Toronto had gone smaller (Chris Boucher and Precious Achiuwa manned the middle as head coach Darko Rajaković kept Jakob Poeltl on the bench), but Gafford is the team’s only rim protector.
  • Jordan Poole’s decision-making remains a muddle. He’s definitely skilled. The application of those skills? Blech. Last night, he piled up the negative plays: 10 missed shots, 4 turnovers, 5 fouls. It wasn’t all bad — he came up with 6 assists, 3 steals and a block. But 14 points on 16 shots isn’t getting the job done. And once again, the team defense was at its worse when he was on the floor.
  • With Danilo Gallinari not playing on the second night of a back-to-back, Mike Muscala got some backup center minutes. He had a lot of trouble catching the ball, and he finished with 3 turnovers in just 7 minutes.
  • Coulibaly’s “most similar” prospect, according to Ye Olde Draft Analyzer (YODA — my stat-based pre-draft evaluation tool) was Scottie Barnes. Barnes is having an excellent season so far. Last night: 19 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists, 5 steals, 1 turnover. His offensive rating was 114 on 20.6% usage.
  • Considering his frame, shooting motion, and ability to (at least sometimes) hit threes, it’s amazing to me that Chris Boucher hasn’t been nicknamed “trey.” As in “trey Boucher.” Like trebuchet. No? I’ll stop.
  • Otto Porter Jr. might be slower these days than Gallinari, and yet he still beat Poole off the bounce when Poole attempted a closeout.
  • By the way, while the Wizards gave up 15 offensive rebounds (that’s bad), what really cost them was turnovers. They had 22 miscues that undermined a good shooting night (58.3% efg). The biggest culprits: Kuzma (6), Avdija and Poole (4 each), and Muscala (3).

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 Raptors

EFG 0.583 0.522
OREB 8 15
TOV 22 16
FTM 9 17
PACE 101
ORTG 106 110

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

Daniel Gafford 26 54 146 16.9% 3.1 209 19.7 7
Bilal Coulibaly 33 70 134 10.9% 1.6 151 18.3 -18
Tyus Jones 31 65 120 15.8% 0.8 117 13.2 9
Kyle Kuzma 38 80 104 34.1% -2.3 86 11.9 1
Corey Kispert 24 51 114 18.0% 0.1 123 10.9 -7
Deni Avdija 30 63 99 17.7% -1.5 76 8.2 -2
Jordan Poole 35 74 85 24.5% -5.1 45 5.8 -12
Landry Shamet 15 32 59 7.8% -1.4 38 2.1 3
Mike Muscala 7 15 73 37.4% -2.3 -57 0.0 -1

Stats & Metrics: Raptors

Pascal Siakam 38 79 116 39.4% 1.0 288 39.3 18
Scottie Barnes 38 80 114 20.6% 0.1 186 25.8 -3
Chris Boucher 21 43 160 10.0% 2.0 289 21.6 14
Jakob Poeltl 24 51 146 19.5% 3.3 154 13.6 -14
Gradey Dick 24 51 147 11.9% 2.1 139 12.1 2
Precious Achiuwa 19 41 104 20.1% -0.7 98 6.9 8
Otto Porter Jr. 14 30 98 17.4% -0.8 97 5.0 -13
Malachi Flynn 23 48 101 10.9% -0.6 44 3.7 12
Jalen McDaniels 5 10 0 7.5% -0.8 -121 0.0 -6
Dennis Schroder 35 73 51 18.8% -8.5 -125 0.0 2