While I called the game against the Milwaukee Bucks “meaningless,” that’s not completely accurate. Winning meant something to the Bucks, who are on the verge of securing home court advantage throughout the playoffs.
Losing meant something to the Wizards, who are on the verge of maybe securing a few more number combinations in the NBA Draft Lottery.
And, it meant something to the individual players who are competing for jobs next season.
The Wizards took on the Atlanta Hawks last night, the details of which don’t matter a whole lot. Washington lost, which is the outcome the front office wanted. The Hawks won, which is what they wanted — their two games over .500 for the first time in months and are now relatively secure in 8th place for a play-in game at the Miami Heat.
So let’s take a look at last night’s game through the prism of what actually may mean something: how individual players performed and how they may or may not fit on next season’s Wizards roster.
Note: I’m going to talk about things that happened against the Hawks, but my comments will be based on the totality of what I’ve seen and analyzed about these players this season.
- Corey Kispert is a terrific shooter who will surely have a spot in Washington’s regular season rotation next season. That’s probably all that matters — the Wizards figure to be in contention for the play-in next season...and not much more. My concern with Kispert was on display against the Hawks: he contributes only to the extent that he makes shots.
- Anthony Gill won’t be part of the rotation, though he’ll probably be on the roster. His job is to be a mature, uplifting presence who works hard, stays ready, sets a good example and cheers on teammates.
- Daniel Gafford might start again at center or shift back to the bench. Either way, he figures to get 20-25 minutes per game as a high-energy rim-runner and shot blocker.
- Johnny Davis is starting to look like he could maybe be a 10th or 11th man next season. His defense is well ahead of his offense, and while he’s showing more confidence, he’s still tentative out there. Bigger concern: that flyaway elbow and the strange lower body form on his three-point attempts. The form may be affecting his free throw shooting, which is around 50%. That said, the difference between bad and unorthodox form is whether or not the ball goes in. Which is to say, if he’s a 37% three-point shooter, I really don’t care if he shoots backhand.
- Jordan Goodwin seems ready to be a decent backup guard to a quality starter. For example, if GM Tommy Sheppard could somehow trade Monte Morris and Delon Wright (plus other stuff) to Atlanta for Dejounte Murray, Goodwin would be a helluva backup to Murray.
- Jay Huff is long, has good timing and seems to know what he’s doing on defense. He seems more like a “break glass in case of emergency” third center than a 15-minutes per game backup, though he could progress with an offseason of work on his body. Another half step quicker would help him a lot.
- Kendrick Nunn reminds of Jordan Crawford, and I do not mean that as a compliment. If I never see another possession with Nunn dribbling around for 17 seconds until he can launch a contested shot, it’ll be soon enough. He’d make a decent fifth guard in a four-guard rotation. No, that’s not a compliment either.
- I’m struggling to see Washington’s vision with Xavier Cooks. He played decently last night against Atlanta, but he’s a traditional PF in a slender SG’s body. I don’t see a rotation player, and signing him doesn’t seem to make a ton of sense because he’s older, needs work on his body, and probably needs to improve his overall skills and game as well to contribute at the NBA level.
- Quenton Jackson is extremely athletic — that missed alley-oop slam was something to behold. I’m still not sure about the shooting and overall game at the NBA level. The athletic ability is worth another look in training camp, and if the team clears away more costly veterans and acquires a legit starter, I could see him as a fourth or fifth guard.
- Isaiah Todd is still a work in progress. I liked one play where he drove to the basket and took some contact...but he wasn’t close on the shot because the contact seemed to knock him off balance. He has another year of guaranteed money, so next season is critical.
So, at least to my eyes, what I see from the group who played last night is three rotation-level players and one maybe. That’s actually not bad given the heap of players missing. But for me, it also underscores the point that they need to boost the overall talent level on the roster — especially at the top — to have a chance at competing for anything more than a play-in over the next few years.
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 Hawks
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: Hawks