Numbers Behind The Wizards’ Defense | Wizards Blog Truth About

Numbers Behind The Wizards’ Defense

Updated: December 1, 2009
{flickr/Keith Allison}

{flickr/Keith Allison}

The Wizards aren’t particularly bad at defense, but are much further from being particularly good. They rank 20th in the league at Defensive Efficiency (points allowed per 100 possessions). At least they don’t seem as bad at defending as in the past, but clearly there’s room for improvement.

What makes this 20th ranking “not as bad” (I suppose) is that defense is not something you can’t definitively point to and say, “That’s why the Wizards are bad.” Yep, our ol’ friend defense can rest a little now that he’s out of the limelight. For a change, he can do some finger-pointing … because there are several reasons why the Wizards are 5-10.

One reason that’s been often talked about is the offensive discord of the two main stars, Gilbert Arenas and Caron Butler. Mike Prada has a piece about the statistical ills of Arenas and Butler posted on Bullets Forever. He writes:

The problem is that the two most important parts are underperforming, significantly.  Gilbert Arenas and Caron Butler have each been a shell of themselves all month, and that’s all you need to know about the Wizards this season.  It’s like saying all parts of your car are working fine … except the engine and the brakes.  If your engine and your brakes aren’t working, chances are your car is screwed.  If your two best players aren’t performing, then you’re toast as a basketball team.

Prada mostly writes about offensive struggles in his post, but Arenas and Butler are no slouches in the “Bad At Defense” category either. Just like it evidently takes a village to raise a child, it takes an entire team to play defense.

To find out which defensive areas the Wizards are lacking in as a team, let’s take a look at some …

{Defensive Numbers}

The Wizards have …

Defensive Rebound Rate (% of defensive boards they grab) of 72.8,19th worst in the NBA and below the league average of 73.4.

>> Opponents are getting second chances.

An Opponent Turnover Rate (% of opponent possessions ending in a turnover) of 12.8, 23rd worst in the NBA and below the league average of 13.8.

>> The Wizards aren’t causing opponents to turn the ball over.

Let opponents score 14.1 fast break points per game, tied for 20th worst in the NBA.

>> Fast breaks = easy chances. Why? Long shots = long rebounds.

The Wizards don’t attempt a lot of threes (15.8 per game, 8th lowest in the NBA — which is more toward last year’s rate of 14.6 per game, 25th in the NBA. In 07-08, the Wizards attempted 19.7 threes per game, 9th in the NBA, and in 06-07, 19.7 as well, 6th in the NBA).

However … the Wizards are second in the NBA in attempts from 16-23 feet per game at 31.4. Good teams don’t take a lot of long two point attempts. It’s not an efficient shot, i.e., the Magic, Rockets, Celtics, Bobcats, Suns, Lakers and Spurs are lowest (13.4) to 7th lowest (18.6) in amount of shots taken from this range per game. To add injury to insult, the Wizards are below average at making 16-23 feet shots (38.4 FG% RK #17) and having them assisted upon (54.5 Ast%, RK #19).

Bottom line, missing long shots leads to long rebounds and opponent fast break points.

{One Good Thing?}

The Wizards are doing a good job of limiting inside shots by opponents. They allow 39.3 points in the paint per game, 9th lowest in the NBA. The also allow the second fewest attempts at the rim in the league, their 21.4 opponent attempts per game only behind Boston’s 20.8. Unfortunately, opponents are hitting those shots at the rim at a 67.3% clip, second highest after Sacramento’s 67.9%. Boston only allows opponents a 59.6% at-the-rim success rate.

{flickr/Keith Allison}

{flickr/Keith Allison}

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Kyle Weidie
Founder / Editor / Reporter / Writer at TAI
Kyle founded TAI in 2007 and has been weaving in and out the world of Wizards ever since, ducking WittmanFaces, jumping over G-Wiz, and avoiding stints on the DNP-Conditioning list. He has covered the Washington pro basketball team as a member of the media since 2009. Kyle lives in D.C. with his wife, loves basketball, and has no pets.