If you are like me, and you spent the past 24 hours or so reflecting upon what exactly transpired Monday night and are reading what seems like an infinite amount of articles and blog posts dissecting John Wall’s body of work, then I can assuredly welcome you to the twilight zone between the regular season and offseason. This brand new tradition in Wizards basketball causes some of their most enigmatic stars to inadvertently make their ascension into the fan bases good graces. We could go right into the most notable culprit, Andray Blatche, or as recently as Nick Young, Jan Vesely, and Kevin Seraphin (yay Ernie!). I don’t need to pull up the gamelogs to tell you John Wall is entering that same realm.
So why is John so different from the rest of the pack? Is his spike in productivity an aberration? What do we make of it?
While Wall has not endured such a month as he is currently having, he has put together long stretches of great play where he convinces us that he’s the franchise player. This uptake in efficiency, particularly, has been unparalleled in John’s career however, which makes this month such a renaissance among the Wizards community. Yet, inexplicably, this comes right after Wall’s comments to Grantland’s Zach Lowe in regards to him being a max contract player.
Players who rise to the occasion in their contract seasons have a tendency to beguile fans; but not so much with former #1 picks with all world potential like Wall.
I’ve long subscribed to the theory that scoring guards typically adjust to the NBA game quicker than floor generals a la Jason Kidd, Gary Payton, and….. John Wall. Picking up the innumerable nuances required to orchestrate an NBA offense takes years to develop, and it’s not as easy for players that have participated in 1 out of the 3 training camps to start his NBA career, much less late bloomers that began to get noticed in their senior year of high school.
Ted Leonsis has built a franchise around trust and loyalty, for better or worse, and has preached his 10 point plan since acquiring the franchise 3 years ago. He banked on a kid who has kept himself out of trouble, has said all the right things, and genuinely wants to win in this city. It’s easier for one to explain why he took a chance on a talented, young athletic freak than it is to say you had a potential star and passed on him. He’s not going to make the same mistake this franchise is notorious for making in the past.
Wall’s combination of size, speed, and court vision makes him a menace in the open court, and he’s progressively translating that into halfcourt sets. His God-given attributes has allowed him to make passes to anywhere on the court, a skill only a handful of players have. He is now beginning to understand the advantages of changing speeds, keeping his dribble alive, using hesitation dribbles, and passing the ball up-court rather than bull rushing his way to the hoop, which is all a product of game experience.
The improved jumper is just the tip of the iceberg. He has not completely restructured his mechanics, the offhand still rests on top of the ball, but he’s releasing at the apex of his jump, is jumping straight up and down, and is keeping his form consistent. The more reps he puts in the offseason, the better it will be.
This is what John Wall looks like after getting into game shape and using all the skills he refined over the summer. This isn’t an aberration, or a mysterious stretch of great play, this is the result of a hard worker putting in the work to reach his potential. And he isn’t finished yet.