In the wake of the Washington Wizards win over the Toronto Raptors, Kyle Lowry commented that John Wall’s terrific play of late could be due to Nene’s current injury. Lowry’s theory is that with one of the Wizard’s big men out, Wall has more space to get to the hoop. Dan Feldman from ProBasketball.com thinks Lowry may have a point:
Though Lowry might have been making an excuse after Wall outplayed him head-to-head, there is some truth to his statement. Wall’s points per play, via nba wowy!, decreases when he plays with Okafor and Nene.
With only Okafor: .99
With only Nene: .92
With Nene and Okafor: .90
Wall is obviously central to the Wizards’ future. Okafor is under contract for more than $14 million next season, and Nene has three years and $39 million remaining on his deal. So, for now, this might be a problem without a solution for the Wizards.
Read the rest here.
I disagree with Feldman. Wall’s numbers look better with Nene off the court because his resurgence started to happen just as Nene got injured. Much of Wall’s improved scoring ability has come from discovering a jumper, not from finding better ways to get to the hoop.
The stats back this up. I compared Wall’s field goal percentage from the rim to 9 feet out in March before Nene got injured to his field goal percentage from the rim to 9 feet out in March after Nene got injured. Not only did Wall take a larger percentage of shots from the rim to 9 feet out when Nene was healthy, he also had a higher field goal percentage from that area. So if Wall was more effective in the paint when Nene was present, I think it’s highly unlikely that the space that opened up as a result of Nene’s injury is responsible for Wall’s great play.