[Editor's note: This is Mohamed Abdihakim's debut for TAI. Mohamed blogs at TheHoopDoctors.com and is an editor at Hoops-Nation.com. He is currently working toward a multimedia journalism degree from Florida Atlantic University. —Kyle W.]
82games.com has made available a certain simplified metric.
Belying otherwise extensive research, “Simple Rating” (SR) provides a relatively digestible look into a player’s value on the court versus their positional counterpart. The values used in this rating are Production—”a variant of John Hollinger’s PER”—and a plus/minus unit.
…said Kevin Seraphin on draft night 2010, right before he pounded his right fist into his open left hand. Seraphin had just been selected by the Chicago Bulls 17th overall, but the Kirk Hinrich trade was widely known by then, just not official. The 20-year old from the French Guiana was chosen specifically for the Washington Wizards.
He spoke through a French translator during his press conference after being drafted. At one point, in the middle of describing his game, Seraphin busted out his English:
“Rebound, block shot, toughness … like ahh … I can…,”and that’s when he started hitting his fist.
[A John Wall jumper, original picture via the Internets.]
“I never really had to use my jumper before,” John Wall told Kevin Van Valkenberg of ESPN The Magazine earlier this fall. ”I was so much better and faster than everyone, it didn’t matter.”
Welcome to the big leagues, Junior. Wall may have been the sixth-fastest player in NBA history to 2,000 points and 1,000 assists, but he’s not a top shelf NBA product. Not yet. ESPN’s NBA Rank project, which I participated in this season (here’s the full list of voters), ranked Wall as the 55th best player in the Association. He came in at No. 40 after after his rookie season.
Wall isn’t the fastest player, either. Not according to the 11th annual, and always entertaining, GM Survey on NBA.com. The survey asks every general manager (or team president) in the league to respond to 57 questions about the best teams, players, coaches, etc. GM’s are not allowed to vote for their own team or personnel.
BRADLEY BEAL IS NOT HAVING A GOOD ROOKIE YEAR, so far.
ESPN.com’s David Thorpe recently listed Beal amongst his rookie disappointments (ESPN Insider), but concluded:
If John Wall, who is out with a knee injury, were playing next to Beal in the backcourt, things would surely get easier for Beal. It’s a great thing to look forward to. Just as the game slows down for Beal, Wall should return, and that combination suggests Beal will have a big second half of the season.
Also, Beal is just 19 years old. Much room for improvement. But how much? Let’s peel back some numbers.
Ugly is an understatement. It borders on the surreal, whatever is going on with these 0-9 Washington Wizards. In the last five-plus seasons alone, we’re up to 131 wins, 272 losses, 73 players, four head coaches, two owners, and one team president of basketball operations, Ernie Grunfeld. All the problems seem different, but they add up to one big mess.
This play from Monday’s Pacers game, as described by the Washington Post’s Michael Lee, is quite unique in itself, and captures the essence of this year’s issues:
The struggles of the starters were summed up in one play in the third quarter, when Crawford drove into the lane and flipped an air ball. Okafor jumped to get the putback, but shot an air ball over the rim. Price missed a three-pointer and then Okafor had his shot blocked by Hibbert. Fans started booing.
The Wizards Said WHAT?!
Post-Pacers Game – Nov. 19, 2012
via TAI’s John Converse Townsend
The Worst NBA Offense in a Decade?
One way to measure an NBA offense on a relatively even playing field is by Offensive Rating, which is an estimate of how many points a team scores per 100 possessions. It’s said to be an “estimate” because there’s no concrete, agreed upon method of calculating a possession.* For more, feel free to visit the glossary on Basketball-Reference.com, which has NBA possession data going back to the 1973-74 season.
What say the numbers?
The Wizards average a league-worst 94.3 points per 100 possessions, according to Basketball-Reference.com. If you do a search of the BBR database, only eight NBA teams since the 1973-74 season have had an Offensive Rating (OffRtg) below 95. The 2002-03 Denver Nuggets were the last team to do so with an OffRtg of 92.2. Juwan Howard, of all people, led that Nuggets team in scoring with 18.4 points per game; James Posey was second with a 14.1 average, and the Wizards’ own Nene—who was a rookie that season—was the third Nugget, averaging double-figures in scoring at 10.5.
This season’s Wizards also have three players averaging double-figures in points: Jordan Crawford (12.2), Bradley Beal (11.7), and Kevin Seraphin (10.1).
[Jordan Crawford... Friday practice before game day, and the night after the Saturday contest.]
