John Wall Talks Minutes, Fourth Quarters, and His Improved Shot | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

John Wall Talks Minutes, Fourth Quarters, and His Improved Shot

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Updated: December 10, 2016

John Wall after morning shoot-around. December 10, 2016 ( Photo - A. Rubin)

John Wall after morning shoot-around.
December 10, 2016 ( Photo – A. Rubin)


John Wall was one of the last players to leave the practice court after the Washington Wizards Saturday morning shoot-around, and he took his time getting dressed in the locker room before greeting the four or five members of the media who patiently—some more than others—waited in the Verizon Center’s empty hallway for the team’s star to emerge.

That Wall was the last player to leave is not surprising—he is always last to speak after home games—but on this brisk Saturday afternoon the already small number of media who had waited twenty minutes or so were getting antsy until John’s familiar voice echoed down the hall.

When Wall finally turned the corner, he was wearing a smile and a Wizards winter hat. He took his familiar spot in front of the Monumental Sports & Entertainment camera and calmly answered every question.

On His High Minutes Totals

Wall had two off-season knee surgeries and for most of the summer and fall it was not a lock that he would be ready for the start of the season. However, not only has Wall played in every game (except for two early November back-to-backs), he has played an incredibly high number of minutes.

Wall has played at least 37 minutes in nine of his last 10 games with an average of 39 minutes over that span. To put that tremendous workload in perspective, Anthony Davis currently leads the NBA in minutes at 38.1.

Wall stated the obvious: “I’ve probably played more minutes than I thought I would coming off surgery.”

But it’s not just the quantity of minutes, it’s the quality. Due to the lack of bench production, Wall has been asked to carry the team for extended minutes late in games. These are not second quarter stretches where you can take a possession or two off. Wall has to carry the team on offense and get defensive stops for long stretches in the fourth after he has already played 30 minutes in the first three quarters.

In the last game against Denver, Scott Brooks had to put Wall back in the game with 9:22 remaining after the bench (plus Marcin Gortat and Markieff Morris) let a two point lead slide to a four point deficit in under two minutes. Brooks has coached this team long enough to know that he had to stop the bleeding.

I asked Wall whether it has been difficult playing so many fourth quarter minutes:

“When it’s a close game I don’t ever want to come out, to be honest with you. When I have to come out for a minute or two minutes or three minutes, I’m over there anxious like ‘come on, come on, come on’. I’m just a competitive person. Whenever the game is close or we have an opportunity to win I want to play all the minutes. Coaches do a great job of giving me time and resting as much as possible.

“I love to be out there, I love to be aggressive, I love to try to help my team win, especially the way we are down and behind right now. I try to play as much as possible in the fourth quarter, I am kind of anxious to go but I don’t say nothing to him [Scott Brooks] because I just let him do his job.”

On Playing Small Ball with Otto Porter and Kelly Oubre

In the fourth quarter against Denver, Brooks subbed Kelly Oubre in for Markieff Morris with 10 minutes left and went with a small ball lineup for the remainder of the team’s 92-85 win. Wall was asked whether the team found something in that fourth quarter that they can carry on:

“I think so. Still at times we are still trying to figure out what lineup works and what guys you can use on the second unit at times. But I think just the way we played, we played more aggressive. We were able to switch a lot of things and everyone was being very physical on the defensive end and that kind of helped us get a win.”

Wall talked about how the small-ball lineup allows them to switch a lot on defense (Brooks said the same thing in his post-game press conference after the Nuggets game). I asked Wall whether the small lineup also allows him to push the ball more on offense because he likes to run off missed shots but he often turns around and sees that no one else is running with him:

“No. It’s crazy because coach was just talking about how we try to get our first big just to run down the floor instead of stopping to set drags. It slows up [the offense] because we got our other big coming up. Nah, it’s still the same [with the small lineup], I just give credit to some teams when they are getting back. I’m not one of those guys that wants to try to force the issue like I would in the past. I think I have expanded my game well enough that I don’t have to worry about only scoring in transition. So if things are not there I take my time and just am able to score in the half court set now.”

John Wall on His Improved Offense

Despite the off-season knee surgeries, despite the high minutes, despite a career high in field goal attempts per game (18.7) and usage rate (31.5%), Wall’s shooting percentages are at career highs—and it’s not even close: 45.5 FG%, 37.1% 3FG% and 82.4%FT. John was asked how his offense improved so much when he was injured the entire off-season:

“I think just taking better shots, not taking bad shots. Just trusting all the hard work and dedication I put in this summer, working out as much as I could, working on my shot and being able to finish at the rim and getting stronger. Doing all the things I had to to rehab to get back to where I wanted to be.”

When asked what parts of his offensive game he is most pleased with, Wall basically answered: All of the above: “I think I’m playing well, shooting the ball well. Everything all over I’m doing well. I’m doing great at it.” But he added one important area of improvement: “Just could do better in the fourth quarter closing out games for our team.”

When Wall finished answering the last question there were a couple seconds of silence. John scanned the group and asked, “That’s it?” as if he was not yet ready to face the winter cold.

 

Adam Rubin on EmailAdam Rubin on Twitter
Adam Rubin
Reporter / Writer at TAI
Adam grew up in the D.C. area and has been a Washington Bullets fan for over 25 years. He will not refer to the franchise as anything other than the Bullets unless required to do so by Truth About It editorial standards. Adam spent many nights at the Capital Centre in the ‘90s where he witnessed such things as Michael Jordan’s “LaBradford Smith game,” the inexcusable under-usage of Gheorghe Muresan’s unstoppable post moves, and the basketball stylings of Ledell Eackles.