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Myth Busters: Do #WizardsKillers Really Exist?

Introduction: #WizardsTwitter seems to go ablaze at least once a month with rumors of the existence of a destructive, relentless, ruthless, homicidal creature: The #WizardsKiller.

Some fans report the sightings with absolute certainty. Others claim that the Wizards Killer does not actually exist, and can be explained away with logic, stats, and reason. This experiment seeks to explore the existence of the Wizards Killer and attempts to answer the question: Do Wizards Killers exist? If so, who are they? The study examines five accused Wizards Killers, and evaluates each player independently through standard and advanced metrics to determine how their performance truly changes vs. the Wizards, and if in fact they “kill” the Wizards.

Null Hypotheses: Wizards Killers do not exist, and the player’s performance does not change outside of normal variation, or does not result in the “killing” of the Wizards.

Alternative Hypothesis: The Wizards Killer is real, and this player’s performance changes significantly vs. the Wizards, and/or results in the “killing” of the Wizards.

Subject A:

Aaron Brooks, PG, Chicago Bulls

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Most recent rumors of sighting: Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015.
Location: United Center, Chicago

Aaron Brooks is the target of the most recent Wizards Killer accusations. Accusers state that Brooks always destroys the Wizards, and somehow, the Wizards are the only team that can’t seem to contain him.

Is Brooks really a Wizards Killer, or is he just the result of short-term fury? Here is the data:

· 2014-2015 season average: 10.8 pts, 1.8 rebs, 2.8 assists, 42% FG, 41% 3-FG

· 2014-2015 vs. Wizards: 14.8 pts, 2.8 rebs, 4.8 assists, 39% FG, 36% 3-FG

· Avg. +/- vs. Wizards: +9.5

· Wizards Record vs. Bulls: 2-2.

Results and analysis: Clearly, Aaron Brooks has in fact performed significantly better vs. the Wizards, compared to his season averages. He shows more than a 40% increase in scoring vs. the Wizards, and just less than doubles his assist output. And these numbers aren’t for naught. His +/- of 9.5 indicates that the Bulls have been significantly better than the Wizards while Brooks is on the floor. In the 4 games between the teams, the Wizards actually average a point differential of +2.2. Factoring in Brooks impact vs. the Wizards, it’s reasonable to conclude that the Wizards may have been 3-1 or even 4-0 vs. the Bulls, without Aaron Brooks being involved.

Conclusion: The Null Hypothesis is rejected. Analysis of the data indicates that Aaron Brooks has killed the Wizards, and is in fact a real-life Wizards Killer. Hopefully this creature does not surface during a playoff series.


Subject B:

Gerald Henderson, SG, Charlotte Hornets

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Most recent rumors of sighting: February 5th, 2015.
Location: Time Warner Cable Arena, Charlotte, NC

The Legend of Gerald Henderson against the Wizards has grown through disturbing, violent, and merciless acts of gravity-defying aggression. Those who claim to have witnessed Henderson destroying the Wizards often insist that his vertical leap increases by 6-20 inches simply by coming in close proximity to a Washington Wizards jersey. Some fans have even attempted to the catch atrocities on camera.

The question remains: Do Henderson’s alleged rim attacks result in Wizard death? Here is the data:

· 2014-2015 season average: 11.3 pts, 3.1 rebs, 2.6 assists, 43% FG, 32% 3-FG

· 2014-2015 vs. Wizards: 22.0 pts, 3.0 rebs, 3.0 assists, 57% FG, 25% 3-FG

· Avg. +/- vs. Wizards: +3.5

· Wizards Record vs. Hornets: 0-2.

Results and analysis: WTF?! Henderson increases his scoring output by 94 PERCENT compared to his season average, and he’s shooting 14 percentage points better from the field vs. the Wizards. Furthermore, Henderson was +3 on the court in a 4 point win vs. the Wizards, and he was +4 in a 7 point win vs. the Wizards. However, these +/- ratings do not incorporate the moral annihilation impact (MAI) of Henderson’s dunks.

