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Being a point guard in the NBA is a lot like being a quarterback in the NFL in that there is an immense learning curve. Point guards, as a whole, just don’t come into the NBA as competent, All-Star level players. The adjustment period from slow, slapping-the-floor-on-defense, laterally inept college guards to the supersonic speed of players like Derrick Rose at the professional level can be lengthy. The intricacies of the game such as clock management, speed changes, transition positioning, and effective pick and roll offense is very difficult to learn in 82 games. That sort of thing is difficult to learn in 164 games, even. There are always exceptions to the rule, but the general trend is that point guards take time.
Take Steve Nash, for example. A two-time MVP, 8-time All-Star, and almost a lock to make it to the Hall of Fame. Nash didn’t even average double-digit point totals until his 5th season in the NBA. Granted, he was injured part of the time and served as a backup for two seasons, but one of the best shooters of our generation shot 36% from the field in his third season. Nash is one of the top floor generals in the game now, even at 38 years old, but he never started out being an absolute monster until much later in his career.
Chauncey Billups was even worse. An NBA Champion and Finals MVP with 5 All-Star appearances took literally eight years in the league before he finally landed a consistent starting job. He bounced around in Boston, Toronto, Denver, and even Minnesota, playing pretty inconsistent basketball because he wasn’t a spectacular shooter. Then he landed in Detroit at 26 years of age, and the ended up beating Kobe, Shaq, and the rest of the Lakers in the NBA Finals. It took him 3 seasons to even shoot over 40% in the NBA, which isn’t necessarily what you want from a third pick, overall.
Jason Kidd, Derrick Rose and Chris Paul, none of those great guards even figured it out until their third season, which brings us to the new rule I’m going to establish in making my case for John Wall taking astronomical leaps next season as a player. The Year Three Rule means that any point guard worth his salt is going to take an enormous leap forward in his third season. If he doesn’t, then that player is going to end up, at best, a floor manager and not a superstar. In establishing my argument for John Wall, I’ll lean on a player who has a very similar history to Wall in Russell Westbrook.
Russ Westbrook, or recently known as the guy who “put da team on his back” and led the Thunder during Game 4 of the NBA Finals with 43 points, is incredibly close to John Wall based on projections. The similarities are almost too hard to ignore statistically speaking (not necessarily aesthetically).
Player A Year 1 (Age 20): 15.3 PPG, 5.3 AST/g, 4.9 Reb, 3.3 TO
Player BYear 1 (Age 20): 16.4 PPG, 8.3 AST/g, 4.6 Reb, 3.8 TO
Player A Year 2: 16.1 PPG, 8.0 AST/g, 4.9 Reb, 3.3 TO
Player BYear 2: 16.3 PPG, 8 AST/g, 4.5 Reb, 3.9 TO
Would you guess Player B, whom you might consider the better of the two, to be John Wall? Not using any advanced statistics at all, these two players had by and large incredibly similar box scores night in and night out during their first two years in the league. The important factor in this is age, as both Wall and Westbrook were twenty years old coming into the league, and thus hold very similar trajectory paths for potential growth. Wall led in points and assists despite having severely inferior talent set up around him. The similarities between the two are so uncanny because, I believe, they have one thing in common: their athleticism.
Both Wall and Westbrook can easily get by being slightly above average NBA players based solely on their unique athletic abilities. Westbrook happens to be a slasher without a conscience who can get to the rim at will and slam on 7 footers any time he’d like to. Wall, on the other hand, has such fast breakaway speed that on any given night he can score 10 points strictly on being faster than everyone else. Their physical attributes are what make them similar, despite being different in type and form. With these skills both players were able to pick up the reigns at a much quicker rate because at that speed, no game is played too fast. Westbrook and Wall were already at the speed the NBA plays at, so they didn’t necessarily have to make that adjustment. Add in the fact they both get to the line about 6 times a game, and you’ve got their averages. It’s not that hard to do (relatively speaking) when you’re Wall and Westbrook-type athletes.
