If John Wall is going to have a season in which he propels the franchise to the postseason and rises to all-star status, the lift-off will have to begin with the season opener on Oct. 30 against the Detroit Pistons. Wall’s uneven play during the preseason left much to be desired.
Standing in a hallway at US Bank Arena on Wednesday after the Wizards defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers, 101-82, Wall acknowledged that he was disappointed with how he performed. His last game was arguably his worst, as he had more turnovers (four) than points (three) and shot 1-for-7 in 26 minutes.
“I didn’t play too good this whole preseason, to me, to be honest,” Wall said.
Wall averaged 11.2 points and a team-best 6.3 assists, but he struggled with his shot – especially from three-point range – and also had a hard time holding on to the ball. He led the team with 3.43 turnovers per game.
Coming off a season in which he averaged a career-high 18.5 points, shot 44.1 percent from the field and was rewarded with an $80-million maximum extension, Wall seemed committed to prove how much his jumper has improved. But that meant that Wall showed little discretion with his shot selection, such pulling up from midrange early in the shot clock, and rarely appeared in a good rhythm.
Wall shot just 35.4 percent from the floor (29 of 82) and a feeble 11.8 percent from long distance (2-for-17) in seven games, with the Wizards going 2-5. In the Wizards’ preseason loss to the New York Knicks, Wall attempted six three-pointers and only made one. Last season, Wall averaged fewer than one three-point attempt and never shot more than four in a game.
“Not taking good shots and turning the ball over a little too much,” Wall said, explaining his woes this month. “Getting frustrated in those situations.”
Wall had a few quality performances, recording a double-double with 16 points and 11 assists in a loss to the New Orleans Pelicans and handing out eight assists with zero turnovers against the New York Knicks. But he also had two games in which he shot less than 15 percent (he shot 1-for-9 and had three points against Chicago in Brazil) and another in which he had zero assists against Detroit.
“We got to play better. All of us. It’s just not John,” Coach Randy Wittman said, when asked about Wall’s preseason performance. “You got to get a rhythm going, get a feel, and John’s at his best when he is hyped up, running around, when he’s just out there from a defensive standpoint, it falls over into the offense with him.”
Wittman chose to focus on how Wall finished the preseason by orchestrating a 32-19 third period that turned the game upside down. “John was off running and finding guys, penetrating and doing what he does,” he said. “We got a couple of days here now to work out some things and get ready for the real season.”