Conclusion: The Null Hypothesis is rejected. Analysis of the data indicates that Gerald Henderson has clearly raised his game vs. the Wizards, and factoring in the MAI, he was a significant contributor to the Wizards losing both their games vs. the Hornets this season. Gerald Henderson is indeed a Wizards Killer. Bad news: The Wizards still have games remaining against the Hornets this season.


Subject C:

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG, Detroit Pistons

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Most recent rumors of sighting: February 28th, 2015
Location: Verizon Center, Washington DC

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is the youngest, and most erratic of the rumored Wizards Killers. Relatively unknown to many Wizards fans, KCP turned himself into the subject of Wizard fan nightmares with a recent 26 point outburst. But with a history of scoring ups and downs, does KCP truly qualify as a Wizards Killer. Here is the data:

· 2014-2015 season average: 12.3 pts, 3.1 rebs, 1.1 assists, 40% FG, 36% 3-FG

· 2014-2015 vs. Wizards: 17.0 pts, 1.7 rebs, 0.3 assists, 48% FG, 46% 3-FG

· Avg. +/- vs. Wizards: +1.3

· Wizards Record vs. Hornets: 2-1

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope vs. Wizards: 26 points (6 3PM), 2 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 assist

Results and analysis: Initially, it is clear that KCP has scored better against the Wizards compared to his season average. However, throughout the season, KCP has demonstrated a huge standard deviation in his scoring from night to night. He has had 8 games in which he has scored 5 points or less, and 10 games in which he has scored 20 points or more. Through this lens, observing his 4.7 point variation against the Wizards compared to the season average is not too surprising. Additionally, the Wizards have in fact won 2 of the 3 games vs. KCP, and his +1.3 point differential per game vs. the Wizards is minor.

Conclusion: The Null Hypothesis is accepted. Analysis of the numbers suggests that KCP has not produced significantly differently vs. the Wizards compared to other teams this season. Furthermore, he has not really killed the Wizards, with the Pistons having a 1-2 record vs. the Wizards. Yes, his 26 point outburst likely hurt the Wizards that night, but that is more a result of timing than opposition. KCP could have killed anyone that night. Unfortunately, it turned out to be Washington.


Subject D:

Louis Williams, PG, Toronto Raptors

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Most recent rumors of sighting: February 11th, 2015.
Location: Verizon Center, Washington DC

Louis Williams is the most notorious of the so-called Wizards Killers. Even before he faced the Wizards this season, fans were already concerned due to his past history with the Hawks and Sixers. Now, with a new Conference rival, and a team the Wizards are fighting for playoff position, Williams struck fear into fans. That fear proved to be well placed, best reflected by Williams 27 point performance in DC. But is Williams truly a Wizards Killer? Here is the data:

· 2014-2015 season average: 15.3 pts, 1.9 rebs, 1.9 assists, 39% FG, 33% 3-FG

· 2014-2015 vs. Wizards: 19.7 pts, 2.0 rebs, 2.0 assists, 48% FG, 46% 3-FG

· Avg. +/- vs. Wizards: +5.7 (+14 in 4 point victory, +5 in 2 point win)

· Wizards Record vs. Raptors: 0-3

Results and analysis: Williams scoring does jump against the Wizards, but within reason considering his scoring variation. Williams is similar to Jamal Crawford (or Jordan Crawford!) in his ability to score in bunches on any given night. Williams has 7 games this season of 25+ points, including games of 31 and 36 points. However, Williams shooting percentage is where he kills the Wizards. He shoots significantly better against the Wizards compared to his season averages, and his increase of 13 percentage points in his 3 point shooting against Washington is dramatic. Additionally, the Raptors have owned the Wizards, including games in which Williams had a +/- of +14 in a 4 point victory, and +5 in a 2 point victory. Without Williams, the Wizards might have won a game or two against the Raptors (and wiped that ridiculous smile off of Drake’s face). Instead, the Wizards are winless.

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Conclusion: The Null Hypothesis is rejected. Williams has shredded the Wizards, and his shooting percentage and +/- effect on the outcome of games reflect just that. Louis Williams is a Wizards Killer.


