clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

When losing is what matters, Wizards get win against the Miami Heat

Stats, analysis and commentary

Miami Heat v Washington Wizards
Wizards center Daniel Gafford.
Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images

Of all the stupid, pointless, nonsensical NBA games, last night’s Wizards “win” over the Miami Heat may have been the most SoWizards — at least for this season.

Let’s back up. At dinner, I spent a few seconds explaining to my wife why it’s in the Wizards’ best interests to lose. The explanation didn’t take long — The team is eliminated from the playoffs, so winning doesn’t help them. More losses mean better chances in the NBA Draft Lottery. And remember that 7-4 French kid I showed you missing a three and then throwing down the putback dunk? He’s the top prize.

Nothing else necessary. Simple concepts. Easily understood by a reasonably smart person, even one who fundamentally cares nothing about the outcome.

Fast forward to the third quarter when Washington’s lead cracked 20, and I wandered in disgust into the room where she was watching something else.

Wife: Who’s winning.

Me: The Wizards.

Wife: By how much?

Me: More than 20. In the third quarter.

Wife (laughing): Of course. [turns back to her show] Because that’s SoWizards.

I have genuinely no idea what the Washington front office and coaching staff was thinking. They had forewarning the Heat were happy to punt the game to rest EVERY SINGLE PLAYER WHO MATTERS TO THEIR POSTSEASON SUCCESS. With full knowledge that a win could ONLY hurt them at this point, the Wizards went ahead and started Delon Wright, Corey Kispert and Daniel Gafford.

They for some reason gave Kispert 34 minutes of playing time. They gave two fully healthy players the night off — 37-year old Taj Gibson, and 21-year-old Isaiah Todd. Yes, in a game they should have been trying to lose, they gave an inexperienced, below average G Leaguer an ignominious DNP-CD.

No one in this game impressed, not even a little. Gafford posted good stats, but he’s a legit starter going against a decent G League lineup. He should have had good stats. Really? He shouldn’t have played. That should have been Jay Huff from start to finish.

Xavier Cooks wasn’t bad, though the play that stood out was when the ball came to him in the corner, he had a wide-open three, which he turned down to let someone else shoot. That open look from the corner is as fundamental to the modern NBA as free throws,’s not in his bag.

Delon Wright was fine, but the backcourt should have been staffed with Jordan Goodwin, Johnny Davis and Quenton Jackson. I have no idea why they played Kendrick Nunn. He already has enough on video from this season to chase another job, and no one wants him back in Washington next season, including Nunn himself.

This isn’t a case of an outcome that didn’t matter. Winning put them behind the Indiana Pacers and Orlando Magic for sixth best lottery odds, eliminated them from any possibility of climbing to fifth, and creates risk they could fall as far as ninth.

It’s not a cataclysmic blunder like getting involved in a land war in Asia, or going against a Sicilian when death is on the line, but it’s indicative of this team’s inability to do the basics to position themselves for future success. It’s cost them a couple percentage points in the Draft Lottery, which isn’t major. But small things matter. If you’re participating in an event based on pure chance, you want more entries, not fewer.

Simple concepts. Easily understood by a reasonably smart person, even one who fundamentally cares nothing about the outcome.

Seriously, if the Wizards leadership trying to demonstrate lack of care or an epic capacity for ineptitude, would we be able to tell the difference?

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: Heat at Wizards

EFG 0.515 0.506
OREB 14 12
TOV 16 16
FTM 7 29
PACE 103
ORTG 105 111

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

Daniel Gafford 25 53 168 24.4% 6.9 350 40.2 24
Delon Wright 21 44 153 16.9% 2.8 273 26.1 18
Xavier Cooks 22 47 125 17.6% 0.8 179 18.4 -22
Corey Kispert 34 73 119 18.8% 0.6 114 18.0 4
Jay Huff 23 50 133 19.8% 1.8 89 9.7 -18
Jordan Goodwin 20 42 89 21.6% -2.4 91 8.4 7
Kendrick Nunn 16 35 95 26.1% -1.8 8 0.6 -9
Anthony Gill 19 41 81 12.5% -1.8 -3 0.0 25
Johnny Davis 38 81 73 21.0% -7.0 -38 0.0 12
Quenton Jackson 22 48 73 21.2% -4.3 -106 0.0 -11

Stats & Metrics: Heat

Jamal Cain 31 66 151 12.5% 3.0 169 24.1 18
Victor Oladipo 26 56 109 41.9% -1.3 192 23.2 18
Omer Yurtseven 17 37 141 19.3% 1.9 173 13.8 16
Cody Zeller 22 47 127 24.0% 1.4 96 9.8 -24
Haywood Highsmith 35 75 89 18.4% -3.5 53 8.6 -12
Orlando Robinson 16 35 116 12.5% 0.1 99 7.5 14
Max Strus 26 56 112 16.4% -0.2 58 7.0 -24
Gabe Vincent 22 47 102 19.8% -1.2 65 6.6 -24
Caleb Martin 20 43 58 17.2% -4.2 -20 0.0 0
Duncan Robinson 28 59 48 15.4% -6.1 -119 0.0 -12