What held these two back in their first two years was their shooting. Neither one could shoot worth a darn their first two seasons, as evidenced by their abysmally low shooting percentages from basically anywhere on the floor. Wall shot 40% and 42% from the floor in years one and two, and Westbrook wasn’t far behind shooting 39% and 40%, respectively. Their True Shooting percentages (which takes into account two pointers, three pointers, and free throws) weren’t all that great, either; Wall was at 49% and 50% in year one and two, while Westbrook struggled around 49% both seasons. For comparison’s sake, Shannon Brown and Jamal Crawford hover around the 50% level consistently, whereas Kyrie Irving was at an ungodly 56% last year. Again, their freakish athleticism allowed them to skirt by without hitting three pointers or long two’s.
The statistical evidence backs this assertion up, too, as the bulk of Wall’s shots came from either getting to the rim (5.3 attempts and 5.8 attempts per game year one and two) or settling for long two pointers from 16-23 ft. (4.2 attempts and 4.4 attempts). Unfortunately for Wall, hitting 30% of shots from 16-23 feet both seasons means your jumper hasn’t improved at all. He settled from jumpers that didn’t go in when he wasn’t slashing, and it’s likely because he knew his game was one dimensional.
Westbrook was the same story: 5.7 and 5.6 at the rim shots per game in years one and two, hitting at a high rate. From 16-23 ft, though, 3.2 and 3.7 attempts per game, hitting only 38% and 37% from that range. The numbers are mildly better, but it doesn’t mean that either player had developed a jumper at that point. Westbrook took less shots from longer range and made more of them, but Scott Brooks will tell you his jumper wasn’t anything to write home about. I’m not trying to force the comparison by any stretch, but it’s true that neither really had a good jumper.
On the brighter side of things, as a passer Wall definitely holds the advantage by a pretty substantial margin, both in per game average and in percentages. Wall’s assist percentages (the estimate percentage of field goals assisted by a player while he’s on the court) in year one and two were 36% and 36.9%, whereas Westbrook was at a very low 27.5% in year one to 38.6% in year two. Again, for a comparison Chris Paul was at 38% and 41% years one and two, but someone like Jrue Holiday was at 24% and 29%. Wall’s usage rate was slightly lower than Westbrook’s too, which means he was a bit more efficient as a passer.
So when all the statistical jargon is out of the way, where does that lead us with how John Wall might progress in year three? Well, assuming he can start hitting his midrange jumper even remotely better, it’s going to be an incredibly good year for Mr. Wall.
Westbrook turned into a supernova in year three; his game literally exploded in every way as he shot to stardom as the best young point guard not named Derrick Rose. 22 PPG, 8.2 assists, 4.6 rebounds, 23.6 PER (up from 17.6; league average is 15). Westbrook started hitting three pointers at a passable 33% (up from 22% the year before), which was more than enough to open up the floor for him to slash even more. The extra shots at the rim (he upped his number from 5.6 to 6.8) gave him more free throw attempts which led to more points in total. Westbrook started converting 60.4% of his shots at the rim, too. And guess what? John Wall already does that. It’s hard to argue that Wall isn’t already the most effective player in the league at finishing.
Westbrook took the huge leap because he played to his strengths and managed to knock down shots away from the rim at a good enough rate that defenses had to play him differently. If Wall can do that exact same thing, he’s already looking at being ahead of Westbrook in terms of potential. Seeing as those two are so similar, it’s not outlandish to believe that might happen. Wall is a phenomenal talent, and while everyone wants their number one draft pick to come in right away and be a superstar, realistically with point guards that is not the case. As has happened in the past with Rondo, Kidd, Nash, Paul, and Rose, given time, the progression between good guard and great guard will take (at least) until year 3. I’m convinced with Wall that the year three leap is going to be one worth waiting for.
Yesterday, Ryan Feldman of ESPN Stats & Information posted a very disturbing breakdown of just how bad the Wizards perimeter shooting woes actually were. That our perimeter shooting was bad didn’t exactly surprise me; I’d seen enough Jordan Crawford hurls and John Wall bricks to know that we desperately needed help on that front. That our perimeter shooting actually may be a sign of worse things to come is the particularly nerve wracking part. It also highlights the fact that one player through the draft isn’t nearly enough to solve Washington’s problems.
