Top 5 Things Wizards Are Good at Doing
Yes, Washington’s strength of schedule current sits at fifth-easiest in a 30-team league (Miami has had the easiest schedule so far, Indiana second-easiest, for what it’s worth). But a 9-9 record in the pitiful East isn’t necessarily a sign that Washington can’t hold its weight against most opponents on a given night. In the least, they are 7-4 against sub-.500 opponents this season; Washington was 15-20 against sub-.500 teams last season. Beating who you should beat is a significant first step.
Wizards are good at (for those who stumbled across this post via other wizardry means):
- White Beards
- Sleeves (actually, I think wizards are bad at sleeves)
WASHINGTON Wizards are good at:
- The Wizards average 23.4 assists per 48 minutes (pace adjusted), which is ranked fifth-most in the NBA. Teams ahead of Washington are all solid, playoff regulars: San Antonio Spurs (24.6 assists per 48), Miami Heat (24.4), Los Angeles Clippers (24.0), and Atlanta Hawks (23.9).
- If you are a “per possession” type of person, the Wizards average 18.0 assists per 100 possessions, also ranked fifth in the NBA. The four teams ahead are the same, but in a different order: Miami (19.2), San Antonio (19.1), Atlanta (18.6), and L.A. Clippers (18.3).
- John Wall paces the Wizards in averaging 11.9 assists per 48 minutes (pace adjusted), which is good enough for second in the NBA behind Chris Paul (15.9). The Wizards also get assists at the same per 48 minutes rate from Nene (4.3) and Bradley Beal (4.1)—not too many teams can boost a shooting guard and big man combo passing the ball at those rates.
- This bullet speaks to the prowess of Washington’s long distance offense, also to be subsequently covered. The Wizards rank third in the NBA in percentage of made 3-point field goals which are assisted (93.2%). Memphis ranks first (94.7%), Miami ranks second (93.6%), and San Antonio ranks fourth (91.7%). Top shooting 3-point shooting teams, Oklahoma City and Golden State rank, last (74.3%) and second-to-last (78.4%), respectively.
- Behind John Wall, the Wizards were built to run. Thus, they rank seventh in fast break points per 48 minutes (pace adjusted) with 16.5.
- The top 6: Phoenix (19.9), New Orleans (17.5), Oklahoma City (17.0), Detroit (17.0), Minnesota (16.9), and Philadelphia (16.6).
- The Wizards rank slightly higher (4th) in the percentage of their points scored on the break (17.0%). Top 3: Phoenix (19.8%), New Orleans ( 17.2%), and Detroit (17.1%).
- Individual Wizard fast break scorers rank about as expected: Wall (7.1 points per 48, pace adjusted), Beal (5.9), and Trevor Ariza (4.4). Amongst NBAers with at least 450 minutes under their belt this season, Wall ranks seventh-most in points scored on the break. The others: Corey Brewer (9.2 FBPs per 48, pace adjusted), Tyreke Evans (7.7), Goran Dragic (7.6), Russell Westbrook (7.5), LeBron James (7.4), and Kevin Durant (7.3).
#3) 3-Point Shooting
- The Wizards, for some reason beyond understanding, had a dearth of shooters available for Wall to pass to during his first two seasons in the league. The team finally wised up last season with the acquisitions of Beal, Ariza, and Martell Webster.
- This season the Wizards are sixth in the NBA in both 3-point makes per 48 minutes (8.9) and overall 3-point percentage (40%). Teams head of Washington in knock-downs: L.A. Lakers (10.3, 40.9%), Golden State (9.9, 43.7%), Houston (9.8, 37.3%), Portland (9.4, 41%), and Phoenix (9.2, 36.5%).
- 3-point makes per 48 minutes amongst NBAers with 450 minutes or more under their belt: Klay Thompson (4.5), Stephen Curry (4.4), Gerald Green (4.1), Jose Calderon (4.0), Kyle Korver (3.9), Wes Matthews (3.9), and, ranked seventh, Martell Webster (3.6). Ariza’s 3.5 3PMs per 48 ranks 12th and Beal’s 3.3 ranks 15th.
- 27.3% of Washington’s points now come from beyond the 3-point line, fifth highest in the NBA after the Lakers (31.5%), Warriors (29.6%), Rockets (28.3%), and Suns (27.5%).
- And as mentioned in the passing department above, 93.2 percent of Washington’s 3-point makes are assisted, ranked third in the NBA and an ideal set-up that allows shooters to simply catch, shoot, and make the net dance (as opposed to off-the-dribble, lower-percentage jacks).
- The Wizards, since drafting Wall, have long preached the creation of offense through the defense. And well, they are good at that, too.
- Washington steals the ball 8.9 times per 48 minutes (pace adjusted), which is tied with Dallas for fifth-most. Other top stealing teams: Detroit (9.8), New Orleans (9.3), Miami (9.3), and Minnesota (9.0).
- Two primary Wizards rank highly in steals per 48: Wall (2.9) and Trevor Ariza (2.7); they would rank eighth and 11th respectively amongst NBA players with 450 or more minutes under their belt. Jan Vesely, however, actually leads the Wizards in steals per 48 with 3.1.
- The Wizards score 19.1 points per 48 minutes (pace adjusted) off of turnovers, ranked third in the league after Detroit (21.1) and Minnesota (19.9).
- 19.7% of Washington’s total points scored come via turnovers, second in the NBA only to Detroit (21.2%).
- Opponents turn the ball over on 17.8% of their possessions against the Wizards. This ranks third-highest in the NBA after Miami (19.4%) and Detroit (17.8%).
- After a slow start, Washington’s defense has found a way to be increasingly disruptive and is now back on track to play like it did last year, when it finished 8th in DefRtg.
#5) Not Fouling
- Hard to believe with Jan Vesely, Chris Singleton, and Kevin Seraphin on the roster, but…
- The Wizards don’t foul that much, which is a decent sign of a disciplined defense. They commit 18.4 team fouls per 48 minutes (pace adjusted), which is third-lowest in the NBA after Minnesota (16.6) and San Antonio (16.8).
- Thus, Washington doesn’t send opponents to the free throw line much—don’t want to give up easy points. Their Opponent FTA Rate (free throws attempted relative to field goals attempted) is .244, third lowest in the league after San Antonio (.194) and Minnesota (.201).
[stats via NBA.com/stats and Basketball-Reference.com]