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The Numbers Crunch: Wizards end losing streak as Pistons misfire

Stats, analysis, commentary.

Washington Wizards v Detroit Pistons
Washington Wizards forward Kyle Kuzma dominated against the Detroit Pistons.
Photo by Chris Schwegler/NBAE via Getty Images

The Wizards controlled the second half and snapped their nine-game losing streak with a 19-point win over the Detroit Pistons. Washington’s record climbs to 3-14; Detroit’s drops to 2-15. It was the Pistons’ 14th straight defeat.

Was it good basketball? Well, it was recognizable as basketball, at least for the most part. Detroit’s Ausar Thompson, Jaden Ivey, and Jalen Duren had some eye-popping athletic plays. And it was good for some laughs, especially when Jordan Poole got the ball.

As would be expected from two teams starting the night tied for the NBA’s worst record, there were some crazy bad plays. The teams combined for six traveling violations. Poole was whistled for two to take the Wizards lead from Kyle Kuzma (8 for Poole now, and 7 for Kuzma).

If you missed the game and looked at the box score (or even at the four factors below), you might think Washington played a strong defensive game. Detroit’s effective field goal percentage was a woeful 46.1%, they were 8-38 from three-point range (21.1%), and they committed 16 turnovers. But, you’d be wrong.

The Pistons did fire blanks when Wizards defenders contested a three-point attempt — something the Wizards did on just 9 of Detroit’s 38 attempts. But Washington’s real defensive move was just leaving the Pistons alone. By my count, the Pistons were 1-9 on contested threes (11.1%), and 7-27 on open looks (25.9%).

Now, Detroit isn’t a good shooting team — they entered the game at a below average 35.3% from the three-point line — so maybe Washington’s game plan was to concede threes. The Pistons took about 10 more than their norm. The point: the Wizards didn’t cause the missed shots, Detroit just missed.

Still, for the Wizards roster and coaches, winning a game feels a lot better than losing a 10th straight. And with the league’s new system, it’s unlikely to cost Washington any draft lottery ping pong balls next May.

Musings & Observations

  • Playing just 68 miles from his hometown, Flint, Michigan, Kyle Kuzma had a heckuva game. He dominated the third quarter with 18 points and 7 rebounds. His line for the game: 32 points, 12 rebounds, 8 assists, and just 1 turnover. He got to the free throw line with regularity (10-11 for the game), and dragged down his shooting efficiency from the floor by going just 1-5 in the fourth quarter.
  • Daniel Gafford was productive despite tangling throughout the night with a younger, stronger, faster version of himself (Jalen Duren). Gafford had 9 rebounds and 4 blocks, and the team defense was at its best with him protecting the middle.
  • Landry Shamet showcased his all-around game with 12 points on 7 shots (including 2-3 from deep), plus 4 assists and 2 steals.
  • Tyus Jones had one of those quiet, valuable, mistake-free games that annoy the hell out the opposing team. He’d blend into the background...and then suddenly knock down a floater, or get to a layup, or hit a teammate who popped open on a cut.
  • Solid game from Deni Avdija — 16 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists. His defense was decent. Two of his turnovers were bad passes. The third was a silly offensive foul that came because he decided to extend a brief pissing match with Ausar Thompson.
  • Another rough night for Bilal Coulibaly on offense — he wasn’t able to do much with the very few opportunities he got. He gave a good defensive effort and came up with a couple steals.
  • Jordan Poole was horrible. Again. He shot just 3-9 from the floor, and 0-2 from three. He had zero rebounds in 25 minutes. He managed just 3 assists to 4 turnovers. And he got called for a technical foul, even after Nick Buchert (the ref) warned him to stop. Poole’s response to the Buchert’s threatened tech: “Call it! Call it!” Buchert obliged. Poole had several plays on the night that would qualify for a Shaqtin’ a Fool segment.
  • The Pistons have some youngsters with impressive tools — Ivey, Thompson, and Duren. That trio could form the core of a tough and athletic team that might be pretty good in a couple years. While Cade Cunningham played well against the Wizards, he’s been shockingly unproductive so far in his career.
  • The Wizards got outrebounded again, and allowed Detroit to get 18 offensive boards.

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 Pistons

EFG 0.562 0.461
OREB 6 18
TOV 15 16
FTM 26 13
PACE 108
ORTG 117 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

Kyle Kuzma 35 78 123 33.7% 2.4 264 40.6 18
Daniel Gafford 27 60 137 13.8% 1.9 220 26.1 10
Landry Shamet 22 49 144 17.3% 2.6 233 22.6 8
Tyus Jones 26 58 136 16.0% 2.0 162 18.5 7
Deni Avdija 26 58 125 22.3% 1.5 147 16.8 1
Danilo Gallinari 19 43 156 21.4% 3.9 174 14.8 9
Corey Kispert 19 43 117 13.5% 0.2 89 7.5 13
Bilal Coulibaly 28 62 56 11.8% -4.2 12 1.5 19
Eugene Omoruyi 2 4 124 70.1% 0.3 759 0.0 0
Anthony Gill 2 4 0.0% 0.0 0 0.0 0
Johnny Davis 7 17 58 15.7% -1.5 -66 0.0 0
Jared Butler 2 4 0 19.1% -0.9 -360 0.0 0
Jordan Poole 25 57 77 24.5% -5.2 -68 0.0 10

Stats & Metrics: Pistons

Cade Cunningham 32 72 119 28.2% 1.0 156 22.1 -12
Jaden Ivey 33 73 112 19.9% -0.3 129 18.4 2
Ausar Thompson 28 62 109 18.4% -0.6 122 15.0 -3
Jalen Duren 33 75 93 21.5% -3.4 87 12.9 -4
Killian Hayes 16 35 139 4.8% 0.4 112 7.7 -10
James Wiseman 9 21 127 30.1% 0.8 143 5.9 -12
Isaiah Stewart 29 64 74 13.0% -3.4 21 2.7 -2
Marcus Sasser 22 50 81 18.2% -3.0 0 0.0 -15
Alec Burks 13 29 95 26.3% -1.4 -23 0.0 -12
Isaiah Livers 23 52 71 20.4% -4.5 -18 0.0 -26
Stanley Umude 2 5 30 40.3% -1.6 -441 0.0 -1