John Wall has taken a lot of heat in his young NBA career. Negatives like, he is always hurt, cannot shoot well enough to be a primetime point guard, and that he was not worth the contract the Wizards gave him this summer.
Well, the hate has dwindled early in this season as no point guard in the Eastern Conference is playing better basketball right now then Wall. On the season, he is averaging 19 points per game along with nine assists, 4.5 rebounds, and 2.4 steals. No one else in the league is averaging those kind of numbers.
Wall has used his speed and size to score and set up teammates. In recent weeks, he has been super aggressive and his numbers have reflected it. Wall can have a tendency to to settle for jump shots instead of attacking the basket. When he does that, the Wizards as well as Wall himself struggle. He is being aggressive getting to the basket in the Wizards recent success. They are 6-2 in their last eight games and Wall has been the driving force behind the Wizards recent wins.
In the last eight games, Wall has been averaging 22.6 points per game along with 8.9 assists and three steals. He has been doing it all. In those eight games, he has had a game where he scored 37 points and then a game when he dished 16 assists. Wall has been showing his versatility and how he can dominate a basketball game lately.
It is not just the great numbers he is putting up though that will likely make him the starting point guard for the East squad in February for the All-Star game. He is making this Wizards team a legit playoff team after a disastrous 2-7 start to the season. Wall has been magnificent setting up teammates in transition, off dribble penetration as well as the pick-and-roll.
No point guard in the NBA is setting up his teammates like Wall is besides Chris Paul, who is putting together an MVP-type season. According to NBA.com’s Player Tracking Data, Wall is creating 21.7 points per game off of his assists. He is also one of only five other players who has an assist percentage of over 40 percent in the entire league, according to Basketball Reference. Wall is assisting on an estimate of 41 percent of teammate field goals when he is on the court.
Wall’s vision on the court is right up there with pass-first point guards such as Paul and Ricky Rubio. He finds shooters in the opposite corner like no other player in the league and it is a big reason why the Wizards are one of the best teams at shooting threes from the corners.
The Wizards are the only team that has shot more than 140 corner threes and made more then 60 of them while shooting over 45 percent. This is a direct result of Wall’s ability to find open shooters, especially in the corner.
He is not just doing it on the offensive end of the court, he is setting a tone on the defensive end this year as well. He is currently third in the league with 2.35 steals per game. His length and quickness is a problem for a lot of guards and when he gets a steal and is off in transition, his speed to the basket is unparalleled. Of guards playing more then 37 minutes per game, Wall is the only one besides Andre Iguodala to have a defensive rating of under 105 so far this season. Wall has a defensive rating of 104.
There is no doubt Wall has areas to improve in his game. He is still a lackluster jump shooter and has games like he did last week against the Indiana Pacers where he went 4-14 from the field and settled for contested shots off the dribble instead of attacking the basket. He still gambles a little too much on defense leaving the him out of his position and the rest of his team vulnerable. Everything that Wall struggles with can be corrected and most likely will. Remember, he is still only 23 years old. The sky is the limit.
The Eastern Conference is by no means loaded at the point guard position. With injuries to Derrick Rose, Rajon Rondo, and Deron Williams, the position is relatively weak. But if you want to be considered as one of the best point guards in the entire league, you have to start somewhere. And being the best point guard in the Eastern Conference like John Wall is, is certainly a start.