The Washington Wizards are playing a unique brand of basketball. Despite their 3-8 record, they boast the second-highest offensive rating (113.2) in basketball, meaning they score more efficiently per 100 possessions than any other team. Yet, at the same time, they have the 29th-ranked defensive rating (115.2) and are allowing more points than anyone else (120.1/g).
It truly is a special combination. According to Basketball Reference, only one team in NBA history has ever held offensive and defensive ratings aboe 113 for an entire season, the 1981-82 Denver Nuggets. Those Nuggets actually won 46 games and made the playoffs.
So far the Wizards' defense has not been good enough to win, hence the 3-8 record. So, what exactly has been ailing their defense? Quite a bit, of course. You don't sink that low with one or two minor weaknessess.
Here is a look at their biggest problem areas on the defensive end...
Three-point shooting is important these days, in case you haven't heard, and the Wizards have not been very good at defending the perimeter. The Wizards allow the fourth-highest percentage from three (37.1) and 12.6 made threes per game. This includes shots from true long distance. The Wizards are 29th in opponent shots made from 25 to 29 feet (9.5/g) and in percentage from that range (38.1).
This is a familiar problem for the Wizards, as they had the same issue last year. This time they are 26th in total rebounding, 28th in defensive rebounding and 29th in opponent offensive rebound percentage. That has led to the fourth-most second chance points allowed.
Rebounding just isn't the Wizards' forte at this point. Thomas Bryant leads them with nine boards per game and behind him are Moe Wagner (5.6/g) and Rui Hachimura (5.5). Troy Brown Jr. (5.3) and Bradley Beal (4.7) rebound well for their positions, but all in all it hasn't been enough.
The rebounding numbers have contributed to some rough moments on the fastbreak. Though it has cooled down a bit, the Wizards are still 15th in the NBA in opponent fastbreak points per game (13.3). Before this past weekend, they were near the bottom of the league in the category and it was enough for several players to point it out independently in interviews with the media.
Any time a team struggles as badly as the Wizards have on defense, many are at fault. They aren't guarding the perimeter or protecting the rim. They are also giving up the most field goals made within 15 to 19 feet, so even the midrange is a blindspot for them.
But Isaiah Thomas has certainly stood out and not for good reasons. He is already undersized and now he is in a defensive structure that isn't build to compensate for his shortcomings. Maybe in Boston he could just divert players into traps, but the Wizards do not offer that type of backend security.
Add it all up and the Wizards are allowing 15.4 more points per 100 possessions with Thomas on the court than when he's off of it.
The best defensive teams can defend without fouling and the Wizards are not one of those teams. They are allowing teams to shoot the ninth-most free throws per game (25.8) and as a result, are giving up the sixth-most points at the free throw line (20.7/g).
Wagner is the headliner. He is third in the NBA with 7.5 fouls per 36 minutes. Jordan McRae is not far behind with 6.2 fouls per-36.
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