John Wall in 2012-2013 with the Wizards: Are You There, John? It's Me, Stardom | Wizards Blog Truth About

John Wall in 2012-2013 with the Wizards: Are You There, John? It’s Me, Stardom

Updated: May 21, 2013

[Wizards 2012-13 Player Reviews from the TAI crew are going down; let’s reflect—index:
Jannero PargoJason CollinsShaun LivingstonShelvin MackCartier MartinEarl Barron,
Jan VeselyChris SingletonTrevor BookerGarrett TempleEmeka OkaforTrevor Ariza,
Martell WebsterA.J. PriceJordan CrawfordKevin SeraphinBradley BealNeneJohn Wall.]

John Wall 2012-13 Washington Wizards Player Review

John Wall

6-4 : Height
195 lbs. : Weight
22 : Age
3 : Years NBA Experience
1 : NBA Team

Drafted first overall by the Washington Wizards in the 2010 NBA Draft.

Time as a Wizard in 2012-13

49 : Games
42 : Starts
1,602 : Minutes

1.91 out of 3 stars

Average Truth About DC Council Game Rating
{Wall evaluated over 48 games}

20.8 PER

NBA historical PER contribution equivalent:
maybe Steve Nash for the 2001-02 Dallas Mavericks (20.8)
maybe Fat Lever for the 1986-87 Denver Nuggets (20.7),
maybe Kevin Johnson for the 1993-94 Phoenix Suns (20.6)

.134 Win Shares/48 Minutes

NBA historical WS/48 contribution equivalent:
maybe Baron Davis for the 2003-04 New Orleans Hornets (.133),
maybe Tony Parker for the 2002-03 San Antonio Spurs (.134),

With John Wall on the Court…

The Wizards offense scored 7.3 points more per 100 possessions (OffRtg)
The Wizards defense allowed 0.2 points more per 100 possessions (DefRtg)
Plus/Minus per 48 minutes: plus-1.3

Numbers : Per 36 Minutes

20.4 : Points
4.4 : Rebounds
0.8 : Blocks
1.5 : Steals
8.4 : Assists
3.5 : Turnovers
2.6 : Fouls

0.88 PPP

Wall had 1,015 offensive possessions with the Wizards that ended with a FGA, TO or FTs, and he scored 0.88 Points Per Possession (PPP) on those, ranked 261st in the NBA (via Synergy Sports Technology). Defensively, he allowed 0.89 PPP over 594 possessions, ranked 256th.


44.1% Field Goals (324-735)
26.7% 3-Pointers (12-45)
80.4% Free Throws (246-306)

John Wall 2012-13 Shot Chart - Washington Wizards


John Wall in 2012-13 with the Wizards: Are You There, John? It’s Me, Stardom

by Conor Dirks (@ConorDDirks)

After a summer spent cavorting around and building a rapport with new BFF and backcourt mate Bradley Beal, promoting Red Bull, and training with the Olympic “Select Team,” John Wall seemed primed for a breakout year. Spoiler alert: he did eventually have one.

Since the slow, painful, complicated departure of Gilbert Arenas, Washington basketball has gone without: playoffs, winning seasons, and All-Star players. The last D.C. All-Stars were Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison back in the 2007-2008 season. When a heavilybearded Arenas resigned himself to the role of Robin, the stage was set for Wall to be the next (as if there have been enough to assume there will be another) Verizon Center superstar. That it didn’t happen right away never meant it wouldn’t happen ever.

As forehead alien extraordinaire and traitor/tailor/soldier/spy Garak, from Deep Space Nine, once said: “The truth is usually just an excuse for a lack of imagination.” Sportswriting types have imagination, even if it borders on uninspired trolling from time to time.  In a January 2013 Insider article by Chris Broussard, some “sources” chimed in to comment on whether Wall had hit his “ceiling.”

One “Eastern Conference scout” said:

“No, he’s not going to be an elite point guard. He’s so limited… I see a guy who thinks ‘shoot first, pass second.’ Maybe that’s because he’s on a bad team, but I think those are his instincts—shoot first, pass, second… I think of Wall as a poor man’s Westbrook… I hate to say Wall can’t be like Westbrook because he’s such a young kid, but I really don’t think he can… When the ball comes off Westbrook’s hand, it looks good. When it comes off Wall’s hand, it’s ‘Man, that thing ain’t going in.’ ”

Another Eastern Conference scout:

“Wall isn’t a guy you build a team around. He’s not a franchise guy. He’s a very good player, but I’m getting that Steve Francis feeling… Both are athletic guys playing point guard who really aren’t necessarily point guards.”

