The Wizards came into last night’s contest with the Brooklyn Nets missing one player from their anticipated rotation — backup guard Delon Wright. The Nets?
- Starting PG Kyrie Irving was out — suspended at least five games for antisemitism and stupidity.
- Starting G/F/C Ben Simmons was out with swelling in his knee.
- Starting SG Seth Curry was out with an ankle injury.
- Head coach Steve Nash was fired earlier in the week, and the team hasn’t named a replacement.
- In the search for Nash’s replacement, the Nets front office was criticized for making Boston Celtics coach Ime Udoka their “favorite” for the position. The Celtics suspended Udoka for the season because of highly inappropriate behavior.
- During the offseason, their star player, Kevin Durant, requested a trade and asked the team’s owner to fire the coach and the GM.
As Crash Davis might have said, they were dealing with a lot of s***.
Luckily for Brooklyn, they had Washington on the schedule. With everything in their favor, the Wizards went #SoWizards so hard, they lost by 42. How’d they do it?
- Atrocious defense. The strategy early was to double Durant. Turns out, the 34-year old Durant, who’s in his 15th NBA season, had seen that kind of defense before and knew what to do (pass quickly out of the double team to put the defense into rotation). Later, the Wizards tried other tactics like helping off Durant and leaving him alone for wide-open jumpers,
- Atrocious offense. As in: 30-83 from the floor (36.1%), 8-34 from three-point range (23.5%), an offensive rating (points per possession x 100) of 90 vs. a league average of 112.
But at least these guys like each other. That’s super valuable for…umm…team flights and getting dinner on the road.
Quick recap of the individual performances:
- Bradley Beal was good — 20 points on good efficiency, 2 steals and a block.
- Anthony Gill was decent — 8 points on minuscule usage (9.7%), 4 rebounds (3 offensive) and a steal.
- Kyle Kuzma was decent — 19 points on solid efficiency and 5 rebounds in 24 minutes.
- Everyone else were variations on the theme of suck. As in, the Wizards used 13 players in the game, and six of them had negative scores in my production metric (see below). That doesn’t count Johnny Davis whose score was zero.
With the game covered, I’m going to vent a moment about the crummy #SoWizards broadcast. I thought Chris Miller on play-by-play was an upgrade on Justin Kutcher, but his cornball cheerleading is already grating. Drew Gooden continues to be the worst NBA broadcaster I’ve ever heard, and I’ve a) been watching/analyzing the NBA for four decades, and b) I view broadcasts from every team in the league. The Wizards broadcast is The Worst — 30th out of 30.
For example, during the fourth quarter of last night’s game, Miller and Gooden extolled the magnificent leadership of Taj Gibson, who apparently exhibited his magnificent leadership by, telling his teammates they need to play better. Miller told this story, and Gooden joined him in gushing, while the team was trailing by 41 points.
An ounce of self-awareness from anyone on the broadcast would have led to them either a) not telling the story while the team is losing by 41 points to an opponent in turmoil, or b) mention that Gibson’s teammates need a refresher course in playing better.
A few minutes later, they praised head coach Wes Unseld Jr. for coaching vigorously to the end of what turned out to be a 42-point loss.
Maybe I’m crazy but a head coach coaching to the end of a game — even in a blowout — would be just about the minimum expectation of an NBA head coach getting paid $7 million per season.
And maybe this is just too high an expectation for a Wizards coach, but what if the coach prepared his team, set rotations and roles, and made in-game strategic decisions THAT DIDN’T RESULT IN A 42-POINT LOSS TO A TEAM IN DISARRAY THAT’S MISSING THREE STARTERS.
In closing, if the Wizards are serious about winning now, they should take advantage of Brooklyn’s turmoil by trading for Durant. Would the Nets take a package of Will Barton, Kuzma, Rui Hachimura, Deni Avdija and three firsts? Maybe. Washington might have to throw in some pick swaps too. And they’d have to give the New York Knicks something to change protections on Washington’s 2023 pick so the Wizards could trade future picks.
But, realistically speaking, no one on the Wizards roster except Beal and Porzingis are difference makers. Durant is aging, but still one of the best players on the planet. Trade a collection of the just a guy contingent and get someone who can make the team win for a year or two.
Below are the four factors that decide wins and losses in basketball — shooting (efg), rebounding (offensive rebounds), ball handling (turnovers), fouling (free throws made).
I’ve simplified them a bit. While the factors are usually presented as percentages, that’s more useful over a full season. In a single game, the raw numbers in each category bring more clarity.
Four Factors: Nets 128 at Wizards 86
Below are a few performance metrics, including the Player Production Average (PPA) Game Score (very similar to the one I used to call Scoreboard Impact Rating). 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. But some readers prefer it, so I’m including PPA scores as well. Reminder: 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 producing weird results.
POSS is the number of possessions each player was on the floor in this game.
PTS = points scored
ORTG = offensive rating, which is points produced per individual possessions x 100. League average last season was 112.0. 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 Wizards assistant coach Dean Oliver and modified slightly 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.
Key Stats: Wizards
Key Stats: Nets
|David Duke Jr.||13||25||11||111||31.0%||129||4.8||3|