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The Numbers Crunch: Wizards drop Pistons for 8th win

Stats, analysis, commentary.

Washington Wizards v Detroit Pistons
Washington Wizards center Daniel Gafford
Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

In a matinee matchup to culminate their week facing longtime rivals like the Minnesota Timberwolves and Utah Jazz, the Washington Wizards went north to take on the Detroit Pistons. With the two teams separated in the standings by just two games, this one promised to be a battle of epic proportions.

The Wizards emerged victorious and took a commanding three-game lead for 14th place in the Eastern Conference.

Enough with the kidding around — for a midday game between couple bottom-dwelling teams, this one was actually entertaining. Both teams played hard (though imperfectly), young guys on both sides made enough plays to tantalize, there was physicality that didn’t degenerate into cheap shots or dirty plays, and the Wizards finally got decent games from Kyle Kuzma and Jordan Poole at the same time.

Both teams hustled on defense. The Wizards came up with 13 deflections and 10 steals while giving up an array of open looks that the Pistons mostly missed. The Pistons contested shots but didn’t generate deflections, steals or turnovers. The Wizards won because they hit a few more of the open looks both teams allowed, won the rebounding battle, and did a better job avoiding turnovers.

With the win, Washington prevented the Pistons from winning two in a row for the first time this season. The Wizards have a great opportunity to get their second straight victory for the first time this season on Monday when they take on the San Antonio Spurs.

Musings & Observations

  • The Wizards social media team sent a post-game tweet celebrating Kyle Kuzma’s “hot hand.” Maybe I’m being too pedantic, but...he was 13-27 from the floor and 3-13 from three-point range. He never made more than two shots in a row. His offensive efficiency for the game was below average. His 53.7% effective field goal percentage was a shade below average. Overall, I thought he played pretty well. Save “hot hand” for when it applies.
  • Kuzma and Isaiah Stewart got into a chippy and physical personal matchup. Stewart knocked Kuzma down with a Kuzma-esque shoulder to the sternum drive, which Kuzma thought should have been called a foul. He went back and Stewart for a bucket, who then went back at Kuzma for additional shoulder-to-sternum drives. Kuzma complained to the refs, which amused me considering how often he uses the same move. (Full disclosure: I think it should be called an offensive foul, as it was in previous eras, but it’s rarely called that way these days.)
  • Jordan Poole played an efficient offensive game — points on 12 field goal attempts, including 3-6 from three-point range. He had just two assists, but no turnovers. His offensive rating (points produced per possession x 100) was 146 on a low-for-him 16.8% usage rate. He has to make shots to contribute because he does so little of the other work it takes to win games, and against Detroit, that’s what he did. Worth mention: the team’s defense was superb with him on the floor (though it would strain credulity to say he caused the team defense to be superb), and the team was +25 in his 29 minutes.
  • Tyus Jones had another ho-hum solid professional game — 12 points, 9 assists, 2 steals, a block, and just 1 turnover. His offensive rating as a low-for-him 119.
  • Daniel Gafford and Marvin Bagley III controlled the action inside and seem to be threatening to form a solid big man tag team. The two combined for 28 points on just 17 shots, 21 rebounds (including 11 offensive boards), 3 assists and 4 steals. Weirdly, they had no blocks. Their combined offensive rating was 137 on a usage rate of 23.1%.
  • Quiet but solid game from Deni Avdija, who defended well, grabbed a few rebounds, and produced a couple assists. He probably could have had another assist or two if open teammates had taken shots instead of passing.
  • Bilal Coulibaly was active defensively (7 defensive rebounds, 2 deflections, 2 steals and a block) and had a couple nice assists. He was also just 2-7 from the floor and 1-3 from deep. His offensive rating was 102 on 12.0% usage.
  • Amusing moment: the Pistons broadcast spent 30 seconds praising Kispert as Washington’s best defender, and a guy who asks for the assignment of defending the other team’s best perimeter offensive threat. When Kispert was described as 6-9, it became clear they were talking about Avdija.

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 Pistons

FOUR FACTORS WIZARDS PISTONS
FOUR FACTORS WIZARDS PISTONS
EFG 0.505 0.488
OREB 16 11
TOV 9 17
FTM 17 21
PACE 101
ORTG 117 103

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 +/-
Daniel Gafford 28 58 159 17.0% 4.2 248 31.2 5
Jordan Poole 29 61 146 16.8% 3.1 184 24.5 25
Kyle Kuzma 32 67 111 33.3% -1.0 151 22.2 4
Tyus Jones 30 63 119 19.6% 0.4 137 18.9 9
Marvin Bagley III 20 42 120 31.5% 0.5 147 13.4 9
Deni Avdija 24 50 128 14.8% 0.9 104 11.3 18
Delon Wright 11 24 151 9.1% 0.8 171 8.9 -8
Bilal Coulibaly 31 66 102 12.0% -1.1 58 8.3 9
Corey Kispert 22 46 90 15.8% -1.9 -1 0.0 6
Landry Shamet 13 27 54 29.9% -4.9 -145 0.0 -7

Stats & Metrics: Pistons

PISTONS MIN POSS ORTG USG +PTS PPA GmSC +/-
PISTONS MIN POSS ORTG USG +PTS PPA GmSC +/-
Bojan Bogdanovic 36 75 129 26.8% 2.7 187 30.4 12
Jalen Duren 36 76 159 9.2% 3.0 119 19.6 -4
Isaiah Stewart 32 67 141 13.9% 2.4 94 13.8 -4
Ausar Thompson 17 36 120 16.6% 0.2 152 12.0 -18
Jaden Ivey 26 55 96 17.9% -2.0 44 5.2 1
Cade Cunningham 35 73 92 34.9% -6.0 15 2.4 -6
Kevin Knox II 11 23 113 13.6% -0.1 0 0.0 -10
Alec Burks 18 38 80 22.5% -3.0 -24 0.0 -11
Killian Hayes 10 20 42 17.6% -2.6 -60 0.0 -6
Mike Muscala 12 25 19 12.9% -3.1 -147 0.0 -10
Monte Morris 8 17 21 29.2% -4.6 -266 0.0 -14