[NOTE: Truth About It.net 2011-12 Player Reviews continue, where we take a look at the past, present and future of those players who have touched the Wizards franchise during the 2011-12 lockout-shortened season. Now, we take a look at the 21-year old kid on whom the Washington franchise is pinning their hopes. That's right... John Wall. TAI's Adam McGinnis, Rashad Mobley and Kyle Weidie take a look at John's sophomore campaign. -Kyle W.]
Player Review Index: Morris Almond (we’d like to) | Andray Blatche | Trevor Booker | Brian Cook (maybe) | Jordan Crawford | Maurice Evans | Rashard Lewis | Shelvin Mack | Cartier Martin | Roger Mason Jr. | JaVale McGee | Nenê | Kevin Seraphin (coming soon) | Chris Singleton | James Singleton | Ronny Turiaf (meh) | Edwin Ubiles (we’ll see) | Jan Vesely | John Wall | Nick Young
John Wall: DC Council Ratings
In 66 starts with the Wizards: 1.72 average Stars out of 3
[After Nene's 2.19 average in six starts, the Wizards fall into place like so: Kevin Seraphin - 1.77 (21 starts); Wall - 1.72 (66); Trevor Booker - 1.55 (32); Jan Vesely - 1.45 (20); JaVale McGee - 1.39 (40); Jordan Crawford - 1.35 (32); Nick Young - 1.26 (32); Andray Blatche - 1.08 (13); Rashard Lewis - 0.98 (15); and Chris Singleton - 0.94 (51 starts).]
Wall’s Best Starts: Jan. 16, 2012 – Game 13 vs Houston Rockets; Apr. 23, 2012 – Game 64 vs Charlotte Bobcats
Wall’s Worst Starts: Jan. 13, 2012 – Game 11 at Philadelphia 76ers; Mar. 24, 2012 – Game 47 vs Atlanta Hawks
“I think I’m kind of the same … A little better, but not too much.” —John Wall
Not exactly what you want to hear from a former No. 1 overall draft pick after his second season in the league. And statistically, no one will argue with Wall. If you’re really searching for improvement, his PER went up a notch from 15.8 to 17.7, putting him tied with Cole Aldrich, Jerryd Bayless and Amar’e Stoudmire at 82nd in the NBA.
Management provided Wall with yet another tumultuous season—the Gilbert Arenas trade one year, the JaVale McGee/Nick Young the next. Hey, it’s the NBA; it happens, get used to it. Hindered by post NBA-lockout urgency on several accords, the second-year point guard was good, if not very inconsistent. [See game-by game ratings chart below.]
We’ll never be able to measure the value of lessons learned by Wall this season, but the most overlooked fact might be that he was the only Wizard to start all 66 games. Actually, he was just one of 15 players in the entire league to start all 66. Remember when it became fashionable to question Wall’s durability? Maybe he didn’t hone his jumper last summer, but at least he stayed in shape; but perhaps that’s to be expected.
Yes, Wall’s jumper needs more than work. It needs reconstruction. His J often took an erratic mind of its own, succumbing to experiment. It’s hard to use the 2011 lockout summer circuit as a scapegoat for the seeming regressive development, although there’s something to be said about working out focused, with a consistent home base, as opposed to becoming a playboy jet-setter with a budding but less-publicized affection for the nightlife. (However, don’t yet confuse John Wall with Andray Blatche.) Kids will be kids; Wall will only turn 22 on September 6. But whatever the case, something last summer didn’t quite work. We can’t exactly say Wall experienced a sophomore slump, but with drastic, necessary roster changes—a situation about which former coach Flip Saunders says, “When Randy [Wittman] first took over, they didn’t have great success until they did what they needed to do with some of the guys and changed the roster. And they got better.”—there are no more excuses for Wall heading into a full contact summer before season three.
From his rookie to sophomore season, Wall improved his jumper from 10-15 feet, going from 30.8-percent to 33.7-percent shooting. However, from 16-feet to the 3-point line, Walls FG% dropped from 31.6-percent to 30.2-percent. He sometimes had a hitch, he sometimes kicked up his heels, he sometimes looked awkward and uncomfortable when faced with the proposition of an open jumper. All of the “sometimes” would add up to often.
But, evidence of Wall’s offensive progression wasn’t totally lacking. The percentage of his points due to free throws jumped from 26.6 to 29.5-percent. The amount of Wall’s points that came off turnovers also rose from 17.7 to 23.9-percent.
Wall even showed improvement in offensive creation and taking care of the ball. Over 15 games in April, his Assist Percentage of 41.7-percent and Assist-to-Turnover Ratio of 2.52 provided significant improvement over those respective numbers on the season (36.2% and 2.08), as well as during Wall’s rookie season (35.7% and 2.20).
