The Seraphin Problem

Fifth year center Kevin Seraphin has consistently gotten playing time as Washington’s backup center. I’ve written many times about why this is a bad idea, but it hasn’t cost the team much. Yet. There still seems to be a sentiment that Seraphin has improved, but…well…let’s look at the numbers.

Here’s Seraphin’s PPA for each game this season:

Date   Opp MP PPA
10/29/2014 @ MIA 7.7 -182
10/30/2014 @ ORL 1.9 -903
11/4/2014 @ NYK 22.1 166
11/5/2014 IND 13.9 -75
11/7/2014 @ TOR 18.1 58
11/8/2014 @ IND 19.5 126
11/12/2014 DET 16.7 -62
11/15/2014 ORL 16.1 -32
11/19/2014 DAL 10.6 -33
11/21/2014 CLE 23.4 75
11/22/2014 @ MIL 13.1 -26
11/25/2014 ATL 14.8 -11
11/26/2014 @ CLE 22.7 -15
11/29/2014 NOP 6.7 -26
12/1/2014 MIA 19.6 19
12/3/2014 LAL 14.1 13
12/5/2014 DEN 22.5 156
12/7/2014 @ BOS 10.2 171
12/8/2014 BOS 16.4 257
12/10/2014 @ ORL 12.1 74
12/12/2014 LAC 15.4 -56
12/14/2014 UTA 16.0 -54
12/16/2014 MIN 17.1 52

For three straight games in December, it looked like maybe Seraphin had suddenly deciphered the league, but he followed it up with four not-so-good performances. Okay, that was generous. Two of those games were horrific, and one was downright awful.

Here’s a breakdown of his season so far:

QUAL               COUNT                     %
Average or better 5 22%
Replacement level or worse 14 61%
Negative 12 52%

For those keeping score at home, Seraphin has played 23 games this season. He’s been an average or better producer in five of those contests — 22%. He’s been replacement level or worse in 14 of 23 — 61%. He’s been a net negative (bad plays have outweighed the good) 12 of 23 — 52%.

He has been better in December with two very good games and one great one. But, in the nine games so far this month, there are still four that rate below replacement level (two of which were net negatives), and a fifth that was just barely above replacement level (the most recent). Net for the month, a PPA of 70 in which 94% of his production came in just three games.

When I look at his total credits, 84% of his season production has been in December — 79% in that single three-game stretch.

So far this season, 56 players identified as centers by Basketball-Reference have played at least 150 minutes. Of those players, Seraphin ranks is tied for 51st in total production credits. In PPA (the per possession stat I usually publish), he’s third from the bottom. Only Kendrick Perkins and Jason Smith have been less productive per minute.

Here’s where Seraphin ranks among centers in various statistical categories:

STAT KS RANK
mpg 45
ortg 48
usg 11
pts 12
efg 26
ft% 38
oreb 43
dreb 36
reb 40
ast 12
tov 52
stl 56
blk 37
pf 54
def 54

The non-efficiency stats are in production per 100 possessions. What I see here is a guy who uses a lot of possessions, but not efficiently. His shooting is okay and he has become a willing passer, but his turnovers are a big problem. Also, he’s a sub-par rebounder and a very poor defender. (See that last entry — Seraphin ranks as the league’s third worst defensive center, according to the defense part of my metric. Only Jason Smith and Alex Ajinca rate worse so far this season.)

As I mentioned earlier, the Wizards schedule has been easy enough, and the starters have been good enough, that they haven’t been hurt much by giving Seraphin a steady diet of minutes. But, when competition gets tougher, the Seraphin problem will arise.

For now, it’s probably okay to continue playing him in the hopes that whatever fell into place December 5-8 will fall again and that Seraphin will become a solid reserve. Barring that unlikely event, the time is coming when the experiment will need to end. To that end, the Wizards might be wise to find minutes for DeJuan Blair, and to plan for the time when their PF/C rotation will be Marcin Gortat, Nenê, Kris Humphries and Paul Pierce.

