clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Big picture check-up: Wizards still bad

A PPA and analytics update

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Atlanta Hawks v Washington Wizards
Wizards guard Tyus Jones has been the team’s best player so far this season.
Photo by Kenny Giarla/NBAE via Getty Images

After 32 games of the 2023-24 NBA regular season, it’s safe to conclude the Wizards are a bad team. They have the third worst record and the fourth worst scoring differential. Their rallying cry is derived from their “star’s” tweet: “At least we’re not Detroit.”

That’s meager solace to long-suffering fans, but...well...Washington’s longest losing streak so far this season is just nine games. The Detroit Pistons’ record-smashing ineptitude yawned out more than three times as long.

I mean, the Wizards losing binge lasted two interminable weeks. Detroit’s lasted two months!

Somehow, the Pistons have just three fewer wins than the Wizards do so far this season.

As befits a team with a 6-26 record, the Wizards lurk near the bottom in every measure of team strength. Here’s where they rank (where they ranked at the last check-up is parentheses):

  • strength of schedule adjusted efficiency differential: 27th (29th)
  • offensive rating (points scored per 100 possessions): 25th (25th)
  • defensive rating (points allowed per 100 possessions): 29th (30th)

Here’s a look where they rank in The Four Factors.

Four Factors Offense

  • efg% — 10th (9th)
  • tov% — 16th (17th)
  • oreb% — 30th (30th)
  • ft/fga — 24th (24th)

Four Factors Defense

  • efg% — 28th (29th)
  • tov% — 14th (16th)
  • dreb% — 30th (30th)
  • ft/fga — 11th (12th)

If you’re reading the above factors to say that the Wizards are the NBA’s worst rebounding team on both ends of the floor, you’re reading correctly. They’re getting out-rebounded by 10.2 boards per game.

Their offensive rebounding percentage (18.4%) is flirting with the worst mark in league history. Here’s the bottom five:

  1. Golden State Warriors, 2020-21 — 17.9%
  2. Dallas Mavericks, 2017-18 — 18.0%
  3. Dallas Mavericks, 2022-23 — 18.0%
  4. Dallas Mavericks, 2016-17 — 18.1%
  5. Washington Wizards, 2023-24 — 18.4%

Just a little less effort...

They’re nowhere close to the record for worst defensive rebounding percentage, though that may be because we’re in an era where teams have de-emphasized chasing offensive rebounds in favor of getting back on defense.

The Athletic’s Josh Robbins reported that the Wizards coaching staff are emphasizing forcing turnovers on the defensive end because players tend to force a higher rate of turnovers if they’re in the correct defensive spots.

According to Robbins’ article, this is coming from “front office, coaches and analytics specialists.” I’d love to see the team’s work on this because I’ve tried looking at it a few different ways to understand the logic, and so far I’ve failed.

As I’ve written many times, what matters defensively in the NBA is making the other team miss. Teams that force more turnovers tend to allow higher opponent shooting percentages, probably because the attempt to force turnovers takes players out of position to contest shots or induce low value field goal attempts.

The overwhelming majority of offensive possessions end in a shot. This season, for example, the Oklahoma City Thunder lead the league in forced turnover percentage at 14.1%. That means opponents get shots or free throw attempts 85.9% of the time. Focusing on turnovers seems off the mark.

Player Production Average

Here’s a look at individual performance using my Player Production Average metric. PPA credits players for things they do that help a team win (scoring, rebounding, play-making, defending) and dings them for things that hurt (missed shots, turnovers, bad defense, fouls). PPA is pace neutral, accounts for defense, and includes a “degree of difficulty” factor. There’s also an accounting for role/position. In PPA, 100 is average, higher is better, and replacement level is 45. It usually takes a score of 225 or higher to be part of the MVP conversation.

I’m including some other stats, including usage, offensive rating (points produced per 100 possessions used), relative offensive rating (offensive rating - league average offensive rating. For reference, I’m also including league average at the bottom of the table.

PPA & Other Metrics: Wizards through 32 games

WIZARDS POS GMS MPG ORTG USG relORTG LAST PPA
WIZARDS POS GMS MPG ORTG USG relORTG LAST PPA
Tyus Jones G 32 28.0 129 16.4% 17.5 108 129
Daniel Gafford C 29 25.7 139 14.7% 23.3 107 117
Deni Avdija F 32 27.1 117 18.1% 1.7 122 112
Kyle Kuzma F 32 31.3 108 29.6% -7.9 116 106
Delon Wright G 11 17.2 127 14.1% 11.0 97 82
Corey Kispert W 31 22.5 119 18.1% 3.7 60 66
Bilal Coulibaly W 31 26.1 112 13.5% -3.9 87 61
Danilo Gallinari C 26 14.8 121 18.0% 5.5 50 50
Jordan Poole G 31 29.3 101 25.6% -15.0 28 43
Landry Shamet G 20 16.1 110 17.5% -5.9 51 40
Mike Muscala C 19 14.0 104 14.5% -11.9 21 30
NON-ROTATION POS GMS MPG ORTG USG relORTG LAST PPA
Eugene Omoruyi F 16 5.8 127 28.6% 11.8 120 117
Ryan Rollins G 10 6.6 116 25.7% 0.9 97 84
Jared Butler G 14 7.9 121 23.1% 5.3 48 68
Anthony Gill C 20 6.6 106 17.7% -9.7 27 34
Johnny Davis G 15 8.9 101 14.2% -14.8 36 30
Patrick Baldwin Jr. F 9 5.8 107 14.3% -8.9 65 26
Jules Bernard G 2 5.0 52 24.3% -63.3 -67 -67
115.6 20.0% 100 100

Fun fact: Tyus Jones ranks 9th in the NBA in my +PTS (plus-points) metric. This stat compares an individual player’s efficiency to the league by calculating the difference between points produced by the individual to league average using the same number of possessions. Daniel Gafford ranks 11th.

Here’s the top 12:

  1. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, OKC — +109.2
  2. Nikola Jokic, DEN — +106.6
  3. Tyrese Haliburton, IND — +105.0
  4. Joel Embiid, PHI — +72.4
  5. Mike Conley, MIN — +63.6
  6. Anthony Davis, LAL — +57.2
  7. Jarrett Allen, CLE — +56.5
  8. Derrick White, BOS — +56.4
  9. Tyus Jones, WAS — +55.9
  10. Domantas Sabonis, SAC — +55.6
  11. Daniel Gafford, WAS — +55.5
  12. James Harden, LAC — +55.0

Wizards are involved in the bottom of the list. Here’s the bottom 12 in +PTS:

  1. Scoot Henderson, POR — -91.4
  2. Cade Cunningham, DET — -83.5
  3. Victor Wembanyama, SAS — -78.7
  4. Jordan Poole, WAS — -75.4
  5. Paolo Banchero, ORL — -66.2
  6. Jordan Clarkson, UTA — -62.0
  7. Josh Giddey, OKC — -60.2
  8. Jalen Green, HOU — -57.7
  9. Shaedon Sharpe, POR — -55.5
  10. Andrew Wiggins, GSW — -54.7
  11. Kyle Kuzma, WAS — -50.2
  12. Julius Randle, NYK — -48.3

At least they’re not Detroit.