The Wizards’ Dirty Work Doppelgängers

The Wizards’ Dirty Work Doppelgängers

The Wizards’ Dirty Work Doppelgängers
Wizards guard Delon Wright | Photo by Avi Gerver/NBAE via Getty Images

The Wizards signed guard Delon Wright to a two-year, $16 million contract, which is likely to be money well spent.

Over his seven NBA seasons, Wright has established himself as a solid player in the “about average” range. His best role is as an off-the-bench combo guard who plays some PG and some SG depending on who else is on the floor.

Never a high-usage player, Wright went ultra-low usage last season for the Atlanta Hawks — just 11.8%. That was a career low.

It wasn’t all because of Trae Young, either. While Wright’s usage rate when on the floor with Young was a paltry 6.9%, it was just 12.1% when he was out there without Young. The two shared the floor for just 28% of Wright’s minutes.

The Wizards last season sorely needed what Wright does well — defending, rebounding, playmaking, and hitting open shots.

According to my Statistical Doppelgänger Machine, Wright is relatively unique, though not to the degree of his unicorn teammate, Kristaps Porzingis. Even so, his comps are mostly low usage, high efficiency guards who rebound, produce assists and steals.

Here’s a look at some of the stats from last season I use when evaluating players (box score stats are per 100 team possessions, unless otherwise noted):

  • PPA (in PPA, average is 100 and higher is better): 116
  • Offensive rating (points produced per 100 individual possessions): 125 (+13 relative to league average)
  • Usage: 11.8% (average is 20.0%)
  • Points: 11.9
  • Rebounds: 7.6
  • Assists: 6.5
  • Steals: 3.2
  • Blocks: 0.7
  • Turnovers: 1.6
  • Fouls: 1.9
  • Free throw attempts: 2.2
  • Three-point attempts: 4.0
  • efg: 53.5%
  • 2pt%: 51.0%
  • 3pt%: 37.9%
  • FT%: 85.7%

This is the profile of someone who plays mistake-free basketball while doing a lot of the dirty work teams need done to succeed. Smart fans will probably like him.

For those unfamiliar, my Statistical Doppelgänger Machine works by comparing a player’s performance across 14 different categories that include age, playing time, pace-neutral box score stats and scores from my PPA metric. All that’s rolled up into a single score that (in theory) provides a list of NBA players since 1977-78 with similar production at a similar age.

  1. Don Buse, Indiana Pacers, 1980-81, age: 30 — Never much of a scorer, Buse played in two All-Star games — one in the ABA and one in the NBA. He made All-NBA second team in 1975-76 and was first-team All-Defense six times. Wright was never at that level but fits a similar profile.
  2. Jon Barry, Sacramento Kings, 1998-99, age: 29 — Barry was a decent backup guard for several seasons who improved in his 30s — an age when most players are declining. His two best seasons were at age 31 and 32 for the Detroit Pistons. This comp season was the first of his six average-or-better seasons.
  3. Fred Hoiberg, Chicago Bulls, 2001-02, age: 29 — The story on Hoiberg was that he was a three-point specialist, though the numbers show solid rebounding and some sneaky playmaking. His three-point shooting swung wildly year-to-year. For two seasons in what should have been his prime, he abruptly stopped shooting threes, and he made barely a quarter of the ones he attempted. Perhaps it had something to do with being coached by Bill Cartwright. In his final season (age 32), Hoiberg made 70-145 from three-point range and had an offensive rating of 140!
  4. Tomas Satoransky, Washington Wizards, San Antonio Spurs, New Orleans Pelicans, 2021-22, age: 30 — After a rough start to last season with the New Orleans Pelicans, Satoransky played well in Washington. Like Wright, Satoransky is a savvy player who makes few mistakes, though Wright is the better defender. Basically, Wright is a modestly upgraded version of what Satoransky provided for the Wizards late last season.
  5. Juan Toscano-Anderson, Golden State Warriors, 2020-21, age: 27 — This was Toscano-Anderson’s best season, and it rated almost exactly league average. Last season, he was back to well-below average for the Warriors.
  6. Greg Buckner, Denver Nuggets, 2004-05, age: 28 — Low-usage defensive specialist with some playmaking. Over the course of their respective careers, Wright’s been a much better three-point shooter. In this comp season, Buckner abruptly shot 40.5% from three (after consecutive season at 27.3%) and posted the only above average season of his career (PPA: 124).
  7. Thabo Sefalosha, Oklahoma City Thunder, 2013-14, age: 29 — Low usage? Check. Rebounding? Check. Defense? Check. Avoids turnovers and fouls? Check and check. The biggest difference between Wright and Sefalosha: Wright shoots a solid percentage from three and the free throw line (Sefalosha did not).
  8. Thabo Sefalosha, Atlanta Hawks, 2014-15, age: 30 — A year older and on a different team, but basically the same player. That’s not bad — Sefalosha was a good pro who had seven seasons that rated average or better according to my PPA metric.
  9. Nate McMillan, Seattle Supersonics, 1995-96, age 31: This was the start of McMillan’s injury-riddled decline. He’d manage just 55 games in this comp season, 37 the following year, and 18 more before retiring at 33. At his best, early in his career, he was a defensive force and a terrific playmaker. After four above-average seasons (and a peak PPA of 151 in year two), McMillan moved to the bench to make room in the starting lineup for a rookie named Gary Payton.
  10. Andre Iguodala, Golden State Warriors, 2018-19, age: 35 — Iguodala rated a little better than average, though his primary value lay in the ability to do that dirty work I mentioned while staying out of the way enough to enable teammates like Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant do the heavy lifting on offense.

BONUS Dopplegänger Content

While I don’t expect him to play much this season, let’s run Taj Gibson through the machine real quick. As might be expected, Gibson’s comps are decent big men who’d gotten old and were hanging around to collect checks and be The Grizzled Veteran. Here are his top comps:

  1. Caldwell Jones, Portland Trail Blazers, 1985-86, age: 35
  2. Dale Davis, Golden State Warriors and Indiana Pacers, 2004-05, age: 35
  3. Nick Collison, Oklahoma City Thunder, 2014-15, age: 34
  4. Nick Collison, Oklahoma City Thunder, 2013-14, age: 33
  5. Olden Polynice, Utah Jazz, 2000-01, age: 36
  6. Brian Grant, Los Angeles Lakers, 2004-05, age: 32
  7. Olden Polynice, Utah Jazz, 1999-00, age: 35
  8. Francisco Elson, Milwaukee Bucks, 2008-09, age: 32
  9. Buck Williams, New York Knicks, 1997-98, age: 37
  10. Kurt Thomas, San Antonio Spurs, 2008-09, age: 36

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