The Wizards made a five-year, $80-million investment last August in John Wall, a bold move considering that the former No. 1 overall pick had yet to make an all-star team or led the franchise into the playoffs. The deal doesn’t kick in until next season, but Wall proved to be worth the commitment by having the best season of his career.
[Related post: John Wall’s season in review]
Selected by the coaches as an all-star reserve, Wall went on to help the Wizards reach the postseason for the first time since 2008. His value was measured by the Wizards’ reliance on his decision-making and ability to make plays for others. Here are three numbers that stood out from his fourth campaign:
Total assists for Wall, most in the league. Seven players led the NBA in total assists in the 15 years after Rod Strickland became the last Wizard to hold the title with 801 helpers in 1997-98. The list has included a Hall of Famer in Gary Payton (2000), a former most valuable player in Steve Nash (2005-07, 2010-12), an NBA champion in Jason Kidd (1999, 2001 and 2003), a perennial all-star in Chris Paul (2008-09), a former all-star in Stephon Marbury (2004), Andre Miller (2002) and … Greivis Vasquez (2013).
Wall’s career-high average of 8.8 assists per game was second only to Paul (10.7), and he created the most points in the NBA this season at 1,737 – an average of 21.2 per game. Wall also led the NBA in total touches this season and 28.5 percent of his possessions resulted in assists.
But the best indicator of his value as a point guard is 50 wins – 44 in the regular season and six in the postseason. “If you want to be a good player, a good point guard in this league, you’ve got to be able to find ways to win,” Wall said. “If we wasn’t winning, none of that would’ve came. It wouldn’t have happened. So you give credit to my teammates and coaching staff and those guys of coming in, competing, getting better and doing it as a group.”
Consecutive games played by Wall, including the playoffs, since Jan. 12, 2013. In his first two seasons in the NBA, Wall played 135 games. He missed 13 games as a rookie with foot and knee problems, played all 66 games of his lockout-shortened second season, then was forced to miss the first 33 games of his third season after sustaining a stress injury in his left knee. The setback tagged Wall with the unwanted label of being injury-prone, a situation exacerbated by the Wizards’ 5-28 start.
Realizing his value to the franchise, Wall committed himself to a strenuous routine before this season and was available for all 93 regular season and playoff games. (He also played all eight preseason games.) Portland’s Damian Lillard is the only point guard with a longer active streak of regular season starts (164) than Wall.
“He did not miss a game,” Coach Randy Wittman said. “He did not want to miss a game. He was there for me for 101 starts. As a coach that means a lot. That is the type of person he is, competitor he is and that is why he is going to continue to get better. For him to go out there and start 101 games is something that he should be proud of and I know he is, after what he went through last year and the number of games he missed, that hurt him.”
Three-pointers made by Wall while connecting on 35.1 percent of his attempts (308). In his first three seasons in the NBA, Wall shot 49 of 202 (24.3 percent) from long distance and attempted only 87 total three-pointers over his second and third seasons. Wall was at his worst during the lockout-shortened campaign of 2011-12, when he was just 3 for 42 (7 percent) from beyond the three-point line. This season, Wall had 13 games in which he made at least three three-pointers. He twice made a career-high five three-pointers, in a win against Philadelphia and in a loss to Portland. In the playoffs, Wall struggled from three-point range, missing 25 of 32 attempts. The lack of a consistent stroke from the perimeter was the reason Wall said his focus this offseason will be improving his “jump shot, still.”