The Wizards are a bizarre, befuddling and bewildering team to root for and to analyze. They're 7-3 in their last 10 games, playing well, and yet their record stands at just 11-31.
Fans and players are talking about making a playoff run, but they're currently 14th in the conference -- just a half game ahead of the last place Charlotte Bobcats. The injury to Rajon Rondo of the 8th place Celtics would seem to create an opening, but six teams are ahead of Washington for that 8th playoff spot.
While the odds of reaching the playoffs remain remote, there is a far-fetched possibility. Over their last 10 games, the Wizards have an efficiency differential typical of a team that wins 71% of its games. If the Wizards maintain this level of play over their remaining 40 games, they'd finish with a 39-43 record. My updated projection for the record it'll take to secure the 8th spot in the East: 39-43.
While the narrative being sold is that John Wall's return to the lineup has transformed the Wizards, my analysis suggests that primary credit goes to three guys over the last 10 games: Emeka Okafor (who's been playing at the level of a top 10 player in the league); Martell Webster (playing like a top 15 player); and A.J. Price (playing like a top 50 player). Bradley Beal, John Wall and Nene Hilario round out the list of Wizards performing at a league average or better level over the past 10 games.
I'm a bit dubious about the story that Wall has made these teammates better, but I'm keeping an open mind to it. At very least, it's an issue I want to study at greater length. For now, I think it's only fair to credit these guys for playing significantly better.
Below is the weekly update of the team's Player Production Average (PPA). PPA is a statistical rating system I've developed that credits players for things that help their teams win and debits them for things that don't. It's pace adjusted, includes defense, and has a "degree of difficulty" adjustment based on the level of competition a player faces during his time on the floor.
As usual, in PPA 100 = average, higher is better, and 45 = replacement level. This time, you'll see PPA in three columns -- last week's, for the full season, and then for just the last 10 games.