Wizards Update: Is Wall A Top 5 PG?

Now in his fifth year, Wizards PG John Wall is having the best season of his career. He’s drawn accolades from observers around the league, and some Washington fans have even started wondering if he might be a fringe MVP candidate. The MVP talk and the “he’s the best PG in the league” assertions are premature, however. He’s terrifically productive, but there’s still room for significant improvement.

Put away the pitchforks and torches. While Wall isn’t quite where fans want to place him, this is really good news for the Wizards. He’s a phenomenal player whose best days are likely still in the future.

While Wall’s passing and offensive creativity elicits praise, his greatest contribution is on the defensive end. In the defense part of my metric (Player Production Average — PPA for short), Wall rates as the league’s best defensive PG. That’s not a typo. Number one. Top of the heap. Nobody better. That finding is echoed by ESPN’s Real Plus Minus stat. If the season ended today, he’d be on my first-team All-Defense ballot.

As head coach Randy Wittman told the Sports Junkies this morning, Wall has all the attributes of an outstanding defender — size, quickness, speed, strength, length. And while he’s rated as a good defender in my system in previous years, he’s made the defensive leap this season with suffocating on-ball pressure, hard close-outs on shooters, and impeccable timing in the passing lanes.

The Los Angeles Clippers, led by elite PG Chris Paul, struggled to get into their offensive sets early in Washington’s win last week because of Wall’s pressure. Consider this: Paul has 49 total turnovers this season. Six of them came against the Wizards.

By now you’re probably wondering: If Wall’s so great on defense and he’s such a great passer and the Wizards are winning, why don’t you agree he’s an MVP candidate? Why are you about to tell me he’s not a top five PG?

Which brings me back to a junk metric I created last season: Only Good Stuff. In its simplest form, OGS is points + rebounds + assists + steals + blocks.

Wall is among the game’s more active players when he’s out there. He produces lots of OGS — 7th most in the league, in fact. Here’s the top 10 in OGS:

  1. James Harden — 977
  2. Anthony Davis — 940
  3. Stephen Curry — 922
  4. Kobe Bryant — 917
  5. Lebron James — 917
  6. LaMarcus Aldridge — 869
  7. John Wall — 867
  8. Blake Griffin — 843
  9. Kyle Lowry — 361
  10. Damian Lillard — 835

That’s a pretty impressive group, and Wall sits second among PGs. But, it’s ONLY the good stuff. What if we look at the other side of the ledger — Only Bad Stuff (missed field goal attempts + 0.5 x missed free throw attempts + turnovers + fouls)? Well, Wall’s near the top of that list too — 6th most OBS. The bottom 10:

  1. Kobe Bryant — 502
  2. James Harden — 422
  3. Monta Ellis — 389
  4. Josh Smith — 387
  5. Carmelo Anthony — 384
  6. John Wall — 367
  7. Tyreke Evans — 365
  8. Kyle Lowry — 361
  9. Blake Griffin — 360
  10. Stephen Curry — 351

So, with Wall (and several other of the game’s outstanding players), lots of good AND lots of “bad.” What if we combine the two? Because the categories aren’t weighted based on how much they contribute to winning, let’s call this last category Unweighted Total Stuff (UTS) — OGS – OBS. Here’s the top 10:

  1. Anthony Davis — 687
  2. Stephen Curry — 571
  3. Lebron James — 559
  4. James Harden — 555
  5. Chris Paul — 523
  6. LaMarcus Aldridge — 523
  7. Marc Gasol — 512
  8. Tyson Chandler — 505
  9. John Wall & Damian Lillard — 501
  10. Blake Griffin — 484

Enough with the “stuff,” according to PPA (which is pace neutral, accounts for defense, and includes a degree of difficulty factor), Wall currently sits 8th among PGs on a per minute basis. Westbrook, Curry and Paul are clearly the top three. Lillard is next. Then it’s a tight group of Jeff Teague, Lowry, Mike Conley and Wall.

