One Team, One Stat: Wizards lean heavily on starting five

NBA.com Global on Sep 30, 2017 03:55 PM
One Team, One Stat: Wizards lean heavily on starting five
Washington Wizards guards Bradley Beal (3) and John Wall (2) celebrate late in the second half of Game 6 of a first-round NBA playoff basketball series, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

By John Schuhmann, NBA.com

NBA.com's John Schuhmann gets you ready for the 2017-18 season with a key stat for each team in the league and shows you why it matters. Today, we look at the Washington Wizards, who got a lot out of their starters, and not much from their bench.

THE STAT

The Washington Wizards' starting lineup played 1,347 minutes together last season, 467 more minutes than any other lineup in the league.

THE CONTEXT

That volume was about both health and the quality of the Washington bench.

The Wizards' starters missed just 17 total games last season, with none of them missing more than six. Marcin Gortat was one of 17 players to play all 82. They also ranked second in minutes per game (19.5) among lineups that played at least 25 games together

The starters outscored their opponents by 8.1 points per 100 possessions, the ninth best lineup among 46 lineups that played at least 200 minutes together. And they started strong; The Wizards were the best team in the first six minutes of the first quarter, outscoring their opponents by 14.4 points per 100 possessions in the first half of the opening period.

 But they were outscored in the last six minutes of the first quarter and the first six minutes of the second. The Wizards played at the level of the sixth worst team in the league (minus-5.2 per 100 possessions) when John Wall and/or Bradley Beal were off the floor.

They ranked 28th in *aggregate bench NetRtg before the All-Star break. After the break, with the addition of Bojan Bogdanovic and the return to health of Ian Mahinmi, the Wizards ranked 10th in aggregate bench NetRtg. The bench didn't really build on leads, but it didn't give them up so easily either.

* Aggregate bench NetRtg = Pace-adjusted plus-minus for all reserves, weighted by minutes played.

But the bench was again a big problem in the playoffs. All five starters had a postseason plus-minus of plus-27 or better, but the Wizards were outscored by 14 points per 100 possessions with at least one reserve on the floor over their 13 games.

Kelly Oubre Jr.'s minus-112 was the worst raw plus-minus in the playoffs by a wide margin and the worst postseason plus-minus in the 21 years for which we have the stat.

The Wizards matched Brooklyn's $107 million offer sheet to Otto Porter this summer to keep the starting lineup together. But their lack of financial flexibility prevented them from adding quality depth. They had to visit the bargain bin to add Tim Frazier, Jodie Meeks and Mike Scott.

Further development from Kelly Oubre Jr. could certainly help. But for the Wizards to take a real step forward, they'll need at least one of those reserves to outplay their contract, because it's unlikely that the starting lineup will be as healthy as it was last season.

Markieff Morris is already set to miss more games than any Wizards starter missed last season. Recovering recovering from a sports hernia, he's out until early or mid-November.

WIZARDS NOTES - GENERAL

1. 49 wins were the most for the Bullets/Wizards since they made back-to-back trips to The Finals in the late 70s. Only the Clippers (who have never been there) have gone longer without a trip to the conference finals than Washington, which hasn't been there since '79.

2. Last season was the first time the Wizards were an above-average offensive team (scoring more points per 100 possessions than the league average) since the 2007-08 season. They haven't been an above average team on both ends of the floor since '97-98.

3. Have been outrebounded (having a rebounding percentage less than 50 percent) in 13 of their last 15 seasons.

4. Recovered 7.9 loose balls per game, most in the league.

5. A league-leading 55 of their games were within five points in the last five minutes. That was the most "clutch-time" games any team has played in a season in the last eight years (since the Pacers and Pistons played 56 in the 2008-09 season).

6. Were one of two teams (Golden State was the other) that was undefeated at home in the playoffs. Went 6-0 at home and 1-6 on the road.

WIZARDS NOTES - OFFENSE

1. Scored 5.5 more points per 100 possessions than they did in 2015-16. Only Denver (7.3) and Houston (6.3) had bigger increases in OffRtg.

2. One of four teams (Cleveland, Golden State and the Clippers were the others) that ranked in the top 10 in field goal percentage in the paint (10th), from mid-range (third), and from 3-point range (eighth).

3. Ranked 29th in both passes per game (264.9) and passes per possession (2.67). In both cases, only Oklahoma City averaged fewer.

