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By the numbers: One stat explains what went wrong for Wizards


By the numbers: One stat explains what went wrong for Wizards

Playoff hopes for the Washington Wizards are officially over. The autopsy on what went wrong with the 2015-16 season is only just beginning. From injuries to roster construction to coaching to on-court performance, plenty went wrong. Some will scream loudly for heads to roll. Others will suggest like Kevin Bacon' character in Animal House to stay calm, all is well. There are big picture points and nuanced angles and we've got the next three months to ponder it all before the NBA Draft and free agency. For now, let's focus on the basics.

The Wizards gave up too many points.

Over the previous three seasons, Washington ranked top 10 in scoring defense. The Wizards may not have been cutting edge offensively, but they proved gritty and stout on the other end. The defense more than anything else propelled back-to-back postseason berths. The struggles stopping opponents this season as much as anything led to the campaign ending far earlier than expected. 

2013-14: 99.4 points per game allowed, 8th in the NBA

2014-15: 97.8, 9th

2015-16: 104.7, 21st

Since you're wondering, here's how the scoring went over these three seasons.

2013-14: 100.7 points per game, 16th in the NBA

2014-15: 98.5, 18th

2015-16:103.7, 10th

Whenever a reporter suggested offense was the problem, Wizards coach Randy Wittman shot them down. More often than not, he was correct.

The radical shift from consistently using two big men to pace-and-space offense left less time to focus on defense during training camp. Some want to dismiss any discussion of injuries as an excuse, but the constant changing of lineups and rotations, particularly before the All-Star break, certainly hampered the flow and led to inconsistencies. Here are the defensive numbers in wins and losses.

38 wins: 97.2 points, 44.0 FG%, 31.7 3pt%

41 losses: 111.6 points, 48.6 FG%, 41.8 3pt%

Alan Anderson's never-ending injury situation turned into a punchline, but the Wizards brought the swingman in to shoot 3's and guard on the perimeter. Though not a stretch-4, Anderson has the size to battle the likes of Paul George yet also defend pure wing threats. Small sample size for sure, but on-and-off court numbers reveal a positive impact with Anderson in the game.

John Wall played in each of the opening 77 games despite a beat up body at times before he sat the last two. Could he have used a rest at some point, yes. Could the Wizards afford to sit him with so many others out? Probably not for the goal of winning that day's matchup. Did his defense diip this year? Yes. Is all of this related and did he self-medicate some by not going max on both ends in order to survive the season? Yes and maybe. Did the Wizards lose on nights Wall's defense wasn't top shelf? Often.

Again, there are plenty of factors. The power forward situation created problems on the boards. The players talked about lack of coaching adjustments at times.  The lack of creators offensively hurt the cause. If we're boiling the season down to a single factor, the once defensively stout team just gave up too many points. 

MORE WIZARDS: 10 reasons Wizards' season went horribly wrong

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Ty Lawson is playing a bigger role than anyone could have predicted for Wizards vs. Raptors

Ty Lawson is playing a bigger role than anyone could have predicted for Wizards vs. Raptors

The biggest surprise of the Wizards-Raptors series through two games, at least from Washington's perspective, has to be the fact Ty Lawson has very quickly earned a prominent role in Scott Brooks' playoff rotation.

Lawson, 30, was signed the day after the regular season and after he played much of 2017-18 in China with the Shandong Golden Stars. He did not appear in one game with the Wizards or any other NBA team during the regular season, yet he was the first point guard off the bench in Game 2.

When John Wall picked up two quick fouls, it was Lawson who got the nod, not Tomas Satoransky. Lawson ended up playing 31 minutes, more than Satoransky and fellow backup point guard Tim Frazier have earned combined through two games.

Though the Wizards had three point guards on their bench behind Wall before Lawson even signed, he has apparently surpassed them all on the depth chart. Satoransky is the most surprising, given he played quite well during the regular season.

Satoransky averaged 7.2 points, 3.9 assists and shot a team-best 46.5 percent from three. He had the highest offensive rating (124) on the team.

Lawson, though, played quite well in Game 2. He put up 14 points, eight assists and three rebounds while shooting 4-for-5 from three.

Lawson outscored four of the Wizards' five starters. Not bad for his first game.

"He did everything I knew he was capable of doing," Brooks said. "I’ve seen him do it for many, many years. He’s tough, he’s a competitor. He competes and pushes the pace. He plays defense. I liked the spirit."

Lawson provided a noticeable spark. He is still quick and aggressive with the ball, not afraid to look for his own shot, and played physical defense against the Raptors. Lawson ended the night plus-8 in the box score in a game the Wizards lost by 11.

"It’s good to see him get into a game and be able to produce for us," guard Bradley Beal said.

Given the Wizards lost Game 2 and face an 0-2 deficit in their series, it is likely that Brooks continues to alter his rotation in the coming games. He could go back to Satoransky more often, knowing he had some solid games against Toronto in the regular season, including on March 2 when he had 10 points, eight assists and six rebounds.

Satoransky could see more time at shooting guard or small forward and could play alongside Lawson. That might be Satoransky's best bet because Lawson did nothing in Game 2 to squander the opportunity.

For a team whose effort has been questioned by their head coach, Lawson's energy and urgency was noteworthy. He brought the edge of a guy playing for his NBA career, knowing a good playoff series could earn him a contract next season. 

Clearly, the way Lawson played was refreshing for Brooks given how long he kept him out on the floor. He may have come out of nowhere, but it looks like Lawson is here to stay.




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Wizards Tipoff podcast: Beal and Porter need to step up and so does the defense


Wizards Tipoff podcast: Beal and Porter need to step up and so does the defense

On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast presented by Greenberg and Bederman, Chase Hughes and Chris Miller broke down the Wizards' 0-2 deficit and how Bradley Beal and Otto Porter need to play better.

They went into the potential change in the starting lineup, why the Wizards are doing so poorly on defense and the historical odds the Wizards are now up against.

You can listen to the episode right here:

You can download the podcast on Apple Podcasts right here and on Google Play. If you like the show please tell your friends!