John Wall is going to attract a lot of attention from opposing defenses this season … this is plain and clear to see. It’s all about how he reads that attention and the decisions he makes.
Let’s take a look at some moving GIFs from Sunday’s second-to-last Wizards preseason game against the Knicks in New York.
One, Hilton Armstrong should be commended for the good, hard screen he sets here. Wall comes off hard and fast, giving poor Timofey Mozgov a couple changes in direction, and attracting FOUR Knicks to him in the paint, thinking he will drive left, when Wall kicks it out to an unguarded Yi Jianlian at the three-point line on the right wing. Yi misses the jumper in this instance, but it’s about as open as he’s going to get. Wall is going to change Yi’s career if he can knock down that shot with consistency.
Here the Wizards get a chance to re-set their offensive possession.
Wall brings the ball back up top with 14, 13 seconds on the shot clock, and initiates the play with nine seconds left as his teammates get in position.
Wall’s jump shot is a major work in progress, but that doesn’t mean all is lost if defenders go under the screens on him. Here Yi looks to set up like he’s going to set a ball screen for Wall so he can go right, for a split second, but then Yi switches and sets a screen for Wall going left.
Raymond Felton goes under the screen, gets caught a bit where Yi’s man has to help contain Wall, and Wall receives attention to where he can easily kick it back to Yi at the top of the key, an area which looks to be Yi’s most comfortable spot on the floor (but what shooter isn’t most comfortable looking dead on at the basket? There are some, but it’s rare).
Yi nails the jumper. If Yi dives on this pick, it would be easier for the defense to recover to him … that’s why this pick and pop works so well. Yi Jianlian is like Darius Songaila on steroids, with more range, better rebounding and much better ball-handing … Yi now just has to play as smart as Songaila.
Here’s another pick and pop between Wall and Yi.
The thing I like about this play — and it’s unclear whether this act is intentional or not — but Al Thornton goes up like he’s going to set a pick for Wall at the right elbow. So, Wall’s defender doesn’t know from which side the pick is coming … and he has to defend the jet-quick Wall … feel sorry for him.
And once again, Wall attracts the attention necessary for Yi to get the pop opportunity, a long two at the top of the key (that Yi misses).
It seems like that shot will be there whenever Wall wants to create it and whenever Yi wants to hit it. At least Yi’s FG% during the preseason is 46-percent through six games, better than his 40.2-percent career NBA average — although, his career NBA 3p% is 34.2-percent (an average of 0.4 makes per 1.1 attempts per game). This preseason Yi is just 2-7 from deep for 28.6-percent.
You like hockey assists? Well, John Wall gets those too.
Here’s an instance where JaVale McGee comes out to set a high ball screen for Wall, and then dives — McGee should never really be popping out after ball screen action for Wall, unless it’s to set up something else … such as a reverse of the ball and a screen away.
You’ll see that Wall doesn’t come off McGee’s screen tight, but Toney Douglas still must move slightly off his path of guarding Wall … as John blows by him and commands attention from Mozgov.
Wilson Chandler leaves Blatche on the left block to help on the diving McGee, which opens up two potential decisions for Wall. If Gallinari helps off Al Thornton in the left corner to cover Blatche (which, I don’t know why Gallinari wouldn’t … you want the end result to be a Thornton corner jumper attempt if you’re the Knicks), then Wall hits the three man who nails the jumper — and this is why the Wizards want their three man to be able to shoot.
But Gallinari doesn’t help on Blatche and Wall finds Andray in the short corner, who makes the quick read and passes to McGee under the basket because Chandler, confused, leaves JaVale to go cover Blatche.
Andray gets the assist on McGee’s dunk … and Wall gets the hockey assist.
Final GIF …
The Wizards run in transition and Wall runs right down the middle of the court, making himself available to receive the pass from the wing and in position to create. The Knicks have three guys back — so the defense has the advantage, one would assume — which is why I’m curious as to why New York would let Wall run down the middle of the floor unimpeded, even without the ball, in the first place.
Wall sees the crowd of three, back-peddling and not addressing him, and it’s pretty much over for the Knicks’ transition defense. And this is why Wall reminds me of a mini-LeBron in transition … he has an explosive quickness and physicality to safely blow past what would be a disadvantage to most any other player.
Usually you might not want your point guard trying to take advantage of these “numbers” … but when it’s John Wall, Flip Saunders can lose less sleep over scenarios such as this one.