The Wizards offense has dipped significantly the past week primarily due to injuries that have sidelined Bradley Beal and hampered Martell Webster. With those two limited and out of the lineup, the Wizards don't have shooters to space the floor. Without that spacing, Nene has little room to operate inside, the lane is more congested for John Wall forays to the basket and the team is left hoping that Emeka Okafor can knock down a few spot-up mid-range jumpers to loosen things up.
When Okafor's free throw line jumpers predictably clang off the rim, we're left with exchanges like this one from the Boston Celtics radio broadcasters:
Sean Grande (play-by-play man): Why does Okafor keep shooting that free throw line jumper?
Cedric Maxwell: It's there. I mean, that's the only thing I can think of. It's open. That's for a reason, but...it is open.
That "reason" -- Okafor is shooting 31.4% on jumpers this season.
Odds & Ends
Carmelo Anthony's recent scoring binge has been impressive enough that ESPN's Chris Broussard tweeted that Anthony ought to considered for second in the MVP race behind Lebron James. This is nuts. Anthony isn't even the MVP of the Knicks -- that title belongs to Tyson Chandler. Anthony's PPA has been in the 145-150 range most of the season and has leaped to 156 since last week. Chandler's PPA: 180. Lebron's: 280.
Speaking of Lebron, that 280 is the highest single-season PPA in my database, which goes back to 1977-78. The second best season was a 275, which also belongs to Lebron (2008-09). Michael Jordan's top season in PPA was a 268 in 1990-91. I expect I'll write more about this as the regular season wraps up a week from Wednesday.
The current runner-up for MVP is Chris Paul with a 250 PPA this season. That mark would rank in the top 20 seasons in my PPA database. Next is Kevin Durant (231), followed by Tim Duncan (220).
Duncan is tied for second best PPA for a 36-year old with John Stockton. The leader for a 36-year old: Karl Malone (226). Stockton, by the way, followed up that 220 season as a 36-year old with a 223 at 37 and a 222 at 38.
Wizards Player Production Average (PPA) Update
Enough with that, let's get on with the weekly PPA update. PPA is a stat I developed that credits players for things they do that help a team win and debits them for things that don't -- in proper proportion, of course. PPA is pace-adjusted, accounts for defense, and includes a "degree of difficulty" factor based on the level of competition a player faces during his minutes on the floor. In PPA, 100 = average, higher is better and replacement level = 45.
A second straight mostly status quo update. Wall continues to improve; Nene continues to dip. It would probably be smart for the team to let him begin the "rest" portion of his offseason sooner rather than later.