The Washington Wizards lost to the Toronto Raptors for a variety of reasons, perhaps the biggest being the Raptors wanted to win to improve their position in the Eastern Conference play-in games, and the Wizards didn’t seem to care one way or the other.
With Bradley Beal, Monte Morris and Kyle Kuzma sidelined with injuries, Wes Unseld Jr. had little choice but to use the team’s younger players and expand opportunities for veteran role players. Logically, the focus was more on guys showing what they think they can do than on playing winning basketball.
The results: the Raptors ran out to an early lead, the Wizards rallied to make things close for a few minutes in the second half, Unseld put Kendrick Nunn on the floor, and the Wizards lost by 10. The individual this is what I can do showcase was a mixed bag of interesting and cringe.
For example, Deni Avdija had a pair of Kuzma-esque wild turnovers (including inexplicably trying to dribble behind his back in traffic), as well as an absolute gem assist — a sleight of hand, behind-the-head drop off in transition for a dunk.
Corey Kispert made a couple nice plays attacking closeouts...and had four turnovers, which included simply getting his pocket picked because he was too careless dribbling near defenders.
And, Jordan Goodwin, who’s been fairly productive when given playing time this season, was out of control on offense on several possessions.
Ultimately, the Wizards — missing three of their usual starters — simply weren’t as good as the Raptors. Washington shot better, which is normally the best indicator of who wins in the NBA, but got beat on the offensive boards (18-12) and lost the turnover “battle” 16-11. The Wizards could have made up some ground at the free throw line, but they shot just 12-20.
- Johnny Davis had by far his best game in the NBA — 15 points on 5-8 shooting from the floor, 3-4 from three, and 4 free throw attempts (he made 2). He came up with four rebounds, a couple assists and a steal, as well. Most of the positive was simply making open shots, but even that is significant progress.
- Kristaps Porzingis shot well — 9-17 from the floor and 4-7 from three — and was solid defensively.
- Avdija had a solid all-around game — 15 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists. His efficiency was meh — 50.0% efg and 3 turnovers — but he defended well and even correctly executed vertical defensive technique on a couple Toronto drives.
- My favorite set of the night was a fake Spain pick-and-roll. In the Spain action, a second screener comes up and sets a pick for the screener in the initial action. In this case, Kispert came up to set the Spain screen for Porzingis. Except, Kispert ghosted (didn’t set the screen) and popped out top for an open look from three. He missed, but the play design and execution was excellent.
- Second favorite set wasn’t really a set, but I liked it anyway. In a classic swing the ball to the open man play, Avidja caught the swing to him at the three-point line just above the break. Porzingis was open in the corner, and a Toronto defender faced a choice: close out on Avdija and leave Porzingis open in the corner, or let Avdija take the open shot and rely on him to miss. Avdija helped the decision along with a delicious ball fake that looked for all the world like a real pass. The defender closed hard on Porzingis and left Avdija with acres of space to line up a three. He missed, but I liked the thought process and the fake. He’ll need to work on the shooting.
Not So Good Stuff
- Kispert tried to do more “stuff” on offense, and it cratered his efficiency. Despite a 59.4% effective field goal percentage, his offensive rating was an anemic 91 — primarily due to four turnovers to zero assists and zero offensive rebounds. In 40 minutes on the floor, he produced 3 rebounds, and zero assists, steals or blocks.
- Daniel Gafford shot just 3-9 from the floor and was consistently out of position on defense. He managed just 3 defensive rebounds in 29 minutes.
- In a “win now” season, last night’s loss means the Wizards will have a losing record for a fifth consecutive season.
Standings/Lottery Odds Watch
Washington’s loss paired with a Chicago Bulls victory over the Los Angeles Lakers leaves the Wizards three-and-a-half games out of 10th in the East. Their chances of catching the Bulls and passing the Indiana Pacers for 10th are vanishingly small.
They’re now closer to achieving the fifth best lottery odds than making the play-in. Washington is one game “behind” the Orlando Magic for fifth, and half a game behind the Portland Trail Blazers for sixth.
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 Raptors
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
Stats & Metrics: Raptors
|Jeff Dowtin Jr.||19||39||198||6.2%||2.0||154||10.6||14|
|Ron Harper Jr.||2||4||0||16.1%||-0.8||-249||0.0||-4|