NBA: Wizards’ shooting woes have a silver lining


There is no way to sugarcoat it. The 2021-22 Washington Wizards can’t shoot. This is arguably the most glaring weakness the team has shown throughout an otherwise enjoyable first quarter of the season.

Yes, the Wizards have had a penchant for making lines during times of crisis. Spencer Dinwiddie and Kyle Kuzma have already generated what appears to be the equivalent of a three-year clutch. But that only means that the team shot even worse during the normal ebb and flow of games.

Washington ranks 9th in the NBA in 3PT clutch percentage at 35.3%. This softened the blow from the fact that they rank 27th in regular 3PT percentage at a brutal clip of 32.2% and 29th at 3pm at just 10.3 per game.

To put that into perspective, the Wizards’ 3 PT percentage this season is just over Russell Westbrook’s (31.5%) for Washington last season. Having Russ as a shooting reference isn’t exactly ideal.

DC’s three-point defense is ALL CAPS ELITE

But as bad as they are in a three-way conversion, the Wizards are even better at preventing them.

Washington has actually made more than three (217) than their opponents (209) in 21 games this season. It’s the only team throughout the NBA whose opponents convert on less than 10 threes per game. They also force the fewest attempts (30 per game) and rank seventh in the opponent’s 3PT percentage (33.1%).

While the Wizards’ deep shots didn’t fall as if they were the Golden State Warriors, they also turned almost any rivals into a non-shooting team. It’s always a rock fight when you take on DC

In the 3-point head-to-head percentage over 21 games so far, which is essentially the best shots of three games per game, the lower-ranked Wizards are actually 12-9 against the teams they they faced.

It is telling that seven of the team’s eight losses came in games where opponents shot three more accurately. In just two wins (Raptors and Pelicans) Washington was passed by the depths and in one loss (Heat) they were more capable than the other team.

The long-term silver lining

Maybe the best 3PT prevention in the league won’t fully hold up. But a sample size of 21 games is large enough to project that this shooting deep defense will stay at least above par.

The good thing about all of this is that it gives Washington a higher cap to hit. The Wizards’ ability to defend all three balls has little to do with how well they can improve their shot.

Of the nine Washington players who have attempted at least 10 threes, seven of them are shooting worse than their mark from the previous season. The only exceptions are Spencer Dinwiddie and, by default, rookie Corey Kispert, who is a much better three-point shooter than his worst 22.5% clip would have you believe.

Three players from Bradley Beal (27.2%), Davis Bertans (22.4%) and Raul Neto (24.2%) shoot at rates that would largely erase their worst years of filming in their career. It’s hard to imagine things getting any worse than this, right? * touch of wood *

The three-way battle on both sides of the ball has been a clear barometer of success on the pitch this season. If the Wizards can start shooting at them even at a league-average rate, this team becomes that much more dangerous.

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