The scores of Wall’s group are close enough that I’d classify them as “about the same” and reasonable minds can differ on what order they should be in. I won’t argue if you want to push Wall to fifth, though I don’t see justification for ranking him higher at this point.

As mentioned above, Wall rates as the best defender — Lowry and Conley rate as average; Teague as a good-not-outstanding defender. However, Wall is the least efficient on offense among the top PGs by approximately 8 points per 100 possessions.

In TOTAL production, Wall currently sits 5th behind Curry, Paul, Lillard and Lowry. Kyrie Irving slips in ahead of Wall for fifth in per game PPA.

What can Wall do to improve? Shoot better and commit fewer turnovers.

How good has Wall been in December? His PPA for the month is 219 so far. If that was his PPA for the season, he’d rank 4th among PGs, ahead of Lillard, but still behind Westbrook, Curry and Paul.

To this week’s PPA update…

PPA is an overall rating stat I developed that credits players for things they do that help a team win and debits them for things that hurt the cause. PPA is pace neutral, accounts for defense, and includes a “degree of difficulty” factor based on the level of competition a player faces while on the floor. In PPA, 100 = average, higher is better and replacement level is 45.

PLAYER GMS MPG 10-Nov 18-Nov 24-Nov 3-Dec 8-Dec PPA
Marcin Gortat 19 30.2 181 186 170 175 179 178
John Wall 19 35.9 185 180 180 168 167 175
Paul Pierce 19 27.3 140 138 165 134 134 154
Rasual Butler 15 21.6 60 131 116 128 155 140
Andre Miller 19 12.4 72 69 92 103 102 101
Kris Humphries 18 22.0 46 87 90 82 109 100
Nene Hilario 13 33.2 108 102 68 67 83 94
Bradley Beal 10 24.6 122 63 69 94
Garrett Temple 17 17.0 121 112 96 100 98 91
Otto Porter 18 20.1 97 106 101 95 84 81
Drew Gooden 12 15.9 42 40 59 78 64 47
Kevin Seraphin 18 15.3 38 13 17 12 28 34
DeJuan Blair 6 4.6 -41 -40 -40 -74 -56 -47
Glen Rice 5 8.6 -120 -117 -117 -117 -114 -113

The Paul Pierce signing looks better and better. The last time Pierce was this productive was the 2011-12 season. His efficiency numbers have surged as the SF has found the Fountain of Youth. One potential warning sign is a slip in his defensive impact since the season’s opening weeks. After rating solidly above average earlier in the year, he’s down to average in my most recent update.

Andre Miller is another of the Wizards ancients who continues to perform well. The team plays dramatically different when he replaces Wall in the lineup (they slow by 10 possessions per 48 minutes), but they’re crazy efficient when he’s out there. It seems like every game is a masterclass for how to get to the rim despite running in slow motion.

Statistical tidbit: so far this season, Wall is averaging 14.8 assists per 100 possessions. Miller is averaging 14.4.

Beal and Nenê increased production after a couple rough weeks. I hope Wittman continues to use Nenê off the bench where he can face opponent reserves when Washington is on offense, and anchor a weak defensive second unit.

Kevin Seraphin was up for a second straight week. His rebounding has improved the past couple weeks, though his offensive efficiency remains poor. Among the team’s regulars, he’s in a virtual tie with Miller as the least effective defender.

NFL’s New Personal Conduct Policy Won’t Solve Its Problem

cd7a17deccb1a133b6

The NFL announced that its owners have unanimously approved a new, tougher personal conduct policy for its players. The biggest thing they showed with the vote is that they still don’t understand the problem they’re facing.

When Roger Goodell was appointed commissioner, he did so with the mission to stamp out bad behavior by the players. With himself as judge and jury, Goodell would reach out with the heavy hand of justice, and the league’s reputation would be transformed.

