John Wall was poised to make “the leap” this season. Everyone expected it. Everyone expected him to make the Wizards better. Everyone expected him to pull a Derrick Rose. Then… the first 20 games of the 2011-2012 season happened. Wall was bad by any measure, being dreadful in the box scores and disheartening on the court. I’ve been to most of the Wizards home games and, at the very least, I can say he NEVER dogs it. That is all he has going for him – he plays hard.
Wall led the Wizards to a 4-17 record through January. He averaged 16.1 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 7.1 assists on 39.6% shooting, which was an unexpected regression from his injury-riddled rookie season (16.4 points, 4.6 rebounds, 8.3 assists, last season). On top of that, he only had two double-doubles and had scored over 15 points only nine times. Many wrote him off and I was a sad Wizards fan.
Wall’s play was so underwhelming and infamously poor that Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal waited until the 7th round of the Rising Stars Challenge to pick him, selecting Jeremy Lin, Gordon Hayward, Markieff Morris, Paul George, Derrick Williams, Landry Fields, MarShon Brooks, and Norris Cole instead. I would prefer John Wall to any of those players, but he had been so awful early on that nothing he did later on could change his league-wide perception.
But his league-wide perception should undoubtedly be changing, as his play in February has been inspiring. Almost all of his stats are up and he has looked far improved to the naked eye. In February, Wall is averaging 18.6 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 8.5 assists on an astounding 48.9% shooting. Of starting point guards, only four (Nash, Stuckey, Calderon, Lin) are shooting a better percentage on over eight shots a game through the month. On top of that, only two other point guards are putting up over 18 points, 8 assists, and 4 rebounds a game – Derrick Rose and Chris Paul. Oh, and Wall is shooting a better percentage than the both of them from the field and the line.
Hopefully this information calms your weary soul. If it didn’t, at least take comfort in knowing the Wizards are simultaneously 8 games out of the playoffs and 2.5 games out of dead last.