I’ve not seen every single minute of Wizards basketball this year, but whenever I have, my untrained eye has shown me patterns in their play. When looking at the numbers, are my assumptions correct, or am I off base? Below are some thoughts/questions I’ve had, followed by some interesting statistics on the topic.
The Wizards live by the three and die by the three.
That phrase seems to plague the Wizards, and the numbers tend to support that. The team is shooting 45% from three in their wins and 32% in their losses. But in looking across the league, I expected them to be higher in several other three point statistics. As a team, they have the fifth highest shooting percentage in the NBA, but they are literally at the league median in terms of total three pointers made. Another trend that I guess quantifying puts into perspective: three point attempts account for just under 25% of the Wizards’ total field goal attempts, which is only the 20th highest three point attempt rate in the league (the highest belongs to the Houston Rockets at about 33%). So while the Wizards do seem to live and die by the three, they certainly don’t appear to be alone.
It seems like in every game the Wizards sleepwalk out of halftime, getting killed in the third quarter.
So this one actually stunned me. On the season, the team has only been cumulatively outscored by two points in the third quarter. The cumulative number means little if anything, but it turns out they’ve been outscored in the third only nine times this season. Can you believe that? That seems crazy to me. The second and fourth quarters are the ones that have plagued the Wizards the most. They’ve been outscored in those quarters 18 and 17 times, respectively.
Historically, the Wizards have heavy legs on the second night of back-to-backs and often lose.
Well not this season. So far, the Wizards are 6-3 in games where they played the previous day. I’m not even sure to what I should attribute this odd nugget, but it’s a reality.
Statistics on John Wall’s shooting are..interesting.
I won’t get into this too much, as Omar Ajmeri did a great job covering Wall’s shot selection in depth last week. My commentary certainly won’t discredit any of his thoughts. I echo his sentiments that Wall needs to be more aggressive and get to the free throw line more often, as he’s shooting almost a free throw less per game versus last season. While his 19.6 points per game are up a point over last season, he’s shooting only 41.5% from the field, down from 44.1% last year. He’s taking 1.6 more shots per game, which contributes to this variance, but his shot chart (see below) shows that those d*mned long twos are a major culprit, as they account for a third of his shots, where he’s shooting under 37% . The point that I found interesting is he’s shooting at a career high 31.3% clip from beyond the arc, including 45%(!) from the right side corner (That 45% is on 40 shots, so that’s a pretty good sample size we’re talking about here). I’m not mad at the uptick in threes at all, but as Omar mentions, an increased aggression to the hoop and less of those long twos will go a long way.
The Wizards sure seem to play better on the road than at home.
In terms of record, this is absolutely true, as the team is 7-9 at home and 10-10 on the road. There have been several theories on this, including that the pressure of playing in front of the home crowd gets to them and being away bands the team together better. In fact, Marcin Gortat alluded to the team being able to play more freely on the road. Oddly, though averages in a vacuum mean little, the Wizards average 97 points on the road and 99 at home, giving up 99 away from home and 99.6 at the Phone Booth. I thought briefly about their 1-13 record against teams over .500, thinking maybe most of those games were played at home. Nope. Not true. I’m not sure why the team has pulled out more victories on the road, but, regardless of the opponent, hovering around .500 away from home is a quality statistic. If they could just get things going at 7th and Fun, the team could really be on to something.
Is Trevor Ariza having the best season of his life?
Ariza Athreeza is certainly having his best season from beyond the arc, where he’s shooting a career high 39.5%, along with a career high in attempts per game. His 14.4 points per game are close to his career high of 14.9 in his first season in Houston in 2009-10, but he’s doing this on 2.5 less shots per game and two less minutes per game. His 15 points per 36 minutes is a career high, as are his true shooting percentage, effective field goal percentage, and his PER. And all this on a contract year. So again, is this his best season? You tell me.