But, as I wrote back in September, Goodell took careful aim on the wrong problem. Despite being a public relations guy during his career in the NFL’s league office, Goodell fell victim to a classic mistake: he believed the media.

It’s not that news reports were wrong when reporting about individual misdeeds, it was the belief that those individual misdeeds converged into a deep-rooted problem. In reality, an objective and systematic look at the off-field behavior of NFL players shows they’re overwhelmingly a responsible, law-abiding bunch. NFL players are far less likely than others in their age/gender cohort to do the kinds of things that run afoul of the law.

Goodell’s personal conduct policy is aimed at correcting player behavior. But the issue isn’t the behavior itself, but the perception. And, with his strong-arm policy and “I’m gonna control of this situation” approach, he’s actually exacerbating that perception problem.

By creating a Big Solution, Goodell (and the league’s owners) feed the perception that player behavior is a Big Problem. It’s not. There are individual problems that can be addressed, but a few isolated incidents don’t require a codified system of justice — we have a court system for that.

Now, the perception problem wouldn’t have been easily fixed. The league has data on its side, but narratives are often immune to facts. And, the perception is fueled in part by the reality that the majority of players are black, and automatically seen as “other” to a significant portion of the white majority in this country.

However, the NFL also has big advantages in countering a perception problem, such as powerful media partners and friendly reporters who would happily publish a story the league wants.

The new policy isn’t all bad. The provision that allows for a paid leave of absence when a player is charged with a violent crime is good. And, I think it’s a good thing to convene experts to find ways of reducing incidents of domestic violence among the league’s players.

But, the NFL is unilaterally implementing its own justice system — without consulting the players union. They’re attempting to codify punishments for certain actions, but will inevitably misjudge and overlook key factors. No matter how many experts they bring together, they just can’t think of everything. And what they can’t think of will come back and bite them in ways they can’t imagine.

More to the point: even the most perfect, ironclad, no-holes personal conduct policy is doomed to fail because the league’s problem is the perception of player conduct, not the actual conduct of the the vast majority of its players. A more stringent policy serves only to heighten the perception that players are out of control. So when the next big incident happens (and it will, because players are human), the storm will only be worse because it’ll have the additional boost of…See, NOTHING can get these guys to act right.

The players aren’t the problem, and its a damn shame their employers seem unaware of this fact.

Wizards Update: Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

rasual

Over the past week, the Wizards rolled to convincing wins over the hapless Lakers and the not-awful Nuggets, and then lost a shoulda-won game against a middling Celtics squad. And, in the grand tradition of players having good games shortly after I rip them, Kevin Seraphin had probably his best game of the year against Denver.

Meanwhile, John Wall climbed into a tie with Rajon Rondo for having the biggest defensive impact for a point guard in my rating system. Wall shows up in my numbers as having the biggest defensive impact on the Wizards so far this season. Not bad for a guy who I still think has room for improvement on the defensive end.

Other positive defenders: Marcin Gortat, Nenê, Kris Humphries, and Garrett Temple.

The “about average” grouping includes: Otto Porter, Rasual Butler and Paul Pierce. Pierce, had gotten off to an excellent start defensively, but his individual performance seems to have slipped a bit over the past couple weeks.

Bradley Beal and Drew Gooden are in the “bad defensive impact” category so far. Kevin Seraphin and Andre Miller are defensive dumpster fires to this point in the year.

Below is the Player Production Average (PPA) update. PPA is an overall rating stat I developed that credits players for things they do that help a team win and debits them for things that hurt the cause. PPA is per-minute, pace neutral, accounts for defense, and includes a “degree of difficulty” factor based on the level of competition a player faces while on the floor. In PPA, 100 = average, higher is better and replacement level is 45.

