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State of the Wizards: By the numbers, how the defense has slipped since the All-Star break

State of the Wizards: By the numbers, how the defense has slipped since the All-Star break

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Defense has slipped - The Wizards have been exceptionally streaky since they returned from the All-Star break on Feb. 24. They have played 15 games and hold an 8-7 record in them, yet during that stretch had a five game winning streak and now have lost four of their last five games. That five-game streak was their second-longest of the season, while their four-in-five slump is their worst since Nov. 19.

Since the All-Star break, the Wizards have seen both extremes. But this much is clear: after entering the break winners of 18 of their last 21, they have leveled out to mediocrity in the four weeks since. 

As for why that is, defense seems to be the common theme. The Wizards have struggled offensively in their last two games, but they are scoring more since the break (111.3 ppg) than they were before (108.1). 

As John Wall explains, it's defensive problems that have made their offensive issues more glaring lately:

"When we're not making shots, we need to play with that same defensive intensity. We need to figure it out and do that," he said "When you're not making shots, you have to defend at a high level and that's what we have problems with sometimes."

Just about every stat will tell you that the Wizards have not been nearly as good defensively after the break than they were before. Here are a few for comparison:

Before All-Star break                                       After All-Star break

9th in def. rating: 105                                       26th in def. rating: 109.9
12th in opp PPG: 105.3                                    28th in opp PPG: 112.4
17th in opp FG%: 45.7                                     28th in opp FG%: 48
​10th in opp 3PT%: 35.3                                   30th in opp 3PT%: 40.3
8th in opp fastbreak pts: 11.7                           19th in opp fastbreak pts: 14.1
12th in opp paint pts: 42.5                                16th in opp paint pts: 44.7
11th in opp RPG: 42.7                                      24th in opp RPG: 45.8

(rankings are out of 30 NBA teams)

As you see, there have been some major drops. The Wizards were top 10 in defensive rating, but in their last 15 games are bottom five. They were 12th in points allowed, but since the break are third-worst among all teams.

Guarding the three-point line has been a huge issue. The Wizards were 10th in opponents three-point before the break, but since are dead-last. Opponents are shooting 40.3 percent against them. For a comparison, that's better than Stephen Curry (40%), Ryan Anderson (39.7%) and Kyrie Irving (39.3%) are shooting this season.

That's dreadful and it doesn't bode well for their upcoming road trip against teams like the Cavs, Warriors and Clippers who rank second, third and fourth in three-point percentage, respectively.

Here's how the Wizards stack up individually in defensive rating before and after the All-Star break:

Before All-Star break                                       After All-Star break

Markieff Morris 102.3                                        Jason Smith 103.3
Bradley Beal 103.5                                             Ian Mahinmi 104.7
Otto Porter 104.3                                                Brandon Jennings 108.8
Marcin Gortat 104.5                                           Kelly Oubre, Jr. 109
John Wall 104.6                                                  Bojan Bogdanovic 109.5
Kelly Oubre, Jr. 105.2                                        Bradley Beal 109.6
Jason Smith 108                                                 John Wall 110.4
Ian Mahinmi 113                                                Markieff Morris 111.2
                                                                            Otto Porter 112
                                                                            Marcin Gortat 113.7

Defensive rating doesn't tell the whole story of course, but it is noteworthy that just about everyone is worse except Smith and Mahinmi. Collectively, the Wizards have struggled on that end of the floor and it has resulted in losses to lesser teams like the Sixers, Timberwolves, Mavericks and Hornets.

There are numerous reasons why the Wizards have taken a step back defensively and it's probably a confluence of factors. For one, they have had to adjust their lineups with the additions of Bogdanovic and Jennings to the mix. Mahinmi returning from injury has affected the minutes and role of guys like Gortat and Morris. One could also look at the schedule and how difficult the travel and back-to-backs have been. Wall has also been dealing with a sore foot, while Morris has missed games due to illness and has had a sore left thigh, as well. Ask head coach Scott Brooks and he will usually point to focus and commitment.

The Wizards still have time to figure it all out with 12 games left, but eight of those are on the road. And up ahead is their most difficult road swing of the season. The playoffs are getting closer and closer and clearly the Wizards need some work on defense before they begin.

[RELATED: Here's how the Wizards can correct course with 12 games left]

Eastern Conference standings

Stat line of the week: John Wall 3/17 vs. Bulls - 14 points, 20 assists, block, steal, 5-for-6 FT

[RELATED: NBA Power Rankings: Top teams looking vulnerable]

Quote of the Week

"He said he would come to D.C."

