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Wizards lose again to Hawks, still cling to 10th

Stats, analysis and commentary

Atlanta Hawks v Washington Wizards
Wizards guard Bradley Beal dishes for one of his five assists in Washington’s loss to the Atlanta Hawks.
Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

The Washington Wizards entered a two-game series — with both contests in DC — against the Atlanta Hawks with a chance to leapfrog from 10th to 8th with a pair of victories. It was as close as regular season games can get to a playoffs atmosphere.

With home court advantage, the Wizards were solid favorites (better than coin flip odds) in both games. Naturally, they lost both and ended any realistic chance to get higher than 9th.

Normally, I write this “morning after” article immediately after the game. For this one, I slept on it, in hopes that my subconscious would find some meaningful insight or new thought. But 67 games into the season, there just isn’t much novel to say.

The team’s leaders have cited injuries as The Problem, as if other teams are unaffected. In reality, Wizards players have missed the sixth fewest games this season due to injuries and illness. They’re 16th in salary paid to injured or sick players. In other words, injuries are no excuse.

Last night, the team was at full health. The entire roster was available to head coach Wes Unseld Jr., and the truth is they didn’t play badly. On offense, they created open looks with a mix of design and playmaking...but they missed a few too many of them. After a rocky first half with 10 turnovers, they limited miscues in the second half to just 4.

On defense, they held the Hawks below their average in shooting from the floor, helped them commit an above average (for them) 14 turnovers), and limited Atlanta’s offensive efficiency to 3.9 points per 100 possessions below their average.

Washington lost because of three key factors:

  1. In a stakes game, the three franchise “cornerstones” came up small.
  2. The Wizards lost the offensive rebounding battle 13-7. That gave Atlanta enough additional shots to win despite shooting worse from the field.
  3. The bench units were a disaster.

Washington’s record over their last six games is a paltry 2-4. My prediction machine had them as better than coin flip favorites in five. Looking ahead, the Wizards probably have 6-7 more wins on the schedule. That’s probably enough to finish 10th and get a play-in game, though the Chicago Bulls are just a half game behind, and the Indiana Pacers are one game back.

Good Stuff

  • Bradley Beal was the only member of the Mid Three to show up. His 27 points came on poor efficiency (24 field goal attempts), but no one else in a Wizards uniform was producing much better. His defense, which as Bullets Forever contributor and Bleav in Wizards podcast host Matt Modderno texted me recently, has been a lot like “fat John Wall defense” for much of the season, was solid. The Hawks shot 4-9 with no threes when NBA tracking identified him as the defender, he got two steals, forced three turnovers, and had four deflections.
  • Delon Wright was the only worthwhile contributor off the bench. He scored 10 points on 6 field goal attempts, dished 5 assists to 1 turnover, and had 3 steals and 6 deflections.
  • Daniel Gafford patrolled the paint effectively. He was 6-7 from the field, grabbed 8 rebounds (4 offensive boards) and blocked a shot. The team defense wasn’t much good with him out there (Hawks had a 122 offensive rating during his minutes), but Atlanta wasn’t getting much accomplished in the paint.

Not So Good Stuff

  • Kuzma shot decently from the field (7-12 with a made three) but committed 4 turnovers to 3 assists and managed just 5 rebounds in 40 minutes. For those keeping score at home, that’s a turnover rate of 25%.
  • Porzingis hunted shots and defended well, but his shooting was meh, and the big produced no offensive rebounds or assists.
  • Corey Kispert got more shots than usual but couldn’t connect — 3-7 from the floor and 1-5 from three. Washington ran actions to get him good looks, which he missed. As previously mentioned, he doesn’t contribute much else, so those misses hurt.

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: Hawks at Wizards

EFG 0.521 0.528
OREB 13 7
TOV 14 14
FTM 15 14
PACE 102
ORTG 112 105

Stats & Metrics

Below are a few performance metrics, including the Player Production Average (PPA) Game Score (very similar to the one I used to call Scoreboard Impact Rating). 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 112.0. 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 slightly 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,” this stat 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

Bradley Beal 37 79 104 31.0% -2.6 148 22.7 -1
Delon Wright 30 63 143 13.2% 2.4 177 21.6 -10
Daniel Gafford 29 61 161 14.3% 4.0 167 19.6 2
Monte Morris 26 56 96 20.3% -2.1 100 10.8 8
Kristaps Porzingis 32 68 95 27.6% -3.7 81 10.6 2
Deni Avdija 18 38 120 12.5% 0.3 98 7.2 -19
Kyle Kuzma 40 84 94 19.5% -3.4 40 6.5 4
Corey Kispert 22 47 87 14.6% -1.9 12 1.1 -16
Jordan Goodwin 7 14 0 16.8% -2.7 -218 0.0 -5

Stats & Metrics: Hawks

Trae Young 33 70 133 30.1% 3.9 249 33.6 4
Dejounte Murray 36 76 112 22.6% -0.4 150 22.0 -1
Saddiq Bey 26 54 148 13.5% 2.5 155 16.3 15
Bogdan Bogdanovic 22 47 120 23.9% 0.6 129 11.8 10
John Collins 28 59 110 13.3% -0.3 94 10.7 -7
Jalen Johnson 13 28 101 19.6% -0.7 178 9.5 6
De'Andre Hunter 35 74 95 20.3% -2.9 58 8.3 1
Onyeka Okongwu 19 39 93 13.2% -1.1 87 6.6 12
Clint Capela 29 63 78 18.6% -4.2 18 2.1 -5