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The Numbers Crunch: Wizards come up short against Hawks

Stats, analysis, commentary.

Atlanta Hawks v Washington Wizards
Wizards forward Kyle Kuzma
Photo by Kenny Giarla/NBAE via Getty Images

Happy New Year!

The Wizards closed out 2023 with a feisty and competitive loss to the Atlanta Hawks — a team with aspirations for participating in postseason play.

The game rolled at a blazing pace — at 109 possessions, it was Washington’s fourth fastest-paced game of the season. For Atlanta, it was the second fastest.

The Wizards stayed in the game by letting Kyle Kuzma guzzle possessions (38.4% usage rate). It was a good strategy until the fourth quarter. He finished the final period 3-7 from the floor, though the three makes included a dunk and a layup the Hawks were happy to concede because the Wizards really need a three.

Washington’s rebounding remained woeful. Atlanta had three guys with double digit rebounds — Clint Capela (17 — including 7 on the offensive glass), Jalen Johnson (13), and Saddiq Bey (11). The Wizards’ team rebounding deficit: 16.

Musings & Observations

  • For the most part, I liked Kuzma’s performance until the fourth quarter when he went into hero mode and missed more difficult shots than he attempted through the first three quarters. He took a whopping 31 shots in 34 minutes and still found a way to generate five assists.
  • Daniel Gafford battled on the defensive end — 4 blocks and 2 steals — but needs some help from his teammates. Washington’s perimeter defenders need to figure out how to execute the team’s force rules so that Gafford doesn’t have to work quite so hard. Or, maybe collect the defensive rebounding, and then take off for the offensive end.
  • Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Tyus Jones had another efficient and effective game — 14 points, 8 assists, 1 turnover. His offensive rating (points produced per possession used x 100) was 127 on 20.1% usage, which is a) excellent, and b) slightly below his season average (129).
  • I mostly liked Deni Avdija’s game. He made shot (5-9 from the floor, 2-6 from three), grabbed 12 rebounds (team high), and defended well. He also was just 5-8 from the free throw line, and he had three turnovers to two assists, and he committed 5 fouls. Solid “glue guy” kind of game, though I think he can play better.
  • Corey Kispert bricked threes (just 1-5), but made up for it by going 4-5 from two-point range and generating four assists and five free throw attempts. His driving game is growing on me.
  • If Jordan Poole never takes another extreme range three or a step-back into a step-back three with 18 seconds on the shot clock, it’ll be soon enough. In yesterday’s game, he was effective from inside the arc (though some of his shot attempts were cringey), but he shot just 1-7 from three-point range. His primary positive contribution was 6 assists and no turnovers.
  • Yesterday was I think the first time Bilal Coulibaly looked overwhelmed by another player’s athleticism. In this case, it was Dejounte Murray, who’s freaky quick, much stronger than Coulibaly, and just about as long. Murray has a bit of that maniacal Russell Westbrook flavor to his game, as well. He attacked Coulibaly repeatedly with drives, expertly exploiting his physical advantage, as well as minor technique miscues. That’s a great learning experience for the youngster.
  • One iffy tactic that I’m not sure should be attributed to Coulibaly or to the coaching staff was Coulibaly going over the screen when defending Murray in pick-and-roll — especially as far out on the floor as Atlanta was setting the screens. Murray is an iffy shooter and fighting over a screen 35-40 feet from the basket is a waste of time and effort. The right play against most ball handlers that far out — but especially Murray — is to go under and dare him to take the extreme range three. That would generally be a win for the defense.
  • I like seeing Coulibaly drive, in part because I think with his agility, leaping ability and length, he’s going to be good at it. One thing I’d like to see him do is keep his dribble one or two more bounces so he can get to the rim instead of being forced into floaters or acrobatic prayers.

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: Hawks at Wizards

FOUR FACTORS HAWKS WIZARDS
FOUR FACTORS HAWKS WIZARDS
EFG 0.558 0.556
OREB 12 6
TOV 12 9
FTM 24 17
PACE 109
ORTG 119 116

Stats & Metrics

Below are a few performance metrics, including the Player Production Average (PPA) Game Score. 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. 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 114.8. 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 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” 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

WIZARDS MIN POSS ORTG USG +PTS PPA GmSC +/-
WIZARDS MIN POSS ORTG USG +PTS PPA GmSC +/-
Kyle Kuzma 34 76 114 38.4% -0.3 207 30.2 0
Daniel Gafford 28 64 176 8.8% 3.4 179 22.0 13
Tyus Jones 27 62 127 20.1% 1.5 157 18.7 5
Deni Avdija 31 71 108 21.2% -1.2 117 15.9 14
Corey Kispert 18 40 131 28.6% 1.8 207 15.8 -4
Mike Muscala 20 44 132 16.2% 1.2 103 8.8 -16
Jordan Poole 29 65 106 19.6% -1.2 70 8.7 6
Landry Shamet 19 42 80 12.7% -1.9 52 4.2 -11
Bilal Coulibaly 17 40 104 11.2% -0.5 23 1.7 -18
Delon Wright 18 40 66 13.4% -2.7 -51 0.0 -9

Stats & Metrics: Hawks

HAWKS MIN POSS ORTG USG +PTS PPA GmSC +/-
HAWKS MIN POSS ORTG USG +PTS PPA GmSC +/-
Trae Young 40 90 138 34.2% 6.9 221 41.0 -13
Jalen Johnson 37 83 166 15.8% 6.7 201 34.1 -13
Dejounte Murray 34 78 139 25.6% 4.7 194 30.8 0
Clint Capela 33 75 96 20.8% -3.0 70 10.7 -4
Saddiq Bey 32 73 100 14.4% -1.6 58 8.7 -2
Garrison Matthews 14 31 249 1.6% 0.7 72 4.7 4
Patty Mills 8 19 0 4.0% -0.9 -16 0.0 17
Bruno Fernando 15 34 42 8.8% -2.2 -64 0.0 7
Bogdan Bogdanovic 27 62 68 23.9% -7.1 -84 0.0 24