Averaging 0.88 points on every spot up play is pitiful, and it virtually removes a vital aspect of basketball for the Washington Wizards. Only the Charlotte Bobcats (with Kemba Walker) and the Sacramento Kings (with Tyreke Evans and Jimmer) shot worse than Washington, and there wasn’t much differentiation between these three. A lot of this can obviously be blamed on John Wall’s inability to shoot, but Chris Singletary and Jordan Crawford were equally as bad. Quite frankly, I’m not certain that the stat is going to get any better with the addition of Trevor Ariza. On the contrary it might get worse, considering that Trevor Ariza is a notoriously poor shooter who only managed to make a decent amount of shots with the Lakers. Four years ago.
Until I read this article, I actually thought that John Wall on the pick and roll was at least a moderately effective play; I was wrong about that, too. I should have known, though, because Wall is the primary ball-handler, yet he cannot shoot. As such, Washington was the fourth worst NBA team on points per pick-and-roll play at 0.72 points per play on 37% shooting. Wall actually made the team worse in this regard (0.69 points per play on 36% shooting. Again, this is another instance where I’m going to say that I highly doubt the Wizards are going to get better.
Wall has proven himself an ineffective shooter in two seasons, and I am far from convinced he is going to somehow develop a jumper in the offseason (or even a set shot, push shot, or sky hook). For someone who is considered a phenomenal talent, Wall doesn’t offer a whole lot to like about his game aside from speed and slashing. The list of point guards who couldn’t shoot but got better isn’t a long one. Some can argue Russell Westbrook, but he still isn’t a particularly good three point shooter. He has managed to get better on pull up jumpers, but that was through incredibly hard work in the offseason.
(Not to make this all about Mr. Wall, but there actually is a bit of evidence that suggests he is on a similar progression path as Mr. Westbrook provided he puts in the necessary effort. Year-by-year comparisons of their first two seasons are almost exactly the same).
Need more evidence that the Wizards backcourt needs an upgrade? Well this figure should convince you: Of the 40 players with at least 1,000 plays, John Wall and Jordan Crawford finished 38th and 40th overall in terms of points per play. Demarcus Cousins, the most inefficient player on the court any given night, actually fared better than John Wall (0.81 to 0.87 PPP)! It’s embarrassing how bad things actually got for the Wizards, and even though we hate on Jordan Crawford he was still better than John Wall in terms of efficiency. In fact, Jordan Crawford is more akin to Jrue Holiday (albeit a bit older) in terms of proficiency.
We also already knew how bad the Wizards ball management was at times during the season. Part of that is due to the breakneck pace at which Washington plays, but another part is just sloppy team play and poor execution. Far too often, Wall and Crawford turned the ball over at such alarming rates there was no way we could win. As such, the Wizards were the third-worst team on assist-to-turnover ratios, and the fourth-worst percentage on assisted shots. Both statistics definitely line up with what people are seeing on the court, as you can’t get assists on baskets when no one can actually make a basket. When you add all this up though, it means that Washington had better upgrade that backcourt or there will be some serious turmoil next season.
The easy answer is that Bradley Beal should be taken with the number three pick overall, which is what we already knew. But the fact remains that Beal wasn’t really stuffing the stat sheet until the NCAA tournament. He was able to overcome some early season adversity (likely the first time this prolific high school player had ever actually faced any adversity) to start knocking down shots consistently later on in the year. That being said, he is still by no means a solid lock to be an incredible shooter. Still, Beal’s ability to hit shots off screens is going to immensely help out a backcourt that needs it (providing he plays at his NCAA Tournament levels). If not, his 33% shooting from long range that he exhibited earlier on in the season aren’t going to help Washington at all. It’s probably just going to make the Wizards worse.
The other option is that the Wizards could draft the other supposedly great shooter in Harrison Barnes (who may be able to play the two or three) who has a bit more experience and is a more proven prospect. Barnes could be rotated between both positions, as he is likely capable of short stints at the two while Washington figures out how to best address that need through free agency or a second round draft pick. Beal is younger, but Barnes can help immediately as he has unlimited range. They’re actually very similar players, with Barnes being taller and a bit more athletic (though he still doesn’t know how to use it effectively).
