This week’s sports question: Are the Washington Wizards better without John Wall?
I can almost hear kids who own a John Wall jersey or have a John Wall poster in their bedroom screaming, “No way!”
Nobody is saying Wall is a bad player. He is a five-time National Basketball Association (NBA) all-star who averages close to 19 points and 10 assists a game.
Wall is a terrific player, but he isn’t perfect. For example, although he has improved his shot since he was a rookie, Wall is still not a great shooter. In fact, he is one of the worst shooters on the Wizards. Still, he takes a lot of shots.
While Wall dishes out assists to his teammates, he also dominates the game by dribbling too much. On some playgrounds, kids might call someone like Wall a ball hog.
Just look at the team’s record. The Wizards were 26-22 (26 wins, 22 losses) when Wall went down with a knee injury in January. Since then, the team is 11-6 with backup guard Tomas Satoransky taking most of Wall’s minutes.
Why are the Wizards playing better? Without Wall, the other players are passing and sharing the ball more. In some games, the new-look Wizards have had as many as 30 assists. That’s more team assists than when Wall was playing.
Bradley Beal, the Wizards’ star shooting guard, describes the team’s new style of passing and sharing the ball as “Everybody eats.”
Still, I’m not sure the Wizards are better off without Wall. Any team can use another talented player.
The big question is how will the Wizards be when Wall comes back in three or four weeks. I think they can be better if Wall shoots less and passes more. In other words, Wall has to learn to fit in with his teammates and the way they are playing.
I think he will. In his eight-year NBA career, Wall has shown an admirable ability to adjust and get better. Wall has improved his jump shot, defense and leadership since he was selected as the Number 1 overall pick in the 2010 NBA player draft.
That’s a good lesson for kids. You may be the best at your school at basketball or soccer or long division, but if you don’t keep practicing and improving, someone will go flying right by you. Even an NBA all-star has to keep learning and working at his game, or he’ll be in trouble.
Let’s hope Wall comes back and fits in to the Wizards’ new style of play. Because if he does, the Wizards have a good chance to make a long playoff run.