The #NBArank of John Wall | Truth About It.net

The #NBArank of John Wall

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Updated: October 7, 2011



John Wall: Damn good at basketball, which rhymes. So it’s good his name is not John Facade or John Rampart.

Anyway, in the ESPN.com #NBArank project he’s ranked 40th in the league. More interesting to me, than rankings, however, is that he was rated with a 7.07 out of 10 by the collective collectivity of ESPN-related voters. Consider that along with the fact that there’s no where to go but up for Wall. Kind of scary, in a good way, for the Wizards fans who’ve never been apart of any sort of achievement.

OK, so I’m exaggerating about the achievement part. Making the playoffs four seasons in a row (2005-08) is a damn fine achievement for the team that I know, as sad as that may seem. But now achievement means making it past the second round. And that former achievement? Well, it doesn’t count so much anymore because no one cares (but not in a ‘no one cares about the NBA’ selective sample size of opinion that spawned a Mike Wise column kind of way).

Otherwise, four of us Truth About It.net writers — Rashed Mobley, Adam McGinnis, John Converse Townsend and myself — asked each other questions about Mr. Wall. And as he would say, Leggggo!

Rashad Mobley: John Wall has impressed virtually everyone who has seen him play this summer, and they’ve noticed that he’s quicker, stronger, shooting better, and most importantly more confident.  When this lockout ends, and Wall is playing on a Washington Wizards team that is bound to struggle, will he be able to retain that confidence?

Townsend: He should be able to play with confidence, even in spite of a (potentially) sputtering Wizards offense; a lackadaisical, disinterested defense; and a losing record. A winning attitude – you do or you die – doesn’t fade away after a few wins, nor does it get lost in the panic of a string of losses. What worries me, though, are injuries stemming from poor running form and movement mechanics.

McGinnis: Confidence has never been an issue for Wall, noted from “Midnight Madness” at George Mason last year where I overheard him barking at Kirk Hinrich to motivate the team. From in person reviews and video clips this summer, Wall looks as explosive as he has ever been. Him maintaining his health is key, more so than any potential mindset issues with a struggling team. The losses naturally frustrate such a fiery competitor like Wall, but his experience going through a 60-loss season already should help him deal with it better, and hopefully some early success next season will provide a confidence boost to all the young Wiz kids.

Weidie: I think Wall will retain the confidence, and actually, I’m more weary that he will be overly confident. When the going gets tough, Wall will still have to find the balance between trying to take over game versus being patient with the coach’s plan and his teammates. As a point guard, I imagine he will struggle with this the most. It’s OK, all the greats go through this.

Adam McGinnis: Being around John Wall and watching his game up close, what has surprised you about him? What has disappointed you? What is an interesting observation about John that fans might not be aware of?

Mobley: What has impressed me most about Wall this summer is his competitive streak.  He gets beat on defense, gets his shot blocked or throws an errant pass, but the very next possession, he follows up with a block, a  jumper, or a nasty dunk.  If he’s that competitive when he doesn’t have to be during summer exhibitions, it can only bode well for the  regular season.

Townsend: I’ve been surprised by his explosive athleticism. Everyone and their grandmother — who wouldn’t know the difference between John Wall and any other neighbor – can clearly see he’s got wheels. But the second year guard is also a physical weapon. He’s bigger, stronger and faster than you, and he knows it.

Weidie: Despite cutting his cornrows/braids long ago and adhering to a “no tattoos” rule – implemented by Wall’s camp/AAU coaches in the spirit of image marketing the player to the masses, old school coaching principle, etc. – the kid has attitude. And not to say that physical appearance has anything to do with attitude, but it is to say that Wall is less of an innocent choir boy than his NBA-published persona has conveyed. And that’s a good thing. He’s not afraid to mix it up with opponents, such as Josh McRoberts, and he’s not afraid to cuss out a teammate, such as JaVale McGee. Exactly what you want from a leader.

Kyle Weidie: TRUE OR FALSE: After next season John Wall will be considered a top 20 NBA player.

Mobley: True.  Although he was reluctant to admit it, Wall was banged up last year, and still averaged 16 points and eight assists a game.  Now he’s healthy, learning how use to his speed to his advantage, and gaining more confidence in his outside shot.  That adds up to a 20/10 season in my book, which automatically makes him a top 20 player in the NBA.

