playing a numbers game with the wizards
BY BEN STANDIG | FEB. 27, 2018
It’s unclear what, in terms of games remaining, defines the term “stretch drive” of an NBA season. With only 22 games left and the Eastern Conference standings tighter than game-night street parking in Chinatown, we can declare the 35-25 Washington Wizards officially in the stretch drive.
With 60 games worth of statistics in the books, we also have a decent statistical guide entering this crucial span. Whether to supplement your in-game viewing or drop knowledge on your fellow Wizard fans, keep these team/player numbers and notes in mind as the playoff heats up. Basically this is our Database, but just about the Wizards, and more expansive. Nerd alert indeed. Stats via NBA.com and Basketball-Reference.com.
Added notes updated following the completion of Game 61, a 107-104 win at Milwaukee Tuesday night. For more on this impressive road performance, check out the latest “I Called Game” podcast.
All about 43.2
> The Wizards are 3-13 when shooting 43.2% or lower from the field.
> The Wizards are 17-2 when holding opponents to 43.2% or lower from the field.
Making shots is a good thing
> 18-3 when shooting 50% or higher from the field.
Sharing is indeed caring – and winning basketball
> 20-4 when compiling 26 or more assists.
(30 assists on 42 field goals against the Bucks)
Who wants seconds?
> The Wizards are surrendering the most second-chance points per game with 13.8. This might not be a factor in the next two games against Milwaukee and Golden State, 29th and 28th respectively in second-chance scoring, but a potential concern in a first-round series with Philadelphia.
Avoid lengthy skids
> There have been stretches of ugh, but the Wizards do not have a single three-game-or-more losing streak this season. Over the last 12 games, they really have not even had back-to-back outings with lackluster effort.
> Washington ranks third in opponent 3-point shooting percentage this season (34.0), but the recent trend is not friendly. Over the last 15 games, the Wizards are 15th (36.1). Some of this is regression to the mean after leading the league — in sometimes lucky fashion — much of the season.
> Speaking of 3s, the Wizards are holding teams to a league-worst 32.4 percent from the right corner.
> The Wizards are holding opponents to 45.6 field goal percentage overall — and in the fourth quarter. Over four quarters, that FG% ranks 12th. In the fourth quarter, 19th.
(Upset alert: Milwaukee shot 34.8 percent in the final period.)
> Over the last 12 games, opponents are committing a league-high 15.6 turnovers against Washington. On the season, 15.1 turnovers per game, which is fifth most.
> Games played with the starting five of John Wall, Bradley Beal, Marcin Gortat, Otto Porter and Markieff Morris: 26 of 60. Last season this group played in 69 of 82.
> The Wizards have eight five-man lineups with at least 80 minutes:
Best net rating, 17.7 (195 minutes) — Wall, Beal, Gortat, Porter, Kelly Oubre
Worst net rating, minus-7.7 (91 minutes) — Wall, Beal, Gortat, Morris, Oubre
Best FG%, 52.5 (225 minutes) — Tomas Satoransky, Beal, Gortat, Porter, Morris
You’re an All-Star
> Since Jan. 1, Beal and Golden State’s Stephen Curry are the only players averaging at least 23.0 points, 5.0 assists, 4.5 rebounds, 1.0 steals, two 3-pointers while shooting at least 49 percent from the field.
> The Wizards are 20-6 when Beal shoots 50 percent or better from the field and 15-19 when he doesn’t. (h/t @johnschuhmann)
(Beal went 9-of-16 against Milwaukee. That’s over. 500. That works.)
Not clutch city
> He may have participated in the 3-point shooting contest during All-Star weekend, but that invite wasn’t based on his late game work from distance. Beal is last in clutch 3-point percentage (18.5) among players with at least 20 attempts. Last season he made 35.6 percent of his clutch 3s.
(Biggest shot of Tuesday night? A Bradley Beal 3-pointer with 59 seconds left for a five-point lead. Take that, stats.)