By some metrics, Jordan Crawford has been the very best Washington Wizard this season. His 12.4 points per game leads the team; only one other player averages double figures for Washington: Bradley Beal and his 10.9 points per game. Crawford also essentially leads the Wiz in PER (player efficiency rating) with a 16.8 in 187 minutes of action; worth noting, however, that Earl Barron has a 30.5 PER in 24 minutes and Cartier Martin has a 20.5 PER in 41 total minutes. But of those NBAers who have tallied at least 150 minutes on the court this season, Crawford’s 16.8 PER is tied for 83rd best in the league with Indiana’s David West. Your best Wizard, everyone.
Crawford had a 14.5 PER last season, so the improvement is numerically clear. But Crawford also passes the eye test, too, thus far. Especially as of late, he’s been a more patient, a more calculated player, while still showing hints of him being him — “Steez,” if you will. The .488 eFG% (effective field goal percentage) that Crawford is shooting this year is undoubtedly an improvement over last season’s .446. An assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.35 last season has also improved to 1.68 this season. Better shooting, better passing via Crawford.
Now, Crawford’s plus/minus numbers don’t signify that he’s the best Wizard. Crawford has a plus/minus of minus-4.9 per 48 minutes, the sixth “best,” if you will, on the Wizards — after Jan Vesely (plus-7.7 per 48), Cartier Martin (plus-5.9), Earl Barron (plus-4.0), Jannero Pargo (minus-2.8), and Martell Webster (minus-4.8). But who’s going to shoot? Those guys? Pffft! Otherwise, things are looking up for ol’ J.C. — the “Crawfish” — it’s just that his team is losing. Losing to the tune of 0-8.
“It’s tough, but I think everybody’s man enough to accept the challenge ahead, and I think we will,” said Crawford after the Wizards dropped their eighth game in as many on the season against the Utah Jazz on Saturday night. And on fans booing? Read more »
Coach Randy Wittman from Washington Wizards practice on Nov. 16, 2012:
“I’d like to get to where I have a steady rotation and every night this is how we’re going to go out and play, barring injuries. We haven’t been able to do that, just through up-and-down play of individuals.
As a coach you search to try to find that right mix, and I haven’t been able to do that. We gotta get to that point where you got five that are starting, and you got a rotation coming off the bench that knows when they’re coming in. That’s what we gotta get to, that’s when you become a consistent team. We’re not even close to that right now.” —Randy Wittman
The Detroit Pistons, who were pacing the NBA in futility, crushed the 76ers in Philadelphia last night, 94-76. Detroit attacked the rim for 48 minutes and outscored Philly 42-28 in the a paint. Greg Monroe led the way with a 19-point, 18-rebound performance. That win snapped the Pistons’ eight-game skid to start the 2012-13 season, and meant that the Wizards, who fell to 0-7 in Dallas, are the last remaining winless team in the NBA. (Fun fact: The Wizards got off to the worst start in franchise history last season, going 0-8; traditions, it seems, are tough to break.)
But Randy “Rodney Dangerfield” Wittman thinks he knows why his squad is falling short of (playoff) expectations: No respect!
“For whatever reason, this team doesn’t get any respect,” Wittman told NBA.com’s Jeff Caplan. “We go to the rim and had 11 free throws. These young guys just have to make a name for themselves, and it’s just baffling some of the things that are said to me by the refs for why they don’t call it.”
Wittman didn’t stop there: “Maybe we have to send the game film everyday to the league.”
One game has turned to two games has turned to three games, and the Washington Wizards have lost them all. But you can take the losses, right Wiz fans? We’re at 266 L’s and counting over the last five-plus seasons, so I’m betting you can.
There are, however, encouraging signs, in pockets. But I’m not here to sell you magic beans of what such encouragement can sprout, just that they won’t be hot pockets (Andray Blatche/WizzNutzz reference). This Wizards team is devoid of young knuckleheads, and that is refreshing.
“We are very tough to play against,” writes Ted Leonsis on his blog. True. Although, worth noting that two hard-fought games between Washington and Boston, with Boston narrowly winning both, is probably more of an indictment of the Celtics than an endorsement of Wizards promise.
But let’s not focus on encouragement and promise. Decent performances from a couple Wiz Kids need to be built upon before the potential is elevated too much. It’s nonetheless nice that Kevin Seraphin, Chris Singleton, Jan Vesely, the relatively young Martell Webster, and Jordan Crawford have displayed some good episodes in certain instances.