How Wizards hope to improve their offensive efficiency

How Wizards hope to improve efficiency originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

WASHINGTON -- The Wizards last season were by some measures a fairly efficient shooting team. They were 13th in the NBA in effective field goal percentage (55%) and eighth in two-point percentage (48.5%). Their 3-point percentage lagged behind, ranking 18th (35.6%), which isn't great but still about league average.

In spite of all that, they were 21st in the NBA both in overall offensive efficiency and points per game. Offense was a net negative for the Wizards compared to the rest of the league.

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While new front office leadership could dictate much of their direction moving forward, those currently in the organization see some potential fixes.

"It would be great to have another guy that can kind of create offense for you, get downhill, collapse a defense and open things up for other players... It would be nice to find another player that can do that," head coach Wes Unseld Jr. said.

Unseld Jr. added he would like his team to create more 3-point opportunities off drives into the paint. The Wizards were not a particularly good team last year at creating off drives.

Washington was 19th in the league in drives per game (45.4) and tied for 20th in assists off drives (4.2/g), per Second Spectrum. Not only did they drive less often than other teams, but they also didn't pass as frequently. The Wizards were 26th in passes off drives (16/g) and 24th in pass percentage on drives (35.3).


Bradley Beal can't be blamed for that, at least when he was healthy. Beal was 10th in the NBA in drives per game (15.9). The problem is the Wizards didn't have another player in the top 50 with Kyle Kuzma next on the list (9.4/g). Beal was the only player on the Wizards last season to average at least one assist per game on drives.

"If you can have another player that kind of creates and gets downhill, once you ignite help that’s going to open up more of those 3-point shots. It’s not just the volume, of course, but the efficiency," Unseld Jr. said.

On that note, the Wizards were 26th in the league in wide-open shots (the defender is six-plus feet away) created last season (17.3/g). For comparison, the Oklahoma City Thunder led the NBA with roughly eight more wide-open shots per game than Washington had. That's not by accident, as they also feature the best driver in the game in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.

Unseld Jr. acknowledged that finding players who can break down defenses off the dribble can be easier said than done. It's a valuable skill and because of that, it's coveted by every team.


Unseld Jr., though, believes there are players currently on the roster who could continue to develop in that area and help the team improve internally. He didn't name names, but Monte Morris and Deni Avdija are certainly among those who could factor into that equation.

There may be another way the Wizards can up their efficiency while utilizing players they already have. As Corey Kispert explained, putting emphasis on taking more threes could help their cause.

"To a point, you can be a really, really good efficient shooting team, but with the way the NBA works now, if you get out-mathed by another team that shoots more threes than you, you’re kind of fighting an uphill battle. A lot of times, we didn’t shoot enough threes to compete in games," he said.

"The way that analytics work and that numbers work is you don’t have to shoot a higher percentage from three to compete with a team that only shoots twos. I’m not saying we need to abandon twos because we have great midrange shooters on our team, but we definitely need to shoot more threes."

Kispert may be a key to doing just that, as he was 10th in the NBA in 3-point percentage (42.4) this season but only 75th in 3-point attempts per game (5.2). Still, it is likely a personnel issue the Wizards will have to address this offseason.