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The Numbers Crunch: Wizards can’t find the tune in loss to Utah Jazz

Stats, analysis, commentary

Utah Jazz v Washington Wizards
Washington Wizards guard Tyus Jones.
Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images

On the second night of a back-to-back, and with Brian Keefe replacing Wes Unseld Jr. as head coach (at least for now), the Wizards were no match for the surging Utah Jazz. The final margin was 15, but the game’s outcome never felt in doubt.

The Jazz dominated the third quarter and ran their lead as high as 25 early in the fourth before Washington “rallied” with one of those meaningless comebacks that serves only to make the final score look closer than the game actually was.

After a brutal start to the season, Utah regrouped and has worked their way back into the Western Conference playoffs mix. The Jazz are 16-9 over their last 25 games, which include a three-game losing streak they ended against Washington. Their now in ninth place and gaining on the Sacramento Kings and Dallas Mavericks for seventh and eighth.

As has been the case most of the season, the Jazz blasted the Wizards on the boards. Utah finished +17 in rebounds and used 13 offensive rebounds to generate 18 second chance points.

As mentioned in the latest episode of the #SoWizards podcast (in which Ben Becker and I zoom out for a big picture strategic look at the Wizards as they replace Unseld as coach), the Jazz are a fun watch in part because of their Xs and Os.

They started many defensive possessions throughout the game in a zone, which then changed to man-to-man after a certain number of passes. The Wizards countered by sending Kyle Kuzma to the middle. For much of the season, they’ve used Daniel Gafford in that spot.

Kuzma at the nail against a 2-3 zone was marginally successful. Utah went back to straight man defense, and then in the second half deployed a 1-3-1 that triggered into man, which the Wizards had to attack differently. Interesting stuff.

Keefe’s first systemic wrinkles may arrive in the next game — giving the players something new on the second night of a back-to-back would have led to almost certain failure.

Musings & Observations

  • Tyus Jones had probably his best playmaking game in Washington — 14 assists and zero turnovers. He got inside several times, drew defenders, and dished to teammates for easy buckets.
  • Gafford battled inside but had little help from his teammates. He finished with 13 points on 7 shots, 9 rebounds, and 4 blocks. He had few answers for John Collins, who has found new life in Utah as a high energy center.
  • Jordan Poole had a positive game — 18 points on 6-12 shooting and 3-7 from three-point range. He also made a few defensive plays (2 steals, 2 blocks).
  • Decent game from Deni Avdija. He shot well (5-9 from the floor, 1-1 from deep) but was ultimately inefficient because of three turnovers.
  • Kyle Kuzma started well, struggled in the second and third quarters, and then hit the gas in the fourth to get his scoring average. He needed 24 shots to get 26 points, shot 1-8 from three, and committed five turnovers. His offensive rating (points produced per possession x 100) was 89 on a usage rate of 37.2%. Ouch.
  • Marvin Bagley III was aggressive on the offensive end — 14 points on 4-5 shooting from the floor and 6-9 from the free throw line. The team defense was a sieve when he was out there, and he could do nothing to slow the Utah attack.
  • Corey Kispert shot 0-4 from three-point range. He’s now one for his last 16 from deep.
  • Delon Wright played just five minutes in the first half and didn’t make an appearance in the second. Injury? Trade?
  • Another rough outing for Bilal Coulibaly — 0-5 from the floor, 0-2 from three, 1 rebound, 2 assists, 2 turnovers in 29 minutes. He contributed on defense with three steals.
  • Jazz play-by-play man Craig Bolerjack referred to Landry Shamet as “Larry” multiple times.

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: Jazz at Wizards

FOUR FACTORS JAZZ WIZARDS
FOUR FACTORS JAZZ WIZARDS
EFG 0.582 0.528
OREB 13 5
TOV 15 11
FTM 10 15
PACE 102
ORTG 121 106

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 +/-
Tyus Jones 34 72 131 18.5% 2.1 174 24.1 -8
Daniel Gafford 31 66 160 11.2% 3.3 181 22.8 0
Jordan Poole 28 60 129 20.0% 1.6 148 17.0 -3
Deni Avdija 27 58 105 22.0% -1.4 113 12.5 2
Kyle Kuzma 34 73 89 37.2% -7.3 70 9.7 -11
Marvin Bagley III 16 34 135 28.8% 1.9 118 7.8 -15
Corey Kispert 20 43 88 17.3% -2.1 94 7.7 -20
Delon Wright 5 11 228 2.5% 0.3 79 1.6 0
Trey Jemison 1 2 0.0% 0.0 141 0.0 0
Johnny Davis 1 2 0.0% 0.0 0 0.0 0
Patrick Baldwin Jr. 1 2 0.0% 0.0 0 0.0 0
Anthony Gill 1 2 0.0% 0.0 0 0.0 0
Jules Bernard 1 2 0 45.2% -0.9 -488 0.0 0
Bilal Coulibaly 29 61 43 12.5% -5.6 -19 0.0 -14
Landry Shamet 11 22 61 15.5% -1.9 -86 0.0 -6

Stats & Metrics: Jazz

JAZZ MIN POSS ORTG USG +PTS PPA GmSC +/-
JAZZ MIN POSS ORTG USG +PTS PPA GmSC +/-
John Collins 33 70 153 19.9% 5.1 269 35.8 22
Lauri Markkanen 33 70 129 28.5% 2.6 245 32.6 11
Kelly Olynyk 21 45 167 22.3% 5.1 251 21.4 13
Simone Fontecchio 21 45 163 13.5% 2.9 200 17.2 11
Jordan Clarkson 30 64 101 31.2% -3.0 59 7.2 16
Collin Sexton 17 36 104 35.0% -1.5 103 7.0 2
Kris Dunn 17 36 132 10.2% 0.6 95 6.5 2
Luka Samanic 1 2 0.0% 0.0 0 0.0 -3
Omer Yurtseven 1 2 0.0% 0.0 0 0.0 -3
Walker Kessler 15 32 136 6.8% 0.4 -1 0.0 -7
Keyonte George 31 66 82 16.3% -3.6 -6 0.0 13
Ochai Agbaji 20 42 0 7.4% -3.7 -73 0.0 -2