And the final option is to move the pick for more talent. Since three of our five starters (presumably Okafor, Nene, and Ariza) are now approaching or passed 30 years old, doesn’t that put the team in win now mode? If that’s the case, wouldn’t Washington be better served cherry picking talent from other teams in exchange for future value? I mean, it’s not the most preferred route, but it is certainly an option. It’s well known that teams like Portland, Houston, and just about any other team in the 10-15 range would love to add more pieces. So it may be worth attempting to ship the pick for established, veteran shooters and heading straight into playoff mode (bypassing the rebuild).
But basically, the aforementioned statistics on our backcourt just backed up what we had already established: it’s Beal, Barnes or Bust.
Way back during the ’09-’10 NBA season, Tyreke Evans won Rookie of the Year honors in part for being one of only four players in the history of the league to average 20 points, five rebounds, and five assists per game as a rookie. The others who had accomplished that feat included some Jordan guy and this LeBron character I hear a lot about. Nice company to be in, and definitely a sign that Evans had a chance to become an absolute megastar in the future. The Calipari point guard product (whom I watched personally dismantle Greivis Vasquez during the NCAA tournament) with size, speed, and quickness was destined for greatness during his sophomore campaign. Then, something happened. All that promise turned into disappointment, as his second season was encumbered by injuries and position transitions. Improvement was actually regression to the mean, and Tyreke Evans faded into obscurity. He simply never improved from being this super athlete at his position who could blow by or overpower anyone. Tons of talent; probably never going to put it all together.
That’s the thing about talent and natural ability: it is never going to make you into a superstar. Rather, it can only point you in the right direction on a rapid pace. That’s where a guy like John Wall comes in. A kid who has all the speed in the world to become a fixture in the NBA pantheon of stars, but also has just enough speed to rely on it too heavily and lose his chance to become truly amazing. Emphasizing one facet of the game is a strategy that point guards can ill afford to utilize. Brevin Knight was one of the best passers in the game for awhile, but you may not even remember him because he was one dimensional. Dude couldn’t shoot! You have to be great at one skill just to sit at the table in the NBA (see: Andray Blatche, Captain), but to become a megastar you’ve got to have more than one tool. Which brings me to my thoughts on John Wall and his ceiling as a player.
In order to really analyze what Wall can become (after two years), we need to define what he is; his style of play needs to become at least mentally tangible. Now based on his assist totals over the last two years, where he finished 10th during his rookie campaign and 4th this season, you might think that Johnny boy is a pass first point guard. Wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. John Wall is much more Derrick Rose than he is Ricky Rubio. He is the type of guy who can get you ten assists in a game, but Wall is going to be turning that ball over at an alarmingly high rate, too (he lead the league in turnovers this year). Wall is, in the end, a slightly more pass-oriented combo guard. Hate them, love them; that is what he is going to be.
The combo-guard has a checkered history in the NBA, to be sure. It could be argued that no team has won a championship when their best player is a combo-guard. For every Rose or Westbrook there are plenty Tony Allen’s, Randy Foye’s, and Dajuan Wagners who flame out. The best ever CG (as it will be abbreviated from here on out) in my opinion? Allen Iverson and, in his prime, Gilbert Arenas. We’ll stick with Gil for comparison’s sake, since I’ve seen more than enough of him to dissect exactly what he is.
Gil’s style of play, based heavily around scoring, was predicated on three things. The first was getting to the basket using his extreme lateral quickness, the second was initiating contact to get to the line, and the third was shooting the deep ball by creating space using, again, that quickness . Because Gilbert was able to do those things effectively in his prime (from 2005-2007), he became one of the most potent scorers in the NBA. Averaging nearly 30 points per game, 5 rebounds and 6 assists, he managed it specifically by shooting a disturbing 7 to 8 three’s per game, and getting to the line an equally jarring 10 times per contest. Gilbert was the embodiment of what it meant to be a CG. Slash, get to the rack, dish a bit, but primarily score like it’s prom night. Those stats are superstar stats, but there’s a flaw in that it’s unsustainable.