- John Wall on DeMarcus Cousins' thoughts before he was traded to the Pelicans

Tweet (or Instagram) of the Week

Schedule at a glance

Mon. - 110-102 loss at Celtics
Tue. - OFF
Wed. - 8 p.m. vs. Hawks
Thu. - OFF
Fri. - 7 p.m. vs. Nets
Sat. - 7:30 p.m. at Cavaliers
Sun. - OFF

[RELATED: VIDEO: Ref appears to trip Bogdanovic, then call turnover]

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Michigan's Moritz Wagner could be Wizards' solution for a stretch-five

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USA Today Sports Images

Michigan's Moritz Wagner could be Wizards' solution for a stretch-five

The pre-draft workout process can be an exhausting journey for players, with so many flights, hotel rooms and NBA arenas that they can all blend in together. Michigan big man Moritz Wagner, though, may have felt a sense of comfort in Washington for his pre-draft workout for the Wizards on Wednesday.

It was just over a year ago that his Michigan Wolverines cut down the nets at Capital One Arena as champions of the Big Ten conference.

"It was good memories, man. Never gets old," he said while glancing around the stadium.

Wagner, 21, will be seeing a lot more of Capital One Arena once he joins the NBA ranks and it is conceivable he ends up in Washington. They hold the 15th pick in the first round and the 44th pick in the second round and Wagner could be within their reach.

Wagner had an impressive workout in Washington and could provide what the Wizards need. He is a big, mobile and can spread the floor. Wagner was terrific at stepping out to hit threes off pick-and-rolls at Michigan and that ability would work well with Wizards All-Star point guard John Wall.

Wagner measured in at just under 7-feet at this month's NBA Combine, fifth-tallest among those who attended. He averaged 14.6 points as a junior this past season and made 39.4 percent of his threes on 4.1 attempts per game.

With three years of college experience and an NBA-ready jumper, Wagner believes he can step right in and help the Wizards.

"I think what we did at Michigan, sharing the ball and playing as a team, very organized basketball, that can help big-time," he said. "It's basically pro basketball I was playing on a different level."

As Wagner will tell you, he is very confident in his abilities. He is comfortable in his own skin and that includes openly discussing his faults. He feels good about his ability to score at the next level. Defense is where he needs to prove himself.

Despite his size, Wagner wasn't much of a rim protector in college. He averaged just a half-block a game as a junior. The Wizards need rim protection badly and he likely would not provide that.

Wagner, though, believes he can bring more to the table defensively than the numbers would suggest.

"I think I've been an offensive guy all of my life, but the more that you mature as a player, you understand that both sides are important. Without defense, you aren't going to play at any level," he said.

"I think the most important thing that I wasn't able to show in college is that I'm able to switch the ball-screen, especially with the way the league is going. Switch on everything and stay in front of guards as a big guy."

Wagner is from Germany and looks up to Mavs legend Dirk Nowitzki, who is entering his 21st season and will be in the Hall of Fame someday. Nowitzki's game has always been built around shooting and, though he developed into a decent shot-blocker in his prime, was never an elite rim protector.

Wagner hopes to follow in his footsteps playing a similar style.

"He was my MJ. He kind of shows you 'okay, this is possible and this is doable.' It's just basketball," Wagner said. "It gives you a lot of hope. It gives you a lot of belief and motivation."

Hear more from Wagner in his one-on-one interview with Chris Miller in our latest Wizards Tipoff podcast. His interview can also be found in the video above:

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Bradley Beal receives zero All-NBA votes, which itself is a snub

Bradley Beal receives zero All-NBA votes, which itself is a snub

On Thursday the NBA revealed the All-NBA teams for the 2017-18 season.

Not surprisingly, Bradley Beal and John Wall did not make it to one of the three five-player teams. Of the two superstars, only Wall has been recognized once in his career.

What is surprising is that neither Beal nor Wall received a single vote in the whole process, especially Beal.

The 2017-18 season was without question the best in Beal’s career. He played in all 82 games, coming right off of the heals of his All-Star recognition. Beal seems to agree in his snubbing, tweeting this minutes after the teams were announced:

Looking at the list of players who made the top three teams, it shouldn’t be an issue, but these three guys got more votes than the Wizards' duo combined: Steven Adams, Trevor Ariza, and Dwight Howard. It is not surprising that Beal and Wall did not make an All-NBA team. It is odd that Beal didn’t receive a vote.

Here is a list of the full All-NBA Teams:

ALL-NBA FIRST TEAM: 

LeBron James (Cavaliers), James Harden (Rockets), Anthony Davis (Pelicans), Damian Lillard (Trail Blazers), Kevin Durant (Warriors)

ALL-NBA SECOND TEAM:

Giannis Antetokounmpo (Bucks), Russell Westbrook (Thunder), Joel Embiid (76ers), LaMarcus Aldridge (Spurs), DeMar DeRozan (Raptors)

ALL-NBA THIRD TEAM:

Stephen Curry (Warriors), Victor Oladipo (Pacers), Karl-Anthony Towns (Timberwolves), Jimmy Butler (Timberwolves), Paul George (Thunder)

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