As we approach the second half of the season the teams that are winning start to look toward the playoffs while the teams that aren’t as fortunate are forced to look toward the future. One of those not so fortunate teams are the Washington Wizards. They’ve got a lot of decisions to make within the next few weeks.
The Wizards franchise has faced so much turmoil and despair since the 2008 season. After an 0-12 start to this season, it looked like they were dead in the water once again. Bradley Beal was looking sort of bust-ish, and John Wall was still out with knee problems.
Not to mention that they already had over $34 million dollars committed to the trio of Nene, Emeka Okafor, and Trevor Ariza–barring that Ariza accepts a player option worth about $7.7 million. It looked like they were locked up in being a bad team for years to come.
John Wall comes to the rescue, and since his return the Wizards have gone 11-8. That’s a 58% winning percentage over a short span of 19 games, but that’s a pretty positive sign that he’s a player who’s able to turn things around at his full capacity.
Wall’s numbers as they stand are 14.7 points per game, 7.3 assists per game, 3.4 turnovers per game, 3.2 rebounds per game, and a 43% shot percentage in 28.8 minutes per game. His per-36 numbers put him on board with some of the best point guards in the game. He’s scoring 18.3 points per game, 9.2 assists per game, 4 rebounds per game, and 4.2 turnovers per game.
His PER isn’t quite as good as those numbers would reflect. He only has a 17.5 PER for his normal numbers and a 19.6 for his minute adjusted numbers. That’s not quite the best, but its good enough to make the Wizards a better team. With the guys around him, Wall has flourished and they have too. Its best described as a symbiotic relationship between the two parties.
When Wall has been surrounded by shooters, he’s flourished. The Washington Wizards’ starting lineup of Bradley Beal, John Wall, Martell Webster, Nene, and Emeka Okafor has an offensive rating of 115 and a defensive rating of 86, per NBA.com.
He’s improved the Wizards offense dramatically as well, supplementing the already top-10 defense as much as possible. Without Wall, the Wizards offense only scored 93.2 points per 100 possessions while giving up a stingy 101.3 points per 100 possessions.
The Wizards were struggling to score before Wall, but now with him they’re making due. The Wizards score 100 points per possession and giving up only 96 points per possession which would make them the best in the NBA defensively.
As far as Wall individually goes, there have been many critics of his game over the past few months. Stan Van Gundy, David Falk, mysterious NBA GMs, and plenty more have all made statements about Wall’s improvement–or lack thereof. Sometimes seemingly baseless criticism would catch fire on the NBA’s presswire and social media would take it and run.
I’m here to tell you that its actually quite the opposite. In a small sample size this season, Wall has definitely improved as far as his individual efficiency goes. In his second year there was no improvement and a slight regression, but this season he has shown that he has what it takes and broadcasted his potential.
Wall’s offensive efficiency in his first season was 98.9. In his second season it was a meager 98.5. This season its increased a full 2.6 points to 100.6 points per 100 possessions. His net rating–a combination of his offense and defense efficiency–is now 5.4 compared to the -6.8 and -9.0 that he put up in years prior to this one.
Of course, having a better team definitely has had some effect here, but Wall himself has to make the improvement. Combining those numbers with wins shows the positive effect that he’s had on this team.
Now, what case do these numbers make for his market value? I’d say that they are tremendous in a case for him getting a max deal. Is it likely that he will get one? No. But the Wizards should be more than willing to give him a four to five year extension worth $45-50 million dollars. Jrue Holiday, Ty Lawson, and Steph Curry all got similar deals last year. I think Wall will be afforded the same opportunity at the end of next season.
Of course, Wall was the number one pick so you’d expect for him to have earned a max extension by now. But the problem with that is that his game is far too shaky and inconsistent at this point to just throw a max contract at him. He’s got to improve on his ball handling skills along with his jump shooting. He has no problem creating separation, but he’s got to learn to hold on to the ball as well. A max contract means that you have little to no holes in your game. Wall definitely has some holes–and glaring ones–in his.