That much contact being forced upon a 6’4 body balds the tires very quickly. It is why so many CG’s flame out. Derrick Rose was injured this entire year, Gilbert suffered those knee injuries, and AI was dinged up throughout his entire career. It robs the CG of his bread and butter: his physical abilities. Because they’ve relied on them for so long, other facets of the game aren’t nearly as developed. And when the inevitable injury happens, the CG isn’t potent enough in other areas to thrive in the NBA. Typically, their prime window lasts much shorter than, say, a Tim Duncan. Typically, the window is only around 3-4 years at the most where a CG (assuming he is a megastar) can become such a catalyst to even get a team to the Finals.
John Wall is never going to be anywhere near the scorer that Gilbert is primarily because he flat out can’t shoot. But he can initiate contact using his speed to blow by defenders and bowl them over. It’s going to be a pain on his body, but he most certainly can bring up his free throw total from 6 to, say, 8 or 9. Once a player is in that range, he falls into a unique category in that they can either become game disruptions like Corey Maggette, whose career average is 9 FT attempts per game because he is perpetually playing the role of human bowling ball; or they can become Arenas, utilizing those FTs within the flow of a game to become a serious scoring threat without disrupting the offense too badly.. Conversion at the basket is a must, and John Wall is capable of doing that. Just adding those FTs would get his scoring up even higher than the 16 PPG he averages now to, say, the 19-20 range. If he can develop an effective three point shot at all (which if Jason Kidd can do, anyone can), then that number gets bumped up a few more tics. I still have my reservations that he can do that effectively, however.
Another combo guard whom we can use to try and formulate a ceiling for Wall is that of the enigmatic Stephon Starbury Marbury. Believe it or not, back in 1996 (the best NBA draft ever) Starbury was the bee’s knees right along with Allen Iverson as the two most popular and impressive rookies. Marbury finished that season averaging around 16 points and 8 assists per game, and finished up his sophomore season even better with 17.7 points and almost 9 assists per game. Again, don’t let those dimes fool ya, because no NBA scout or head coach is going to call Stephon a traditional point guard despite the numbers. He was a CG before we knew what CGs were. Yes, Stephon shot the long ball a lot better than John Wall, certainly isn’t the same type of athlete as him, and eats vaseline more frequently, but they definitely were guards who liked to score more than pass in spite of being proficient at it. Marbury ended up having a long career, but only made the playoffs 4 times as the go-to guy on a team. Each time, the best he could do (and it was pretty darn good) was get bounced in the first round every single time. His best season, which John Wall has every bit of chance to reach but likely not exceed drastically, he averaged 24 points and 7 dimes a game on 2001 on a 22 win New Jersey Nets team.
The next season they won 52 games with the same team minus Stephon and plus Jason Kidd. Just saying
The key thing to note is that between these four players, John Wall, Tyreke Evans, Gilbert Arenas, and Stephon Marbury, two of them were multi-weapon guys and two are currently just not. Gilbert had more than one aspect to his game, which is why even when he has no knees his basketball ability still allows him to remain on a playoff roster where he can stick to his guns there (had to do it). Hell, Marbury even proved that you could win a championship with him over in China. But let’s say that John Wall doesn’t learn how to shoot, and that he remains exactly what he is right now: a poor shooting slasher who has a knack for ball distribution and initiating contact. If that’s all he is I can tell you exactly what John Wall’s ceiling is….
