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The Numbers Crunch: Brunson and Knicks outlast Wizards

Stats, analysis, commentary.

Washington Wizards v New York Knicks
Center Marvin Bagley III in his debut with the Washington Wizards.
Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

The Wizards bounced back from a lackluster defeat to the Detroit Pistons to give a better effort in New York. It wasn’t enough, and they lost again to Jalen Brunson and the Knicks.

It was an ugly game with poor shooting, turnovers, and the usual inordinate amount of whining to the refs (from both teams). The Wizards shot a bit worse, Brunson kept making plays — he scored 20 in the fourth quarter — and that was just enough for the Knicks to eke out a win.

Washington’s defensive effort looked better in the first half than it did a couple nights previous against Detroit. They still gave up open threes, which the Knicks mostly missed (4-21 from three in the first half), but there was better focus on assignments and execution. In the second half, New York’s shooters reverted to their mean, and they hit 9-17 from deep.

Three or four times in the second half, the Knicks seemed poised to blow the game open. Each time, their lead stalled at nine, and Washington clawed back. That included a Julius Randle three that put New York up nine with 59 seconds to play. Washington responded with Jordan Poole getting fouled taking a three and hitting all three free throws. He then got a steal (with a little help from video replay) from Randle and knocked down a pair of free throws.

That cut the deficit to four, which was as close as the Wizards got. After a Brunson turnover, Poole tossed up an ill-advised three with 19 seconds left (which he missed), and all it took from there was New York making some free throws.

None of the above should be read as me saying the Wizards played well. They did not. They did give a professional effort, and if they’d worked more diligently to generate better shots, they might have even won.

Musings & Observations

  • Starting in place of Daniel Gafford (sidelined after sustaining a concussion against the Pistons), the newly acquired Marvin Bagley III was competent. He had 20 points on 10-16 shooting, 11 rebounds (including 6 offensive boards), 2 assists, 2 steals and three blocks. He also had 3 turnovers, but he held his own inside against a rugged Knicks team.
  • Corey Kispert made shots (4-5 from the floor, 2-3 from deep) and grabbed four rebounds. The Knicks offense was at its worst when he was out there. Kispert had the good fortune of going against Even Fournier and Quentin Grimes, who shot a combined 0-9 from the floor.
  • Tyus Jones couldn’t make shots (1-6 from the floor and 0-3 from three), but he dished 15 assists to 1 turnover and came up with three steals.
  • Jordan Poole was...okay. His shot selection and shot making was cringey (7-19 from the field and 2-9 from three), but he went 8-8 from the free throw line and avoided making turnovers. His steal against Randle in the fourth quarter was daring and impressive. His forced three a couple possessions later effectively extinguished any chance Washington had of winning.
  • Kyle Kuzma had another rough and inefficient game. He scored 15 points on 16 shots, hit just 1-of-5 from three, and could manage just 6 rebounds in 39 minutes. He produced five assists...and three turnovers. His defense was a mixed bag. His offensive rating (points produced per possession x 100) was 83 on a usage rate of 20.3%. Not too good.
  • Deni Avdija had a bad game — 15 points on 5-13 shooting, including 0-3 on threes. He had 1 assist, 2 turnovers, and fouled out late. He had a handful of good defensive possessions, and he got some rebounds and went 5-5 from the free throw line. The team was -16 with him out there.

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: Wizards at Knicks

FOUR FACTORS WIZARDS KNICKS
FOUR FACTORS WIZARDS KNICKS
EFG 0.511 0.529
OREB 9 7
TOV 12 17
FTM 17 22
PACE 103
ORTG 105 109

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 former 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 +/-
Marvin Bagley III 39 84 98 23.7% -3.6 116 22.0 2
Corey Kispert 17 37 190 10.5% 2.9 228 18.8 6
Tyus Jones 37 79 110 12.1% -0.6 102 18.2 -2
Jordan Poole 34 73 111 25.9% -0.9 104 17.1 -8
Landry Shamet 14 30 149 24.1% 2.4 147 9.9 -2
Kyle Kuzma 39 83 83 20.3% -5.5 53 9.8 -2
Delon Wright 11 24 96 21.0% -1.0 78 4.2 -2
Bilal Coulibaly 17 37 120 12.4% 0.2 31 2.5 4
Patrick Baldwin Jr. 6 13 77 12.0% -0.6 21 0.6 0
Deni Avdija 26 56 93 27.0% -3.5 -1 0.0 -16

Stats & Metrics: Knicks

KNICKS MIN POSS ORTG USG +PTS PPA GmSC +/-
KNICKS MIN POSS ORTG USG +PTS PPA GmSC +/-
Jalen Brunson 40 87 116 40.5% 0.1 189 36.9 10
OG Anunoby 43 92 166 10.9% 5.0 147 30.3 12
Isaiah Hartenstein 39 83 123 9.6% 0.5 130 24.2 8
Donte DiVincenzo 38 81 107 20.2% -1.5 50 9.0 15
Julius Randle 39 84 96 25.8% -4.2 47 8.9 1
Miles McBride 8 16 130 22.3% 0.5 138 5.1 -6
Precious Achiuwa 9 20 202 3.8% 0.7 99 4.5 -4
Quentin Grimes 19 41 29 10.5% -3.8 -92 0.0 -12
Evan Fournier 6 12 0 25.4% -3.6 -409 0.0 -4