Have You Heard of This John Wall Kid? — Wizards 2015 Training Camp Questions | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Have You Heard of This John Wall Kid? — Wizards 2015 Training Camp Questions

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Updated: September 29, 2015

Next up on the 2015 Wizards 2015 Query Tour: John Wall.

First, we wondered about Randy Wittman’s sleep habits. Now we ask where the team leader ‘MUST’ improve, or else (1).

Three TAIers, Rashad Mobley (@Rashad20), Adam Rubin (@LedellsPlace), and yours truly (@Truth_About_It) throttle our brains for answers. Keep reading…

[John Wall 2015 Media Day Scrum Shot -- via instagram.com/truthaboutit]

[John Wall 2015 Media Day Scrum Shot — via instagram.com/truthaboutit]

MOBLEY: On one hand it’s unfair to ask an All-Star to improve when, for two consecutive years, he’s reached a level that very few players ever do. However, Wall is a franchise All-Star, which means not only does the fate of the Wizards lie firmly on his 6-foot-4 shoulders, but he’s also expected to improve deficient areas in his game the way all the greats do (think LeBron in the post, Jordan with his 3-point shot). Wall could stand to improve his post game and his jump shot still lacks the desired consistency, but it is quite possible that a jumper may never be a reliable aspect of his game.

What Wall MUST improve upon is his ability to get to the free throw line. He averaged six free throw attempts over his first three seasons, but over the last two seasons that average dipped below 4.7, including a career-low 4.6 attempts per game last season. To add some perspective, 31 players averaged more free throw attempts per game than Wall last season. Russell Westbrook averaged 9.8 attempts last year, second in the league to James Harden, and wreaked havoc on defenses by basically treating the paint like his own catwalk, nightly. If Wall can better use his speed to get opposing guards (or even big men) in foul trouble, or worry about his frequent lane visitations, it will free Beal, Dudley, Porter, and even the big men for open shots. Wall hasn’t shown the ability to be a consistent outside threat, but he has the ability to get into the lane and that skill should be revisited and repeated.

RUBIN: I object to this question on principle. Wall established himself as a top-10 player in the NBA and carried his team for large stretches of the season, let alone his post-injury performance against the Hawks. Having said that, and in deference to editorial standards at TAI, I will respond. Wall needs to improve his end-of-game, half-court scoring and decision-making. Wall settles for jumpers a little too often. Now that Paul Pierce is gone, the team needs to establish a new last shot taker. Wall doesn’t necessarily have to take the last shot (his eFG% with four seconds or fewer is 31.6%), but he does have to do a better job of making sure whoever takes the shot is in the best position to do so.

WEIDIE: Free throw attempts (and shooting). Clutch performance… Or both.

Wall was an 80 percent free throw shooter his third and fourth years in the league. Last year he dipped to 78.5 percent, only better than his rookie season’s 76.6 percent. Wall did shoot slightly better at the line than Bradley Beal last season (78.3%) and was only topped for the team lead by Ramon Sessions (81.2%) and Rasual Butler (79.1%).

Washington’s team free throw percentage of 73.5 ranks 24th over the last three seasons. We’ve spun this scratchy record before. Franchises such as the L.A. Clippers and Houston Rockets, also funded by DeAndre Jordan and Dwight Howard hack-a-thons, have been able to compete while being in the league’s bottom third in free throw percentage since 2012-13. Otherwise, the Wizards don’t keep good company with this dubious distinction.

The combined win percentage of the top half of NBA free throw shooting teams since 2012: .541. The bottom half of the league Win%: .459. The Blazers, Thunder, Raptors, Spurs, Mavericks, Bulls, and Warriors rank as the NBA’s best free-throw-shooting teams over the past three seasons. There’s some consistency here.

Wall needs to be the team leader in this department. Of the 24 NBA players who have attempted 1,000 or more free throws over the past three seasons, Wall’s hit rate of 79.8 percent ranks 13th. Not bad. That’s better than Monta Ellis, Ty Lawson, Dwyane Wade, and LeBron James, but he should, ideally, be in the range of Russell Westbrook (82%), Carmelo Anthony (83.2%), or even James Harden or Damian Lillard (86.1% each). Kevin Durant leads the crew with 88.5 percent. Michael Jordan was a career 83.5 percent free throw shooter (80.5% as a Wizard).

Wall has never been the classic shooter that some of those others are, but his free throw shooting has generally been contrary to a player pegged with poor shooting ability entering the league. In consideration of how his jump shot has improved, truly, Wall really doesn’t have an excuse not to do the same from the charity stripe. Wall is climbing toward greatness as a player, now he needs to keep striving for it as a winner. Free throws can be part of that difference.

  1. Else the blogs will get him!
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Kyle Weidie
Founder / Editor / Reporter / Writer at TAI
Kyle founded TAI in 2007 and has been weaving in and out the world of Wizards ever since, ducking WittmanFaces, jumping over G-Wiz, and avoiding stints on the DNP-Conditioning list. He has covered the Washington pro basketball team as a member of the media since 2009. Kyle lives in D.C. with his wife, loves basketball, and has no pets.