Rod Strickland, from 1993 to 1999. Don’t scoff at the notion that our #1 pick’s best case scenario is the guy who hot dogged around the league for 9 different teams during his 17-year career. Hot Rod was no slouch of a player, averaging at one point during his career 19 points, 9 assists, and five rebounds. He led the San Antonio Spurs to the Western Conference semifinals way back in 1990, and did it in the East with the Knicks a year before that. Hell, he even lead the Washington Bullets to a first round exit in 1997! He was an awful three point shooter; rather, he never shot them. For his career, Strickland never averaged over 2 attempts per game from deep, yet he still remained a dominant floor general. He was, in my opinion, one of the most underrated lead guards ever. He never made an All-Star game throughout his entire career, which is a shame because he deserved more than a few but had to compete against numerous top-notch guards during his heyday (Timmy Hardaway!). But here’s where it gets good…
I think John Wall can be, with a minimal amount of extra work, even better than that. At 21 years old, Wall is already damn close to where Strickland was throughout his career. He’s got to become a better finisher around the rim, as Rod was absolutely epic at the altered shot. If Wall wants to be better, it comes with adding that mid range jumper as well. Doing that would open everything up for him and his teammates, and he’d see a boost in his stats. Getting to the line more certainly would help, but there is also the added risk of injury to a guy who hasn’t played 82 games yet (yes, one year was a lockout shortened season). I can’t see him getting much better than that without a three point shot, which as I said before, I have my reservations about him ever developing. But then again, there are countless young guards who came into the league with the same problem including Rod himself (also Gary Payton, Derrick Rose, and even Michael Jordan). If he can nail that down, his upside would actually be elevated to Gary Payton status on the offensive end. Unfortunately, we haven’t even discussed his defensive ability, which he is light years behind The Glove….
What does all this mean? John Wall has the talent to become Gary Payton, but without that MJ-like drive/obsession on becoming the greatest, he might be destined for Strickland status. Not a bad thing at all, just not a franchise player.
Miami Heat @ Washington Wizards
PG: John Wall vs Bad Backup
SG: Jordan Crawford vs Bad Backup
SF: Chris Singleton vs Dexter Pittman
PF: Jan Vesely vs Bad Backup
C: Kevin Seraphin vs Bad Backup
Why to watch: The Washington Wizards are the hottest team in the NBA
Alright, so that may be a bit of an overstatement, but Washington is cleaning up late in the game and building some serious momentum heading into the offseason. Yes, this five game win streak has come at the end of a miserable season and against teams like the Milwaukee Bucks, Cavaliers and the Miami Heat (with Dexter Pittman starting), but who cares? Wins are wins and when things haven’t been so great all season, or when something like a 4 game win streak hasn’t happened in 4 1/2 years, this is exciting.
Segue into the Miami Heat, who we’ll be facing for the second time in three games. They’re going to be without the Big Three of LeBum, Wade, and Bosh, so it means another dose of Pittman and Co. Basketball wise, Miami’s backups are an awful rebounding team who are also completely inept on the offensive end. The Wizards should have no problem holding this team to under 100 points, and when that happens Washington has a chance to continue a win streak to 6 games! Eric Spoelstra can still coax his team into a very stingy defensive effort, so the Wizards are still going to need to get to the line or shoot well; that being said, this is a game that John Wall should win.
Underlying storyline: Kevin Seraphin’s got a streak of his own.
As the Notorious B.I.G. once said, “If ya don’t know, now ya know, ninja.” That’s the case with Seraphin, because if you haven’t heard of him by now, you’re not watching basketball. He’s the guy who stepped up once JaVale left and has recorded 10 or more points in 15 straight games. It’s been over 20 years since a Wizards center has done anything close to that, and its a welcoming experience. There is one glaring issue with his game, though, and it’s the rebounding aspect. During that same 15 games stretch of great offensive play, Seraphin has only managed to grab 10 boards in 3 games. He’s not huge, so it’s not entirely unexpected that he can’t grab them as well, but it needs to be something he should start improving on now. We know he can score, now Wizards fans need to be sure he’s a competent rebounding player.
Prediction: 99-95 Wizards
Miami is loaded with scrubs from the top to bottom without the Big Three, and I’m not sure many of their players tonight would even start for Washington. Wall should get to the line a lot, Seraphin and Nene should have dominant performances against a weak front line, and Vesely might chip in a little as well. The end of the year is where the bad teams excel, baby! Wizards win, but they don’t win you guys a Papa John’s Pizza.
