Washington Wizards 2015-2016 Season Predictions: John Wall Will Lead NBA In Assists

Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll be releasing predictions for the Washington Wizards‘ upcoming NBA season.

Nowadays, virtually every team in the league seems to have a franchise point guard. The Washington Wizards are no different. Luckily for Randy Wittman, though, his franchise point guard is in the top five at his position.

After a couple of injury plagued seasons and inconsistency within the organization, John Wall has blossomed into a legitimate franchise player.

The former first overall pick has made consecutive All-Star teams — including a spot in the starting lineup this past season — and was recognized as one of the league’s best defensive players after being named to an All-NBA defensive team.

Wall, as weird is this may sound, is entering the prime of his career.

It seems like he was just drafted, but Wall will turn 25-years-old this month. While he obviously hasn’t reached his potential yet, Wall is entering his sixth season in the NBA. At this point, he could be considered a veteran player.

Wall’s shooting, defense, and most importantly, his ability to lead a club have all improved greatly since he entered the league half-a-decade ago.

His passing, though, remains the best in the league. Some could make an argument for Chris Paul, Stephen Curry and probably even Ricky Rubio, but I’m not convinced that any of those players possess the court vision Wall does.

For the first time in his career, Wall averaged double digit assists last season.

He finished second in the league in assists per game, right behind Chris Paul (10.2 per game).

They were the only two players in the league to average 10+ assists last year.

Wall’s distribution will remain the focal point of his game.

I expect his scoring to increase with Paul Pierce gone, but his passing will always be the number one weapon in his arsenal.

His passing was impressive last year and that’s evident by his assists numbers. Once you add context to it, though, it makes it that much more impressive.

Wall has never played with an All-Star before. Let that sink in. I don’t want to take away from Chris Paul’s greatness, but having players like Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan and J.J. Redick will certainly help boost your assist numbers.

Wall averaged over 8 assists per game while playing along side Nick Young, Andray Blatche and JaVale McGee

Unfortunately, Wall has never played in a system that’s allowed him to run and take advantage of his skill-set. Paul’s Clippers were 10th in pace last year, while Wall’s Wizards were in the bottom half of the league. That shouldn’t be the case this upcoming season.

The Washington Wizards haven’t put together a group of players that match Wall’s skill-set since he entered the league in 2010. He’s never played with explosive players like Griffin and Jordan. When you think about it, McGee might be the only lob-threat Wall has ever played with in his career.

More importantly, the Washington Wizards have failed to build a roster around Wall that takes advantage of his passing. This upcoming season, Wall will finally have perimeter threats that will make his penetration impossible to stop.

Everyone who’s ever played with Wall saw their shooting percentages increase, and that’s not a coincidence.

Trevor Ariza, Martell Webster and Rasual Butler all had career shooting years with Wall. That’s the John Wall effect. If you can knock down the open jumper, Wall will find a way to get you the ball. It’s that simple.

Last year, the Wizards’ perimeter shooting was limited. While they shot well from three, the team didn’t have many outside threats. Ernie Grunfeld signed way too many big men and Wittman didn’t have many wing players to work with as a result.

If Wall can dish out 10+ assists with Rasual Butler and Drew Gooden on the floor, I’m confident that his numbers will increase with legitimate wings on the court. Washington will play faster and smaller this upcoming season — a style that caters to Wall’s abilities.

With players like Otto Porter, Alan Anderson, Gary Neal, Jared Dudley, and of course, Bradley Beal, John Wall is going to have a handful of legitimate outside shooting targets.

The defense will have a couple of choices: collapse on Wall, leaving the shooters open or stay on the shooters and let Wall take the defender to the hole one-on-one. Neither choice is great for the opposition.

Besides the shooters, Wall will continue to have one of the best pick-and-roll big men in the NBA on his side: Marcin Gortat. Having the outside threats will not only help Wall in drive-and-kick situations, but it will also give Gortat and Wall space to operate the pick-and-roll.

During the playoffs, Wall and Gortat thrived after Pierce and Porter played the forward spots. Even when Gortat didn’t get the ball while diving to the basket, it was still an option that pressured the defense.

The Washington Wizards didn’t add any big-name free agents this summer, but they did add a number of players that will help John Wall become an even better distributor on the stat-sheet. That’s why he will lead the NBA in assists this upcoming season.