Townsend: False. The National Basketball Association’s top 20 players are an elite crew, a conglomeration of creative talent, jaw-dropping athleticism, and magnetic personalities. John Wall will impress, but it’ll be too early to grant him entrance into the NBA’s pantheon. To do that, Wall will have to stir up rabid fanaticism on a national level; he’s not there quite yet, nor will he be after next year.

McGinnis: True. Wall’s numbers are destined to improve across the board while his highlight plays and superstar Dougie/John Wall Dance persona benefits his ascension to a top 20 level in the eyes of fans, pundits and NBA players. Kevin Durant recently proclaimed him a future All-Star and I tend to agree with him.

John Converse Townsend: Will John Wall lead the new-look Wizards to the playoffs?

Mobley: No.  I’ve spent this segment singing the praises of John Wall and his individual improvements.  However, learning how to win on a nightly basis, and then instilling that winning attitude in the teammates you pass the ball to, takes longer than a summer to perfect.  Wall and the Wizards will hover around that eighth playoff spot, but fall just short next year.

McGinnis: Wall will eventually lead the Wizards to the playoffs, but they are still at least a season away. While there seems to be an annual opportunity for a sub .500 team to sneak into one of the last playoff spots in the East, the Wizards have way too many roster question marks and overall organizational liabilities for me to forecast a postseason right now.

Weidie: Look Wizards fans, I know you are tired of the draft lottery. Losing both it and games, nay seasons, is pretty stale now. Still, prepare yourself for ping-pong ball excitement for the fourth straight time and the 11th time in the last 15 seasons — that is, if there is even a lottery next summer, or a draft as we have come to know it. Simply put, the Wizards do not have the horses to make the playoffs next season; and the current coaching staff, as much progress as they’ve made with individual players, has proven less than capable in being able to reign in their team as a cohesive unit. No, 15 minutes of excitement leading up to draft lottery revelations aren’t worth it, but embrace the scene next time nonetheless. It’s going to be the last Wizards draft lottery for a while.



16 Comments

  1. Nick

    October 7, 2011 at 6:15 pm

    Wall had quite bad raw and adjusted +/- last season. He will be better but I dunno if he will move enough to actually be (or appear to be) a positive impact player, much less an elite one next season. More likely it will take several years to climb up from where he started.

  2. Nick

    October 7, 2011 at 6:16 pm

    If you ranked players based on who you’d want for next season and next season alone, I probably wouldn’t take Wall in the top 100.

  3. Kyle Weidie

    October 7, 2011 at 7:16 pm

    I hear ya on the stats Nick…

    But I do think his shooting percentage will significantly improve next season, which holds much of his overall stats down.

    I also would consider his teammates when talking plus/minus stats.

    And I would like a statistical way to measure the effect that Wall has on teammates, psychologically, but I don’t the boys at MIT will ever get there.

    Finally, are you saying if there was an NBA re-draft, even for one season, that Wall wouldn’t go in the top 100?

    C’mon… really?

  4. Alex

    October 7, 2011 at 7:35 pm

    How far into the postseason do you think Wall — if he progresses as you expect — can carry a team? The track record of point-guard dominated teams come postseason time isn’t terribly strong — the ones that’ve advanced (Nash’s Suns, Rose’s Bulls) have put together overall squads that I think are past Ernie Grunfeld’s capability. Even if Wall develops into one of the best point guards in the league, that alone would only put the Wizards at their ’05-’08 level, right?

  5. Nick

    October 7, 2011 at 7:57 pm

    For one season as I said I probably wouldn’t take him in the top 100.

    He was 184th on WinShares per 48 minutes last season. Win Shares being based on individual boxscore stats and team defense.

    You’d like “a statistical way to measure the effect that Wall has on teammates, psychologically, but I don’t the boys at MIT will ever get there.”

    I’ll take Adjusted +/- as usually useful estimate of what impact he actually had on the court.

    Last season on regularized Adjusted +/- he ranked 425th of 451.

    http://stats-for-the-nba.appspot.com/ranking11

    I expect him to do a lot better next season. Maybe top 100 on one or both of this measures. But I might take a prove top 100 guy instead. Depends who is left.

  6. Nick

    October 7, 2011 at 8:00 pm

    in next to last sentence, should be “proven”

  7. Kyle Weidie

    October 7, 2011 at 8:05 pm

    OK…. but I imagine there are a lot of unproven guys in the so-called top 100.

