John Wall on the Eastern Conference and Why He’s Finishing Better At the Rim
— Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It) December 2, 2013
John Wall is finishing much better at the rim this season. Both the eye test and stats prove that. What does he have to say about it?
“Just locating the rim early. Just concentrating on not getting fouled any more. Biggest thing was just when I went there, I wasn’t trying to finish, but I was just trying to get a lot of fouls called. Now, I just try to play through the contact and finish at the rim.”
There’s more words owed to how much the picture is worth.
Wall is shooting more jump shots. Specifically, 3-pointers—19.2 percent of Wall’s field goal attempts this season are above-the-break 3-pointers; that percentage over his first three seasons: 9.9, 2.8, and 4.1.
Results: less of Wall’s shots are coming in the restricted area, less in the paint, and even less from midrange (3.1% less compared to last season). He’s attacking less, and he’s getting to the free throw line less. Wall’s Free Throw Attempt Rate (“FTr,” the number of FTAs per FGA, via Basketball-Reference.com) from seasons one to four: .404, .450., .416, and this season .320.
Is this a bad thing?
Staying out of the lane keeps Wall healthier, one would assume. He now has more weapons (shooters) around him than ever before, he has two big men who he appreciates very much (Nene and Marcin Gortat), and Wall’s OffRtg (points scored per 100 possessions) has improved over his career: 98.9 to 98.5 to 102.1 to 105.7 this season.
Wall is playing the best he’s ever played, and he has the best team he’s ever had around him. This is what’s supposed to happen. Wall also has a lot more room to grow. Let’s pull back the layers to see exactly what type of shooting progression we’re dealing with and where.
Stats the eyes can look at…
These are Wall’s basic shot zone charts from seasons one to four. Two main trends to notice:
- Wall shot an average of 56 percent in the restricted area over his first three seasons. This season that’s at 63 percent.
- Wall has actually regressed a decent bit from midrange and from in the paint (non-restricted area) in season four. But he is shooting 35.7 percent on above-the-break 3-pointers in 2013-14, which isn’t terrible (and we’ll take it).
These next set of charts spanning Wall’s first four seasons in the NBA further break out his shooting into more detailed zones.
What do you see?
Wall’s intended sweet spot is that right elbow area—such has been well-covered—and while he shot much better from that spot last season (49.1%), this season’s percentage (38.6%) is still up from his average from the right elbow over his first two seasons (34.1%).
Wall’s ability to finish within five feet of the rim has gone like so over his first four seasons: 51.9%, 52.8%, 54.8%, and up to 59.3% so far this season. That’s called progress.
Finally, let’s take a look at some charts which illustrate Wall’s shot selection.
These charts convey a boon on 3-pointers from above-the-break (9.9% to 2.8% to 4.1% to 19.2% of all Wall’s shot attempts from seasons one to four, as discussed above), and also the depression in the paint (restricted area plus non-restricted area: 54.4% to 59.2% to 48.2% to just 35.4% of Wall’s total shot attempts from seasons one to four).
The ultimate, current gist is that Wall is more efficient at the basket, as alludes the title of this post. As a rookie, he scored 1.04 points per shot within five feet. This season it is at 1.19 points per shot.
Yes, Wall is in the paint less and on the perimeter more. But to fix knocks on his game—no jump shot—this is one path toward improvement: Wall is attempting to show that he will make teams pay as they continue to go under screens and give him space at the 3-point line.
Only when Wall proves he can consistently knock down 3s will he be considered a next-level player, opening up the floor for teammates and himself. The next logical step is attacking the basket when teams start respecting his perimeter game.
The East is in the House? Ohmygawd…!
Eastern Conference yuks, top responses to them: 1) You don’t say? 2) Is that so? 3) Stinks. 4) Whatcha going to do? 5) Definitely, let’s get rid of divisions, but keep the conferences … so be cool.
John Wall’s take on ‘Got Jokes?’ for the East:
“I don’t care…” Wall said from Wizards practice on Friday afternoon.
Wall mostly went on to express that he’s not going to fault his geographic location. He wants to win and will take a playoff berth any way he can get it. Wall:
“If you really look at it, you don’t see four to five teams like we have this year in the Eastern Conference that are starting to rebuild in the same year. It’s very rare that you see that. So that’s a huge coincidence to us.”
And does Wall still write “playoffs” on his shoes? You bet he does.
Of course Wall says the word might have faded since he’s worn the same pair of shoes for the last seven to nine games—”the red pair.”
We will see if Wall can keep his 9-9 Wizards on track tonight against the Milwaukee Bucks. An even .500 record is nice, but if Washington doesn’t continue to beat the teams they that should beat, like the 3-15 Bucks, the playoffs picture will fade like marker ink on shoes, or at best, the Wizards will find themselves a 7 or 8 seed and the East, hoping for moral victories in a quick first round exit against Miami or Indiana.