Ask a Wizards fan to describe the team, and odds are he’d say the starters are pretty good, but the bench is awful. And he’d probably take a shot at Randy Wittman’s coaching — something Wittman would deserve for no other reason than the passion he’s instilling for two-point jump shots (aka The Worst Shots in the Game; or The Shots the Defense Wants You to Take).
However, an analysis of starting lineups and benches around the league suggests that these assumptions may not be accurate. The analysis used my overall player rating metric, called Player Production Average (PPA), weighted by minutes played. I ran an overall minutes-weighted PPA for each team’s most commonly used starting five, and then for each team’s bench.
PPA 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.
The league’s average starting lineup produced a PPA of 129. Washington’s starters ranks 14th overall with a 127. The average bench produced a PPA of 67. Washington’s bench ranks 15th with a 69.
I’m as surprised as you are.
I suspect that a big reason the Wizards bench rates in the middle is because of Wittman’s short seven-and-a-half man rotation. Most nights, Wittman uses what amounts to a two-man bench of Martell Webster and either Nenê or Booker (whichever didn’t start). Nenê was counted as a starter, by the way. Garrett Temple plays only long enough for John Wall to catch his breath. The rest of the squad gets spot minutes when they can.
What does this show? This is a thoroughly mediocre team — starters AND bench.
Here’s a table showing minutes-weighted PPA scores for the starters and bench of each NBA team, sorted by Starter PPA:
|TEAM||STARTER PPA||BENCH PPA||Starter Rank||Bench Rank|
A few observations:
- Only Boston and Milwaukee have starting lineups that rate below the league average PPA (100). Incredibly, the Bucks bench rates as slightly more productive than the starters.
- San Antonio has the league’s third best starting lineup AND the most productive bench.
- Oklahoma City has the fifth best starting lineup, which is downright incredible because it includes 876 minutes of Kendrick Perkins (PPA: 24).
- Minnesota is continuing its decades-long practice of not putting an adequate roster around a high-quality PF named Kevin. In years past, the “Kevin” was Garnett. The past few years, it’s been Love. The Timberwolves roll with the 4th best starters and the 5th worst bench.
- Brooklyn is kind of a reverse image of Minnesota. The Nets’ starting lineup has been bad (minutes-weighted PPA of 100 — good for third worst), but they have the league’s 2nd most productive bench.
Moving on to the Wizards’ PPA update…no real surprises.
Trevor Ariza had a good week while the rest of the team performed “about the same.” Webster’s production slipped for a fourth consecutive update — he’s now right at league average. If Washington is to break out of this rut of mediocrity, they need someone to significantly boost his production. The prime candidate would seem to be Bradley Beal, who had a terrific second half last season.