Until this season, the league-wide perception of Washington Wizards point guard John Wall was mixed to say the least. While some felt Wall was living up to nothing but a "bust" tag, others felt the young point guard needed time to adjust to the NBA and be on a team healthier than the mess that was the Wiz.
Such back-and-forth makes for good television - if Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith are the ones debating it - but numberFire isn't about the banter. We're about the numbers.
And because the Wizards are hot on the trail of homecourt advantage in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs, it's time to step outside the hype and into the metrics surrounding Wall.
The 6'4" guard was considered the number one prospect out of high school, kicked Eric Bledsoe out of the starting gig at Kentucky, and became the first overall draft pick in the 2010 NBA draft to a Wizards team that just bottomed out by trading both Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler and underwent the embarrassing Gilbert Arenas-Javaris Crittenton locker room gun scandal.
Three years into his career, Wall had yet to turn around the franchise, a 23-59 mark being the team's most successful season since Wall joined the team. Although the rapid change of fortunes the rare superstar rookie can sometimes incur hadn't happened for the Wizards, the team and its franchise player have increased steadily over his four seasons with the team.
Through 48 games this season, Wall is experiencing career highs in points, assists, and steals.
His 8.5 assists currently rank him third in the NBA. His assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.93, though, is only 28th best in the league, but still places him above some of the other young point guards including Kyrie Irving, Jeff Teague, Isaiah Thomas, and Stephen Curry.
Wall's 20.0 points per game is good for 18th in the league. He's either tied with or 1.5 points per game away from some of the more recognized scorers in the current NBA: Thomas, Goran Dragic, Rudy Gay, Anthony Davis, Damian Lillard, and Irving.
So He Can Score, But Can He Shoot?
The most legitimate knock on Wall is his jumper and, in turn, his inefficient shooting. I believe his jumper would fall more often if his body's trajectory was vertical rather than constantly leaning backward and losing his momentum, but I'm just here for the numbers.
Speaking of numbers:
|FG%||3-Point FG%||True Shooting %||Effective Shooting %|
Although Wall's FG% has not increased drastically, the numbers indicate that he is becoming more efficient while scoring the basketball, indicated by the upward swing in his EFG%, which adjusts for the inequality between a two-point field goal and a three-point field goal. Additionally, not only has his 3P% improved, Wall actually has attempted more three-point field goals this season than in any other - and we haven't even hit the All-Star break.
His 174 attempts is on pace to shatter the 202 three-pointers he attempted during his first three seasons, and his 57 makes has already trumped the 49 he compiled in his first three years. While his overall FG% has not risen dramatically, Wall's scoring is now comprised more from outside the arc than ever before, and he has done so without diminishing his shooting percentages.
This season, Wall, who is tied for fourth in points per game among point guards, ranks 15th in FG% and 19th in EFG%. While Wall is improving his effectiveness, he still remains an inefficient scorer when compared to his fellow point guards, a notion that becomes apparent when examining his nERD against his peers.
Wall's nERD of only 2.8 is lacking compared to some of his point guard counterparts, but it still is above the league average (zero). Wall's relative inefficiency has a diminished effect on his contributions, but he's only one of five Wizards with an above average nERD; the team as a whole ranks 16th in nERD (47.0). However, the nERD score is largely contingent on a player's usage rate.
Wall's usage rate ranks him 16th in the entire league and fourth among point guards of all players who have registered 30 games or more this season.
Wall's Wizards, though only .500 at the moment, are right in the middle of the Eastern Conference playoff hunt. Wall's playmaking ability, evidenced by his overtime steal and lay-in against the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday, is contributing to the improvement for Washington. Wall's rise through the league has been slow, but the numbers show a general uptick in his production across the board both in traditional statistics and in the advanced metrics.
The holes in Wall's game - efficiency-based ones - are less than ideal from a point guard on a team trying to make the playoffs. The Wizards, 5-5 in their last 10 games, 12-12 on the road, and 12-12 at home are going to need their team leader to continue his upward trends in efficiency in order to spark a run, breaking them free from the rest of the muddled Eastern Conference. If he can, the Wizards, who rank eighth in defensive efficiency could be in a prime position to make a deep playoff push in the weak Eastern Conference.