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Posted at 10:27 AM ET, 12/10/2010

Wizards first quarter grades, part 1

By Kevin Broom

With the first quarter of the Wizards schedule complete, it’s time for a two-part posting with some grades. No grading curve in this class — marks are assigned by simple criteria: how does the team measure up to the competition? To do otherwise ends up an exercise in silliness, sort of the NBA equivalent of saying your 10th grader may be flunking English, but he has great penmanship.

Yes, the results this season have been about as pleasant as a trip to the dentist. But, taking off the fan goggles for a moment, what did you expect? This team ain’t built for winning. GM Ernie Grunfeld laid in a smorgasbord of “this guy might be good in a couple years” types, which meant the season was always going to be mostly about creating material for my new TV special, “How to Lose NBA Games and Look Bad Doing It.” (Check your local listings.)

In part I, let’s take a look at the team-level stuff.

Team Offense: D

Washington’s offensive rating (points per 100 possessions) is 103.7, good for 25th in the league. But, they’ve been improving, and not just in the way a strip mine looks better when the workers put up a Christmas tree. Through the first nine games, the offensive rating (ortg) was 99.5. Since then, their ortg has been 105.2 (even including Wednesday’s debacle against the Kings) — still below average, but at least moving in the right direction.

Looking at the four factors, the Wizards rank 22nd in shooting, 27th in turnover percentage, ninth in offensive rebounding percentage and 20th in getting to the free throw line. The offensive rebounding should be no surprise given the length and athleticism of the front line, and that, plus the improvment, are the reasons they’re not getting an F. Their offense has been bad, but at least it's inching toward respectability.

Team Defense: F

The Wizards defensive rating (points allowed per 100 possessions) stands at 112.6, which is second worst in the league. Unlike the offense, the defense has been...umm...doing the opposite of improving. After the Wizards beat Toronto 109-94 on Nov. 16, Washington’s drtg was 107.5, which is close enough to the league average (106.8) for Wizards fans to consider holding a parade. "We're number 16...We're number 16...We're number..." Never mind.

Since that dalliance with “average,” they’ve allowed a whopping 116.4 points per 100 possessions. In four of their past five games, Washington’s opponent has posted an offensive rating higher than 120 — Toronto and Phoenix each surpassed 130.

The four defensive factors are headache-inducing — 28th in field goal defense, seventh in defensive turnover percentage (paradoxically, NOT a strong indicator of good defense), dead last in defensive rebounding percentage and 16th in sending opponents to the free throw line. Most of NBA defense can be explained by field goal defense and defensive rebounding, and the Wizards are basically the worst at both.

The defense has been disappointing given the overall athleticism and the presence of a perpetual shot-blocking machine in Javale McGee. Unfortunately, defensive lapses are rampant, rotations are atrocious, and some players are routinely overmatched by their opponent.

While some may not like Flip Saunders' zone scheme, the principles are sound and have been used successfully elsewhere. But the team has not yet learned to execute those schemes, nor have they committed to playing with the kind of effort it takes to have a good defense. Somehow, the team needs to find a way to make the other guys miss once in awhile, and then figure out how to collect that miss. Perhaps someone could interest the young'uns in an Internet tutorial?

Yeah, probably not.

Next time: First quarter player grades

By Kevin Broom  | December 10, 2010; 10:27 AM ET
Categories:  Kevin Broom, Wizards  | Tags:  Kevin Broom, Wizards  
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Next: Five Friday thoughts


Thanks for the analysis.

Posted by: IrenePollin | December 12, 2010 12:11 AM | Report abuse

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