Stat line: 23.8 points, 9 assists, 4.6 rebounds, 55.5 field goal percentage, 66.7 three-point percentage, 1.9 steals and 3 turnovers.
No, these aren’t the numbers of one of the elite guards in the NBA. This is John Wall, the player who some think haven’t lived up to his No. 1 overall pick expectations. And whomever those people are, they’re correct: he hasn’t lived up to expectations. Analysts have pegged him as injury-prone, turnover-prone, lacking of basketball IQ and constantly point out his lack of a jump shot.
But since he was asked whether he was or wasn’t a max contract player, Wall has been on his A-game for the Washington Wizards. Those who think he’s a max player thinks he’ll keep up his play and those who think otherwise know that he’ll regress in some areas like most players do after quick stretches of great basketball. Some of this shows flashes of where Wall is improving, while most of this is likely a blip on the radar:
Career: 8.1 per game
2012-13: 7.6 per game
10-game stretch: 9 per game.
Assists has never been a huge problem in Wall’s game. If he continued to dish out the 7.6 he’s been doing a game for the rest of the season it’d be a career low. And since returning from the knee injury that kept Wall out to begin the season, Wall’s best attribute has been making things easier for the likes of Bradley Beal, Trevor Ariza, Martell Webster and the rest of the Wizards roster. Since his return the wing players are finding the game to be a lot easier with all of the attention off of them.
More importantly, the number of assists isn’t the main factor here and they don’t determine how great a point guard someone is. The quality of assists that Wall has dished out over the last ten games show huge promise. He’s hitting his teammates in stride, getting them the ball in difficult situations and has picked up his teammates tendencies: knowing where they want the ball, how they want it and when to get it to them. This falls along the path of basketball IQ which is increasing with experience.
Result = TREND
Career: 3.7 per game
2012-13: 3.5 per game
10-game stretch: 3 per game
Wall’s currently 6th in the NBA in turnovers per game at 3.5. To be simple, that’s not good, but improvement is a must. Despite the three per game he’s given up over the stretch, in six of the ten games Wall has turned the rock over two times or less. As important as turnovers are, if Wall could pick up the other areas of his games, people will look at how many times a game he’s turning over the ball. Steve Nash, one of the better point guards in this league’s history, was a 3.5 turnover per game player during his tenure with the Phoenix Suns. But he combated that by averaging 10.9 assists. The older Wall gets, hopefully he’ll keep the useless turnovers down
Result = SAME
Here are John Wall’s shooting charts over the course of his hot ten game stretch and the season:
Small sample size, but the proof is in the pudding when it comes to John Wall the jump shooter. And honestly he isn’t quite one. That’s how Wall ends with a career-high of 47 points against the Memphis Grizzlies. Over and over again, Mike Conley and Tony Allen allowed Wall to bury the jumper and he did it on a consistent basis. But this still doesn’t convince me that Wall’s jumper should be respected by his defenders. And as far as his 3-point shooting, that 66 percent is irrelevant. Majority of the threes that he’s made over the stretch are all the threes he’s made this season. Of course there is room for improvement. Jason Kidd can attest to that but at the moment, defenders will still be daring Wall to shoot jumpers. I don’t think anyone is sold over what he’s been doing during this streak.
No one knows what to ultimately expect from Wall, but if this 10-game stretch gives us any insight on the player Wall will be in the future that max contract decision will be just a bit easier. But until then, we’ll see if he can keep this up for the rest of the year and come into next season with purpose and the willingness to improve his game.