PLAYER GMS MPG 10-Nov 18-Nov 24-Nov 3-Dec PPA
Marcin Gortat 19 30.5 181 186 170 175 179
John Wall 19 35.3 185 180 180 168 167
Rasual Butler 15 20.3 60 131 116 128 155
Paul Pierce 19 26.6 140 138 165 134 134
Kris Humphries 18 19.7 46 87 90 82 109
Andre Miller 19 12.6 72 69 92 103 102
Garrett Temple 17 20.2 121 112 96 100 98
Otto Porter 18 21.9 97 106 101 95 84
Nene Hilario 13 25.5 108 102 68 67 83
Bradley Beal 10 30.4 122 63 69
Drew Gooden 12 17.3 42 40 59 78 64
Kevin Seraphin 18 15.2 38 13 17 12 28
DeJuan Blair 6 5.7 -41 -40 -40 -74 -56
Glen Rice 5 8.6 -120 -117 -117 -117 -114

The first thing I wondered about when perusing the table above was the lack of change in Wall’s PPA. My feeling was that he had a terrific week. But, the game log shows that he shoot poorly (efg of just .395) and that he committed 14 turnovers.

Rasual Butler had another week of outlandishly good shooting. In non-shooting categories, Butler’s numbers are all within established career norms. So far in Washington, he’s shooting .579 from 2pt range (vs. a career average of .435), and .545 from 3pt range (vs. a career average of .364).

I know fans want to attribute this to The Wall Effect, but a) only about half Butler’s minutes have been with Wall; b) he’s shooting with outlandish accuracy (and more often) when Wall’s on the bench; and c) his shooting numbers in Indiana last season were also significantly better than his previous career norms.

Butler efg usg
with Wall .765 13.8%
w/o Wall .700 20.3%

It may simply be that Butler worked hard and improved his shooting late in his career. And, it may be that he’s ripe for a regression. Sample sizes are still small: just 304 minutes and 112 shot attempts so far this season.

I’d like to see the Wizards continue to start Humprhies and bring Nenê off the bench. The starting lineup doesn’t appear to have suffered with the change, which isn’t surprising considering how little Nenê was producing. I suspect Nenê’s production will improve going against bench bigs. And, bringing him off the bench, gives the coaching staff options at PF and C, which means they can drop Seraphin from the rotation.

Despite the loss to Boston, the week was a positive one for the Wizards. Good teams win games convincingly. They don’t necessarily have the best record in close games, because they often avoid close games in the first place. That Washington won three in a row (including the win against Miami) by double digits may be a marker of the team getting stronger.

Wizards Update: Just the Numbers

Washington_Wizards_Logo.svg

No time today, so straight to the numbers.

Well, sorta. Could we please stop imagining that Kevin Seraphin is a good or even useful NBA player? This is probably as good a defense of Seraphin as could possibly be written, and it’s still woefully misguided and erroneous in its conclusions. Seraphin may have a good hook shot, but he’s not a good scorer. He’s also a bad rebounder and a defensive liability. The Wizards may insist on playing him for some reason, but they’ll be better when they replace him with a decent NBA player.

Below is the Player Production Average (PPA) update. PPA is an overall rating stat I developed that credits players for things they do that help a team win and debits them for things that hurt the cause. PPA is per-minute, pace neutral, accounts for defense, and includes a “degree of difficulty” factor based on the level of competition a player faces while on the floor. In PPA, 100 = average, higher is better and replacement level is 45.

PLAYER GMS MPG 10-Nov 18-Nov 24-Nov PPA
Marcin Gortat 16 30.9 181 186 170 175
John Wall 16 35.3 185 180 180 168
Paul Pierce 16 26.9 140 138 165 134
Rasual Butler 12 18.5 60 131 116 128
Andre Miller 16 12.9 72 69 92 103
Garrett Temple 15 22.6 121 112 96 100
Otto Porter 15 23.2 97 106 101 95
Kris Humphries 15 17.8 46 87 90 82
Drew Gooden 11 17.4 42 40 59 78
Nene Hilario 11 27.1 108 102 68 67
Bradley Beal 7 29.4 122 63
Kevin Seraphin 15 15.1 38 13 17 12
DeJuan Blair 5 6.0 -41 -40 -40 -74
Glen Rice 5 8.6 -120 -117 -117 -117

Wizards Update: Rolling in the East

It’s good to be a Wizards fan right now. The team is 9-3, and reasonable forecasts suggest they’re probably the second best team in their conference. That the conference is historically weak isn’t their fault. The front office put together a solid, veteran squad, and the rest of the conference backed up.

