How John Wall Can Keep Improving His Jumper
Many pundits claim that John Wall will never be an elite point guard unless he gets a reliable jump shot. Many pundits are wrong. Wall is already a top five passer in the game, an absolute force in the open court, a high IQ player, and he remains as one of the better defenders at his position. His impact on the game is enormous.
Which is not to say that his jump shot isn’t shaky. In this new season, Wall is shooting a mere 41.1 percent from the field while connecting on shots at a below average rate from practically every spot on the floor. Let’s look at Wall’s 2013-14 shot chart to-date:Wall needs to do better, and since the act of shooting is a technical skill derived from mental and muscle-memory components, he certainly can. In fact, John’s already shown signs of improvement: he’s made as many 3-pointers in this season (15) as in the previous two seasons combined. But if Wall is to see drastic improvement with his jump shot, he’s going to have to kick some bad habits and be more consistent with his form.
Most coaches will insist that their players keep their feet and shoulders square with the basket while hoisting a shot. This isn’t as second nature for John Wall as it is for, say, Klay Thompson. Here, we see Wall turning his body almost 90 degrees (completely voluntarily!) after using a ballscreen:
We can also look to some inconsistencies in Wall’s follow-through. In the first three clips below, Wall exhibits a relaxed, smooth shooting motion with his hand extended long after his release. During his subsequent misses, even in times of no shot contest, Wall can be seen snapping back his wrist without a follow-through:
Finally, Wall must completely get rid of the hitch in his release in order to avoid shooting on the way down from his jump apex. He’s made lots of progress with this so far, and it’s not nearly as much a problem as it is with, for instance, Blake Griffin. But we’re still seeing it surface from time to time:
Make no mistake: Players can shoot at an accurate clip with unorthodox form, even in the world’s most competitive league. Just ask Kevin Martin, Shawn Marion, or Matt Bonner. But this doesn’t take away from the importance of consistency. Once John improves in this regard—always following through, remembering to square up, and eliminating the hitch altogether—better percentages should follow. (So far this season Wall is shooting seven percent worse from midrange than last season—something to monitor.)
Wizards fans can take solace in the fact that John has already noticeably improved his 3-point shot, and does appear to be taking note of his better spots on the floor—he’s actively shooting more from the right elbow and mid-right section of the 3-point line than he is on the left side. As Wall’s multi-dimensional game continues to improve in the years ahead, it’s going to be an absolute blast further observing his further development.
Cameron Purn is a basketball junkie from Seattle, WA, who attended Western Washington University and who now lives in Japan. You can check out some of Cameron’s work on his own website, KeeperOfTheCourt.com, and you can follow him on Twitter here: @KeeperOTCourt.