Not to keep driving this point home, but the reviews were not winning. An “Eastern Conference executive” said:

“His stock never should’ve been as high as it was… He’s not a shooter, he’s not a leader, he’s not a guy you can build a team around. What he is is a better version of Tyreke Evans.”

The relevancy of the “ceiling” question at that time was dubious; Wall had just returned to action from an injury that caused him to miss the first few months of the season, and his team had the worst record in the NBA. But the most questionable aspect of the conversation was that these NBA decision-makers seemed to describe Wall’s game in a lazy, predictable fashion. I’ll paraphrase the gist: “He’s an athlete, not a smart player, and definitely not a star, leader, or passing point guard.” Just to make one thing clear: it is exceedingly difficult to average eight assists (and Wall averaged 8.1 over his first two seasons) on one of the worst offensive teams in the NBA. The “shooters” Wall had at his disposal before this year were various D-League call-ups, Jordan Crawford, and Nick Young. Besides that, ranking in the top 10 league-wide in assists doesn’t necessarily scream shoot-first point guard.

Broussard’s article was by no means the only article published which was critical of Wall’s development. David Falk also got his shots in, unfortunately, via a Mike Wise column! (of all things not radio). To a certain extent, much of the criticism was fair: Wall’s jumper was extremely raw, his team struggled to win 20 games in the lockout-shortened season despite the fact that he played every game, and he showed little tangible growth between his first two seasons.

Stardom is fickle and can be arrived at via many different routes. “Steph Curry is heating up” wouldn’t have been all that exciting a year ago. Now, it means that you should probably tune in. Two years ago, “Linsanity” was a bug splat on your Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing windshield. And as All-Star voters, most major publications, and the good people at Sprite keep reminding us, Kyrie Irving is a star, because Kyrie Irving is a star. Wall couldn’t quite find the right survey team for his path (or cartographer, for that matter—sorry, Flip!) during seasons one and two. Was this past season any different? Did Wall take a step toward stardom? Did he take all the steps? What even are these “steps” I’m talking about? Here are some clichéd methods for acquiring the inherently arbitrary title of “star.”

Massive point production when his team is struggling? Check. When Wall scored 47 points, grabbed seven rebounds and notched eight assists against Memphis (one of the best defensive teams in the NBA) on March 25, he proved he could be a star in Washington in a very appropriate way: only Gilbert Arenas had reached the same statistical milestone for any Wizards team in history. Just to make sure folks got the point, ten of the FGs he made that evening were jumpers, and two of those jumpers were 3-pointers. The “north-south” criticism was also debunked, at least for one night, as Wall changed speeds, moved horizontally on the court, and showed restraint when it was more appropriate to pull back and set up a play. The critical reception to this game was, of course, almost uniformly positive, but more importantly, the Memphis game capped off several months of steady ascension, of growth, of winning. On March 12, Wall dropped 27-7-14 on Cleveland.  The next night against Milwaukee? 23-6-10. On March 15 against New Orleans? 29-4-9. Other than a fairly poor performance against Golden State, the stretch between March 12 and the end of the season was magnificent work. A 40-point effort, three 30-point efforts, and nine double-digit assist totals are evidence of how hard Wall was willing to go, despite being out of playoff contention.

Big assist totals that show he’s a “visionary” and “team player”/”nice guy”? Check. For those that think Wall was a “shoot-first” point guard (looking at you, mystery sources), John Wall’s 16 assists against a Lakers team fighting for a playoff berth must have been a surprise. While his assist total was down slightly this year (7.6 from 8.0 last season), his turnovers were also reduced (from 3.9 last season to 3.2 this season).  Compare Wall to someone he’s often compared to… Russell Westbrook. When Westbrook was drafted in 2008, he was immediately “thrown to the wolves” with, well, the second best player in the NBA, superstar Kevin Durant. Wall? Not so much. But the disparity in surrounding talent didn’t stop Wall from notching similar assist and turnover totals to Westbrook in his third season, at which point Durant was becoming truly elite. That season, Russ averaged 8.2 assists and 3.9 turnovers, with the capability of dishing it out to one of the league’s most unguardable players whenever it struck his fancy.