4. Threw 11.8 outlet passes per game, most in the league, according to SportVU.

5. Shot just 31.7 percent (13th) from 3-point range in the playoffs, down from 37.2 percent (eighth) in the regular season. That was the biggest drop-off among playoff teams.

WIZARDS NOTES - DEFENSE

1. Allowed more points per 100 possessions than the league average in Scott Brooks' first season in Washington after allowing fewer than the league average in each of Randy Wittman's four full seasons as head coach. Brooks had top-10 defenses in four of his six full seasons in Oklahoma City.

2. Ranked third in opponent turnover rate, and have been in the top five in three of the last four seasons.

3. Allowed only 1.02 points per possession in transition, the best mark in the league.

4. Ranked 27th defensively after the All-Star break, allowing 110.7 points per 100 possessions, which was 5.7 more than they allowed before the break. Only Memphis (+6.0) saw a bigger increase in DefRtg after the break.

5. Opponents shot just 75.1 percent from the free throw line, the lowest mark in the league. The season before, their opponents had the fifth highest mark (76.9 percent) at the line.

WIZARDS NOTES - LINEUPS

1. Starting lineup's 282 3-pointers were 100 more than any other lineup made.

2. Lineup of Wall, Beal, Oubre, Porter and Gortat outscored its opponents by 17.4 points per 100 possessions, the third best mark among the league's 46 lineups (best among non-Warriors lineups) that played at least 200 minutes together. It forced 19.0 turnovers per 100 possessions, the most among that same group. It was used in only two of the Wizards' 13 playoff games.

3. Outscored their opponents by 6.1 points per 100 possessions in 2,362 minutes with both Wall and Beal on the floor, and by 1.5 points per 100 possessions in 322 minutes with Beal on the floor without Wall. But they were outscored by 7.1 points per 100 possessions in 474 minutes with Wall on the floor without Beal and by 6.7 points per 100 possessions in 810 minutes with neither on the floor.

4. Before the break, they had the league's third worst aggregate bench NetRtg at minus-5.8. After the break (and trading for Bojan Bogdanovic), they had the league's 10th best bench NetRtg at plus-0.4. But in the playoffs, their bench NetRtg was minus-15.5.

WIZARDS NOTES - INDIVIDUAL

1. Bradley Beal had an effective field goal percentage of 64.8 percent in the first quarter, the best mark among 96 players who took at least 200 first-quarter shots. He also had the fourth best fourth-quarter effective field goal percentage (minimum 200 FGA).

2. Tim Frazier was the only player to record a triple-double off the bench last season.

3. Marcin Gortat led the league with 6.2 screen assists per game. On the other end of the floor, he was the screener's defender on 1,769 ball screens, most in the league.

4. Opponents shot 57.7 percent at the rim when Gortat was there to protect it. That was the worst rim protection mark among 33 players who defended an average of six shots or more at the rim in at least 40 games.

5. Otto Porter had an effective field goal percentage of 60.6 percent last season, the second best mark among non-centers who attempted at least 500 shots, behind only that of Kyle Korver (62.1 percent). Porter (48.1 percent) and Beal (47.9 percent) ranked second and third in mid-range field goal percentage among 70 players with at least 200 mid-range attempts.

6. Porter turned the ball over on just 4.3 percent of his possessions, the lowest rate among players who averaged at least 20 minutes in 40 games or more.

7. Jason Smith (122-for-240) was the only player in the league who shot 50 percent or better on at least 200 shots from outside the paint. Over the last five seasons, he has shot 47.2 percent from mid-range, the sixth best mark among 117 players who have attempted at least 750 mid-range shots over that time.

8. John Wall led the league in both total deflections (299) and loose balls recovered (130).

9. Wall also led the league with 44 clutch-time assists, 13 more than any other player. He assisted on 29.5 percent of his possessions, the highest rate among the 45 players with a usage rate of 25 percent or more. His 245 assists to Beal were the most any player had to a single teammate last season. He was also one of three players who surpassed the previous record for most assists on 3-pointers (Steve Nash's 234 in 2004-05), recording 288. James Harden set a new record with 368 and LeBron James finished second with 349. Wall's 288 went to 12 different teammates.

10. Wall and Kelly Oubre Jr. scored 25.6 percent and 25.0 percent of their points on the break, the highest and third highest rates among players who averaged at least 20 minutes in 40 games or more. Wall took 25.1 percent of his shots in the first six seconds of the shot clock, the fifth highest rate among players with at least 300 total field goal attempts.

John Schuhmann is a staff writer for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.

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