So far this season, the NBA’s collective record vs. Eastern Conference teams is 111-85. That’s a .566 winning percentage, which works out to about 46 wins over an 82-game schedule.

Against the Western Conference, the NBA’s collective record is 86-112, which is a .434 winning percentage. That means about 36 wins over an 82-game schedule.

In other words, we would expect an average team facing the East to win about 46 games…which is what Basketball-Reference forecasts for the Wizards. To highlight the relative power differential between conferences, Basketball Reference predicts the Wizards will finish the season as the second best team in the East, but with an SRS (a robust and “simple” rating system that combines a team’s scoring differential with that of its opponents) that would land it 11th in the West.

But, this is a “moment in time” snapshot. The picture changes a bit with every game played. And there are still a ton of games on the schedule.

Before I get to this week’s stat update, I wanted to address a recurring sentiment I’ve been hearing from an array of Wizards fans. Basically, it’s some variation on the theme that Kevin Seraphin is having a good season or a breakout game or a coming out party or developing into a valuable reserve.

He’s not. At least not so far.

In fact, he’s playing poorly, even compared to his previous performances, which ranked him as the league’s least productive center (per minute) two seasons ago, and the second least productive center last season.

On offense, he’s shooting a good percentage this season, but continues to be a poor passer and a turnover machine. He rates as having very little defensive impact,because of his anemic defensive rebounding and rampant fouling.

The measuring stick on Seraphin is so off that one fan (who later suggested it was the beer talking) tweeted a rave about Seraphin being a revelation on a night the big fella shot 2-7 from the floor.

Here’s Seraphin’s game-by-game PPA scores for this season:

GMS MIN PPA
1 7.7 -202
2 1.9 -1003
3 22.1 184
4 13.9 -84
5 18.1 64
6 19.5 139
7 16.7 -70
8 16.1 -36
9 10.6 -36
10 23.4 83
11 13.1 -29

In PPA, 100 = average and higher is better. In 11 games, Seraphin has managed an above-average production rate twice. He’s been a net negative seven times — six, if you prefer to throw out the two-minute stint in the second game of the season.

I like Seraphin, the person. But, he’s not a good NBA player. He hasn’t become one. He’s showing very few signs of developing into one. The Wizards need to find another option as their backup center.

Below is the Player Production Average (PPA) update. PPA is an overall rating stat I developed that credits players for things they do that help a team win and debits them for things that hurt the cause. PPA is per-minute, pace neutral, accounts for defense, and includes a “degree of difficulty” factor based on the level of competition a player faces while on the floor. In PPA, 100 = average, higher is better and replacement level is 45.

PLAYER GMS MPG 10-Nov 18-Nov PPA
John Wall 12 35.7 185 180 180
Marcin Gortat 12 30.9 181 186 170
Paul Pierce 12 27.5 140 138 165
Bradley Beal 3 30.7 122
Rasual Butler 8 16.4 60 131 116
Otto Porter 11 24.4 97 106 101
Garrett Temple 12 26.8 121 112 96
Andre Miller 12 12.6 72 69 92
Kris Humphries 11 15.6 46 87 90
Nene Hilario 11 27.1 108 102 68
Drew Gooden 7 18.0 42 40 59
Kevin Seraphin 11 14.8 38 13 17
DeJuan Blair 3 3.7 -41 -40 -40
Glen Rice 5 8.6 -120 -117 -117

This week, I’ve added a column to show each of the previous PPA updates. I’ll keep doing that as long as there’s space.

