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The Numbers Crunch: Wizards can’t find their magic in loss to Orlando

Stats, analysis, commentary.

Washington Wizards v Orlando Magic
Washington Wizards forward Deni Avdija
Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

In a game that seemed sorta competitive until midway through the third quarter, the Orlando Magic snapped the Washington Wizards’ longest win streak of the season with a decisive 19-point victory.

Sure, it was a one-game winning “streak,” and it came against the only NBA team with a worse record, but a) it was Washington’s longest winning streak, and b) it was Washington that beat the Detroit Pistons to make Detroit’s record worse than the Wizards’.

Gotta celebrate the small things in a season like this.

The Magic are a young and impressive group. At 13-5, they’re currently second in the East, and their average age (weighted by minutes played) is 24.2 — fourth youngest in the NBA. The Wizards’ average is is 25.5 (11th youngest), and they’re 3-14.

The Wizards may one day be accurately described as a young, up and coming team, but they’re several roster moves from being able to make that claim.

By the way, “young” isn’t a good excuse for losing anymore, if it ever was. For example, years ago, I got yelled at in the visitors locker room in Atlanta by Hubie Brown, who was then coaching the Memphis Grizzlies. I wanted him to talk about why the Wizards being terrible was being excused due to youth while his Grizzlies were younger and on pace to win 50. He apparently thought I was trying to get him to say something bad about the Wizards, or something, and hollered. In retrospect, I should have phrased the question differently.

Anyway, here are the five youngest teams and their records:

  1. Detroit Pistons — 22.9 — 2-16
  2. Oklahoma City Thunder — 23.0 — 11-6
  3. San Antonio Spurs — 23.6 — 3-14
  4. Orlando Magic — 24.2 — 13-5
  5. Portland Trail Blazers — 24.7 — 5-12

And the oldest teams:

30. Los Angeles Clippers — 30.9 — 7-9

29. Milwaukee Bucks — 29.9 — 13-5

28. Golden State Warriors — 29.5 — 8-10

27. Phoenix Suns — 29.0 — 11-7

26. Miami Heat — 28.7 — 10-8

The older teams are better, but the point is this: it’s possible to be good and young. In fact, if the goal is to build a sustainable winner, it’s necessary to be both. Youth is not an excuse for losing.

Hopping off the digital soapbox, to me, Orlando is an example of a team that took a hard look at their franchise a few years ago, recognized they were on the dreaded treadmill of sub-mediocrity, and hit detonate. Meanwhile, the Wizards handcuffed themselves and gave Bradley Beal the only key.

Anyway, Orlando traded Nikola Vucevic for a package that included Wendell Carter Jr. (their starting center, out with injury last night), and the picks that became Franz Wagner and Jett Howard. For Aaron Gordon, they got a return that included Gary Harris and a 2025 first round pick (top five protected).

And they overran the Wizards despite missing Carter, starting guard Markelle Fultz, and defensive whiz Jonathan Isaac. Not bad.

Musings & Observations

  • Deni Avdija played a terrific game — 22 points on 12 shots, and 5 assists with zero turnovers. He scored on an array of well-timed cuts and drives, and hit a catch-and-shoot three. He left the game after a fall in the fourth quarter, but told The Athletic’s Josh Robbins after the game that is elbow was fine. According to Robbins, Avdija would have been able to return to the game if it wasn’t a blowout.
  • Jordan Poole had a good game — 19 points on 12 field goal attempts, 4-7 from three, 5 rebounds, 2 steals and a block. He had a couple turnovers that were kinda dumb, and his two-point shots were an adventure, but it was easily his most sensible regular season game for the Wizards.
  • Kyle Kuzma is having the best season of his career, though last night was rough. His offensive rating (points produced per possession x 100) was just 96 on a usage rate of 31.8%. The Magic’s team offensive rating was 39 points higher than Kuzma’s.
  • Tyus Jones shot poorly (3-10 from the floor) and seemed to lack energy throughout the night.
  • Bilal Coulibaly had another game where he receded into the background on the offensive end. He made a three, had a nice driving layup in garbage time, and otherwise glided up and down the court without making much impact.
  • Daniel Gafford four assists, a steal and two blocks. The team defense was at its least awful when he was on the floor.

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 Magic

FOUR FACTORS WIZARDS MAGIC
FOUR FACTORS WIZARDS MAGIC
EFG 0.534 0.708
OREB 7 9
TOV 10 18
FTM 27 20
PACE 103
ORTG 117 135

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 +/-
Deni Avdija 28 59 172 22.3% 7.7 279 35.8 -9
Jordan Poole 26 56 118 26.2% 0.6 150 18.1 -6
Corey Kispert 20 44 131 21.2% 1.5 140 13.2 -18
Daniel Gafford 26 56 218 5.1% 3.0 101 12.4 -6
Kyle Kuzma 35 74 96 31.8% -4.2 40 6.4 -11
Tyus Jones 21 45 84 21.8% -2.9 51 5.0 -8
Bilal Coulibaly 25 54 92 13.3% -1.5 21 2.5 -17
Jared Butler 5 11 170 29.7% 1.8 469 0.0 1
Eugene Omoruyi 10 21 157 30.1% 2.7 235 0.0 -2
Johnny Davis 10 21 61 5.0% -0.5 26 0.0 -2
Danilo Gallinari 12 25 107 21.7% -0.4 0 0.0 -12
Anthony Gill 5 10 0 7.9% -0.9 -46 0.0 3
Landry Shamet 18 39 75 15.1% -2.3 -31 0.0 -8

Stats & Metrics: Magic

MAGIC MIN POSS ORTG USG +PTS PPA GmSC +/-
MAGIC MIN POSS ORTG USG +PTS PPA GmSC +/-
Franz Wagner 31 66 173 25.4% 9.8 317 45.3 9
Cole Anthony 26 56 146 30.9% 5.6 249 30.2 14
Gary Harris 19 41 189 11.8% 3.7 219 19.6 20
Jalen Suggs 29 61 133 24.0% 2.8 147 19.5 4
Joe Ingles 20 43 143 21.8% 2.7 208 19.1 16
Goga Bitadze 24 51 125 14.4% 0.8 113 12.5 7
Moritz Wagner 19 40 116 20.2% 0.2 118 10.1 18
Anthony Black 27 58 111 11.3% -0.2 74 9.3 4
Caleb Houstan 10 21 214 16.4% 3.5 260 0.0 -4
Admiral Schofield 4 9 0.0% 0.0 -60 0.0 0
Chuma Okeke 5 11 63 18.3% -1.0 -48 0.0 -1
Paolo Banchero 27 57 65 22.1% -6.2 -77 0.0 8