It's Just Preseason But These Stats Still Happened — Let's Get Wizard | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

It’s Just Preseason But These Stats Still Happened — Let’s Get Wizard

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Updated: October 25, 2016

The NBA season kicks off tonight with three games: a TNT double-header featuring New York at Cleveland at 7:30 and San Antonio at Golden State at 10:30, as well as Utah at Portland at 10 pm. Wednesday will bring a slate of 10 games but the Wizards won’t tip off until 7:30 p.m. ET on Thursday in Atlanta.

Leading up, let’s take a gander at some preseason stats (via NBA.com/stats) that could range anywhere from meaningless to impactful. Salt grains for your meal of pixels: John Wall, Otto Porter, and Markieff Morris each missed two games this preseason, and the starters began just one game together: the last versus the Raptors, when they looked pretty damn good together—plus-26 in nearly 21 minutes.

Washington Wizards v Brooklyn Nets

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+ Washington posted a preseason Offensive Rating of 102.4, ranked 8th amongst NBA teams and putting them after the top-ranked Rockets (111.1), then Warriors, Raptors, Kings, Knicks, Pacers, and seventh-ranked Heat (103.2).

Defensively the Wizards allowed 96.4 points per 100 possessions, ranked 11th-fewest (midrange), but still giving this team a top-five NBA preseason Net Rating of plus-6.0.

Much of the lead-up sermon to the real season has been about defense, but if you read the roster construction tea leaves, Ernie Grunfeld and Scott Brooks’ team is planning win games in the scoring column — more than Randy Wittman tried to in the past, we’ll add.

But then: The Wizards averaged the second-most shot attempts from “Midrange” (26.1) after the Mavericks, and they shot 37.7 percent from there, tied with Oklahoma City for 11th-best.

Now, cover your eyes if you vehemently believe that “mid-range” is a dirty word… The ratio of Wizards field goal attempts from certain areas this preseason:

  • Restricted Area: 31.2%
  • Midrange: 29.3%
  • Above the Break 3s: 20.6%
  • Paint Non-RA: 13.1%
  • Corner 3s: 5.3%

And last season:

  • Restricted Area: 31.2%
  • Midrange: 27.9%
  • Above the Break 3s: 20.6%
  • Paint Non-RA: 12.7%
  • Corner 3s: 7.3%

We definitely know that we won’t be getting the exact same offense as Randall Wittman’s but … just interesting. Still: Corner 3s down, midrange up. It’s only preseason, right?

Also worth noting: Last season the Wizards averaged 18.4 fastbreak points per 100 possessions. This preseason that’s down to 11.5. Maybe Brooks is trying to get his crew to crawl with a new system before they run … but Brooks also arrives with the reputation of playing it safe and eschewing creativity with his offense. Will that translate to slowing down the one of the fastest players in the NBA with the ball?

+ John Wall (6.6) and Bradley Beal (4.2) combined for 10.8 free throw attempts per 100 possessions this preseason, better their combined 6.6 last season (4.6 from Wall, 2.0 from Beal). Improvement, but I gather from Brooks’ offseason comments that he wants those numbers pushed even higher. (We all do, and have for years now.)

+ Kelly Oubre committed 4.4 fouls per 100 preseason possessions, better than his rookie year rate of 5.6. Cause for concern comes with these preseason rates: Ian Mahinmi (12.1 !!), Daniel Ochefu (7.4), Markieff Morris (5.9), Jason Smith (5.5), and Marcus Thornton (4.6). High foul rates is normally an indication of inexperience, lack of natural skill, or just sheer laziness and ineptitude—just look at these rates from last year: Jared Dudley (13.2), Drew Gooden (9.3), and DeJuan Blair (8.9). Yea, yea, it’s just preseason but the Wizards are counting on some of those names too much for them to be a negative on defense … then again, this list of names is no surprise, either.

+ Turnovers per 100 possession: Wall’s preseason rate of 5.8 is down 1.5 from last season and Beal’s 1.9 preseason rate is way down (3.7 below last year’s rate). Otherwise, a similar cast as the foul-committing crew up above led the way in giving the ball away—Thornton (6.3), Mahinmi (3.6), and Morris (3.2). That just doesn’t bode well for boding well.

Whatever Scott Brooks is trying to employ in his defensive mindset has particularly worked in two areas: limiting opponent points after turnovers (15.3 in the preseason, only Indiana and Toronto allowed less), and and second-chance points (9.9, sixth-fewest amongst NBA teams).

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Ted Leonsis has posted a new blog item, “Did You See This Coming?

The pertinent excerpt:

“We had zero draft picks this off season. We start the season with four rookies on the squad. How? [ … ] Three undrafted players who played four years in college and one player chosen in the second round and stashed in Europe. Net net, our team is much younger, deeper, bigger and hungrier.”

So to the question at hand: No, no one ‘really’ saw this coming because of the Ernie Grunfeld M.O. that the franchise was seemingly been saddled with for years — often cobbling together have-been, end-of-the-bench veterans to help fill the gaps because—and it’s an almost fact— they could be more relied upon than a young rookie … instead of doing more mining for diamond-in-the-rough younger players who might turn out (or just rolling with talent like, say, Jordan Clarkson instead of getting grabby over a few million dollars). Winning franchises like the Spurs and Heat have been able to do it. The Wizards? Not so much.

Did we see this coming? Well, the laggards on the ol’ technology adoption life cycle—you see them coming, eventually. Or you hear them coming, kicking and screaming. So with a new coach, Brooks, who embraces player development more than the over-stayed-his-welcome Randy Wittman—seemingly always X-ing and O-ing against extinction—did we see this coming … the Wizards keeping all their undrafted rookies signed on draft night?

As I wrote after the last preseason game versus Toronto:

“…why pass up a chance to triple-down on not having a first round pick (Markieff Morris trade) and not having a second round pick (Kelly Oubre trade) to say: hey, look at us and rookies, excuse me while I player development and Dougie?”

The real ‘did you see this coming?’:

Three Arena Football League teams are ceasing operations (L.A., Portland, and Orlando) and two are defecting to another arena league (Jacksonville and Arizona), leaving the AFL currently with just four teams, including the Washington expansion franchise Leonsis invested in, heading into next season, which begins in April. Having a D-League affiliate that could be moved to the District when the new practice facility opens would have been nice, instead.

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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.