Washington Wizards NBA Win Total Odds & Pick: How a Potential Bradley Beal Trade Affects this Bet
Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Washington Wizards star Bradley Beal.
Wizards Win Total Odds
The Case for the Over
God help me.
Somehow, some way, Bradley Beal is still on the Wizards. The NBA’s runner-up scoring leader is still on this team.
They upgraded in the offseason … I think?
It’s hard to get my mind around an answer to this, but here’s the equation:
Wizards – Scott Brooks, Russell Westbrook and Robin Lopez + Kentavious Caldwell Pope, Kyle Kuzma, Aaron Holiday, and Montrezl Harrell + Thomas Bryant (returning from injury) + Wes Unseld Jr.
I’m not sure what the outcome is there. That’s a weird equation.
Instead of trying to understand this team through its changes, let’s narrow down the question first.
Is this version of the Wizards better than the one with Russell Westbrook? But wait, which version?
So immediately, let’s project the defense to improve. They added KCP (good defender), Kyle Kuzma (good defender), and the defense improved considerably after adding Daniel Gafford at the trade deadline last season. They lost Robin Lopez, which hurts.
I want to talk about Thomas Bryant for a minute. The data on Bryant is horrific at the top level. In the month and a half he played, the Wizards held a 115.7 defensive rating when he was on the floor. That’s a gushing blood geyser, defensively.
However, through Feb. 15, the Wizards had the worst differential between expected effective field goal percentage allowed and actual allowed. They allowed the third-lowest expected and the seventh-highest actual allowed.
Some of that is the way those numbers are calculated and some noise, and some of that is just simply lousy defense. But there’s enough differential there to suggest opponents shot abnormally well before Bryant went down.
This would make more sense if you could point to just the shots against Bryant, but Bryant was actually 60th percentile defensively defending pick and roll as the big and opponent shooting was fairly stable against him.
When Bryant returns from his ACL injury — a phrase I always love to start a positive sentiment with — there’s reason to think the numbers won’t explode defensively, especially if he’s coming off the bench if Gafford remains the starter.
So you’ve got wing defense with the veterans added, internal development with Gafford and Rui Hachimura, and better-than-expected rim protection. Westbrook is a minus defender, so we take him out and put that infrastructure in.
Beal’s defensive effort has been horrid the past three years as he took over scoring, but you can at least hope he competes a little more. Let’s assume a defensive improvement from 20th overall for the season to somewhere closer to 15th.
Offensively, you’re moving from a ball-dominated offense to something that is likely a bit more egalitarian, with Beal’s usual usage thrown in. Westbrook averaged 2.1 assists per game to Beal, but Beal shot just 33.8% from 3 on passes from Westbrook.
Rui Hachimura shot just 33.3% on Westbrook passes. The rest of Westbrook’s assist production went to the bigs. Spencer Dinwiddie is a capable passer and scorer, and while he’s not the production machine Westbrook is, he doesn’t come with the spacing limitations and wasted possessions, either.
Basically, as long as the Wizards commit to finding good offense, they should be better than 17th in offensive efficiency. The bar for improvement isn’t high.
Their schedule is very middle of the pack; they are in the middle of the league on rest advantage and disadvantage, back to backs, and opponent strength.
I am not a member of the “Westbrook is actually bad” club, but he does require the right players around him, and the Wizards were not that team. It was a stopping point after Houston blew up. Improving with a better team concept is reasonable, and they won at a 38-wins-per-82 clip last year, COVID outbreak and all.
Now the number is 4.5 wins lower?
The Case for the Under
Bradley Beal’s situation destabilizes this entire thing. General manager Tommy Shepherd has made strong statements that Beal has not requested out and they have no intention to trade him.
But there’s a continuing feeling league-wide that it’s a matter of when not if. Beal signed his max extension, has given the Wizards several years to compete. Sources indicated that Beal was reticent to be traded during the pandemic last year, which is abating to some degree.
If Beal asks out and Ben Simmons has not been dealt, that deal makes a ton of sense. Montrezl Harrell and Kentavious Caldwell Pope are both Klutch clients, as is Simmons. But this team looks a lot different (and worse) with Simmons. If Simmons is off the board, the options get worse.
If the Wizards take back a rebuilding package, they likely look to move the other veterans, and this team spirals quickly. If that happens late in the season, maybe the over still hits, but if this happens around the holidays, the team could dive straight down to a tank job.
Even if not, Bryant is coming off ACL surgery and likely not back until late December, and Hachimura and Deni Avdija are both coming off injuries. Beal is known to get banged up due to usage.
Look at the roster: A scoring superstar who’s a decent-but-not-great playmaker, a crew of role player non-stars, most of whom were traded here and didn’t opt for it.
Dinwiddie’s injury history is of genuine concern as well. If he’s unavailable, the team doesn’t have enough players to run the offense, and Beal tries to do everything, making the defense suffer.
Wizards Win Total Bet
I was expecting to hit the under hard. Kuzma and KCP very blatantly benefited from both the Laker bump (whereby Laker players are more popular and considered better than they are) and the LeBron bump (by where playing next to the GOAT makes you look better than you are).
The Beal trade scenario, the injury situations, it all said over.
And then I saw the number.
Look, here’s the problem: if the Wizards win 45% of their games, sub-.500, through All-Star Break, they are at 26 wins. That means that if Beal is traded at the deadline, the Wizards can go 8-16 (33%) and still hit the over.
Beal didn’t want to be traded during the pandemic last year. Well, look around you, Helen, we’re (still) at the threshold of hell. The pandemic isn’t over. If Beal has pandemic concerns, does he risk getting dealt to Florida or Texas with their infection rates?
The Wizards are probably finishing under .500 and are probably missing the playoffs (they are +500 to make, -700 to miss on DraftKings). But there’s a big gap between that and 33.5 wins. The number is just too low.
… Hang on, I need a shot of bourbon before I do this.
OK, there. Let’s ride. Take the over.