Since John Wall’s return to the lineup against the Hawks on January 12, the Wizards have posted a 9-7 record in that span and the Wizards are now in one of the better stretches we have seen in recent memory during the post-Gilbert Arenas era. The 9 wins over a span of 16 games since Wall’s return is almost twice as much wins as the wizards had in 33 games (5-28) without The Great Wall. Those 9 wins moved the Wizards two spots up the rankings in the eastern conference from worst to third worst. Wall is not only getting it done himself, but he is making everyone on the court better at the same time.
Call it what you want, I call that massive improvement considering what John Wall brings to the team. John Wall is an absolute team player, we all can agree on that. However, Wall is missing one thing (besides a jumper), a high scoring post player. I axed an old article proposing that we trade away Nene and Emeka Okafor for Carlos Boozer in a three team trade. Why? I resent any types of trading during mid season unless it is really improving the future. Basically, the team is starting to form a strong chemistry and I don’t think that is something that should be messed with at the time. If we decide to add a big name player in the middle of the season, it’ll just be a risk that could complicate the chemistry and give the Wizards a potential bad end to the season. I hope the Wizards go past the deadline without major moves.
With Wall’s return we can finally see the potential that Martell Webster is living up to. Webster is averaging 13.3 points per game after Wall’s return (and 17.5 over the last 4 games when Wall’s minutes have increased) as opposed to 9.5 before Wall’s return. Webster is steadily starting to heat up as he has hit 2.9 threes a game in the last 10 games. Martell has definitely benefited from Wall’s fast pace of play and ability to find the open man.
Another guy I’ve seen that has been playing really well lately is Emeka Okafor, who was starting to pick up his play just before Wall returned. He’s posted 7 double-doubles since the return of John Wall, and had only 5 during the prior 33 games without. His impact on the game has certainly jumped up since John got back.
Bradley Beal has been shooting 48 percent from the field and 48 percent from three since John wall’s return. Those numbers could be higher but he hit a snag with that sprained wrist causing him to miss 5 games and had two bad shooting games before heading to the bench.
In other words, John Wall is improving this team far and away from just what his individual stats show. He is improving teammates, improving team chemistry, and although it is a hard thing to measure, you can be sure he is improving the team’s attitude on game days knowing they have a shot to win on any given day.
That isn’t to say that John Wall isn’t playing well himself. Wall is averaging 15.1 points a game and 7.1 assists a game. Again that is based on 28:06 minutes per game, and his minutes have recently started ticking up, averaging nearly 35 minutes over the last 4 (17.5 points and 8.8 assists over those games). The team pace has picked up, and teams have had difficulty deciding whether to try and stop John Wall on fast breaks or to defend his teammates who are becoming proven three point threats.
The Wizards have posted the 4th best defense in the NBA since the new year began. Believe it or not the Wizards are actually in the top 10 in points allowed (7th) and rebounds (9th). Another surprising statistic is that the Wizards have won three straight games. No that’s not the surprising part; the surprising part is that those three wins came against teams who were above at least 9 games above the .500 mark at the times of those games in the Clippers, Knicks, and Nets. Washington has seemed to have found its niche with Wall in the lineup, and dare I say, without Jordan Crawford who has been a non-factor since John Wall’s return. Crawford only scored in double figures twice and only has played more than 20 minutes 4 times since Wall’s return, and even received a DNP-CD in that Nets win.
If the Wizards continue their winning ways winning 9 out of 16 for the rest of the season, they are on pace for a 32 win season, a drastic improvement over the teams we have seen in recent past. Not including the lockout season last year when the wizards posted a 20-46 record, that translates to a 35 win season if a full 82 game season was played. Remember that nifty 6 game winning streak we had to end the season last year? Yeah, this team is starting to resemble a that team, except that we aren’t playing teams that are resting their stars or tanking on purpose to win the lotto. We are playing some legitimate basketball right now and after watching the game against the Knicks and the Nets, I can say my pride as a Wizard fan is slowly increasing back to what it once was during the Gilbert Arenas Era. And it all comes back to the return of our franchise guy in John Wall.
I’m not counting on the Wizards to make the playoffs this year, however finishing the season with 30+ wins is definitely an accomplishment considering where we were a couple weeks into the season. I do not think we need a big free agent signing or a big name player coming in where our team average age is the youngest in the league at 23. We are a lottery pick away from the completion of the team.
Otherwise, let’s just enjoy the winnin’ Wizards and sit back and watch John Wall prove critics wrong about him being a draft bust. No way we’re winning it all this year, but with our team being so young and Bradley Beal starting to find his rhythm as a 19 year old rookie, I see a bright future for our young Wizards.