Wizards Update: Two Steps Forward, One Step Back


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.


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