Assist rate helps tell the story of Wizards' struggles

They need him on that Wall -- the Wizards' assist rate plummets when John Wall exits the game. Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images

The Washington Wizards are currently ranked 17th in the Basketball Power Index, and are projected to win 38 games. Simulating the rest of the season, BPI gives the Wizards a 34 percent chance of getting to the playoffs in coach Scott Brooks' first campaign in Washington.

The Wizards have one of the most promising back courts in the league, with point guard John Wall a three-time All-Star at 26 years old and shooting guard Bradley Beal showing great potential -- Zach LaVine is the only guard under 25 shooting better than Beal from three this season. Washington also possesses a young wing in Otto Porter Jr. who continues to improve on a near-nightly basis, having gone from a true shooting percentage of 41 percent as a rookie to 64 percent so far this season.

All of that said, while loaded with young talent, the Wizards are struggling at times to play to their potential.

The first issue the Wizards face is ball movement. Wall is clearly one of the most talented point guards in the league -- his 46 percent assist rate ranks behind only Russell Westbrook, James Harden, and Chris Paul -- but the offense can still devolve into isolation after isolation, in turn stopping the ball from moving to the best shot opportunity.

Assist rate paints a clear picture for the Wizards. When their number drops below 56 percent for a game (which is about league average), they win only a quarter of their games as opposed to their 67 percent winning percentage when they are above a 56 percent assist rate.

Wall did not play in two of the games in which the Wizards dropped below 56 percent assist rate, which points to a second issue with the Wizards, one that compounds the first. The Wizards' bench plays very little. Washington's starters all average over 30 minutes per game - of the 143 players in the NBA averaging between 20 and 30 minutes a game this season, none play for the Wizards). No Wizards reserve has a value over replacement player that is positive.

Not only are there no real contributors coming off the bench, none of them have assist rates above 20 percent. When Wall is on the floor, the Wizards have an assist rate of 59 percent, and that drops to 49 percent when he is off. None of the players coming off the bench with more than 300 minutes have a team-level assist rate over 55 percent -- when Wall is out of the game, the ball really doesn't move.

The Wizards need to find a way to keep the ball moving more consistently on offense, and that likely means finding a backup point guard who can run an offense and minimize the isolations.

BPI notes

-- Four of the top five defenses according to BPI are in the Western Conference (San Antonio Spurs, Golden State Warriors, Utah Jazz, and Memphis Grizzlies).

-- BPI gives the Warriors better than 55 percent chance to win each of their remaining games except for their two visits to San Antonio in which they have 48 percent chance to win.

-- There is a 55 percent chance that the Raptors and Cavaliers will square off in the Eastern Conference finals, and both teams are currently projected to win 58 games.

-- There is a 13 percent chance that Kevin Durant will face the Thunder in the playoffs.

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