Short of trading additional future assets, getting lucky with a D-League pickup, or getting radical in-season improvement from one or more players currently on the roster, there just isn’t getting around the reality that this year’s Washington Wizards is solidly mediocre — at best.
I went into this week’s update on the team trying to conjure up a “modest proposal” type of post. Best I could come up with was the notion of shortening the game to 32 minutes so that teams would need to play only their top seven. And, Washington’s top seven is pretty good.
In this imaginary “top 7” league, so far this season, Washington would move up the standings a bit. According to my estimates, their top 7 would rank 4th in the East behind Miami, Atlanta and Indiana.
Overall, their top 7 rates 12th best, which sorta gives some perspective to how weak the East is so far this season. Washington’s seven best players rate as 4th best in the East, but would be only 9th best in the West.
Just to extend the silliness to its “logical” end — in this hypothetical, Washington would win a first round series against Brooklyn only to get bludgeoned in round two by Miami. The West would be a dogfight, but (if my PPA ratings held sway — and in this alternate reality, they do) San Antonio would emerge victorious. That would set up a repeat of last season’s Heat-Spurs final. Which the Heat would win.
Of course, the league isn’t going to shorten the game time anymore than it can guarantee Washington’s top seven can actually stay healthy. The bright side: a fully healthy Wizards team might be good enough to win a first round series if they can make the postseason. The downside: “fully healthy” seems like a fantasy.
To this week’s Player Production Average (PPA) update. PPA is a player rating stat I developed that credits players for things that contribute to winning and debits them for things that don’t — each in proper proportion. PPA is pace adjusted, accounts for defense and includes a degree of difficulty factor. In PPA, 100 = average, higher is better and 45 = replacement level.
No real surprises for a team that lost two of three since the last update (and barely won the third). Ariza, Wall and Gortat led the “decliners.” The “improvers” were of the awful to slightly less awful variety — Singleton getting to replacement level, Rice getting out of single digits, Seraphin becoming a bit less negative.
Sorta looping back to the “modest proposal” portion of this post, here’s another look at the Wizards this season — one that shows the hard demarcation between their top 7 and their bottom 8.