The Washington Wizards have been hard to watch this season.
They started the season without their two best players, Nene and John Wall, both nursing injuries. And without Wall running the show, the offense was putrid. The Wizards are ranked last in the NBA in offensive rating with 93.2 points per 100 possessions. That's the second lowest offensive rating of the past 10 seasons, right ahead of the Charlotte Bobcats' 92.3 rating last season when they were the worst team in NBA history.
The 6-28 Wizards have needed a spark. Without someone to lead the way, they've just been stuck as a team. On Saturday night against the Atlanta Hawks, Wall finally provided the spark that they've desperately needed. There wasn't anything spectacular about his debut, per se. He had 14 points on 5-of-11 shooting and four assists with three turnovers in 21 minutes.
The difference was the way that he scored those points. There was spark in his first step, as you can see in the highlights. He didn't have the explosion on his leaps to the basket, but his first step was there to blow by whichever defender that the Hawks threw at him. He navigated the lane superbly, spinning around defenders and side-stepping the help.
Three of his four assists went to Bradley Beal. While this is probably attempting to overanalyze a very miniscule sample size, Beal is a rookie who has struggled a lot. He's scoring 13.2 points per game but taking 12.7 shots to get those points. He has made just 36.7 percent of his shots this season.
According to HoopData.com, 68.9 percent of Beal's field-goal makes have been assisted this season. League average is 60.4 percent. Beal is a player who needs to be set up more than he can create his own shot, and Wall is the right kind of guard to pair him with because of that. As "disappointing" as some people might have viewed Wall's first two seasons in the NBA, he was really good at getting his teammates shots. He averaged 8.1 assists in his first two seasons, and that's without having a bevy of good scoring options to pass to.
The combination of Beal and Wall could be exactly what this offense needs to start climbing up the charts and away from a historically bad team. As they play together more and Wall gets healthy, you'll see the chemistry build between the two. You'll see Wall direct Beal and his teammates where they need to be and get them the ball. If Wall can make his own scoring more efficient in the process, Washington will have a clearer vision of the core to build around and how to shape this team.
It was just one game, but the Wizards should at least be a lot more fun to watch as Wall gets back into shape.