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The Numbers Crunch: Wizards win a squeaker against Portland Trail Blazers

Stats, analysis, commentary.

Washington Wizards v Portland Trail Blazers
Wizards forward Kyle Kuzma swoops in for a dunk during the team’s win over the Portland Trail Blazers.
Photo by Cameron Browne/NBAE via Getty Images

Against the Portland Trail Blazers, the Wizards never trailed, the score was tied just once, and their biggest lead was 18 points. And they squeaked out a one-point victory to run their record to 5-22.

It wasn’t pretty, but it was entertaining. Kyle Kuzma lit the Blazers up early, Tyus Jones kept hitting shots...until the fourth quarter...Daniel Gafford blocked and altered a bunch of shots.

Portland spent much of the night looking like the Wizards have looked much of the season — inept, undertalented, small, and unathletic. Then Anfernee Simons erupted for XX points in the fourth quarter, Deandre Ayton collected seemingly all the misses, and they nearly stole back the game.

Washington was helped by some highly questionable coaching from Portland’s Chauncey Billups. With Simons raining fire on the Wizards, and down one with six seconds to play, Billups designed a final play for...Jerami Grant.

Grant has his strengths as a player, one of which is not creating shots for himself. Wizards rookie Bilal Coulibaly forced Grant left, and Grant had to settle for a wild left-handed runner that had nary a prayer of going in.

Musings & Observations

  • Somehow, I both liked the game Deni Avdija played and got driven nuts by his reluctance to shoot. His unwillingness to take an open three and his inability to attack with his left hand led directly to a turnover and a Simons dunk. And yet, he led the team with 11 rebounds, dished 6 assists to just 2 turnovers, got to the free throw line (5-7), and worked on defense. Overall: good game out of him.
  • Kuzma was excellent throughout the night — 32 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists. His offensive rating (points produced per possession used x 100) was 119 on a usage rate of 34.5%. He shot poorly in the fourth quarter (just 1-4) but got to the free throw line (his misses late made the team’s late-game strategy more fraught) and grabbed a pair of huge offensive rebounds.
  • Superb game from Jones, who just kept interrupting would-be Portland runs by hitting floaters or threes. He finished with 24 points on 15 field goal attempts and shot 5-7 from three.
  • Gafford had four steals and rejected six shots and had Blazers players scared to take shots in the paint. He also got overwhelmed by Ayton, who collected 10 offensive boards — tied for his career high.
  • I’d love for Gafford to continue blocking shots but without swatting the ball so hard. It looks cool to send the ball caroming off the backboard or sailing into the seventh row. It also gives the ball back to the other team and tees him up for fouls. I want him to block the shot and retain possession.
  • It was another poor game from Jordan Poole — 4-13 from the floor, 0-4 from three. He did produce six assists to three turnovers, which was nice. He also had just two rebounds in 34 minutes and got (properly) hit with a tech for (stupidly and obviously) flopping in the fourth quarter of a close game.
  • Bilal Coulibaly played 18 of the quietest minutes an NBA player can manage. He took one shot (which he made), had two rebounds, two assists, and five fouls. His best play was the last one of the game, when he did a good job defending Grant’s last-second shot.
  • Portland had 20 offensive rebounds last night against the Wizards — their second highest total of the season. For the Wizards, it ties for second most offensive rebounds allowed. The Brooklyn Nets had 20 against Washington on November 12. The most they’ve allowed this season was 28 to the Charlotte Hornets on November 10.
  • The Portland broadcast was a first-rate experience. Lamar Hurd is as good as they come — well-prepared with pre-game film study, stats galore, anecdotes about both teams and players, and masterful communication of concepts and ideas. Note: Hurd did not play in the NBA. He played at Oregon State while getting a communications degree, played in a German pro league for a season and then came back to Portland to get involved with youth basketball. Kevin Calabro was excellent on the play-by-play, and the broadcast was filled with well-considered and informative graphics.

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 Trail Blazers

FOUR FACTORS WIZARDS TRAIL BLAZERS
FOUR FACTORS WIZARDS TRAIL BLAZERS
EFG 0.571 0.526
OREB 7 20
TOV 11 15
FTM 22 17
PACE 99
ORTG 119 118

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 +/-
Kyle Kuzma 37 77 119 34.5% 1.0 217 34.4 4
Tyus Jones 36 74 136 20.7% 3.1 182 27.5 6
Daniel Gafford 31 65 136 16.8% 2.2 205 27.3 9
Deni Avdija 35 72 130 17.6% 1.8 167 24.8 9
Corey Kispert 22 45 120 15.9% 0.3 79 7.3 0
Danilo Gallinari 13 26 105 12.2% -0.3 32 1.7 -6
Mike Muscala 14 30 90 16.8% -1.3 14 0.9 -7
Jordan Poole 34 71 90 23.7% -4.3 5 0.7 5
Bilal Coulibaly 18 37 218 3.5% 1.3 0 0.0 -13
Anthony Gill 0 0 0.0% 0.0 0 0.0 -2

Stats & Metrics: Trail Blazers

TRAIL BLAZERS MIN POSS ORTG USG +PTS PPA GmSC +/-
TRAIL BLAZERS MIN POSS ORTG USG +PTS PPA GmSC +/-
Anfernee Simons 38 78 139 33.1% 6.1 228 36.7 -2
Jabari Walker 24 49 123 17.2% 0.6 182 18.3 18
Matisse Thybulle 30 62 81 4.9% -1.0 104 13.2 19
Deandre Ayton 35 72 106 32.5% -2.3 87 12.9 -8
Jerami Grant 32 67 121 23.2% 0.9 84 11.6 -15
Toumani Camara 18 37 153 6.2% 0.9 70 5.3 -16
Duop Reath 10 20 128 32.0% 0.8 127 5.2 8
Malcolm Brogdon 28 58 102 12.8% -1.0 26 3.0 -16
Scoot Henderson 26 54 81 11.9% -2.2 -48 0.0 7