There’s a good chance I’ll be able to type these exact words in many of my Wizards entries the rest of the season: since my last update, the Wizards have a .500 record. That’s because this is a slightly below average team in a historically bad conference. And so, the team is likely to continue muddling through at around .500 — a bit worse when they play a tough patch of the schedule; a bit better in an easier stretch.
The team needs several things if it hopes to become a contender for anything more than squeaking into the playoffs:
- Better management.
- Better coaching.
- Better players.
Simple, right? It’s tough to envision a scenario where team owner Ted Leonsis replaces Ernie Grunfeld, however. The Wizards have had the league’s third worst winning percentage during Grunfeld’s tenure, yet somehow he’s remained in place. Why would Leonsis replace him now that the team is slouching towards mediocrity?
Before I get to this week’s update, I want to mention something I stumbled upon from a conversation with a fan of the team on the RealGM Wizards message board. This fan asserted that Washington’s starting lineup is “on par” with teams in the East other than Miami and Indiana. This is low bar stuff, of course, but…well…it’s not even true.
While the Wizards starters can be described as “solid,” they actually rank 4th in the East behind Miami, Indiana and Atlanta. The team’s starting five produces at a rate solidly below those three teams. Washington is “on par” with the next few teams in the East — their starters are in the same vicinity as those for Cleveland, Detroit and Toronto.
Overall, the Wizards rank 15th in the quality of its starting lineup, albeit with an aggregate production rating slightly below the league average. So, while many have correctly assessed the Wizards lack of depth as a major problem, the fact is that their starters have been mediocre as a group as well.
Here’s 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.
Trevor Ariza’s rating is basically flat from last week, but that belies his volatile week. The SF alternated awful games with highly productive ones, with little apparent reason for either performance level.
John Wall seems to have settled in at a solidly productive level, albeit one that’s well short of being worthy of the maximum contract extension he signed before the season.
Booker and Gortat continued performing as they had been in previous weeks, but both Nene and Martell Webster continued to see their production slide. With Nene, I know he’s struggling to play through an Achilles injury. The Wizards haven’t reported any physical problems for Webster, though I’m starting to wonder if there might be something there.
Vesely had a couple good games against Charlotte and New Orleans, and then a couple duds against Indiana and Houston.
Seraphin gave the Wizards a lift in their comeback against the Rockets, but was awful the rest of the week.
The team continues to have a gaping chasm at PG behind Wall. Maynor has been awful; Temple remains one of the league’s least productive players, even as he finally eased out negative PPA territory for the first time all season.