It hasn’t been a conquering road for John Wall since entering the NBA. Being a number one pick with a team that hasn’t done too well for a very long time, the Washington Wizards, the definition of success was always going to be about how quickly he joins the ranks of those referred to as “elite” point guards in the NBA, while helping turning the Wizards once again into something more than bottom feeders.
No one really expects a rookie to completely change the franchise, unless you’re a Shaquille O’Neal or LeBron James, and even they needed more than one season before getting their teams into the postseason. Wall? He had a good rookie campaign, but it wasn’t enough to win the Rookie of the Year award, because of Blake Griffin’s delayed season. He still averaged 16.4 points and 8.3 assists per game.
The second season? One big disappointment. Wall didn’t improve a single thing statistically except for a slight rise in his field goal percentage. The Wizards did do slightly better in the shortened season (30.3% success rate compared with 28% during his first), but both the team and Wall were stuck, hoping that either a rise in his game or a lucky ping pong ball will change their fortunes.
So in comes Bradley Beal, who is averaging 13.9 points per game, second on the team. Maybe now the Wizards have the backcourt, along with players like Nene and Emeka Okafor in the front line to be considered slightly more of a threat in the East. Nope. John Wall was injured, and didn’t play his first game of the season until January 12. Without him, the Wizards began with a 5-28 record. Since his return? 24-19, winning 55.8% of their games, which would have been enough for the sixth spot in the East, pushing the under .500 Bucks out of the playoffs.
And although it took Wall some time to get back into the starting lineup and get his rhythm back, his form over the last month and specifically the last few games has been incredible. He’s averaging 24.7 points over the last 15 games, with the Wizards going 9-6. It’s been extremely impressive in the last three weeks, as Wall has scored at least 35 points three times on his last 7, including 37 in the most recent win against the Pacers, doing it with hardly being a threat from beyond the arc.
It’s going to take some time for possibly the best athlete at the position next to Russell Westbrook to reach the level of Chris Paul, Tony Parker, Russell Westbrook and Kyrie Irving, not to mention the injured Rajon Rondo and Derrick Rose. However, even if it’s taken him a bit longer than some expected, Wall seems to be on the right road to accomplish both his own individual destiny and bring the Wizards back into playoff contention.