> Beal’s defensive work and effort deserves more attention. He ranks sixth in contested 3-point attempts (4.3). That’s just one example showing Beal does not slouch on the other end of the court.
I fear trafficking anywhere near the inane “Are the Wizards better without John Wall” silliness. What is clear is that the overall ball movement improved during this now 12-game stretch.
Season opener-Jan. 26: Passes, 27th (281.7), Assists, 5th (23.2), Secondary assists, 15th (2.8)
Jan 27- present: 11th (313.9), 1st (30.4), 1st (5.0)
> Per NBA.com, Wall leads the league in average seconds per touch (6.34) and is third in average dribbles per touch (5.64). Of course, you touch the ball plenty when you play point guard or fire off lots of shots. James Harden is right there with Wall on both lists and he is the current MVP favorite.
> Now consider this: When the Wizards dominated at home during a two-month stretch last season, Wall possessed the ball even more (6.50) than this season. The main difference between the two scenarios: The health of Wall’s knee.
The Wizards’ roster lacks true interior scoring threats which is where Wall’s attacking style helps fill in the gaps. The 6-foot-4 guard leads the NBA in points per paint touch and is third in free throw attempts off drives. ·
> 3-point field goal attempts, 5 or more: The Wizards are 16-6.
> 3-point field goal attempts, 4 or fewer: 18-16.
> Points, 16 or more: 17-6.
> Points, 15 or fewer: 17-16.
The key here is the more from Porter the better. That’s easier with Wall’s absence opening more shot attempts. Otherwise, plays are rarely run for the Washington’s starting small forward. Combined with Porter’s natural instinct to make the right play rather than force a shot, even if he’s the best shooting option, leads to fewer looks. Wall and Beal dominate touches, typically with very good reason, especially late in games.
> Efficiency FTW: Porter is the only NBA player this season averaging at least 20 minutes, 14 points and one or fewer turnovers per game.
> Porter led the Wizards in “Win Shares” the previous two seasons and is leading the way this campaign (6.0), according to Basketball Reference.com. Should Porter finish atop again, he would be only the fourth player since 1976 to lead the franchise three years in a row. The others: Elvin Hayes (1976-79), Gilbert Arenas (2004-07) and Marcin Gortat (2013-16).
Potpourri for $100, Alex
Here’s at least lone stat for all other Wizards:
> Scores 11-plus points, the Wizards are 19-7.
> Scores 10 or fewer, 10-15.
> Wizards are 15-5 when Gortat finishes with at least eight field goal attempts.
> Third in the NBA in FG% on catch-and-shoots (min 2 FGA) behind Buddy Hield and Kevin Durant
> Ranks second among all NBA players in 3-point percentage on catch and shoots (min 1.0 attempt).
> (Bonus stat) Turnovers – Has 11 Games with two or more. In his other 40, one or none.
> The Wizards are 6-13 in games when Oubre has two or more turnovers.
> (Bonus stat) Wizards are 10-5 when Oubre has two or more steals.
> The career 60.9 percent free throw shooter is sinking 74.5 percent this season.
> 3-point shooting in 2016-17: 37-for-78 (47.4%).
> 3-point shooting in 2017-18: 1-for-22 (04.5%).
> Team-low -4.5 net rating on the season, but is 2.8 over his last 11 games.
> Ranks 157th out of 174 players in 3-point shooting percentage at 31.6 (min. 2.5 3FGA, 25 GP). Unless there’s a dramatic uptick over the final 22 games, Meeks is the odd man out when the Wizards shrink to an eight- or nine-man rotation.
> Per 36 minutes: 18.4 points, 10 rebounds. Nice, though he’s only played actual 90 minutes on the season, so that doesn’t mean much.
> The veteran point guard has yet to play for the Wizards in his return. Should he enter, keep an eye on his how often he gets to the free throw line. For his career, Sessions attempts 6.0 per 36 minutes. That would tie him with Wall and LeBron James this season.
Photo by Joe Glorioso for The Sports Capitol