Who is the only guard in the Eastern Conference that averages a double-double? That would be Washington Wizards point guard John Wall.
Coming out of Kentucky, Wall had his problems going into the draft despite being one of the most physically gifted players at the position. He was not the best shooter and had a problem changing speeds. There were some that questioned his ability to lead a team. Now, with this being his seventh season, Wall has transformed into one of the most complete guards in the entire NBA.
What he does for Washington can be compared to what LeBron James is to the Cavaliers. Now I’m not saying he is on the same level as LeBron, but Wall is everything for the Wizards. He is currently averaging 23.2 points, 10.7 assists, and 4.2 rebounds per contest. Yes, those are all great stats, but they do not tell the whole story of Wall’s impact on his team.
Wall’s energy is Washington’s life force. Before going to the NBA, there was a quote from him saying that he “never really cared about defense.” That was evident in his first few seasons in the league. We all know about his crazy chase-down block ability (LeBron like at times), but his on-ball defense has improved by leaps and bonds. Just look at this play when he was matched up against LeBron. This play captures everything Wall is made of:
It’s not just his top-notch speed and defense that has gotten better with time, his shot has improved as well. In his rookie season, Wall shot a tragic 40% from the field and 29% from beyond the arc. Now, those number have improved to 45%and 32% respectively. While his team needs him to be aggressive on the offensive end, Wall is still a pass first point guard and takes advantage of playing with Bradley Beal and Otto Porter. Those two are amongst the best three-point shooters in the NBA. Wall balances being a facilitator and scorer very well.
Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Kawhi Leonard, and LeBron James are all in the MVP discussion, but if you look at what Wall means to Washington (not just the team but the District) it would be crazy to leave him out off of that list.
Washington started the season 2-8. They were owners of one of the worst defenses in the NBA and they had one of the worst benches in the league from a statistical standpoint. Below is an interview Wall did with ESPN prior to the All-Star Break, it’s clear both him and the team’s mindset had changed.
Washington is currently 48-31, locked in a neck-to-neck race for the third spot in the Eastern Conference. When the Wizards make the post season this year, they would be the only team in NBA history to start six games below .500 and make the playoffs.
Wall has grown in all aspects of the game. Now he might not be the the league MVP, but he is without question the heart and soul of the Washington Wizards and it’s evident night after night.