Wall seems to be settling in at a very high performance level. It’s scary to think there’s still lots of room for improvement too. Seth Partnow at BBall Breakdown did a nice job of summarizing the problem with Wall’s shot selection. Improved decision-making would likely improve the PG’s individual efficiency, and give his team a much-needed boost.

I don’t see how the Wizards could have hoped for more from Pierce, who is performing at a high level in the early going this season.

Nenê suffered a plantar fascia injury to his right foot in the win over Milwaukee. While it’s not good to lose a starter, Nenê has been playing nothing like a starter. His defense shows up as a slight net positive, but doesn’t come close to offsetting his awful offensive efficiency.

Wizards Update: Still Cause for Concern

wittman & gortat

The Wizards are 7-2 to start the season, which ought to be cause for celebration. And, judging by media reports and fan reaction, that’s mostly what’s happening. So what’s wrong with me?

I’m unconvinced that the good record is particularly meaningful. This is not to suggest the Wizards need to apologize for the competition they’ve faced. They don’t make the schedule, and it’s not their fault that the East is possibly weaker than it was last season — when it was aggressively bad. All Washington can do is keep beating whoever’s on the calendar, which is what they’ve been doing so far.

But…I’m still concerned because of the way they’ve been winning. In sports, the best teams typically have the highest scoring differentials. The Wizards this season stand 11th in scoring differential at +2.22, which doesn’t sound bad except that their opponents have a collective scoring differential of -2.52. In other words, the Wizards are winning by less than the rest of the league against their opponents. At least so far.

There’s a strong sentiment that’s something like: Hey, the Wizards are winning games they should win, which is real progress for this franchise. To an extent, I agree. But, what often happens to an average team (and the numbers are suggesting the Wizards are pretty average) is that over time, they’ll lose games they “shouldn’t.” And there are a TON of games left on the schedule.

Some have pointed out that Washington has played so far without Bradley Beal, which is true but perhaps not as meaningful as some think. Beal was pretty average last season, and didn’t project to make a huge leap this year (at least not in my preseason analysis). Much of what I anticipated he’d provide has been produced by Garrett Temple and Rasual Butler thus far.

Perhaps the best reason to think Washington might be able to win 48-50 games this season is the good fortune of playing in a historically weak conference. Just six Eastern Conference teams have a positive scoring differential so far, and the sixth (Brooklyn) is us by one point total so far this season. All that said, in Basketball-Reference’s simple rating system (which combines scoring margin with strength of schedule), the Wizards currently sit 16th overall and 6th in the East. If they want to make some noise this season, they need to play better.

Below is the Player Production Average (PPA) update. PPA is an overall rating stat I developed that credits players for things they do that help a team win and debits them for things that hurt the cause. PPA is pace neutral, accounts for defense, and includes a “degree of difficulty” factor based on the level of competition a player faces while on the floor. In PPA, 100 = average, higher is better and replacement level is 45.

PLAYER GMS MPG LW PPA
Marcin Gortat 9 31.3 181 186
John Wall 9 35.6 185 180
Paul Pierce 9 27.4 140 138
Rasual Butler 5 19.2 60 131
Garrett Temple 9 31.1 121 112
Otto Porter 9 24.2 97 106
Nene Hilario 8 28.6 108 102
Kris Humphries 8 13.9 46 87
Andre Miller 9 12.9 72 69
Drew Gooden 6 19.5 42 40
Kevin Seraphin 8 14.5 38 13
DeJuan Blair 3 3.7 -41 -40
Glen Rice 5 8.6 -120 -118

The numbers show Gortat and Wall playing outstanding basketball. Both are performing at an All-Star level. Wall could push his way into All-NBA consideration, if he continues. Gortat’s PPA is currently sixth among centers behind Tyson Chandler, Omer Asik, DeAndre Jordan, DeMarcus Cousins and Robin Lopez.

Biggest improvers this week were Butler and Humprhies. Largest drop was from Seraphin, whose field goal percentage dropped while his rebounding, turnovers and fouling remained poor.