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Grunfeld and Leonsis Have Built Best 3-18 Team In League History


Sat down to write my weekly stat update on the Wizards and figured I'd start with something about how they rank in terms of historical ineptitude. And then was startled to find that, at least according to the Simple Rating System at Basketball-Reference, Charlotte has overtaken Washington for the league's most feeble team.

Just to steal my own thunder for tomorrow's power rankings, the Wiz haven't passed the Bobcats yet. But still, not being worst on somebody's list is good, right?

Just to dampen all enthusiasm for this line of thinking, the closing of the margin at the bottom has nothing to do with Washington getting better. In fact, in my power ranking they're a little farther from the top than they were a week ago. Their gain at B-R is because the Bobcats got worse.

Even so, let's take that walk down memory lane. Going by record, this is the worst start in franchise history. A quarter of the way through the season, they're 3-18. They've started a season 4-17 five other times, including last year. In fact, three of their eight worst starts have been in the past three years -- all teams constructed by current general manager Ernie Grunfeld.

In terms of scoring differential, this year's squad is "only" the 8th worst in franchise history. The top four includes the teams from the preceding two seasons. So, by scoring differential, three of the franchise's eight worst teams have played ball in the past three seasons. And all of those teams were assembled by current general manager Ernie Grunfeld.

By my count, this year's Wizards are the 17th team to start a season 3-18. Of that group, Washington has the smallest scoring differential. So, I guess it stands to reason that Grunfeld and owner Ted Leonsis have constructed the best 3-18 team in NBA history. 

In terms of historical suckitude, this year's team is tied for 89th worst scoring differential over their first 21 games. Not quite sure how to turn that one into a cheer.

At any rate, let's look at the individual numbers for the players who have helped the team to these lofty heights in the annals of the NBA.

As usual, the number reported is my own per minute statistical rating system, which I call "Player Production Average" (PPA). It rewards players for doing things that contribute to winning and penalizes them for things that contribute to losing -- each in proportion to what causes teams to win and lose.

As usual, 100 = average, higher is better, and 60 = replacement level.

Nene 10  21.2  132  153 
Emeka Okafor 21  21.6  116  116 
Cartier Martin 13  16.7  117 115 
Trevor Ariza 15  25.1  101 101 
Earl Barron 8.3  107 93 
A.J. Price 17  27.8  84 84 
Trevor Booker 24.1  83 83 
Jordan Crawford 21  28.0  106 83 
Martell Webster 20  24.3  99 83 
Bradley Beal 21  29.0  66 61 
Shaun Livingston 13  17.8  46 47 
Kevin Seraphin 20  25.2  52 44 
Chris Singleton 21  19.8  48 30 
Jan Vesely 16  11.9  -9 -14 
Jannero Pargo 14.6  -63 -63 

Honestly, this is about as depressing an update as I've done this season. Nene had a good week, but everyone else continued to perform basically as they'd been performing with the exception of Crawford, Webster and Singleton -- all of whom got worse.

The team keeps peddling the young players as the future, but they're playing badly and aren't showing signs of improvement.

Also, just in the interest of there being some accuracy and reality in the Wizards discussion (this is not directed at media outlets, but with the loose connection with reality in the team's public commentary) -- Nene did not miss the Miami game because of a "sore foot." He has an injury in that foot, which is called plantar fasciitis. The remedy for that ailment is prolonged rest. The foot is not "sore," it is injured. Sometimes Nene is able to play despite the injury, but he is, in fact, injured.

Next, let's consider Wall's injured knee. The doctor statement put out by the team said that Wall had been treated with a third injection of Synvisc. While the team has been calling the problem a "stress injury" to his left patella, Synvisc is a treatment used for osteoarthritis. The team has released few details of the injury so we're left trying to theorize about the nature of the injury from the treatment.

I searched the Internet and asked a doctor friend, but could not find a use for Synvisc that did not involve treating arthritis. The treatment suggests that Wall may be dealing with a bone-on-bone condition in his knee, which is obviously a bad thing for a run-and-jump athlete. Especially one who's just 22-years old and is considered a franchise building block by the folks who run the franchise.

Wall is now 11 weeks into what was billed as an 8-week course of treatment. There's still not timetable for his return. I've heard fans say he should just get "the surgery" now. If he is indeed dealing with osteoarthritis, the only surgical remedy would likely be the microfracture procedure, which would put Wall out of action for a calendar year. At minimum.