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The Numbers Crunch: Wizards still THAT team in loss to San Antonio Spurs

Stats, analysis, commentary.

San Antonio Spurs v Washington Wizards
Washington Wizards forward Deni Avdija
Photo by Kenny Giarla/NBAE via Getty Images

Remember: if you’re going to be a Wizards fan, sometimes you just have to laugh. Coughing up a 12-point lead with five minutes left in the game, and allowing the NBA’s third worst offensive team to score 131 points — sure, it could make fans of a normal NBA cry.

Us Wizards followers are made of tougher stuff. Our emotions have been tempered in the crucible of this shit has been happening for decades now.

So when Washington is down three but has the ball and a chance to tie, and I turn to my son and say, “Kuzma’s gonna jack a three, and it won’t be close,” and that happens exactly? I l laugh. And leave the crying to Lakers fans.

This has been a truly #SoWizards kind of week. With home games against the Detroit Pistons and the San Antonio Spurs — the only teams with worse records — they had an opportunity to pick up a couple wins. With an unexpected victory over the Atlanta Hawks last Saturday, they even had a chance to notch their first winning streak of the year.

Instead, they lost to the Pistons and the Spurs. Detroit missing two starters and a key reserve. San Antonio didn’t even need a stellar performance from Victor Wembanyama or genius coaching from Gregg Popovich. They could just wait for the Wizards to bumble the game away.

Musings and Observations

  • The Wizards opened with an interesting defensive game plan on Wembanyama. They started possessions with Deni Avdija as his assigned defender, and then switched when Wembanyama set ball screens. That created mismatches in the post (the 6-1 Tyus Jones left defending the 7-4 Wembanyama), which they solved by switching Marvin Bagley III onto Wembanyama as the Spurs made the entry pass.
  • While the Wizards successfully executed the switch a few times, the more effective tactic was to entice Wembanyama to put the ball on the floor and then double.
  • Deni Avdija played a solid game — 16 points on 11 shots, 4 assists to just 1 turnover, and some good defense, including against Wembanyama.
  • Delon Wright put together a nice audition reel for contenders looking for backcourt help. He defended, rebounded, and handed out four assists to zero turnovers. He had three assists and a block in 20 minutes of playing time.
  • Bilal Coulibaly had his best game in a month — 14 points on 6-9 shooting from the floor, 2-2 from three-point range, 4 rebounds and a block. He defended better against the Spurs than he had in recent weeks. Maybe the Wizards could arrange to play former teammate Wembanyama more often?
  • There was online ballyhoo about Bagley posting a second straight 20-10 game. I wasn’t blown away, however. He was just 8-19 from the floor, and his overall defense was not good. He did come up with seven offensive rebounds and hit a three. Overall, his offensive rating was a bit below average. I thought his performance was kinda not bad but not anything more than that. I haven’t seen much to make me think he should supplant Daniel Gafford in the starting lineup. At least not yet.
  • Corey Kispert was just 1-6 from three-point range but got to the free throw line seven times (he made them all).
  • Kyle Kuzma had a rough game (which seems to be happening a lot lately). He was 5-14 from the floor and 0-4 from three. He contributed on the boards (12 rebounds) and handed out 6 assists to just 2 turnovers. The team was -22 during his 29 minutes.
  • Jordan Poole made a handful of good plays, and two handfuls of bad ones. He shot 7-15 from the floor and 0-3 from deep. He had zero rebounds in 29 minutes. He did make a few defensive plays (2 steals and a block). That’s not to say he defended well (he didn’t). The team defense was atrocious when he was in the game.
  • Poole burns a lot of energy turning easy shots into difficult ones.
  • If the Spurs had made open threes, they might have won by 20.
  • Popovich got a lot of criticism for giving Jeremy Sochan a long try at point guard, which did not work. Sochan was a terrible PG. But the reps and the work that went into the experiment might be why Sochan looks like he’ll be a competent and confident decision maker with and without the ball in his hands.

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: Spurs at Wizards

EFG 0.594 0.519
OREB 14 14
TOV 17 11
FTM 17 20
PACE 108
ORTG 121 118

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

Deni Avdija 33 73 139 14.5% 2.5 132 20.2 8
Delon Wright 20 45 140 12.9% 1.4 194 18.4 16
Bilal Coulibaly 23 52 133 18.0% 1.6 160 17.3 3
Marvin Bagley III 36 80 112 25.1% -0.8 74 12.4 -19
Corey Kispert 25 55 117 23.5% 0.2 96 11.2 7
Kyle Kuzma 29 65 94 23.1% -3.4 78 10.7 -22
Tyus Jones 28 62 114 19.8% -0.2 71 9.2 -18
Landry Shamet 6 14 155 29.7% 1.6 221 6.5 5
Jordan Poole 29 65 102 20.9% -1.8 41 5.5 -15
Patrick Baldwin Jr. 12 28 136 14.8% 0.8 45 2.6 15

Stats & Metrics: Spurs

Jeremy Sochan 28 63 182 18.4% 7.8 261 34.7 27
Tre Jones 32 72 144 17.1% 3.5 216 32.8 6
Devin Vassell 34 76 113 21.8% -0.5 129 20.3 23
Keldon Johnson 28 63 116 25.5% 0.0 112 14.8 5
Julian Champagnie 23 51 124 14.5% 0.6 113 12.1 -10
Blake Wesley 15 34 140 14.2% 1.2 146 10.4 0
Victor Wembanyama 28 62 88 38.2% -6.6 62 8.0 4
Cedi Osman 17 39 147 8.0% 1.0 75 6.2 -18
Zach Collins 20 46 97 18.5% -1.6 24 2.2 0
Doug McDermott 10 22 166 7.5% 0.9 38 1.8 -17
Malaki Branham 4 10 106 19.5% -0.2 29 0.6 0