John Wall is undoubtedly one of the fastest players from end-to-end in the entire league. When he ignites a fast break, he is a blur with his dribble, and often unstoppable. Wall can destroy opposing defenses with his blazing speed by either finding open teammates or getting all the way to the rim on his own.
However, the way the Wizards roster is constructed, it seems like Wall may not be getting fully utilized.
A traditional lineup of two big men is no longer traditional in the modern day NBA. Most teams are using quirky lineups to go small and exploit there opponent in other ways. Not the Wizards. They, along with the Memphis Grizzles, are two of the only playoff teams in the league who consistently use two bruising big men in their lineups.
It is no coincidence they are both in the bottom half in the league in terms of the pace in which they play. The Grizzles play at the slowest pace in the entire league while the Wizards played at the 19th slowest pace last season. They averaged 95.45 possessions per game.
Now with the addition of almost 38-year-old Paul Pierce it will not be surprising if the Wizards play even slower next season. A Pierce-Marcin Gortat-Nene frontline is a group of 30-year-olds who are not at their best when the game is fast and the tempo is pushed.
However, John Wall is.
Wall is probably one of the most deadly transition players in the game. Whether he gets an outlet pass, a rebound himself, or darts down the court on a secondary break, Wall often has the defense right where he wants them–on their heels.
The Knicks have no chance on this one as Wall beats everyone down the floor and scores the easy lay-in.
That’s hard to stop.
So is this.
While getting out in transition allows Wall easy chances to score the basketball, it also gives him a better chance to find open teammates.
Transition defense is so hard because you have to find your man on the fly and with a guy like Wall coming at you, defending in transition becomes even harder. Wall was magnificent at exploiting that last season.
On this possession Wall pushes the ball up the court and makes the defense collapse then hits a wide open Bradley Beal in the corner for a three. Wall found Beal numerous times throughout the year in situations like this simply because he could beat the defense back and Beal spotted up.
Again, it’s a simple game when Wall is orchestrating on the break.
To be fair, the Wizards played their fastest last season with their starting lineup. However, I really do see them slowing down this year. Gortat and Nene are a year older and Pierce, who will take over for Trevor Ariza as the starting small forward, has not played for a team that has been in the top-half of the league in terms of fastest pace since the 2006-07 season.
Wall and Beal are the cornerstone of this franchise. If the Wizards want to take the next step as a franchise, they need the two at their absolute best. And Beal is at his best when Wall is at his best, which is in transition.
To maximize what Wall can bring to the table, coach Randy Wittman should trust his All-Star point guard and give him the green light whenever in transition. At this point, you have let Wall play to his strengths and trust him.
I also think the Wizards should also go small every now and then with Pierce at the four position and either Glen Rice Jr. or Otto Porter as the small forward. That lineup would be able to run with Wall and capitalize better in transition.
Wall is a special player, especially on the move and the worst thing you can do to a player with his skill set is slow him down.