If you’re one of those fans who roots for the Wizards to win every game, then a) you’re disappointed about last night’s loss to the Orlando Magic, and b) you’re well acquainted with disappointment.
Good morning heartache
You’re the one
Who knows me well
Might as well get use to
you hanging around
Good morning heartache
On the other hand, if you’re one of those fans who thinks a few more chances in the NBA Draft Lottery might make for a better team in the future, you’re probably thrilled with the outcome. The youngsters played, Corey Kispert’s shooting gave fans fever, and the Wizards coughed up a lead to secure the loss.
As far as NBA games featuring youngsters playing messy as the teams jockey for ping-pong balls go, it wasn’t bad. The Magic scored the first basket to take a 2-0 lead, the Wizards promptly went on a run and grew their advantage to as many as 16 early in the third quarter.
Then Orlando came back with an impenetrable (for the Wizards anyway) zone defense, pulled ahead with about six minutes left in the fourth quarter and eased on home with the win. There was officially no garbage time in the game, but early in the fourth it looked like a tank-off battle brewing between Kendrick Nunn (who seemed intent on testing the game ball’s integrity by dribbling incessantly in halfcourt sets) and Goga Bitadze (who seemed intent on randomly flinging his body around the Capital One Arena).
Then Bitadze abruptly decided it was time to do some defense, and he blocked three shots. In fairness to Nunn, he wasn’t bad overall, and he should not take the Tank Commander award — at least last night.
- Corey Kispert shot 9-14 against Orlando — all shots coming from three-point range. That’s the most three-point attempts so far in Kispert’s career and tied for second most in franchise history. His nine makes were also a career high and tied for second most makes in team history (in 2014, Trevor Ariza shot 10-14 against the Houston Rockets).
- Delon Wright was good — 21 points on 15 field goal attempts, 9 rebounds (3 on the offensive end), 4 assists, zero turnovers.
- Daniel Gafford was decent with 18 points, 13 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 blocks. Also: 3 turnovers and 5 fouls.
Not So Good Stuff
- Deni Avdija followed up the best five-game stretch of his career with a disastrously bad performance against the Magic. He was sloppy early, missed shots, and then stopped attacking. He finished with 6 points on 2-14 shooting, including 0-6 from three. His PPA Game Score (which I zero out in the table below) tallied to -20.9.
- Johnny Davis had another poor outing. Silver lining: he tied for the team lead with 15 field goal attempts. Dark cloud: he made just 4 of those 15, he shot 2-10 from three, and he managed 1 assist against 2 turnovers.
- Even if the team is tanking, Taj Gibson should remain DNP-CD. It’s been weeks (months?) since he last played well. Against Orlando — 0-3 from the floor and 1 rebound in 10 minutes. The Wizards were -5 with him out there. Give the minutes to youngsters instead.
- What happened to Anthony Gill’s shooting? Overseas, he as a knockdown three-point shooter. His slow mechanics may have limited his ability to get shots off in the past, but opponents are happy to concede the long ball to him at this point. Yet he will not pull the trigger. This is a minor issue considering how little he plays.
Below is an illustration of what happens when an NBA defense — even a poor one — pays attention to a specialist. The charts also call into question what Wes Unseld Jr. and the Wizards coaches did to get one of the game’s better shooters more shots when the defense adjusted.
Here are Kispert’s shot charts by quarter.
Two for two. No defensive reaction.
The eruption. Four for seven, with all four coming from the same area. At least two of the misses were heat checks.
Quieting down. Kispert still hits two of four because he’s hunting shots, but the Magic have stopped helping off him and the Wizards can’t get him free in his favorite spots. Note that just one of his third quarter attempts came from the left side above the break.
Just one attempt in the fourth — a deep (and forced) stepback late with the game already out of reach. Even playing zone, Orlando refused to help off Kispert.
Another possible contributing factor: Kispert played 42 minutes. Maybe he got tired.
Standings/Lottery Odds Watch
Washington is still 11th in the East but now three full games behind the Chicago Bulls for 10th. With just five games remaining, it’s improbable the Wizards could catch the Bulls.
The Wizards currently have the 8th best odds of winning the NBA Draft Lottery. Their position gives them a 6.0% chance of getting the top pick and a 26.3% chance of moving into the top four.
They’re a half game behind the Indiana Pacers for 7th, and the loss draws them to just one game behind Orlando. They’re a game-and-a-half behind the Portland Trail Blazers in record, but Portland has fully committed to tanking and is unlikely to win another game this season.
If Washington loses their last five, they’d have a shot at getting as high as 6th, which would improve their lottery odds to a 9.0% chance at the top pick and a 37.2% shot at top four. Losing out would also keep the Utah Jazz and Dallas Mavericks from cutting in front of them.
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: Magic at Wizards
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: Magic
|Wendell Carter Jr.||26||57||88||21.0%||-3.2||29||2.9||-1|