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Wizards enter All-Star break with competent play throughout the roster

Analysis, commentary and a PPA update

Washington Wizards v Minnesota Timberwolves
Wizards guard Bradley Beal
Photo by David Berding/Getty Images

The Washington Wizards hit the All-Star break 9th in the Eastern Conference with a 28-30 record. They sit a half game behind the Atlanta Hawks for 8th and three-plus games back of the New York Knicks and Miami Heat for 6th or 7th.

My prediction machine thinks it’s improbable for them to reach 6th and avoid the play-in and slightly less improbable they’ll fall to 11th and miss it altogether. Based on their remaining schedule, I think they’ll finish with 40 or 41 wins and wind up 8th or 9th. From there, they’d have reasonable odds of making the playoffs and a first round matchup against the Boston Celtics or Milwaukee Bucks.

Even their current 50/50 odds of making the playoffs would have seemed a stretch before Christmas when they lost 10 games in a row. Since then, they’ve righted the season with a 17-10 record, which included separate win streaks of five and six games. Winning 17 out of 27 is the pace of a 51 or 52-win team over an 82-game season. That’s good in any season. This year, Boston is on pace to lead the league in wins with 58.

Don’t get too excited though. Good teams sustain that level of play over a full season. The Wizards have managed it for not quite two months yet. Still it’s a signal that the team may be a little better than some preseason forecasts (like mine). They don’t seem ready for a deep postseason run, but they’re at least treating fans to competent and competitive basketball.

And psst — they’re actually well coached.

And psst — “well coached” does not mean “perfectly coached.”

So what’s behind their relative success? In a word: depth.

Last offseason, I published what the scores mean in my Player Production Average metric (see more about the metric below — for now, just know that 100 is average and higher is better) — how productive is the average team’s best player? Second best? Third? And so on.

There are at least a couple ways to sort the Wizards roster to assess where their players rank. I’ll go through both. What you think of it is up to you.

The first approach is to sort the nine rotation players in order of PPA. See the full PPA numbers below. For this exercise I’ve calculated what I’m calling a Slot PPA (sPPA). The concept is simple: the player’s actual PPA divided by the average PPA for where he lands in the team’s production hierarchy multiplied by 100.

For example, Bradley Beal leads the Wizards with a 165 PPA this season. The average for a #1 is 175. So Beal’s Slot PPA (sPPA) is 165 divided by 175 x 100. Or 94. In other words, he’s a slightly below average #1. Here’s the full rotation:

Slot PPA — sorted by individual PPA

  1. Bradley Beal 94
  2. Kristaps Porzingis 97
  3. Monte Morris 105
  4. Daniel Gafford 108
  5. Delon Wright 109
  6. Kyle Kuzma 103
  7. Kendrick Nunn 101
  8. Corey Kispert 107
  9. Deni Avdija 101

Average sPPA: 103

So slot-by-slot, the Wizards are very slightly above average. A higher sPPA from a player in a lower slot doesn’t necessarily mean he should move up in the team’s pecking order. Rather, it’s an indicator that the player may be more productive in his slot than his teammate in a different slot.

The other approach is to sort by minutes per game. Playing time signals what the coaching staff thinks of the players on the roster. It’s imperfect because of injuries, illness and positional limitations, but it’s worthy of consideration because this is who the team actually has on the floor.

Slot PPA — sorted by minutes per game

  1. Kuzma 59
  2. Beal 110
  3. Porzingis 112
  4. Morris 114
  5. Kispert 83
  6. Avdija 81
  7. Wright 120
  8. Gafford 152
  9. Nunn 120

Average sPPA: 106. Again, slightly better than average.

Don’t start ordering cake. The Boston Celtics are 11 deep with players producing above average for their roster slot. The Milwaukee Bucks have nine. Denver has four guys at least as productive as Porzingis (Washington’s second best player). The Memphis Grizzlies have nine players at least as productive as Kuzma — not by sPPA but by regular PPA.

On the other hand, the Wizards may be better off roster-wise than the Miami Heat. Jimmy Butler makes an outstanding #1. After him, the Heat players have below average sPPA scores in slots 2-9.

The Wizards aren’t in contention for anything beyond making the playoffs. Competent performers down to the 9th spot on the roster — plus Jordan Goodwin being a candidate for cracking the rotation in the future — suggests the team has a reasonable chance of reaching their goals for the season.

All-Star Weekend is upon us. Below, here’s a look at the All-Stars, the league’s top players by All-Star position grouping (guards and frontcourt players).

All-Star Rosters

Eastern Conference

FC — Giannis Antetokounmpo 203

FC — Joel Embiid 198

G — Kyrie Irving 178

G — Donovan Mitchell 198

FC — Jayson Tatum 197


FC — Kevin Durant 217

FC — Bam Adebayo 137

FC — DeMar DeRozan 148

G — Tyrese Haliburton 211

G — Jrue Holiday 159

FC — Julius Randle 154

FC — Pascal Siakam 147

Notable Wizards

G — Bradley Beal 165 (rank: 11th among guards)

FC — Kristaps Porzingis 146 (rank: 24th among frontcourt players)

Notable Omissions

FC — Jimmy Butler 235

G — James Harden 200

Western Conference

G — Luka Doncic 227

FC — Lebron James 199

FC — Lauri Markkanen 203

G — Ja Morant 177

FC — Nikola Jokic 240


G — Stephen Curry 223

FC — Zion Williamson 202

G — Anthony Edwards 130

G — De’Aaron Fox 148

FC — Paul George 157

G — Shai Gilgeous-Alexander 200

FC — Jaren Jackson Jr. 194

G — Damian Lillard 208

FC — Domantas Sabonis 160

Notable Omissions

FC — Kawhi Leonard 216

FC — Anthony Davis 194

FC — Aaron Gordon 192

Player Production Average

Below is a look at individual performances using my Player Production Average metric. PPA credits players for things they do that help a team win (scoring, rebounding, play-making, defending) and dings them for things that hurt (missed shots, turnovers, bad defense, fouls). PPA is pace neutral, accounts for defense, and includes a “degree of difficulty” factor. There’s also an accounting for role/position. In PPA, 100 is average, higher is better, and replacement level is 45. It usually takes a score of 225 or higher to be part of the MVP conversation.

Wizards PPA through 58 games

Bradley Beal SG 36 32.9 169 165
Kristaps Porzingis C 50 32.5 136 146
Monte Morris PG 50 28.1 137 137
Daniel Gafford C 56 18.7 126 129
Delon Wright PG 29 22.5 135 120
Kyle Kuzma PF 53 34.9 104 103
Kendrick Nunn SG 11 18.4 96
Corey Kispert SG 50 27.2 92 91
Deni Avdija SF 56 26.3 69 81
Quenton Jackson SG 3 2.7 174
Jordan Goodwin PG 40 18.1 103 97
Anthony Gill F/C 41 10.0 64 65
Will Barton G/F 40 19.6 50 55
Taj Gibson C 36 9.8 35 45
Vernon Carey Jr. C 11 2.5 17 34
Devon Dotson PG 6 8.8 15 20
Johnny Davis SG 13 4.8 -44 -32
Isaiah Todd PF 4 3.3 -45 -45