Who's to Blame for Washington's Poor 3-Point Shooting Defense? | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Who’s to Blame for Washington’s Poor 3-Point Shooting Defense?

Updated: December 16, 2015

[#WittmanFace not so good at catching balls...]

Who’s most responsible for the Wizards allowing opponents to shoot a historical (if it continues) 41.1 percent from the 3-point line?

Coaching, foremost. ‘Cause when it gets to these levels, scheme over team. But also, I’m from the “players gotta play” set, so there are fingers to point past Randy Wittman. Let’s crunch some numbers.

When Marcin Gortat is on the court, the Wizards give up 11.1 made 3-pointers per 48 minutes—this leads the team. Here’s how the on-court numbers for others fall in place:

Opponent 3PMs/48

  • 11.1 – Marcin Gortat
  • 11.0 – Ryan Hollins
  • 10.8 – Gary Neal
  • 10.7 – Otto Porter
  • 10.7 – Garrett Temple
  • 10.6 – Jared Dudley
  • 10.5 – John Wall
  • 10.4 – Bradley Beal
  • 10.3 – Ramon Sessions
  • 10.2 – Kris Humphries
  • 9.9 – Drew Gooden
  • 9.3 – DeJuan Blair
  • 8.8 – Kelly Oubre
  • 8.0 – Nene Hilario

In the big picture, there’s not a ton of difference between what the Wizards give up when Beal or Sessions play compared to other backcourt players above them. However, there is something to be said about the Wizards allowing more 3-point makes with Porter and Neal on the court. Jared Dudley could simply be ranked where he is because, when he’s in the game, he’s usually playing the 4. That can often mean the defensive scheme calls for double-teams of whomever Dudley is guarding, which can lead to more open looks and more makes by the other team. Dudley, in general, has been pretty good on defense. His on-court DefRtg of 102.8 is third-best on the Wizards after Temple (98.4) and Nene (98.0), who we’ll get to in a second. (Do note: Temple, one-on-one, is not a plus defender. He allows opponents to shoot 8.4 percent better than their season average from the floor—5.6% better on 2s and 14.2% better from deep.)

All this not-so-hot data and obvious on-the-court struggles are a reflection of coaching, rotation assignments, and execution and communication of those assignments (given they are the right strategy—what do I know? I’m a blogger). There are a couple more pieces to the puzzle. Mainly, on-court 3-point attempts allowed per 48 minutes, as well 3-point percentage. Here’s the rankings of those respective categories, worst to first:

Opponent 3PAs/48

  • 26.9 – Sessions
  • 26.5 – Neal
  • 26.2 – Beal
  • 26.0 – Nene
  • 25.8 – Temple
  • 25.3 – Gortat
  • 25.3 – Dudley
  • 25.0 – Porter
  • 24.9 – Wall
  • 24.7 – Humphries
  • 24.1 – Hollins
  • 23.6 – Gooden
  • 22.5 – Blair
  • 21.9 – Oubre

Opponent 3P%

  • 45.8% – Hollins
  • 43.9% – Gortat
  • 42.9% – Porter
  • 42.1% – Wall
  • 42.1% – Gooden
  • 41.9% – Dudley
  • 41.4% – Temple
  • 41.4% – Blair
  • 41.1% – Humphries
  • 40.8% – Neal
  • 40.0% – Oubre
  • 39.8% – Beal
  • 38.2% – Sessions
  • 31.0% – Nene

Here’s where things get slightly interesting. The Wizards allow the most 3-point attempts when the likes of Sessions, Neal, Beal, and Nene are playing, but that crew sits on the lower end in terms of 3-point percentage allowed. The percentage numbers suggest that Wall (despite steals and chase-down blocks) and Porter (length) are problems in terms of backcourt defense. Porter especially: he allows opponents to shoot 7.5 percent better than average, overall, and 11.2 percent better from 3. There are also, of course, caveats, such small sample sizes. (Kelly Oubre looks great! Maybe because he often fouls before opponents can even shoot the 3; plus he’s usually playing against the other team’s second unit.)

The main takeaway: Nene is Washington’s best interior defender and they miss him so. He needs to feel like being healthy more often. When he’s on the court, as mentioned, the Wizards allow opponents to score 98 points per 100 possessions—that’s a team best! (And below the team average DefRtg of 104.6.) In comparison, when Gortat is on the court, the Wizards allow a DefRtg of 105.3. That is very terrible. The Polish Hammer is getting tooled. He might blame the guards for allowing too much dribble penetration—which is definitely part of the problem—but Gortat is also lost without his Brazilian comfort blanket next to him. He’s nowhere near the position defender that Nene is; he lacks the lower body strength to hold position; and Gortat often finds himself under the rim and out of place. All that said, opponents shoot 12.1 percent worse inside six feet when guarded by Gortat, but 15.7 percent better from 3—and when it comes to DefRtg, every shot counts.

To put this further into the team context, we’ll conclude with good ol’ lineup numbers. Seven Wizards lineups have played 20 or more minutes together. Here are those lineups ranked by 3-point percentage allowed (with makes and attempts per 48 minutes included):

  • 61.5% — Wall, Temple, Porter, Dudley, Gortat (13.9-for-22.6)
  • 50.0% — Wall, Beal, Porter, Dudley, Hollins (10.4-for-20.9)
  • 47.1% — Wall, Temple, Porter, Humphries, Gortat (9.6-for-20.4)
  • 44.0% — Wall, Beal, Porter, Dudley, Gortat (9.8-for-22.3)
  • 38.9% — Wall, Beal, Porter, Humphries, Gortat (9.7-for-24.9)
  • 30.8% — Sessions, Neal, Porter, Dudley, Nene (9.1-for-29.4)
  • 20.0% — Sessions, Temple, Neal, Dudley , Nene (4.7-for-23.7)

Conclusion: Everyone is a problem. The whole damn system is a problem. But also: Wittman and even more so Gortat are major problems, while Porter isn’t that great and still has a ways to go before he’s a “smart” or “effective” defender. When will these Wizards learn? When will they adjust? Stay tuned. There are at least 59 more games to find out.

[All numbers via NBA.com/stats.]


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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.