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The Numbers Crunch: Jones and Gafford shine in loss to Suns

Washington Wizards v Phoenix Suns
Wizards center Daniel Gafford
Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images

You know you’re watching a bad team when they roll out to a 16-point lead in the first half while creating not even an inkling that they were in control of the game. The Wizards checked both boxes (16-point lead, no inkling), and then the Phoenix Suns stayed in contact throughout the third period, before dominating the fourth to win.

For the Wizards, two players were great — Tyus Jones and Daniel Gafford. They got little from everyone else.

The team’s defense was okay, though it seemed like Phoenix’s offensive struggles were mostly on Phoenix. The Suns entered the night with the NBA’s fifth best three-point shooting percentage and shot just 7-31 from deep against Washington. To my eye, that wasn’t because of exceptional defense from the Wizards.

In the first half, I had the Suns shooting 1-16 on open threes, and 1-3 on contested looks. In the second half, when Phoenix rallied for the win, the shooting evened out — 4-9 on open threes, and 1-3 when the Wizards contested.

For the Suns part, most of the night they looked stuck in the mud. Their offense lacked flow and cohesiveness, though they pulled together just enough to escape with a win. No one in a Phoenix uniform stood particularly overall, though everyone who played contributed something.

Musings & Observations

  • Tyus Jones was superb — 22 points, 11 assists, 6 steals. He shot 9-15 from the floor, and 4-6 from three-point range, and he kept setting teammates up with accurate and timely passes while committing just one turnover.
  • Daniel Gafford was outstanding in the paint — 26 points (career high) on 13 shots, as well as 17 rebounds (7 on the offensive glass), 3 assists and 2 blocks.
  • The Jordan Poole of the first 23 games was back with a vengeance — lots of missed shots, turnovers, and baffling decisions. He did at least make a handful of defensive plays.
  • Poor game from Kyle Kuzma — just 7-22 from the floor and 3-13 from three-point range. He’d been doing more playmaking this season, but last night just 2 assists to go with 2 turnovers. He gave a solid defensive effort against Kevin Durant.
  • Kuzma and Poole each had usage rates of 28.5% and offensive ratings (points produced per possession used x 100) of 70. They combined to use 41 possessions to produce 29 points. Jones and Gafford together used 33 possessions to produce 51 points.
  • Another rough outing for Deni Avdija, who seemed to recede as the game wore on. He finished the night 2-6 from the floor in 32 minutes, and he had 2 assists to 2 turnovers.

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 Suns

FOUR FACTORS WIZARDS SUNS
FOUR FACTORS WIZARDS SUNS
EFG 0.484 0.494
OREB 10 13
TOV 10 17
FTM 16 23
PACE 104
ORTG 104 108

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. 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 +/-
Tyus Jones 39 83 149 19.0% 5.4 326 57.6 6
Daniel Gafford 35 76 160 22.7% 7.8 258 41.6 4
Danilo Gallinari 12 27 182 11.2% 2.0 162 9.1 -10
Mike Muscala 10 22 105 20.6% -0.5 70 3.3 -4
Anthony Gill 0 1 0.0% 0.0 0 0.0 0
Eugene Omoruyi 0 1 0.0% 0.0 0 0.0 0
Bilal Coulibaly 20 43 90 13.4% -1.4 -17 0.0 -11
Corey Kispert 25 55 71 13.5% -3.3 -34 0.0 -16
Deni Avdija 32 68 80 13.6% -3.3 -40 0.0 7
Jordan Poole 32 69 70 28.5% -8.9 -52 0.0 4
Kyle Kuzma 34 74 70 28.5% -9.6 -57 0.0 0

Stats & Metrics: Suns

SUNS MIN POSS ORTG USG +PTS PPA GmSC +/-
SUNS MIN POSS ORTG USG +PTS PPA GmSC +/-
Kevin Durant 35 75 106 33.1% -2.2 130 20.8 -2
Grayson Allen 33 72 117 14.2% 0.2 112 17.1 -4
Eric Gordon 30 65 121 13.0% 0.5 120 16.6 12
Drew Eubanks 17 38 121 21.4% 0.5 190 15.2 10
Jordan Goodwin 20 43 106 21.1% -0.8 131 12.1 17
Nassir Little 23 50 141 7.6% 1.0 99 10.5 -9
Devin Booker 41 90 97 29.2% -4.7 54 10.2 2
Jusuf Nurkic 30 65 91 16.3% -2.6 59 8.1 -6
Chimezie Metu 9 20 135 12.6% 0.5 187 8.0 0