“Synergy” is an over-used buzzword, but it’s also a damn fine NBA statistics web site. So let’s use Synergy Sports Technology to take a quick snap-shot of some Wizards numbers to date.
This season, the Wizards’ defense has often been better than the offense. With the ball, on plays that have ended in a FGA, TO or FTs, Washington has tallied 0.89 points per possession (PPP), ranked 27th out of 30 NBA teams. They score 42.9-percent of the time and turn the ball over 13.7-percent of the time in these situations.
Washington’s overall offensive rating (ORtg – points produced per 100 possessions, which is calculated differently and likely includes other factors outside of plays that end in a FGA, TO or FTs) sits in line with these focused numbers; their 102.6 ORtg also ranks 27th.
The Wizards are particularly bad at scoring on post ups — which comes as no surprise considering the roster construction — chalking up a measly 0.70 PPP over 318 opportunities, a rate that’s ranked dead last in the league. Andray Blatche has produced 0.64 PPP on 121 post up opportunities, JaVale McGee has produced 0.66 PPP on 64 post ups, Yi Jianlian 0.50 PPP on 28 post ups … you get the point, the cupboards are bare, the well is dry and the children are starving.
In contrast, the Wizards fare above average (at least in ranking comparison) on Pick-and-Roll ball handler plays on offense, producing 0.82 PPP over 567 possessions, which is ranked 12th in the NBA. John Wall clearly needs some work in this area, producing just 0.69 PPP as the offensive P&R ball handler, which ranks 106 in the league. Kirk Hinrich, on the other hand, produces 0.95 PPP as the P&R ball handler, ranked 17th. This is simply a difference in seasoned decision-making that will eventually come for Wall.
On defense, Washington allows 0.90 PPP, which is ranked 16th in the league — clearly better than being the 27th most efficient team at scoring. Who said that Flip Saunders wasn’t a defensive coach? Wizards opponents score 42.8-percent of the time and turn the ball over on 13.4-percent of the aforementioned play types.
It’s worth noting that Washington’s DRtg (defensive points allowed per 100 possessions – ORtg and DRtg taken from Basketball-Reference.com) is tied with the Denver Nuggets in ranking 21st league-wide; they give up an estimated 109.1 points per 100 possessions.
As you probably could have guessed, the Wizards don’t fare well in defending the post either. Via Synergy, on possessions that, again, end in a FGA, TO or FTs, the Wizards have allowed 0.93 PPP over 455 post up possessions, a rate that’s ranked 27th in the NBA.
Now some individual post-up defensive numbers:
- Andray Blatche – 0.93 PPP over 72 post-up defensive possessions.
- JaVale McGee – 0.96 PPP over 100 post-up defensive possessions.
- Kevin Seraphin – 0.85 PPP over 27 post-up defensive possessions.
- Hilton Armstrong- 0.93 PPP over 43 post-up defensive possessions.
- Yi Jianlian- 0.96 PPP over 28 post-up defensive possessions.
- Trevor Booker- 1.00 PPP over 30 post-up defensive possessions.
The acquisition of veteran tricks-of-the-trade and some moxie would be welcome from this group. Seraphin’s tough presence and brute strength is a fair sight toward the future, especially when you consider that he’s barely known the organized game of basketball. He’s got so much to learn, but it’s good that his slate is relatively clean.
It shouldn’t surprise that the Wizards perform even better than average when defending individual plays instead of team plays. Against isolations, Washington allows 0.83 PPP, ranked 13th, and against spot-ups, they allow 0.97 PPP, ranked 12.
The Portland Trailblazers, overall, rank 13th in defending plays that end in a FGA, TO or FTs by allowing 0.89 PPP (compared to the 0.90 from the Wizards that ranks 16th). However, on spot-ups, the Blazers allow 1.03 PPP, ranked 22.
Are the Wizards better at closing out and contesting shooters? Or is Washington’s team defense so bad as a result of players tending to worry more about their own man, thus making the spot-up opportunities that exist for their opponents to be not as open?
How about the New Orleans Hornets? Overall, they rank fourth in defense, only allowing opponents to score 0.86 PPP. But on isolations, the Hornets rank ten spots lower than the Wizards at 23rd in the league, allowing 0.89 PPP. And it’s not like New Orleans has faced much less isolations, actually seeing more with 583 chances as opposed to 567 for Washington.
Ideally, teams would rather force their opponents into more isolation play. So under first-year coach Monty Williams, the Hornets will gladly trail the Wizards’ ability to stop individuals if their organization and coaching propels their overall defense to a top-5 unit in the league. Also worth nothing that New Orleans’ 0.93 PPP produced on offense ranks 15th in the NBA; poor offense from the Wizards coupled with their lack of awareness really puts their defense in a hole on most, if not all, nights.
These are simply numbers of a young team, a reflection of growing pains. But they’re also reflections to keep an eye on, because it’s more than just about player implementation, it’s about if those players can realize when they are making mistakes and if they’re adhering to astute coaching philosophy and a good game plan. It’s about “Synergy.”