The Wizards ride the defense to a 4-game winning streak


With a four-game winning streak and an 8-6 record, the Wizards are feeling strong. It’s a good time to check out the numbers and the trends that have been Show up early To find out what was just an oddly small sample size and what warrants continued scrutiny.


My last “How’s It Going” article was five games into the season. This is where the Wizards stand in the team’s relative strength metrics, 5 games through and 14 games played:

  • Schedule Adjusted Recording Margin Strength: 18/18
  • Offensive Rating (points scored per 100 possessions): 19/24
  • Defensive Rating (points allowed per 100 possessions): 10th/10th

I was expecting a somewhat larger difference due to the four-game winning streak, but maybe that’s just some modernity bias. In the nine games since these measures were last seen, the Wizards have lost four of their first five and then won four in a row.

Four crime factors

  • Shooting: 7/19
  • Turnovers: 28/11
  • Offensive rebound: 27/23
  • Drawing fouls: 20/20

Four factors of defense

  • Shooting: 4/6
  • Shifts: 21/28
  • Defensive rebound: 12/2
  • Fouling: 29/v

As seen in the numbers, the Wizards corrected their turnover problem but lost some of their shooting touch from the first five games. This offensive shot profile is concerning. Twenty-eighth place in smuggling attempts and twenty-sixth place in three-point attempts. They take the fourth most float range shots and the third most at medium to long range.

While they are relatively adept on this diet (except for long shots), these are the least proficient shots in the game. They are shots that opposition defenses want to allow, and they are from areas on the ground where opposing defenders will not miss. Therefore, the Wizards take ineffective shots that don’t make it to the free throw line.

Having Bradley Beal back in the lineup could help him get more tackles and possibly get to the free-throw line more regularly. On the other hand, his free throws declined when the league stopped rewarding offensive players for jumping to defenders, and he’s unlikely to help much on three-point shooting — his long-range accuracy has dropped dramatically, and his three-point average is a career-low.

With the current roster, head coach Wes Unseld Jr. doesn’t seem to have a clue. Wizards have many easy solutions. They can try to pick up the pace and get more tries in the transition, but they’re one of the slower-paced teams, and Unseld seems to prefer calling half-court plays to quick breaks.

They can seek more offensive rebounds for extra shots, but they lack powerful offensive rebounds, and the coaching staff emphasizes getting back and being ready to defend.

In the end, it probably just comes down to shooting better. And they have some men who start out poor by their established standards. The Wizards could potentially benefit from portraying players like Will Barton and Monty Morris as if they’re at their best (assuming, of course, that they don’t just struggle with not playing this season with Nikola Jokic).

On defense, the numbers continue to reflect their defensive principles: rim protection and running shooters farther than the three-point line. Through 14 games played, the Wizards allow the fewest rushing attempts in the league while forcing the most floating range shots. They are in the middle of the pack in allowing opponents three-point attempts but giving up the fewest corner threes.

When opponents reach the edge, they are generally met with long arms. The Wizards have the third best defensive team on edge FG%, and they’ve fixed the pollution issue from their first five games. They allow the fifth-fewest free throw attempts per 100 possessions (behind San Antonio SpursAnd the Milwaukee BucksAnd the Miami Heat And the Los Angeles Clippers).

There are three areas of some concern:

  • They don’t force shifts.
  • They have the fifth highest defensive three-point percentage.
  • They have the fifth-highest three-point defensive corner percentage.

However, none of these should be major concerns. Good NBA defenses are usually built on getting the other team to foul without fouling and then getting the rebound. This is what their defensive system is trying to do, and the numbers suggest they’ve had some success with it.

Here’s a first look at individual shows using My Average player production Measure. A PPA gives players credit for the things they do that help the team win (scoring, rebounding, play-making, defense) and beats them for the things that hurt them (missed shots, turnovers, poor defense, fouls). PPA is speed-neutral, is for defense, and includes a “difficulty score” factor. There is also accounting for the role/position. In PPA, 100 is Intermediate, Higher is Better, and Replacement Level 45. It usually takes a score of 225 or higher to be part of the MVP conversation.

Wizards PPA through 14 games

rotation POS GMS mpg Previous PPA
rotation POS GMS mpg Previous PPA
Jordan Goodwin PG 8 18.9 309 178
Christaps Porzingis c 13 31.0 105 163
Bradley Bell SG 9 35.1 185 155
Corey Kisbert g / f 6 24.2 148
Dillon Wright PG 4 22.8 147 147
Monty Morris PG 14 27.6 160 120
Kyle Kuzma PF 14 32.9 102 99
Daniel Gafford c 14 14.7 79 84
Anthony Gill F/C. 13 13.3 26 71
Will Barton g / f 14 23.9 86 57
Roy Hashimura PF 14 23.5 48 49
Denny Avdija sixth 14 22.5 83 48
Not spinning POS GMS mpg Previous PPA
Jordan Switch sixth 2 3.0 0 189
This is Gibson PF 6 4.5 -120 90
Vernon Carey Jr c 2 2.0 0 -98
Isaiah Todd PF 3 3.0 -89 -28
Johnny Davis SG 5 6.0 -78 -57

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