John Wall's Relationship With the Refs May Finally Be Turning the Corner | Wizards Blog Truth About

John Wall’s Relationship With the Refs May Finally Be Improving

Updated: October 24, 2018

Oct 20, 2018; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Wizards guard John Wall (2) argues a foul call with referee Steve Anderson (35) against the Toronto Raptors in the fourth quarter at Capital One Arena.

[Photo: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports]

John Wall’s tumultuous relationship with NBA referees may finally be turning the corner and he may not even recognize it. In the past, the five-time NBA All-Star emphasized that he did not get his fair share of calls from the referees when he attacked the basket.

“You drive to the basket and get contact the whole game and try to make up for those calls the last two or three minutes of the game, it gets frustrating.” —John Wall, March 2017

“Because I try to do the same thing as LeBron. But when I turn the corner and get downhill, I don’t get those same calls when people put hands on me or contact with me. I already knew the play before that when I drove on LeBron I wasn’t gonna get a call. So why even put myself in that position? Same thing happened with Jeff Green. I knew they wasn’t gonna give me a call, so I tried to find a teammate for a wide-open shot. Just give that guy credit for making a great defensive stop.” —John Wall, April 2018

Even just last week, Wall commented on some questionable calls the team received in the loss to the Toronto Raptors, calling it “pretty interesting.”

Wall’s historical complaints about his treatment from the referees are valid. He consistently ranks as one of the top players in the league in drives, yet for his career only shoots 5.5 free throw attempts (FTA’s) per game. This season through three games, Wall has gotten more calls off his dribble-drives to the basket, and he is currently tied with Anthony Davis for the lead in free throws attempted per game at 11.3. To put that into perspective, James Harden led the entire NBA with 10.1 FTA per game last season—and those added points helped propel him to a scoring title and his first MVP award.

The next step in Wall’s progression as a player would be to capitalize on his increased free throw rate by hitting more of his attempts. Wall is shooting a career low 70.6% from the charity stripe, including two critical misses at the end of the Wizards’ thrilling (if also fortunate) overtime win against the Trail Blazers on Monday. The misses occurred with the Wizards up one point with 6.6 seconds left, and allowed the Blazers one last opportunity to win the game. Luckily Otto Porter saved the day with his blocked shot of Damian Lillard’s layup attempt.

Small sample size, sure, but Wall’s increased free throw attempts are a positive sign for him moving forward this season. Wall appears to have more body control on his driving attempts and he has been able to slither his way around defenders as opposed to barreling into them as he did in the past.

Scott Brooks wants the Wizards to play smarter basketball. Getting to the free throw line, and hitting, is one of the most important tenets of basketball analytics theology.

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.