Subject E:

Martell Webster, SF, Washington Wizards

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Most recent rumors of sighting: February 27th, 2015.
Location: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia

Conspiracies of an inside job have been spreading throughout the 2014-2015 season. Rumors have run rampant suggesting that Martell Webster is slaughtering the Wizards from the inside (he sure hasn’t been slaughtering anyone from the outside, as in, outside the 3-point line). However, it’s hard to imagine a player intentionally undermining the guys he goes to work with every day. Still, investigation has no bias. Here is the data:

· 2013-2014 season average: 9.7 pts, 43% FG, 39% 3-FG

· 2014-2015 season average: 2.9 pts, 26% FG, 23% 3-FG

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· Wizards 2014-2015 Record when Martell DNP: 26-15

· Wizards 2014-2015 Record when Martell plays: 8-12

· Games with a positive +/-: 4

· Games with a negative +/-: 16

· 5 games of double digit negative +/-, including a -32 vs. Cleveland

Results and analysis: Aaaaagh!! The results are baffling. What happened to Martell Webster? 26% shooting?! A drop of 15 percentage points in three point shooting?! Martell Webster’s role is to be a knock down 3 point shooter, and space the floor. Right now, he spaces the floor like Josh Smith (much worse actually…Smith is shooting 30% from three this season). The numbers indicate Martell has lost confidence, or been kidnapped and replaced, or is actively trying to contribute to Wizards losses. Since intent cannot be properly measured in this case, the reason for the huge drop in production remains inconclusive.

Conclusion: The Null Hypothesis is rejected. Martell Webster is KILLING the Wizards this season. The nights he plays, he has been horrendous, and not provided the shooting and spacing the Wizards offense desperately needs. When he hasn’t played, no one else has been able to provide the shooting and spacing the Wizards offense desperately needs. Martell Webster is on the team for that specific purpose. Last year, he fulfilled that purpose reliably and consistently. This year, he simply has failed to serve his purpose, and the entire team is struggling as a result. Whether intentional or not, Webster has inflicted death upon the Wizards from within. Therefore, Martell Webster must be deemed a Wizards Killer.


Final conclusions:

This study set out to determine whether Wizards Killers exist, or whether they are simply mythical creatures of legend, like the Lochness Monster, Bigfoot, or Wilt Chamberlain’s sperm. The subjects were chosen based on the greatest number of fans reported observations throughout the season. Each subject was then evaluated to determine if they truly kill the Wizards, or if their performances were within their normal limits, and simply inspired overstated fan reaction. Having completed the study, the determination has been made that Wizards Killers do exist, and are not simply mythical beings. The certified Wizards Killers include Aaron Brooks of the Chicago Bulls, Gerald Henderson of Charlotte Hornets, Louis Williams of the Toronto Raptors, and Martell Webster of the Washington Wizards themselves. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was not determined to be a certified Wizards Killer, but eyes should be kept on him, as he is a young player and a potential Wizards Killer for the future.

WIZARDS KILLERS ARE REAL*! Myth Busted!

*This study may include significant sources of error that haters and statisticians, fake or otherwise, may desperately want to point out. They may ask where the abstract and methods sections are. They may demand p-values, degrees of freedom, a disclosure of what percentage of certainty was used (90, 95, 97.5, 99, etc.), and whether chi-squared tests or t-tests were used prior to declaring particular findings “significant.” They may question how terms and phrases like “aaaagh” and “WTF” could be used in such a document. They may fuss over how a Null hypothesis was phrased, or how it could be accepted or rejected without discussing any of the above. These people are encouraged to chill. Being a #WizardsKiller is really more about the feeling they inspire within the entire Wizards fan base over anything else. This feeling is not truly measurable. This article simply aspires to provide a fun way for Wizards fans to confirm or ease their concerns and suspicions during an utterly depressing recent stretch of basketball.

So, unless you are John Hollinger (a brilliant statistician AND a GM of an NBA basketball team), please resist hating on the validity or veracity of this “study.” Thank you.

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