Will John Wall Breakout the Jelly Fam in Game 2? | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Will John Wall Breakout the Jelly Fam in Game 2?

Updated: April 17, 2018

Much was made about the Toronto Raptors snapping their 10-game playoff losing streak in Game 1 on Saturday evening, but another streak was also broken. The Wizards 114-106 loss marked the first time in the John Wall era that the Wizards lost a game one to open the playoffs. Toronto used their superior depth to make a fourth quarter run that would seal the fate for the Wizards.

One of the factors in the Wizards loss, was Toronto’s ability  to contest all of John Wall’s layups at the rim and, which caused him to leave potential points on the floor. In only his sixth game back from his two-month hiatus, the Wizards’ franchise player continues to shake off the rust on his way back to All-Star status. The box score numbers are there, but a deeper dive inside the numbers tells a different story. Wall went 3-13 from inside the restricted area and his missed layups were detrimental to a Wizards team trying to become only the sixth team in the history of the league to pull off an eight versus one upset.

What Happened to John Wall’s Jelly?

The fact that John Wall missed as many layups as he did is surprising given his physical attributes as a player. Since Wall has been in the league he has always excelled at getting to and finishing at the rim. This leaves us with one very important question going forward. What happened to John Wall’s Jelly?

What is Jelly you ask?

Besides being a fruit preserve, the term Jelly in the basketball community is a euphemism for a finger roll finish at the rim. The term jelly was coined by Isaiah Washington and a few of his NYC AAU teammates and is used to describe their flashy and difficult finishes around the basket. Jelly has taken the basketball world by storm and you can’t go into a gym in America, whether it be High School or an NBA arena and not see someone perfecting the jelly. Washington and his crew started what is known as the Jelly Fam and their playground creation made it to the workouts of Lebron James and John Wall last summer as the two Klutch Sports athletes trained in Miami for the upcoming season.

The Jelly has become popular in basketball circles because it’s a perfect saying to describe the degree of difficulty of some of these basketball shots that have popularized other point guards in the NBA such as Kyrie Irving, Damian Lillard, and Steph Curry. These are the guys at Wall’s position that rival him, both on the court and in the shoe stores.

According to Basketball Reference’s shot finder, John Wall shot 56.3% on layup attempts this season compared to the 55.8% he shot on layups last season . Despite his injury riddled season he was statistically better than he had been in past years at attacking the basket. These numbers are also comparable to the likes of the players I mentioned above.

Irving shoots 56.1%

Lillard shoots 52.6%

Curry shoots 62.6%

Wall has shown the ability to finish around the rim like some of the best point guards in the league, but on Saturday he appeared to doubt his own supernatural abilities. When watching a clip of Wall’s missed layups from game one, the thing that stands out is that mechanically Wall seems to be too caught up on absorbing the contact from the defenders instead of trying to avoid the contact and finish at the rim with his best Jelly.

The reason why Wall is absorbing the contact is because he has let his perceived lack of calls get into his own head and this has caused him to subconsciously not attack like he normally does. The most blatant example of this is Wall’s end of the game sequence two weeks ago against the Cleveland Cavaliers. In the closing seconds of that game, Wall had a clear driving line one-on-one against Jeff Green and instead of attacking the basket and finishing at the rim, he kicked the ball out and caused a subsequent turnover.

After that game, Wall’s post-game comments were interesting in that he lamented the fact that he knew he would not get a call on his drive so he passed the ball. Wall is so caught up on whether he will get a call or not that he is playing as if he is trying to draw fouls instead of trying to make shots. Wall is so adamant about his lack of “superstar” calls he is essentially controlling the narrative among Wizards faithful that he somehow isn’t getting the respect that he deserves when he drives to the basket. What Wall should be doing is taking the responsibility of finishing better at the rim on himself and not worry about whether he’s getting calls or not. Considering how well he excels at layup attempts, he should constantly be trying to punish the Raptors at the rim?

After the game Saturday, Wall commented on how he thought that he was fouled, but even admitted that he could have done himself a favor by finishing on some of the shots: “I felt like I got fouled on some of them [layup attempts], but some of them, I still have to make those. … I got everything I wanted.”

If the Wizards are to upset the Raptors in Game Two, they will need John Wall to be his usual aggressive self and to push the pace and get out in transition on Toronto. Washington was outscored on fast break points by Toronto 16-10 and will need to definitely flip that script. This is a solution that can be remedied if Wall returns to his normal All-Star form and decides not to give a damn who is in front of him en route to the basket.

The Raptors’ Jonas Valanciunas is a seven footer but is not known for being a stonewall at the rim as he ranks 55th in Defensive Real Plus Minus (0.77) among centers in the NBA during the regular season. When Valanciunas is not in the game Jakob Poetl is his backup and he ranks 44th among centers at DRPM (0.98). The Raptors did use a few small ball lineups with Serge Ibaka who ranks 28th among power forwards in DRPM (1.10), but the Wizards have tried to scheme Ibaka away from the rim with Markieff Morris successfully running the pick-and-pop game that led to him scoring 22 points.

Despite his woes around the rim, Wall still finished with 23 points and 15 assists. The Wizards were right in the game up until the Raptors pulled away in the fourth and our friends from up North should not expect Wall to go so cold on bunnies around the rim. He has made a habit of performing at his best when the doubters are at full strength and his back appears to be against the wall.  Perhaps in Game 2,  Wall will get back to his normal self and finish at the rim at will– breaking out the Jelly, fam.




Troy Haliburton on Twitter
Troy Haliburton
Troy Haliburton is a native Washingtonian, and graduate of Gonzaga College High School and Morehouse College. Bylines on bylines on bylines.

Will write for food.