John Wall has made his triumphant return to the Washington Wizards and they’re starting to finally look like a contender for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. They dug themselves quite a hole by starting the season 5-28, before going 3-1 since Wall’s return. While they may not have time to secure a playoff spot, they’re looking like they will be competitive for the rest of the 2012-13 season.
As of January 19th, the No. 8 seed in the East is the Boston Celtics, with a record of 20-19. Assuming that winning percentage holds, the Wizards would have to go 34-11 to finish at 42-40 and sneak into the playoffs. While that’s extremely unlikely, at the very least, the Wizards’ fans have something to be excited about again.
In Wall’s four games back, he hasn’t shot terribly well, but he’s been a terrific facilitator. He’s averaging 20.9 points, 12.4 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.2 blocks per-36 minutes. Take a look at his game logs below.
There’s one thing that stood out in Wall’s game late in the 2011-12 season, and that’s his improvement as a facilitator. Over the last five games of the season (all wins), Wall averaged 14.2 points, 12.4 assists and 2.6 steals. Everyone knows he’s one of the fastest and most explosive players in the league, but his basketball IQ is also improving.
It was a key block by Wall that secured the Wizards win over the Denver Nuggets in Denver on Friday night. The Wizards only loss since Wall has been back was at the hands of the Sacramento Kings, in a game where the Wizards seemed to have the game in hand late.
That’s where the veterans are supposed to step in. Having Nene Hilario, Trevor Ariza, Emeka Okafor and Martell Webster has helped to change the culture from a young and undisciplined squad to one that’s more exciting and full of hope.
The idea of pairing Wall with rookie Bradley Beal is also playing out as expected. Since Wall has come back, Beal has found much more space to get his shot off. He’s averaging 20.5 points on 56.6% shooting from the field, 66.7% from the three-point line and 76.9% from the free-throw line.
With a penetrator like Wall on the court, Beal is more able to set his feet and shoot in rhythm. That’s been a godsend and it’s only going to get better.
Things are definitely looking up for the Wizards and it’s only going to get better. Will they make the playoffs? Probably not, but you better believe they’ll be a team to contend with in the future.
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