Opening Statements: Wizards vs Pistons, Game 60 | Wizards Blog Truth About

Opening Statements: Wizards vs Pistons, Game 60

Updated: February 28, 2015

Teams: Wizards vs Pistons
Time: 7:00 p.m. ET
Venue: Verizon Center, Washington, District of Columbia
Television: CSN
Radio: WFED-AM 1500/WTEM-FM 99.1
Spread: Wizards favored by 4 points.

What comes after a must-win? Who knows. The Wizards are beyond that territory. They are in ‘let’s just try to be professionals and play basketball’ mode, whatever that means for them at this stage.

Losers of six straight and 11 out of 13, the Wizards know that whatever they need to change starts on the court and it starts in one game. No coaching move or free agent signing is going to help them right now, nor should it be reasonably or rationally expected that a drastic change with 23 games left will even be a good thing at this point of no return in the season. Save it for the offseason. I will say this: Some closely familiar with the team and the locker room are surprised by how up-beat and positive the environment has been, all thing considered. Wizards fans might be panicking, national pundits might be circling bloody waters, but the Wizards are not. Yet.

Otherwise, Bradley Beal (after an eight-game absence) and Paul Pierce (two-game absence) will return to the court tonight versus Detroit, and both will be in the starting lineup. Let’s get into some basketball concepts and stats before the game…

In the five games since the All-Star break, all losses for the Wizards, John Wall has attempted 20 percent of the team’s field goals, and Nene and Gortat have combined for 22.5 percent. Now, I can’t speak on whether these ratios are good or ideal or intended, but especially with Beal out (and Pierce for a couple games), one would think that Washington, a team with two traditional bigs, would try to get them the ball more for points. Of course, without 3-point shooting to spread the floor, opposing defenses will pack the paint. That does not make the 14 total attempts between Gortat and Nene in Philadelphia on Friday night any less baffling.

Randy Wittman, before the game, on if they need to get the bigs more touches:

“Yes, but then they got to do something with the touches. We’ve got to have guys that when the opportunity is there to take advantage of those opportunities, too. I feel that it’s always important for us, especially in transition, that’s the easiest time to attack on the inside, when you don’t have a layup, you don’t have a 3-point shot, to pound inside … the defense isn’t set. We can do a better job of that, and then our bigs got to do a better job of making something with it.”

Statistics, for sure, are not certain, but they are a starting point. Pick-and-roll (P&R) action is a staple of the NBA, so where do John Wall, Nene, Marcin Gortat, and the rest of the Wizards stand?

Synergy play-tracking data, now available via, gives us a glimpse of the environment. One capture tracks P&R from the perspective of the ball handler and the roll man. This particular statistic, however, is not complete in that publicly available data is only tied to whether the ball handler or roll man ends the possession with a shot attempt, a trip to the free throw line, or a turnover. It does not necessarily give us an idea of what secondary action is created passing out of initial P&R action—by the ball handler or roll man.

Synergy also tracks general screening action (down screens, curls, fades, etc.), as well as screen/ball hand off action (what you see Nene or Gortat do with Bradley Beal so much). We are, for purposes of this exercise, going to focus on the ball handler/roll man P&R action category.

The data: 

  • Washington is 15th in the NBA in frequency of possessions that feature P&R action for the roll man (6.9%). The Wizards score 0.95 points per possession (PPP) on these play, tied with three other teams for 16th-best in the league.
  • Washington is 23rd in the NBA in frequency of possessions that feature P&R action for the ball handler (13.6%). The Wizards score 0.70 PPP on these plays, ranked 27th in the NBA.
  • Combing data from roll man and ball handler action, the Wizards ranked 13th in the NBA in frequency (22.3%) and 25th in PPP (0.79).

Not the best reflection here, especially for the ball handler (we can get into Wall’s specific stats in a later post).

I asked Wittman where he thought the Wizards stood in terms of their P&R frequency and if that needs to increase:

“I don’t know what the … you’re going to have to ask the analytical guys. I don’t know what the percent is. We use it a lot.

“Again, you’ve got to have the guys that can run the pick-and-rolls, too. Obviously with Brad (Beal) being out takes away a guy, Paul (Pierce) being out takes away a guy that has the ability to put the ball on the floor and get into a seams off pick-and-rolls. That hurt us a little bit, no question. So that frequency should be more obviously now that we have those guys back.”


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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 currently lives in Brooklyn, NY with his wife, loves basketball, and has no pets.