Does he make his teammates better? Check. Even before his insane March breakout, Wall was making his teammates more competent NBA players. A February 26 post by TAI’s Kyle Weidie illustrated the effect Wall was having on his teammates: he, at one point, made them the best team in the NBA at shooting the corner 3-pointer.

Coach Randy Wittman had this to say: “With John’s penetration, it collapses the defense, you can now compress your guys down to the baseline a little bit more, because of the penetration… And then the stopping of the penetration, it’s a little bit easier pass. John has the ability to get to the rim and you don’t want to have to force that pass backwards. You want [the shooter] to slide with him, which creates a corner 3, through that penetration.”

Evidence of the old adage could also be found in the marked improvement in the performance of rookie Bradley Beal and forward Martell Webster (who had the best season of his career). D.C. fans were a little less than cautiously optimistic after a rough start to Beal’s rookie year, but things sure turned around, starting just before Wall got back. Wall’s return coincided with skyrocketing shooting percentages from the Wizards rookie and helped Beal earn his No. 3 overall selection in the 2012 NBA Draft. The takeaway? I hope you enjoy entering the eternal message board debate with the always-friendly Cleveland area fanbase: “John Wall and Bradley Beal or Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters?”

Does he make his team better? Check. Big check. Biggest check. About a month after Stan Van Gundy said John Wall wasn’t a franchise player he admitted he was wrong. Unlucky, Stan. I’ll let Van Gundy say it in his own words, as he is wont to do:

“I don’t think anybody has done more for a team this year than John Wall has. Look, they were 5-28 when he came back. Five and 28. The worst team in the league. And they’re 21-16 since then. And if you look at the numbers, they’re the ninth-best team in the league—ninth-best team in the league, fourth-best team in the East since he’s come back… And they were the worst team in the league before he came back. Nobody else has done that for a team.”

I shudder (shudder, I tell you!) to think of what the Wizards would have looked like in 2011-12 without John Wall for the first two months. It’s also probably fair to point out that Wall managed to motivate the worst-team in the league to play .500 basketball. Wall looked fiery (too fiery sometimes, am I right Klay Thompson?) and his post-play body language seemed to indicate he drew significant satisfaction from seeing his teammates knock down shots just as much as when he got the buckets himself.

As much as the pre-Wall and post-Wall disparity illuminates just how big of an impact Wall has on the Wizards, it’s also ominous: what kind of roster has Grunfeld constructed here? Is it one that is so dependent on Wall’s style of play that it requires him to function? Or is it just a poorly constructed team that Wall was kind enough to bail out this season? Wall certainly didn’t reach his ceiling in the 2011-12 season, as implied by Broussard’s piece. If it was foolish to assume he had peaked then, it’s even more foolish to do so now, as the jumpers show signs of falling and his turnovers are becoming less of a problem. Wall has work to do if he wants to keep the All-Star level momentum he built in 2013, but he’s shown a willingness to work towards improvement of specific aspects of his game, even without the instant gratification of immediate returns. If the Wizards ever hope to be serious contenders, they’ll need Wall to evolve mightily from his first incarnation.

As NBA talent concentrates itself around “superstar cities” with large metro areas and money to burn, it has become exceedingly difficult to develop and retain All-Star talent. Who was the last All-Star the Wizards drafted who became an All-Star with the Wizards? Juwan Howard, who was an All-Star in the 1995-96 season. It’ll take some doing, and some love from either the voting public and/or NBA decision-makers, but Wall has a chance to be the first player drafted by the Wizards to make an All-Star game with the team in almost two decades.

Now let the wild contract extension rumpus begin.

John Wall’s 47-Point Game Highlights:

John Wall 2012-13 Exit Interview Clips:

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Conor Dirks
Reporter / Writer / Co-Editor at TAI
Conor has been with TAI since 2012, and aids in the seamless editorial process that brings you the kind of high-octane blogging you have come to expect from this rad website. The Wizards have been an assiduous companion throughout his years on the cosmic waiver wire. He lives in D.C. and is day-to-day.