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Wizards demolished by Sacramento Kings

Stats, analysis and commentary

Sacramento Kings v Washington Wizards
Wizards forward Kyle Kuzma scored 33 points despite turning an ankle in the game’s opening minutes. The Wizards lost to the Sacramento Kings anyway.
Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images

Feels like I could almost cut and paste the article from the last game because for a third time in the last four games, the Washington Wizards took the court against a team bound for a top four seed in the playoffs. And for a third time, they got demolished.

Once again, it was clear from early on that the Wizards were out of their class. Sure, they got out to a 10-point first quarter lead, but they were getting — and making — tough shots while the Kings were getting — and missing — open ones. Then Sacramento connected on four consecutive threes, erased the lead and never looked back.

For Washington, the story was Kyle Kuzma, who sprained his ankle stepping on a fan’s foot, and returned to the game to score 33 points on 23 field goal attempts and zero turnovers. He also had a spectacular chase-down block of a Sacramento dunk — an effort which none of his teammates seemed to take as inspiration to play well.

Bradley Beal struggled to find his stride offensively. He finished with 20 points and 2 assists, but it took 17 field goal attempts and 4 turnovers to get there.

Monte Morris and Delon Wright were largely missing in action. Daniel Gafford picked up four quick fouls trying to defend Domantas Sabonis and barely played.

Deni Avdija had 11 rebounds and 6 assists but also shot just 1-9 from the floor and got burned repeatedly on defense.

Corey Kispert was okay — 13 points and 3 assists, as well as 5 rebounds. Of course, the Wizards were -23 when he was on the floor. That was the second worst mark on the team behind Kuzma’s -25. The Wizards defense was horrific when either was on the floor. Kuzma’s ankle pain might’ve been a valid excuse if he’d also performed poorly on offense. In Kispert’s case, the Kings size and quickness seemed too much for him to handle.

The Wizards showed early signs of being reasonably well prepared for the game. They had a clear plan of attack to counter Sacramento trapping the ball handler in pick-and-roll. The ball handler would pass to Gafford at the top of the circle, he’d take a dribble to the nail (free throw line in the middle) and then kick to an open shooter in the corner. Washington knocked down three open threes executing that exact play. When the Kings adjusted their coverage, the Wizards were unable produce the same quality looks.

Indeed, though the Kings have been one of the league’s weaker defensive teams this season (they’re a top seed in the West because of their stellar offense), Washington spent most of the game taking difficult shots while allowing the Kings to get easy ones. Last season, an older scout lamented Washington’s penchant for breaking plays a beat too early to see if the action would produce a shot. That seemed to be the cast last night — both Beal and Kuzma were eager to attack and less willing to work their system.

Under new head coach Mike Brown, the Kings play fast and free. They push the ball up court every possession — whether the opponent makes or misses a shot — and hunt open shots. They penetrate relentlessly and always with an eye towards collapsing the defense and kicking out to an open teammate at the three point line.

It made a striking contrast with the Wizards who often walk the ball across the halfcourt line and don’t initiate offensive sets until 10-12 seconds have ticked off the 24-second clock. Their plodding style before starting the offense may contribute to their penchant for breaking plays and ending up with more difficult shots.

One of the other effects of Sacramento’s prolific long-range shooting is the room it creates inside for Sabonis to operate. He dominated inside — 10-12 from the floor, 10-12 from the free throw line, plus 9 rebounds and 9 assists. On most of those shot attempts, he was going one-on-one against a Wizards center. None could handle his strength and finishing touch.

For the game, the Kings shot 22-37 from three — 59.5%. Their effective field goal percentage was 68.6% — the second highest shooting percentage against the Wizards this season. The best shooting was Feb. 13 by the Golden State Warriors, which posted a 69.7% efg in beating Washington. It’s the 11th time this season the Wizards have allowed an opponent a 60% or better efg.

One statistical tidbit that caught my eye: the Kings were +32 in just under 19 minutes with Davion Mitchell on the floor. The big reason was his suffocating defense on Beal and the superb team defense when he was out there. Washington’s offensive rating for the game was 122 — nearly 8 points per 100 possessions better than league average. When Mitchell was on the floor, their ortg was 86.4.

With the loss, Washington remains 12th in the Eastern Conference with 11 games to play. They’re a game and a half behind the Chicago Bulls for 10th place and a spot in the play-in.

My prediction machine currently has the Wizards favored in five of the last 11, which would mean they’d finish 11th or 12th with 37 wins. Except, that may actually be optimistic. They’re solid favorites in just three of the last 11 — vs. the San Antonio Spurs, home against the Orlando Magic, and home against the Houston Rockets. My guess is they have 4 or 5 wins left on the schedule, which probably isn’t quite enough to make the play-in.

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: Kings at Wizards

EFG 0.686 0.522
OREB 7 12
TOV 8 9
FTM 14 23
ORTG 136 122

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

Kyle Kuzma 32 64 137 31.7% 4.6 217 24.8 -25
Corey Kispert 30 61 119 18.4% 0.5 90 9.9 -23
Jordan Goodwin 6 11 173 37.4% 2.4 457 9.1 8
Anthony Gill 14 28 147 15.2% 1.4 169 8.4 -1
Daniel Gafford 14 28 158 20.4% 2.5 128 6.4 -4
Delon Wright 20 40 174 7.6% 1.8 84 6.1 -11
Deni Avdija 28 57 79 17.2% -3.5 58 5.9 -2
Jay Huff 6 11 223 18.4% 2.2 270 5.4 8
Monte Morris 20 41 127 14.6% 0.7 71 5.2 -8
Taj Gibson 15 30 165 13.9% 2.1 70 3.8 -17
Bradley Beal 32 65 94 27.4% -3.7 6 0.7 -19
Kendrick Nunn 6 11 103 23.3% -0.3 -2 0.0 8
Xavier Cooks 6 11 0 8.9% -1.1 -79 0.0 8
Johnny Davis 13 26 60 19.1% -2.7 -56 0.0 8

Stats & Metrics: Kings

Domantas Sabonis 33 67 175 28.2% 11.4 334 40.2 27
Terence Davis 29 59 140 19.7% 2.9 273 29.2 18
Keegan Murray 35 71 122 18.6% 0.9 187 23.8 25
Malik Monk 23 47 142 25.5% 3.3 261 22.1 14
Davion Mitchell 19 38 210 8.3% 3.0 242 16.4 32
Harrison Barnes 27 55 144 13.4% 2.2 101 10.0 7
Kessler Edwards 19 38 225 9.9% 4.2 138 9.5 -5
De'Aaron Fox 26 53 96 28.2% -2.8 59 5.6 -11
Chimezie Metu 11 21 120 16.0% 0.2 132 5.1 -5
Matthew Dellavedova 4 9 150 18.4% 0.5 158 2.4 -8
Keon Ellis 4 9 61 12.3% -0.6 -66 0.0 -8
PJ Dozier 4 9 30.8% -1.5 -106 0.0 -8
Alex Len 4 9 20 37.1% -3.0 -269 0.0 -8