It's hard to get used to the idea of the Wizards as a winning franchise, especially when the hole they dug for themselves before Wall's return left them looking historically inept on offense and closing out games. And they currently sport a record of 26-44, even after Monday night's 107-94 victory against the Memphis Grizzlies. However, the 2012-13 team under John Wall has a record of 21-16.
That's winning basketball, isn't it? Now, his return isn't going to be enough to get them into the playoff hunt in the Eastern Conference this season. The Wizards are 8.5 games behind the eighth seed Milwaukee Bucks with 12 games to play. But this has to be an encouraging sign for Wall and the Wizards moving forward into the offseason.
John Wall set his career-high in points in the victory against Memphis with 47 points. As you can see from the video above, he made a ton of jumpers in the process.
He was 13 for 22 from the field and 10 of those made field goals were jump shots. Is this a fluke for Wall? Well, it's a fluke in the sense that he's not going to score 47 points in a game very often, but it's not a fluke in the sense that he's becoming a pretty decent jump shooter.
He's up to 45.4 percent from the field on the season, and while it's still somewhat laughable and an extremely small sample size, he's also up to 31 percent on his 29 3-point attempts. While the climb in percentages for Wall isn't an enormous step up, it's still significant enough to make him a more than competent threat as a scorer.
Last season, Wall's percentages were much lower than people wanted to see from the second year player. He finished 52.8 percent of his shots in the restricted area, 38.2 percent of his shots from 8-16 feet, and 30.2 percent of his shots from 16-24 feet. As far as 3-point shooting goes, it rarely did. He made just 3-of-42 attempts from downtown (7.1 percent).
This season, Wall has improved across the board and he can thank his incredible month of March for said improvements. Check out these two shooting charts below:
The one on the left is Wall's shooting chart for the entire 2012-13 season. The chart on the right is Wall's shooting chart during the month of March. There is a lot more green on the right side than there is on the left side.
Wall is finishing at a rate of 58.5 percent in the restricted area in March, which helps open up his game for the pull-up jumper that he's beginning to knock down from midrange. This month, he's making 47.8 percent of his shots from 8-16 feet and 48.6 percent of his shots from 16-24 feet. The rhythm of his jumper has made up for his still chaotic form. He's learned how to get himself balanced off the dribble in order to square up to knock down the jump shot.
He has a true shooting percentage of 60.3 percent this month.
Is this something that's sustainable for him moving forward? His history as a player says it's not even close to being sustainable, but he might have another motivation to continue to drive him as a player. He wants to be considered a superstar in the NBA and he wants a max contract. This past week, fans and pundits scoffed at Wall for saying he wants the five-year, $85 million max deal Washington can offer him this coming offseason and for saying he feels like he's proven himself enough for them to offer it.
During the halftime interview before Wall left the court for the locker room, he had just completed a 26-point first half performance and yet he mentioned the contract/status when asked about being a scorer instead of a facilitator for the undermanned Wizards.
"I'm just trying to do whatever the defense gives me," Wall said at halftime. "They giving me my jump shot right now and I'm in a good rhythm. And you see if they help to me, I'm looking to pass to my teammates. I'm not going to try to force the issue. If I've got the shot, I'm going to take it. I've got to do it.
"I know my teammates need me to do more tonight. And that's what I want to do. I want to be a max player, a franchise player. I've got to take my team along with me. That's what I'm trying to do."
Even if status or money are the motivations he feels he needs to elevate his game, it's not being elevated in a selfish way. He's helped carry his team for a big chunk of the season, after they proved before his return that they couldn't do much of anything without him. And most importantly, he has them winning basketball games.
This Wizards team under John Wall is a winning franchise right now. It's not what we're used to, but maybe we should get used to it.