Wizards' inability to make threes is sinking their offense

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Chase Hughes
·3 min read
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Wizards' inability to make threes is sinking their offense originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

The Wizards' roster is not operating as it was intended to this season. They were designed to be a well-rounded team of shooters, but at the moment those shots are not falling.

They went just 9-for-34 (26.5%) from three-point range in Friday night's loss to the Knicks. It was the fifth straight game in which they have shot under 30 percent from three, their longest such streak since 2012.

That is all despite a roster that, while missing Bradley Beal, still has guys that can shoot. Davis Bertans was paid $80 million in the offseason because of his talents behind the arc. Garrison Mathews, Deni Avdija and Raul Neto are threats from long range. Anthony Gill, who rarely plays, was brought over from the EuroLeague mainly because of his shooting.

Mathews, to be fair, did go 4-for-10 from three. But Bertans went 2-for-6 and the only other Wizards to make a three vs. New York were Avdija (1-for-5) and Troy Brown Jr. (2-for-5).

As a result, the Wizards scored only 91 points, their second-lowest output of the season so far. Their 42 points at halftime were a season-low and their 64 points through three quarters were their fewest since 2018.

Certainly, the Wizards are feeling the absence of Thomas Bryant, their starting center to begin the season who was lost for the year due to an ACL injury. He is a well-rounded scorer and the most efficient player on the team. But their problems aren't limited to the center position.

Bertans' lack of production is being felt the most. After shooting 42.4 percent from three on 8.7 attempts per game last season, he's hitting just 33.1 percent this year on 7.9 attempts. Bertans averaged 15.4 points with a 59.8 effective field goal percentage a year ago, while those numbers have dropped to 10.2 and 48.9 this season.

The only regular rotation players on the Wizards who have been less efficient are Rui Hachimura, Russell Westbrook and Ish Smith. Bertans' three-point accuracy has fallen off a cliff, and without it he essentially amounts to only a decoy on offense, providing space as long as the opposing defense respects his history.

The Wizards are now 6-17, one game behind their pace from last season, but this year there were higher expectations coming into training camp. Much has transpired since, of course, including a stretch of six postponed games due to a spread of the coronavirus.

It's difficult to gauge how much that ordeal can be blamed, not only for the shooting issues but their play overall. 

Just look at the difference in these stats:

Before (11 games): 120.5 ppg (2nd in NBA), 113.6 off rtg (7th), 38.9 3PT% (7th)

After (12 games): 105.9 ppg (27th), 103.7 off rtg (30th), 29.7 3PT% (29.7)

That's a fairly big difference that can't be ignored. But how much and what specifically can be blamed on the outbreak is not easy to decipher. It's a complicated situation that left six players with positive tests, at least two who felt symptoms, and a layoff that was 13 days between games and even longer for some.

Whether all of that is having an effect, and whether it is minor or significant, we don't know. But their offense is certainly struggling, and not just because they played a good Knicks defense on Friday.