    Are you telling me you’d take the likes of a Josh Smith or a Rudy Gay over John Wall… for one season even?

  8. Kyle Weidie

    October 7, 2011 at 8:10 pm

    I also feel like it’s very hard to tell when past stats are a reliable predictor for the future, and when they are like looking at the played numbers of a roulette wheel. With the economy, perhaps the former (although I’d love to know when we actually learn lessons in that regard); with basketball players, I often opt to take the former in certain situations, one of them being John Wall.

    I do contemplate getting lured in by Wall’s skills to the eye without outside/additional perspective, but I also don’t think there’s a reason why Wall can’t ascend as fast as someone like Derrick Rose… and look at his improvement in stats/shooting percentage/wins/etc.

  9. Kyle Weidie

    October 7, 2011 at 8:13 pm

    To Alex:

    One thing that I’ve said all along is that Wall needs another superstar beside him. I think the Wizards are setting themselves up with a nice core and the ability to be players for a legit free agent one day.

  10. Nick

    October 7, 2011 at 8:27 pm

    “Are you telling me you’d take the likes of a Josh Smith or a Rudy Gay over John Wall… for one season even?”

    Absolutely, in a second. Josh Smith has a strong positive RAPM. Gay was just above neutral, and is overrated, but yeah I’d take him over Wall for one season.

    For the indefinite future is another question I am not trying to answer, largely because I don’t know Wall well.

    By the way I should clarify that Wall was 184th on WinShares per 48 minutes when it is restricted to players who played over 1500 minutes. For all players regardless of minutes played, Wall ranked 335th last season
    http://www.basketball-reference.com/play-index/psl_finder.cgi?request=1&match=single&type=totals&per_minute_base=36&lg_id=NBA&is_playoffs=N&year_min=2011&year_max=2011&franch_id=&season_start=1&season_end=-1&age_min=0&age_max=99&height_min=0&height_max=99&birth_country_is=Y&birth_country=&is_active=&is_hof=&pos=&qual=&c1stat=mp&c1comp=gt&c1val=1&c2stat=&c2comp=gt&c2val=&c3stat=&c3comp=gt&c3val=&c4stat=&c4comp=gt&c4val=&c5stat=&c5comp=gt&c6mult=1.0&c6stat=&order_by=ws_per_48&order_by_asc=&offset=300

    Probably because of his inefficient shooting, turnovers and defense.

  11. Nick

    October 7, 2011 at 8:32 pm

    Derrick Rose had a negative RAPM his first 2 seasons (though not as bad as Wall’s first season estimate). He “got it” in year 3 and pulled a strong positive. I’d guess Wall will be better in year 3 or 4 than in year 2.

  12. Nick

    October 7, 2011 at 8:35 pm

    RAPM = regularized Adjusted +/-, a less volatile version of Adjusted +/- than the original version seen at basketballvalue.com.

  13. Nick

    October 7, 2011 at 8:43 pm

    Wall would probably be better off trying to be more like Chris Paul than Derrick Rose.

    Wall needs a star beside him, maybe 2 and he needs to become a real star first before superstar comes into the picture.

  14. Nick

    October 7, 2011 at 8:56 pm

    Wall was one of the worst shooting big minute PGs in the league from any distance beside at the rim, where he was just slightly below average. http://www.hoopdata.com/shotstats.aspx?team=%25&type=pm&posi=PG&yr=2011&gp=40&mins=25
    His strength was getting to the rim or getting fouled but he heaved up a lot of bad mid-range shots when he couldn’t get to the rim or get fouled.

    Westbrook fell in love with shooting any and everything last season and he stopped focusing on defense a lot of the time. His RAPm suffered greatly because of that change in foucus. For your sake I hope they don’t let Wall become obsessed with scoring so heavily himself.

  15. Tyler

    October 8, 2011 at 3:20 pm

    Nick, what are you smoking?
    Taking 100 players over wall next season is a joke. He will be a top 20 players next season take my word for it. Look what he is doing on the summer league circut. I dont know what stats your using they are not taking into account that he was injured the entire season and plays on a bum ass squad. Not top 100? smh

  16. Vee

    October 9, 2011 at 2:11 am

    Have to agree with Tyler. John is making a bid for top 20 next season, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he falls a bit short. He’s being underrated by so many pundits its mind blowing. This kid is going into his second season healthy, much stronger and with a far better shot. John’s going to be an absolute monster.

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