1.) As has been widely reported, Nene is targeting the Wednesday night game against the New Jersey Nets for his Wizards debut. While that’s disappointing, it’s not necessarily the worst news ever. The added rest certainly isn’t going to hurt the 29 year old Brazilian, who has been dinged up all year with calf and foot injuries. It will give him a chance to get assimilated to the Wizards offense, and develop a bit of rapport with John Wall. Both equally important, no doubt, but not as important as being able to witness the continuing development of incumbent starting center…
2.) Kevin Seraphin, another foreign-born, romance language speaker who has been a bonafied stud as of late (by our standards). Starting with that performance off the bench against the Lakers in which he posted a career high 14 points, Seraphin has scored in double-figures three-of-five games. He’s also been cleaning up the boards and blocking shots quite admirably in the absence of JaVale McGee, highlighted by his 12-point, 12-rebound, 2-block stat line against the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday. Don’t be confused if that sounds like JaVale’s line every night, because Seraphin plays very differently. While he is certainly an imposing athlete, he plays much more sound man-to-man defense than JaVale; not to mention that his blocks come without sacrificing the help side defense. Since the center position has suddenly become a welcome home for solid play, it allows us to forget about the gaping hole at the shooting guard position, thanks to…
3.) Jordan Crawford, who by nearly every metric stat is one of the least effective players on the floor. The Wizards, without a doubt, have the worst 2-guard situation in the NBA. Regardless of his 22-point outburst against the Grizzlies, Crawford is managing to shoot 37% from the field (good for last at his position in the league among starters) in the month of March. Despite missing a lot, he’s averaging two more attempts per contest than last month (which wasn’t good either). Part of the reason behind such a poor shooting involves the ridiculous three pointers Crawford hoists ad-nausea with no success (5.6 attempts, 26% 3-pt FG). If he keeps this trend up, he’s going to find himself not only off of the Wizards but also out of the league. But hey, at least he decides to shoot, which is more than we can say for…
4.) Jan Vesely! The #6 pick in the draft has a painfully obvious issue with his offensive game, and it’s that he doesn’t have one at all. Vesely has made exactly 50% of his shots, but the problem is that he’s only taken 86 all season. By contrast, the New Jersey Nets Gerald Green (a former first rounder turned D-League specialist), has played in 11 games at half the amount of minutes (241 to 518) and taken 98 shots already. The point is that Jan is going to see less and less minutes (and rightfully so) because he is bereft of any shot aside from the dunk. At some point, hustling just doesn’t get it done, and as a result his PER (Player-Efficiency-Rating, with the league average of 15) is embarrassing at 8.3. Perhaps with more minutes he could thrive, but that’s highly unlikely at the power forward position because…
5.) Trevor Booker is light-years ahead of him in basketball ability and is sewing up the PF spot, thus guaranteeing that every night is Boogie Night. Booker is the antithesis of Jordan Crawford in that he’s never taking bad shots. He currently sits at 6th in the league, ahead of guys like LeBron James, Blake Griffin, Pau Gasol, and Steve Nash. It’s not a tell-all indication of how good Booker has been for the Wizards, but it certainly helps as a barometer. He accomplishes this in spite of being severely undersized at his position (Booker is 6’7, most guys are 6’9 to 6’11). In terms of PER, he’s slightly above the league average at 16.4, but that number is likely to increase as his playing time continues to. Better still, Trevor has managed double figures in either rebounds or assists in 9 of his last 11 games. All these numbers mean is that it’s very clear the Wizards may have found a power forward for next season, which alleviates the pressure on…
6.) John Wall, who leads the league in turnovers (179). Part of that is probably from fatigue, since he carries the team on his back most nights. Though the Wizards may not have much talent, the great Wall is still third in assists behind Rajon Rondo and Steve Nash (not bad company in the least). Rondo and Nash get to play with more talent, and aren’t required to try and put forth herculean efforts night after night. That being said, the past few games Wall has really dropped the ball (no pun intended). He’s averaging seven turnovers over the last three games, and it’s definitely hurt the Wizards. The Atlanta Hawks game comes to mind, where Wall aided in the Hawks ridiculous 24-8 run to put the game out of reach with 9 total turnovers. Maybe the player turnover will ease the burden of John Wall and allow him to play naturally; not turning him into a player with bad habits. So here’s hoping that
1) Nene comes through big on Wednesday, and gives Wizards fans a bright outlook for the future.