NBA: Wizards’ preseason delusions meet reality in losing streak
The last time I did one of these, the Washington Wizards were 10-9, and I was wondering if the team’s defense was any hope. In the 10 games since, the Wizards have collapsed on defense and managed just one win, which came against a The Minnesota Timberwolves team that doesn’t know how to play together.
Here is where the Wizards are located in the team strength measures in the last update and where they are now:
- Adjusted schedule strength scoring margin: 19/25
- Offensive rating (points scored per 100 possessions:) 26/22
- Defensive rating (points allowed per 100 possessions): 7/23
Here is your position/position on the four factors that determine winning and losing:
- Shot: 20/14
- Turnovers: 13/8
- Offensive rebounding: 22/22
- Draw fouls: 26/22
- Shot: 2/13
- Rotations: 30/28
- Defensive rebounding: 6th/6th
- Fouling: 6/8
Bottom line: Over the last 10 games, his modest improvement on offense has been more than made up for by the complete collapse of his ability to miss the other team.
While there has been a lot of talk about the team being plagued with injuries, the reality is that players wasting time is not the solution to what is causing the team to lose. For example, Bradley Beal is the highest paid and most productive player on the team. Although he receives a lot of criticism online, he is having a very good season.
But, the Wizards’ offense has been fine with Beal out of the lineup. His problem has been defense, and Beal doesn’t solve anything for them at that end of the field. Neither did Rui Hachimura.
Sure, Delon Wright will help defense, but he’s missed all but four games, and the team had seventh-ranked defense 10 games ago, mostly without him.
If you want to argue that Kristaps Porzing is missing out on denver nuggets The game was a big deal and hurt Washington’s defensive rating numbers significantly, keep three things in mind:
- That’s a game of 29 so far.
- It was just the team’s fourth-worst defensive rating this season, and Porzingis was in the bottom three lineup.
- The Wizards defense has been worse this season with Porzingis on the court.
The Wizards entered this season with the team’s decision-makers seemingly in the thrall of delusional thinking. Chief among them was the belief that Beal is a franchise player. I have written/talked/tweeted/texted/messaged about this multiple times over several years.
I have wondered if Ted Leonsis, Tommy Sheppard et al. truly believed Beal was an elite artist, or whether it was a promotion to excite fans or misinformation to increase Beal’s commercial value. Giving Beal the absolute maximum salary, PLUS a trade, PLUS a no-trade clause would seem to suggest they believe their own propaganda. Or, more clearly, for them it is not propaganda.
Another huge one is the inclusion of Kyle Kuzma in his latest Big Three nonsense. At first, I thought this was just some marketing thing. Later, Shams Charania reported that the Wizards see Kuzma as a “cornerstone” of the franchise.
The idea is so ridiculous that I thought it had to be part of a campaign to increase the commercial value. So, I went through my contacts and reached out to some old friends who assured me that the front office really does take Kuzma very seriously.
Which is delusional.
Look, I like Kuzma. He’s a nice guy and apparently a good teammate. He is big, mobile and skilled. When he does well, he looks elite. But he is also a kind of optical illusion. As I’ve written many times, tools like size, skills and athleticism are valuable when connected to production on the court.
Despite all his tools, Kuzma’s offensive efficiency is nearly eight points per 100 possessions below the league average. His career high of 21.4 points per game comes from two things: he’s playing a career-high 35.0 minutes per game and he’s posting career highs for field goal attempts and overall usage.
Viewed by possession, Kuzma’s performance looks eerily similar to his career numbers, except he’s taking more shots, producing more assists and committing more turnovers.
As I’ve been writing for the past two seasons, one of the problems with Kuzma is that his efficiency is inelastic. Most players are most efficient when using fewer possessions and least efficient when using more. However, Kuzma is one of the exceptions. He has about the same level of inefficiency with more or less use, whether he’s on the court in scrubs or with LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
The official narrative on Kuzma is that he has improved significantly since arriving in Washington and has gone from good to very good. I believe both parts of that narrative are false. His improvement has been modest and he has gone from a slightly below average to average range to an average to slightly above average range. With wild It changes from game to game, of course.
If you saw the right sample of games, you could reasonably conclude that Kuzma is great. If you saw a different sample, you might reasonably wonder why he was in the lineup.
What baffles me is how professional basketball executives and coaches, who presumably watch every Wizards game and many other NBA games, can convince themselves that Kuzma is a “cornerstone” of the franchise.
Before we get to the full Wizards PPA update below, here’s a look at the top-rated producers by position and where the best Wizard ranks (minimum 250 minutes played). In PPP, 100 is average and higher is better:
- Stephen Curry, warriors of the golden state — 257
- luka doncic, dallas mavericks —241
- Tyrese Haliburton, Indiana Pacers — 233
- Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, oklahoma city thunder — 208
- james harden, Philadelphia 76ers — 197
19 mount morris, washington wizards — 131
- Donovan Mitchell, cleveland cavaliers — 218
- Desmond Bane, memphis grizzlies — 185
- Devin Booker, phoenix suns — 168
- bradley bealWashington Wizards — 166
- tyler hero, Miami Heat — 160
- jimmy butlerMiami Heat — 237
- Lauri Markkanen, utah jazz — 193
- Andrew WigginsGolden State Warriors — 169
- jaylen brown, boston celtics — 164
- was was, orlando magic — 163
48. Deni AvdiyaWashington Wizards — 70
- zion williamson, new orleans pelicans — 218
- Kevin Durant, Brooklyn networks — 212
- jayson tatumBoston Celtics – 197
- Aaron GordonDenver Nuggets – 194
- Giannis Antetokounmpo, milwaukee dollars — 193
29 kyle kuzmaWashington Wizards—103
- Nicholas JokicDenver Nuggets—234
- antonio davis, los angeles lakers — 227
- Joel EmbiidPhiladelphia 76ers – 189
- Clint Capela, atlanta falcons — 177
- Jackson Jr. yearsMemphis Grizzlies — 171
fifteen. Kristaps PorzingisWashington Wizards — 142
Between Jackson and Porzingis, the core list includes: Domantas Sabonis, Mitchell Robinson, Deandre Ayton, Jakob Poeltl, Nic Claxton, Rudy Gobert, Pascal Siakam, Jarrett Allen and Myles Turner.
If I were doing one of those hypothetical “start a team for one season” drafts, Porzingis would be 11th on my list of centers.
Below is a look at individual performances using my Average production of players metric. PPA credits players for the things they do that help a team win (scoring, rebounding, creating plays, defending) and punishes them for things that hurt (missed shots, turnovers, poor defense, fouls). PPA is pace neutral, takes defense into account, and includes a “degree of difficulty” factor. There is also accounting for the role/position. In PPA, 100 is average, higher is better, and the replacement level is 45. Typically, you need a score of 225 or higher to be a part of the MVP conversation.
Washington Wizards PPA through 29 games
|ROTATION||POS||MSG||miles per gallon||FORMER||app|
|ROTATION||POS||MSG||miles per gallon||FORMER||app|
|that gibson||C.||17||7.2||61||3. 4|
|NO ROTATION||POS||MSG||miles per gallon||FORMER||app|
|Isaiah Todd||FP||4||3.3||-28||-Four. Five|
|Vernon Carey Jr.||C.||3||1.7||-98||-241|