Close observers of the team can concur with what Randy Wittman said after the last game: “The end of the year, his decision-making in transition was so much better than it was in the beginning of the year. How many times have we seen him crash-and-burn and going too far when there was no where to go? We hardly saw that at all coming down the stretch. Now, he’s got a ways to go to be the player I think he’s going to be capable of being.”
So, what’s next, Game Changer?
—Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It)
Last year around this time, John Wall was sent to 2011 NBA Draft Lottery as a good luck charm for the Washington Wizards franchise. He was a bit frustrated that injuries prevented him playing to his full potential, but he was excited at the prospect of getting healthy and working on all aspects of his game—mainly his inconsistent jumper. He then proceeded to spend the remainder of the lockout summer playing in a series of basketball exhibitions. Wall was healthy, his speed seemed legendary and his jumper, well, it was difficult to notice any improvement, because he got into the lane at will.
After a second season where, by Wall’s own admission, his game saw marginal improvements, this offseason has already taken on a more serious tone. He didn’t represent the Wizards at the 2012 Draft Lottery, as Ted Leonsis‘ son Zach filled that role and came home with the third pick. And while he may have had the usual nicks and bruises after playing 66 games, Wall has no nagging injuries to hold him back this summer. Playing in an exhibition here and there may still be an option (such as a mid-May open run in Raleigh, NC or the Los Angeles Drew League, where he recently punched home a reverse alley-oop from Chris Brown), but he will spend the initial part of his summer playing for the USA Select Team. Unlike summer ball, which is low on competition and high on crowd-pleasing play, a successful appearance from the Select Team could eventually mean a promotion to they Olympic team.
Whether Wall realizes it or not, this is the most important summer of his short NBA career. His first two years were full of roster turnover of low expectations under the guise of rebuilding—a concept that his general manager and his owner have trumpeted whenever they get the opportunity. But as he prepares to enter his third season, Wall has to show that he can navigate that balance between getting his teammates involved and taking over games to lead his team to victories—enough victories to contend for the playoffs.
Wall seems to be up to that task, as evidenced by his attendance at the Clippers-Grizzlies playoff game back on May 8 with Wizards assistant coach Sam Cassell. Wall was mainly able to observe his fellow North Carolina native, Chris Paul, and noticed that, “he dictates what he wants to do with the ball and gets everyone involved.”
Wall has been granted the power, and the team clearly aims to put more pieces around him, but there can be a fine line between leadership and dictatorship (especially since Wall doesn’t have all the answers). Which one does John Wall want to be?
—Rashad Mobley (@Rashad20)
There is a part of John Wall’s future that is totally under his control, and there is a part that he is powerless to affect. Unfortunately for Wall, the part he cannot control looms much larger.
Wall can control the number of jumpers he shoots between now and training camp in September. Ideally, he’ll shoot so many that he’ll no longer retain that hitch that has been so uncomfortable to watch during his first two seasons. He already proved in the second half of this just completed season that he is capable of controlling his speed, and the USA Select team coaching staff will most likely build on this concept. An improved shot, along with using his speed as a weapon, will only make Wall a more finely-tuned and versatile offensive threat. But that’s only half of the equation.
Wall cannot control who his teammates will be next season. The Wizards didn’t with the lottery—and the chance to land Anthony Davis—but whomever they land with the third pick could, likely a player younger than 20, could make an immediate impact. The right draft pick, combined with a solid free-agency signing—an offseason market in which Ernie Grunfeld plans to be aggressive—could propel the Wizards into a serious discussion about basketball, instead of keeping them anchored to jokes about franchise ineptitude.
But a weak draft selection and the wrong free agent could further sour Wall on Washington and push him closer toward a vision for greener pastures. That’s a lot of pressure on young Wall’s shoulders, but there is even more pressure on Ernie Grunfeld and Ted Leonsis to ease that burden.
—Rashad Mobley (@Rashad20)
*THE UPS & DOWNS OF WALL’S SOPHOMORE SEASON
The first trend in blue represents John Wall’s game-by-game DC Council 3-Star Rating (the total for each contributor from Truth About It.net; nine potential stars from three contributors each game). The second trend in red represents Wall’s game-by-game Game Score, a per-game statistical productivity measure created by John Hollinger (formula below).
Game Score via Basketball-Reference.com: Game Score; the formula is PTS + 0.4 * FG - 0.7 * FGA - 0.4*(FTA - FT) + 0.7 * ORB + 0.3 * DRB + STL + 0.7 * AST + 0.7 * BLK - 0.4 * PF - TOV. Game Score was created by John Hollinger to give a rough measure of a player’s productivity for a single game. The scale is similar to that of points scored, i.e., 40 is an outstanding performance, 10 is an average performance, etc.
GRADE JOHN WALL
NBA COACHES ON JOHN WALL
—Adam McGinnis (@AdamMcGinnis)
GET OUT THE WAY, STEVE BLAKE