Prior to the 2013-14 season, John Wall declared himself a max contract player. That sparked some debate but the Washington Wizards agreed with him and signed the point guard to a whopping $80million contract, over five years. The extension doesn’t kick in until the 2014-15 season but is it really worth it?
From the looks of things so far, it’s been a mixed bag.
Granted he has been impressive since being drafted first overall in the 2010 NBA Draft, collecting Rookie of the Year honors and showing flashes of brilliance from time to time.
However there were questions as to whether he would ever be able to take his game to the next step. Would he be able to utilize his 6’4” frame and incredible athleticism to become a bona fide franchise player worthy of the big bucks?
Perhaps he has finally done that in his fourth year as pro.
Wall put it all together this season after managing to take part in all 82 regular season games for the first time in his career as well as putting up 19 points and 8.8 assists on average. The former ranked fifth amongst point guards and the latter was second only to Chris Paul in the NBA this past season.
Those are the kind of numbers normally attributed to an All-Star and when the exhibition weekend rolled by, he was justifiably awarded his first invitation to the show.
In addition to his individual success, he was able to lead his team to the second round of the NBA Playoffs for the first time since 2004-05 season. Unfortunately he wasn’t much of a factor when the competition got tougher.
He was quite impressive in the opening round against the Chicago Bulls, racking up 19 points and 7 assists per contest. The assist figures would stay roughly in the same ball park, but his scoring suffered against the Indiana Pacers in the next round as the average dropped to 14.2 per game.
That particular series showed how much John Wall still has to go in his development and exposed his biggest weakness -his jumpshot.
As illustrated by his Field Goal percentage (37), Wall is still a streaky shooter at best. He struggled to make outside shots and as consequence was rendered ineffective, especially against Paul George’s size and defensive ability.
The Indiana swingman was able to keep Wall out of the paint by backing away from him and daring him to shoot from distance. But because he wasn’t able to hit those outside shots, Wall was hesitant and passed up wide open looks due to a lack of confidence.That essentially rendered him ineffective as a scoring threat or as a creator for his team.
As a result, Washington was bounced out of the Playoffs.
Moving forward, he will have to greatly improve his outside shot, or at least his mid-range jumper. Players with a similar style of play like the Russell Westbrook's and Derrick Rose's of the world, who rely on their athleticism to get to the rim for the bulk of their points, also have an outside jumper they can call upon to keep defenders honest.
Nevertheless, the signs are good for Wall and the Wizards. His shooting has improved over the years, particularly his 3point shooting which sky rocketed from 26 percent to 35 percent during the last two regular seasons.
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