Just How Good Was John Wall's Opening Night Performance?
The Washington Wizards opened their season on Wednesday night, and it took every second of regulation time to squeak past the Orlando Magic, 88-87. Naturally, it was John Wall’s dribble into the paint and floating jump shot over Nikola Vucevic with 12.7 seconds left that would ultimately earn the Wizards their first win of the season.
The preseason chatter regarding Wall’s development as he entered his sixth NBA season and the idea that he could be considered a top-five player at his position by season’s end is a fun discussion to have. And whether or not you agree with that sort of statement, it’s hard to deny that Wall’s wasting anytime proving himself as a do-it-all point guard.
Wall was a blur on Wednesday night, showing up here, there, and everywhere on either end of the floor while logging a team-high 39 minutes. He finished the night with 22 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists, 5 blocks, and 3 steals -- just two steals shy of the impressive feat of recording a 5-by-5 (5x5), in which a player accumulates a total of at least five in five different statistical categories.
While technically Wall came up just a tad short of the ambitious 5x5, he still joins some pretty cool company after becoming just the ninth player in NBA history, and the first guard ever, to record a 5x4 in a season-opening game, according to Basketball-Reference.com.
The others? For the most part it’s the usual suspects -- Shaquille O’Neal in ‘01, David Robinson in ‘90 and again in ‘94, Kevin Garnett in ‘97 (at just 21 years old!), and Hakeem Olajuwon in ‘93. Elton Brand made his mark to open the 2003 season, Robert Horry had a surprise appearance to start the 1997 season, and the last two (other than Wall’s most recent) are thanks to an even more surprising name in Andrei Kirilenko to tip-off the 2005 and 2007 seasons.
That stat line by The Dream in '93 is insane (24 points, 19 rebounds, 6 assists, 5 steals, and 5 blocks) and he remains the only one to ever start the season by stuffing the stat sheet in such badass fashion. Two more steals and Wall would’ve joined an elite (and extremely small) club, and still joins only Olajuwon and Robinson as guys to post at least 20 points, 5 boards, 5 assists, 3 steals, and 5 blocks in a season-opener.
Unfortunately Wall’s fast start to the season doesn’t necessarily predict how the Wizards will prevail as a whole. The new offensive approach under head coach Randy Wittman has the potential to be higher powered than in years past, but it’ll likely take a bit longer until it clicks just right.
In the meantime, it’ll be a lot of fun watching a 25-year-old John Wall take the next step in his career and hopefully joining some more impressive historical stat groups along the way.