With Beal, Porzingis and Kuzma, why is the Wizards offense weaker?

WASHINGTON — Friday night’s 42-point loss to the Brooklyn Nets marked the Wizards’ worst home loss in franchise history and just the 14th time they’ve lost by more than 40 points. While that’s remarkable, it also served as a reminder of what this season could be like for Washington, in the sense that teams hovering around .500 tend to have high highs and low lows.

While an average record may seem like a stable situation when you look at the standings, teams that are at or near .500 tend to be consistently erratic. It can be a roller coaster because you don’t know what to expect on any given night.

But the most surprising part of Friday night’s loss probably wasn’t the fact that the Wizards’ defense was dominated by a depleted Nets team that was missing Kyrie Irving, Ben Simmons and Seth Curry. It certainly wasn’t surprising to see Kevin Durant light them up given his experience.

But 86 points? That’s all they scored, and the Wizards were essentially at full strength, minus Delon Wright, whose impact is felt more on the defensive end. Keep in mind that Brooklyn entered this game dead last in the NBA in defensive rating.

After the loss to Brooklyn, which marks four losses in five games for the Wizards, Washington is now 27th in the NBA in points per game (108.0) and 22nd in offensive rating (109.7). While they’re showing better in some areas, like field goal percentage (14th, 47.0%), the goal of basketball is to put the ball in the hoop, and the Wizards just aren’t doing that enough.

The Wizards actually ranked slightly higher in scoring (22nd) and offensive rating (21st) last season, even without Bradley Beal for half the season, without Kristaps Porzingis for most of the year, and without other players of the difference as new addition Will Barton.

It’s a confusing early season trend for the Wizards. On paper, it looks like they have the personnel to run a high-scoring offense. Beal, Porzingis and Kyle Kuzma are a solid point trio at their core, and they have significant depth with guys who can get hot like Barton, Monte Morris, Rui Hachimura and Daniel Gafford helping to fill out the rest of their rotation.

It just doesn’t work by design. Beal, Morris, Hachimura and Barton all hit below their career averages. The volume isn’t there and neither is the efficiency, although Beal and Porzingis have career highs in effective field goal percentage.

The elephant in the room when it comes to the Wizards offense is once again their 3-point shooting. After ranking 30th in three-pointers made and 29th in attempts last season, the Wizards are back at 30th and 29th. They shot 34.2% from deep last season. They are shooting 32.7% so far this year.

Washington went 5-for-19 from 3-point shooting on Wednesday and had to make NBA history to beat the Sixers. On Friday, they made eight 3-pointers compared to 14 for the Nets.

It’s going to be hard to win games with that type of deficit at the 3-point line. In their first nine games, the Wizards have made fewer 3-pointers than their opponents seven times.

The Wizards seem to have a chance to score more in volume as the season goes on because they have a decent amount of players who can score. But correcting their effectiveness, particularly by making more threes, can be difficult.

They just brought back Corey Kispert and he should help. But he was on the team last year when they had trouble shooting 3-pointers, and he can’t fix the problem on his own.

Wright is also a 3-point threat, albeit with little volume, and some guys like Beal and Morris are shooting below what they normally do from three (although Beal’s recent seasons might suggest otherwise). Hachimura also emerged as the team’s best 3-point shooter last year, but is making just 23.5% of his shots from long range this season.

The Wizards drafted Johnny Davis 10th overall for a variety of reasons, but 3-point shooting wasn’t one of them. He made just 30.6 percent from three last year at Wisconsin. It is unlikely that he will help them in this area anytime soon.

Being a poor 3-point shooting team creates little margin for error for the Wizards. When their opponent gets hot from deep, which many teams in this era can do regularly, they put up an uphill battle trying to keep up. They are not equipped to shoot.

The Wizards have only played nine games and, as we saw last season, early season trends can be deceiving. But while much attention has been paid to the Wizards’ defense, and for good reason, their offense doesn’t seem to be performing to a significant degree. Doing some threes would be a good way to start getting out of it.

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